December 23, 2009

Last minute non-consumer holiday gift ideas

If you've been trying to avoid the commercialism of the mall, but still find yourself with an unfinished gift list that you need to fill, I have a few last-minute ideas for you. Whether you're a procrastinator extraordinaire, have people on your list who seem to already have everything, or have just been unusually busy, I hope you can cross someone off your list after reading this post. The main criterion for my selections, on top of being non-consumer, are that you don't have to leave the house.

1. SnagFilms.com. I just learned about this great website that lets you send a friend a "virtual movie theater" with a playlist of up to 10 full-length documentary films. They currently have 1000 free documentaries on the site, ranging from politics to the environment to music. Just a few titles from their library: Super Size Me, What Would Jesus Buy?, and The End of America.
This gift is eco-friendly and free. It would be a great option for a movie buff who loves documentaries but might not know about this service. And someone who doesn't think you're cheap because you're not spending money. Because what you're giving, including your time, doesn't have a price tag.

2. Make a donation in their name. I've already talked about Global Giving, one of my favorites. Your loved one can choose where they want to put their money, and for as little as $10, they can buy malaria nets for a family in Mali, buy books for schoolgirls in Afghanistan, or contribute to a host of worthwhile projects. Other great organizations are Children.org, which allows them to sponsor a child or donate to an individual project, or Heifer International, where they can give the gift of livestock to a family in an effort to lift them out of poverty while providing a source of nourishment. If you want something physical to present as a gift, most of these places let you download a certificate/card for the recipient.

3. Food. Finally, many people enjoy the gift of food during the holidays, I know I do. If you're afraid they might have already OD'd on baked goods, try something like mixed nuts or homemade trail mix. My favorite combines almonds, walnuts, pecans, salt, cumin, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips. You just heat the nuts in a pan on medium until slightly browned, remove from the heat and lightly coat with cooking spray, and toss with salt and a little cumin. Then let it cool completely before adding the remaining ingredients. It's delicious, and listed as a great snack for women over 40 because the nuts contain omega-3s which lower bad cholesterol and raise the good kind, plus lower the risk of heart attack if you eat them several times a week. If you have a tree, fresh lemons are always appreciated, or fresh herbs from the garden if you live in a temperate climate.

Most importantly, remember that the season isn't about competitive shopping and figuring out the best STUFF to buy. It isn't about STUFF at all. One year I simply wrote cards telling my family members what they meant to me and I think they appreciated the time and thought behind it. But no matter what you do, try to enjoy yourself because life is too short to dwell on unimportant details.

Happy Holidays. If you have any last-minute gift ideas you'd like to share, please tell us about them in the Comments section.

9 comments:

This Thrifted Life said...

A good friend of mine is baking me a quiche so I don't have to cook breakfast on Christmas morning. I love getting food as a gift!

Alea said...

Great ideas!

I made note cards from some of my kids art work. Their pictures were on 10 x 17 paper, so I had to go to an office store to have them scanned in. This year I will make sure I encourage them to do some work on 8 x 10 paper, so I can make note cards at home. :D

Angela said...

This Thrifted Life- What a great gift! And that sounds like a perfect Christmas morning breakfast.

Alea- I love the note cards idea. I haven't bought any notecards recently, and I always love the ones with art on it, all kinds. Maybe I'll start making them myself!

Non Consumer Girl said...

The Snag Films documentaries are a wonderful idea.

I've just visited the website, to try it out, but unfortunately they are only available in the US.

A bottle of favourite wine is usually well received too, as a last minute gift.

Angela said...

Non Consumer Girl- Oh, too bad about Snag Films- hopefully they'll expand! And I couldn't agree more about the wine- that is in fact one of my very favorite gift to receive.

Julie said...

That snack mix sounds great, but as a girl with a German tummy, I can't do the cumin. ;-) But as a vegetarian, nuts are an important source of protein for me, plus they offer fiber, those omega-3's as you mentioned, and they are so yummy. I've finally come up with a version of trail mix (remember "gorp" from back in the '70's??) that my picky son will eat: raisins, (which he tolerates), cashews (he loves), tiny vegan chocolate chips (which he adores).
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Angela.

Angela said...

Julie- Thank you for the holiday wishes, same to you.

I just made a version of that mix last night for a co-worker and used allspice instead of cumin. You have to be sure someone likes cumin or it ruins the whole thing. I like the twist of the cranberries instead of raisins.

Merry Christmas Julie. Thanks for being a loyal reader and commenter.

Judy said...

Here are some ideas that cost nothing except a little of you: Ask someone who's far from home (or has no home) to share your Christmas dinner; invite someone who has no fireplace over to enjoy yours; pick someone up and take them with you to Christmas services; put out bread crumbs for the birds and nuts for the squirrels; pull out your mother's chair for her when she sits down to dinner; offer to say "grace" yourself; tell someone you love them!

Marie-Josée said...

Angela,
Happy Holidays ! Thanks for the wonderful ideas and enjoy your time with family and friends. Same to all the fellow readers of this wonder blog.