Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when media screams more than usual for us to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” Faux News has started their yearly war on the non-existent “War on Christmas,” pretending that saying “Happy Holidays!” is akin to roasting and eating babies in a church. I, for one, am not a huge fan of the holiday pressure to buy everyone gifts RIGHT NOW! But, if you have kids or relatives or co-workers and you just don’t feel you can bow out, then here’s a few options.
1. Cookies. If you have access to an oven and can cook, cookies are a pretty good investment versus return. Flour, sugar and milk are cheap. Butter is less cheap, and chocolate chips don’t cost that much. For under ten bucks you can churn out an amazing amount of cookies. And people like cookies. Even grouches like cookies. Also, if you do something like chocolate chip, you don’t even have to worry about offending anyone with religious or non-religious shapes. Beware of gluten or wheat allergies, but there are recipes to work around those, too.
2. Knitting (or other crafts). A lot of people will say that no one likes hand-knitted gifts. But I have never found that to be true. Always ask color preferences and if there are any fiber allergies first. And give them an out. I knit scarves that we raffle off at work for charity, and they are pretty hotly contested. There are a number of good (cheap) pattern books with simple scarf or fingerless glove patterns. Also, the Lion Brand yarn website has a HUGE selection of free patterns, and you can frequently find yarn and needles in thrift stores like Goodwill or Value Village.
3. Donate to a charity in their name. And here you have two options. You can pick a charity they like or support. OR if you’re a contrary butthead, like me, and have a lot of right wing family, you can choose charities just to piss them off. (Trust me, some of my family deserves it). Oxfam, Heifer International, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, and many, many others all support this sort of giving by sending the person in whose name you’ve donated a card or message.
4. Adopt A _______________. This is a more specific form of donation. In which you can do things like, adopt an animal at a local zoo, Woodland Park and Wolf Haven in Washington state both do this, as does the World Wildlife Fund. This will usually give you an adoption kit with the animal’s designate on it, pictures and something tangible to put in the recipient’s hands.
5. Buy Local. Farmer’s Markets, Craft Bazaars, small locally owned shops, gift cards to locally owned coffee shops, bookstores or restaurants.
There are also a number of merchants online who specialize in selling sustainable, free-trade, recycled, organic, whatever stuff. Sadly, most of these are far too expensive for my budget, but if you can afford it, go for it and check them out. Uncommon Goods is one of my favorites.
6. Thrift stores, Freecycle, Craigslist, eBay. These are good for children’s toys and clothes and books. I’ve heard people say that kids only want brand new toys, but honestly, as long as it isn’t broken, kids will play with it. Hell, even when it IS broken, kids will play with it, especially young kids. Also there is the bonus that, frequently, when you buy from someone on Craigslist at this time of year, you’re helping them afford presents, too.
And please, if you’re in a position to do so, please donate to local food banks and charities. It’s estimated in the Seattle area alone that demand for food banks is up more than double, while contributions have fallen off by about 70%. Do a local giving tree because even poor and homeless kids deserve a Christmas.
I’m going to mildly disagree about giving to charity. Make sure they’re OK with it, first.
It depends entirely on your relationship with people. Fucking with each other is a long-standing tradition in my family, so I would be completely unsurprised if one year, my donation in “Redneck Uncle’s” name to Planned Parenthood got answered with a donation in my name to the NRA or some shit.