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[greenyes] How about alternative gifts?

I have just been writing some columns on alternative gifts for my local

Alternative gifts, as defined by some, are those that capture some of the
essence of the season - reaching out to help someone in need. A couple of
hens and a rooster for a family in Africa. A vaccine for a family camel in
Ethiopia. Freedom from indenture for a family in India. That sort of thing.
You donate for a particular purpose, and the person on behalf of whom you
donate gets a card in recognition.

Check out, and (For the second
one, click on the cause you would like to support, then on its page look
down the left side for "support the cause". Following that link leads to
targeted donations such as the ones I listed above. The site also has items
you can buy to actually give to your aunt, etc., and in doing so you also
support these causes.)

There are alternative gift fairs around the US that might give you something
more local. From the New Dream site, alternative gift fairs are for
"honoring friends and relatives with donations to causes that fit their
values. What's more, Alternative Gift Fairs provide critical support for a
diverse collection of local, national and international organizations with
established track records of helping people and the environment."

For a list of alternative gift fairs in the US, check out Some have already been held;
some are yet to come.

Oh, and there's also - a great place to nose around in for
alternative gifts that benefit social and environmental purposes.

Nickie Polson
Freelance writer

> Does anyone have good suggestions for alternate rules for Holiday
> gift-giving that reduces the commercialism? The following are ones we're
> considering in our family.
> Gary
> ******************
> 1. avoid needless commercial excess;
> 2. retain spirit of giving
> 1. Each person should bring a certain number of gifts agreed upon in
> advance by all involved (e.g. 3).
> 2. Gifts should not be labeled who they are to or from.
> 3. Suggested types of "unbought" gifts:
> a. something you already have;
> b. something you make; or
> c. a promise to perform some service.
> 4. Wrap gifts? (Not sure if they should be wrapped)
> 5. Gift exchange
> Ideas for how to execute the exchange
> a. Auction off the gifts one at a time.
> For each gift, we hold it up and anyone interested raises his/her
> If multiple people want it, whoever already has fewest items gets
> For a tie, then the tied people have 1 minute to negotiate.
> If they can't decide within a minute, then it's randomly chosen.
> Unclaimed items go back into pile; item list repeats until no more
> gifts.
> Use decreasing order of value, so people don't "save their
> b. Same as 5a, except for ties go back into the pile.
> c. True auction using $100 monopoly money.
> d. Display all items at once, and everyone writes the 5 things they
> What if everyone wants the same stuff, and a bunch goes
> e. Barter--some people show their items, and other's trade theirs
> 6. Special gifts <Save this for future years???>
> a. Each person will receive one special gift
> b. The family will agree, case-by-case, to an arrangement for each
> person's special gift. Once someone's special gift is arranged, his/her
> name should be crossed from a master list of all planning to attend family
> event.
> c. Gifts can be gotten by an individual or a group.
> d. Special gifts are labeled who they are to, but not from.
> Questions that have come up:
> Should this year be experimental???
> If experimental, then everyone will still get gifts for everyone else, but
> some people will also bring "unbought" gifts for the new exchange.
> Do we need to accommodate both the new and the traditional type of
> gift-giving at the same event? If so, how do we handle people who bring
> individual gifts, but not gifts for the "new" exchange?
> Gary Liss
> 916-652-7850
> Fax: 916-652-0485
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