Unconventional Gift Giving

I don't know about you, but my email inbox is full of ads and blogs all proclaiming to have the perfect gift guides for you and your loved ones. Since that message has clearly been over-saturated, I decided to take a different route and give you my ideas for some unconventional gift giving. Now, this list will probably not include anything that has glitter, cashmere, batteries involved or an iconic apple on it. But what it will include are ideas that might make you think, make you give a little more effort and make you actually enjoy the art of gift giving after all. So without delay, here we go: SOMETHING TO READ: A book is a powerful tool. It opens our minds and requires us to think. From great novels to funny lighthearted stories, and everything in between, a book is an often overlooked gift for someone at any age. Even for the person who has it all, they can't possibly have enough books! My sisters and I decided years ago to start giving each other's children books for their presents for Christmas. It has been a wonderful tradition that we have enjoyed continuing to this day! SOMETHING HOMEMADE: As a little girl, I have fond memories of helping my mom make homemade strawberry preserves in her kitchen. She would start in the summer, by cutting up crates and crates of strawberries, when they were fresh, then freezing them until December. (At least half of those berries never got to the freezer-but made it to my mouth instead!). When Christmastime came, she would pull out the frozen strawberries and cook them in a huge pot over the stove. I'd watch as she poured the thick, hot red sauce into large mason jars and wrap big red bows around them. My sisters and I would then put them in a wagon and deliver them to the neighbors. If mom forgot someone, you better believe they would call her! Those preserves were (and still are!) like gold!  Even now, I look forward to Christmas Eve, when one special family always brings over homemade Bailey's Irish Cream to add to our coffee in the morning. What a treat! Some of my most favorite (and anticipated!) Christmas gifts are the homemade ones. I know the time and love that went in to making them, and that makes them all the more special. SOMETHING WRITTEN: In this day and age, with texting, emailing, face-timing, facebooking, instagramming, etc etc etc…we have lost the art of writing a handwritten note. (I know, mom, I am very guilty of this one!) But, when someone sends me an actual letter (IN THE MAILBOX!), and writes on it, I sit down to read it. You will not find any emoticons, acronyms or hashtags…but actual WORDS (in their entirety!) that are meant for just YOU to read. Without sounding like a Hallmark card commercial, there is something meaningful in sending someone a written note--telling them how much they mean to you. This rare gem will truly be a treasured gift! SOMETHING CHARITABLE: I was reading in a magazine this week about Matt Damon's charity, Water.org. Wow. To think that there are millions in this world without access to clean water is appalling. But the fact that Matt has gone outside his comfort zone to really try and make a difference with this problem is inspiring. Matt's organization, like so many others, is trying to combat the bad in this world by making it a better place. But these organizations all need funds to continue their work and continue to make a difference. What a cool idea to give a donation to one in someone else's name as their Christmas gift? A gift that would literally keep on giving. But if money is tight, there are still other ways to be charitable. Volunteer for a few hours every week. Get yourself out of the holiday rat race and into the real meaning of the season. You will be surprised how your act of giving will actually bless you the most.

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Well, that's my list for now. Nothing flashy or fancy…but something to think about in this crazy, chaotic time of year.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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