The holiday gift-giving time is upon us . . . along with the stress we put upon ourselves to find the perfect gifts. Don’t get me wrong, there is amazing joy in finding the perfect gift (when it happens you hear harps playing and angels singing)! But more often than not, gift-giving is stressful and, frankly, not very much fun.
In my organizing work, I see lots and lots of not so perfect gifts that get stuffed in a drawer or put away in a cupboard because the recipient is too embarrassed to say that it doesn’t fit, isn’t their style, or doesn’t satisfy a current need. Many times, as recipients, we would really prefer that the time, energy, and money spent on gifts be directed to those that are truly in need.
So, if you are not quite sure what Aunt Suzi wants or needs as a holiday gift this year and you’re pretty sure another velour robe isn’t going to be the “perfect” gift, how about trying something new . . . give to those truly in need and send Aunt Suzi a sweet card saying that a donation has been made in her name. (Many charities will send the cards for you if you would prefer she receive something directly.) My guess is Aunt Suzi will appreciate the charitable thought . . . and not having to return yet another pink velour robe.
Here are some thought starters:
Donate cash to a local charity: Cash is always a welcome gift for many charities. Although it may feel good to buy a bag of canned food or a frozen turkey, that may not be exactly what the local food bank or soup kitchen needs right now. If you plan to go this route, give them a call and see what they may need and follow their suggestions. And while you’re at it, see if they could use a helping hand or two. According to a Berkeley study, “scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.””
Donate to a national charity: There are those in need all across the country. National and international charities like Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Goodwill, are well-established organizations that help those less fortunate and those in crisis.
Adopt-A-Family: Many cities and businesses adopt local families or foster children during the holiday season. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or your employer’s Human Resources to see what might be available. Friends, neighbors, and co-workers coming together behind this cause will bring even more joy to giving.
Spread your gifts around the world: The Good Gifts catalog was born 12 years ago, as a refreshing alternative to conventional unwanted presents. From livestock to tress, school uniforms to an orphan’s dowry, donations can be directed around the world to those truly in need. Good Gifts will provide a keepsake card (to send or keep) bearing a light-hearted description of the gift.
Water, education and disaster relief: A gift to World Vision enables them to respond quickly in areas of greatest need to help the world’s most vulnerable.
Whatever gift-giving solution feels best to you, remember the spirit of the holidays is really to spend time with the ones we love.
Click here for more Stressless Holiday suggestions.
National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
Certified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization