Shopping during the holidays is never as fun as it looks on television. Parking, long lines, the plethora of gizmos and gadgets leaves everyone dazed and confused. In the end, you may just end up buying something that the recipient really does not want or is environmentally damaging. This year, turn your focus on giving gifts that really matter and will make a positive difference.
1. Pick a charity that is meaningful to you and give in the honor of your recipient. This choice is more sustainable and thoughtful than anything material that will eventually end up in the trash. As cliché as it sounds, giving the gift of giving keeps on giving. You can determine how much you want to give so it falls into your budget. My favorite charity is Heifer International. You can donate money to buy livestock, seeds, or trees which enables communities to generate food and income. Heifer trains the recipient family/community to sustainably raise their gift and share their resources with others. Equally favorite, Fair Trade (aka TransFair) empowers farmers and farm workers around the world to decide their most pressing local economic development needs for themselves, and reinvest in their products, cooperatives, and communities in sustainable ways.
2. A cookbook and pantry ingredients to help your recipient get started. My favorite starter cookbook is How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food By Mark Bittman. Bittman simply shows how to make cooking at home easier, with an emphasis on basic kitchen skills.
3. Tea. Not only is tea a really delicious drink to enjoy slowly, alone or with company, it’s healthy. Tea has been used as an herbal, medicinal concoction throughout Asia for thousands of years and has picked up steam in America. Choosing organic, Fair-Trade tea will make the gift even sweeter as you will do the environment and farmers justice as well. My preferred tea house is Samovar in San Francisco and they have an easy website for ordering tea and accessories. Follow Samovar on Facebook or Twitter for discount codes.
4. Give gifts that create memories. Buy a membership to the museum, cooking class, or a joint spa treatment. Doing activities together will make your relationship stronger and both of you will have memories (and pictures) to last a lifetime. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend gifting a day pass or membership to the California Academy of Sciences. Sign up on flash sale sites such as Blissmo and Fresh Guide to save big on service oriented and green-minded gifts.
5. Give the gift of health. Signing up for a dance class, gym membership, or personal training may seem like an extravagant purchase for oneself, therefore in the form of a gift it will be most appreciated. A personal training session might just give your recipient the jumpstart s/he needs. I really like working out at my local JCC gym and love all the classes they offer to members. Flash sales site are a great place to shop for local health oriented gifts!
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