Wednesday, November 12, 2014

holiday gift guide - non-traditional, alternative gift ideas

perhaps a touch contrary to what these gift guides would have you believe, i am a huge advocate of non-traditional gifts- presents that arent things. when push comes to shove, there is very little that we actually need, so try to think outside the box- picking a charity or cause to donate to on behalf of the ones we love most, offering a gift of service or time together, or hand-making something sentimental. if its tears of joy you want to see on christmas morning, these gifts are sure to get them flowing.

one || canada helps - a one stop shop for charitable giving in canada- search through thousands of registered charities and donate to multiple causes at the same time. with a mission to increase charitable giving by making it easier to donate online, canada helps is a nonprofit organization, so their fees are a fraction of the for-profit alternatives. pick a charity to donate to on behalf of someone, or purchase a gift certificate and let the recipient decide.

two || plan canada - gifts of hope - plan canadas gifts of hope is an ethical gift-giving program. unique gifts that bring with it hope and change to the lives of families and entire communities across the world. select from items like bed nets, fruit trees, baby chicks, goats, maternal health initiatives... the list is endless, with varied price points starting at just $10. you can definitely find something for everyone. (and a small side note: plan canada has no religious affiliation, which may or may not be important to you.)

three || kiva - loans that change lives - a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. kiva leverages the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, letting individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. you can purchase giftcards online for friends or family- they are then able to select a cause that's important to them, lend the funds, and overtime when the loan is paid back, reinvest in another cause.

four || gifts of time or experience - there is really nothing better than the gift of time. think pre-planned date nights, tickets to a play or movie, registration to a class or workshop, vouchers to go swimming/ skating/ skiing/ whatever. an offer to share a skill you have - maybe you know how knit, or bake bread, or fix cars or surf... whatever you can do, there is surely someone who would love to learn. or babysitting. parents LOVE offers to babysit.

five || handmade and sentimental - handmade items always make for beautiful gifts, something the recipient feels extra special receiving knowing you put so much time and effort into creating just for them (see a few past ideas here, here and here)- pinterest is also loaded with endless ideas so find a little inspiration and get crafting! a few simple and sentimental ideas i love:
  • a letter a month - promise to send a letter or postcard to someone special every month for one year. this is especially awesome for kids, but really, who doesnt love getting real mail?
  • a family / friend / coworker cookbook - a few years ago, the office i worked in all brought in our favourite recipes. we compiled them into an office cookbook and everyone received a copy.
  • christmas cards with a little something extra- send a packet of native wild flower or vegetable seeds with your handwritten holiday note. 
  • soup swap - gather a group of friends and each make your favourite soup recipe- divvy into jars and freeze- you will each take home a variety of hearty soups to fill your freezer for the cold winter months ahead. you could of course do this with baking or pretty much anything that strikes your fancy.
  • host a re-gift party. rather than rushing out to purchase more stuff that no one really cares about, get everyone on board and find something gift-worthy around your house that you no longer have use for. everyone brings something, and you take turns drawing numbers and picking the things you like most.
  • give away the last great book you read to someone with similar taste.
for more ideas on simplifying the holidays, practical tips for less stress and more joy, have a look at the centre for the new american dream's downloadable booklet. its an absolute favourite of mine, and is FULL of amazing ideas for thoughtful, environmentally and budget conscious, meaningful gifts. enjoy! xo 

for more holiday gift ideas, click HERE