What is the best gift you ever received? I think mine would be a sunset-and-stars horseback ride I gave my husband one year for his birthday. I gave it to him, but I got to go too. (Unfortunately our camera malfunctioned so I can’t include the photos here, but they live in my memory.)
The older I get, the less excited I become about “things” as gifts—either giving or receiving—and the more excited I become about experiences.
If you can’t think what to get Dad except another tie, for example, think about what you could do to give him a good memory instead. A connection. Those are the best gifts of all. What about an hour-long cassette tape of you speaking your favorite memories of him?
Personally, I would be thrilled to receive a class through our excellent local city Parks & Recreation department—they offer everything from snowshoe treks to Italian cooking to massage classes and stained-glass making. Or a story written by my brother and illustrated with his fantastic drawings. A framed photo of my best friend and her new baby boy. Or, a donation in my name to the Humane Society.
I was pleased to find out recently that I’m not alone. “Redefine Christmas” is a movement that re-imagines the way we look at gift giving during the holidays.
According to the website of Just Give, a 501(c)3 located inSan Francisco, “in addition to the things we enjoy shopping for and giving every year, we often feel compelled to spend money and time on gifts with little meaning. Gifts which are soon forgotten. Rather than giving in to the convention of giving, we can give out – by redirecting some of that money to charity.
“Consider giving your friends and family members donations to their favorite charities in their names. And ask your loved ones to do the same for you.
“Giving this way is more personal. It’s easier. And it can be more meaningful – to the receiver, the giver and the countless people and organizations who are truly in need.”
Don’t forget to check out individual charities before you give—never let cold callers pressure you, and find out what percentage of donations a charity puts toward its programs. You can Start With Trust at www.bbb.org, and your Secretary of State’s office may have financial information as well. The IRS at www.irs.gov is another resource.
Have you given or received a charitable donation as a gift? What was it like?