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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday giving

Yep, no post for weeks then two in one day, woohoo! But this one is only barely about food. I'm sitting here (still listening to the snoring dog) going over my list of holiday gifts I have and those I still need to purchase. A week and a half 'til Christmas, Hanukkah is in full swing and Solstice is only days away. So, if you've been slacking, its time to get going. According to the USPS, in order to get your gifts to people by Christmas via parcel post, they need to be mailed by Saturday and cards have to be mailed by the 22nd.

Anyway, so what am I giving this year? I'm trying to be as conscious as I can be about the message my gifts are sending, along with the potential global and environmental impact they might have. I'm not succeeding as well as I might like (I was at Christmas Tree Shoppe and K-mart last night, and at the *shudder* mall on Saturday...) but every little bit helps. Here's how I'm trying to share the love a bit this season;

Service/Donation gifts are one of my favorite things to give to my relatives who "have it all" and who don't seem to appreciate object gifts. The past few years, my grandparents have received a donation in their name to Heifer International. I love Heifer, they really embody the idea of paying it forward and they get excellent ratings from charity rating services. Plus, I get far too much pleasure out of giving my grandparents a goat or a pig or a flock of chickens for Christmas (you'd understand if you knew them...). However, this year, I've gone a different way. The Food Project, a group based out of Massachusetts, works to support not only sustainable agriculture, local food production and environmental responsibility but also empowers at-risk kids by placing them in positions of responsibility and offering them opportunities to learn about where their food comes from and how what they eat impacts their lives. Local and sustainable agriculture is something I feel quite strongly about and any group that helps out kids is good in my book, plus they get fabulous ratings. Though I was awfully tempted by the World Toilet Organization, though I can't quite afford it. Not only is is for a good cause, but really, how fun is it to say "Merry Christmas, I got you a toilet!"?

I am also donating money to the Rabies Challenge Fund, a group that is doing long-term (5-7 years) testing on the immunity produced by the rabies vaccine. There is increasing evidence indicating that not only is vaccination against rabies every 1-3 years unnecessary to protect against the virus but that the government-mandated overvaccination is extremely harmful to our pets, potentially causing cancer, neurological problems, behavior changes and other long-term problems. The Rabies Challenge is the first long-term study of its kind and hopefully will be able to produce the results necessary to change the rabies vaccination guidelines. This is a issue that has touched me personally, as 3 of the dogs I grew up with suffered (and one is still suffering) with the effects of vaccinosis following rabies vaccines. So they are getting a donation in honor of my mother and Kirby and in memory of Kima and Dani (I hope my mother doesn't read this...I don't think she does).

And if you are thinking of giving a donation as a gift, check out the group on Charity Navigator first. They do an excellent job at giving you the pros and cons of various groups and showing you where your money is really going.

I'm also trying to give local this year. My aunts and my cousin are getting a "Taste of Syracuse" gift basket, consisting of a jar of something tasty from Natural Disorder, a local hot sauce and condiment company (Riesling-marinated garlic cloves, need I say more?) , some local wine (still need to buy this so not sure which winery), some Dinosaur Barbeque sauce, some Speidie Sauce, some hard pretzels, some local honey, a few local apples and some salt potatoes. The honey, apples and potatoes are from the farmer's market, and I picked up the Natural Disorder stuff and pretzels there too. I'm also picking up some odds and ends for stocking stuffers for my immediate family at the market this Saturday as well.

Everyone on my gift list is also getting homemade goodness, either in the form of cookies or peppermint bark, depending on how far the food has to travel. And my petsitting clients are getting homemade treats and possibly toys too, if I actually get around to it!

And if I can't (or don't want to) make it and can't find it locally, there's always Etsy! This site is way too cool...page after page after page of awesome hand-crafted, -painted, -baked, -sculpted -whatever awesomeness. Really, I think there is something for everyone here...I got the coolest earring and "hair jewelry" for Katie's sisters and something quite awesome for Katie. Plus there are some awesome dog clothes on there (poor Ash!).

Hopefully, if anyone out there reading this if stuck for gifts this season, I gave you some good ideas or at least a place to start. Happy Holidays!

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At 6:33 AM, Blogger Celine said...

great tips, Rachael! we're really being tightwads this year, so most people will be receiving cards from us but hey...it's the thought that counts, right?

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous SoundtheBells said...

These are really great ideas, especially for those of us out there with a conscience who really want to do something for the local, state, even world community! On a lighter note, if you're looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for friends and family that everyone can relate to, check out the Christmas Classics DVD box set. They've got 7 of the original Christmas stories including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", and of course my favorito! "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town". My family has been enjoying this DVD all week, and playing the extra music CD it comes with in the house all the time, trying to bring in the holiday joy and Christmas spirit =) I'm working to promote this DVD so I can guarantee if you're a fan of classics like "Little Drummer Boy", you'll really enjoy this box set. If you're interested, check it out at http://www.classicmedia.tv !

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream said...

Giving a donation to a charity in someone's name is awesome, as are homemade gifts. I know I'm giving a lot of people vegan homemade bread this year... -Amy@Wheeler's

At 6:15 PM, Blogger bazu said...

What a thoughtful and useful post. And it makes me miss Syracuse, even though I've only been gone for a week or so! This year our goals were to reduce, recycle, and home-make our gifts. We succeeded- everyone got baked goods, homemade cards, chai kits, and lovingly recycled gifts- books that meant a great deal to us, and that we knew would mean a lot to their recipients.

Happy holidays to you guys!


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