Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What to Give this Holiday Season

Ten days left until Christmas. I can hardly believe it, but it's true. And if you are like me you probably only have half your holiday shopping completed. This year I decided I would start spreading cheer in November and succeeded with putting lights up on the trees outside the house, making and mailing Christmas cards and putting together photo books to send to the grandparents. Shopping early means less stress in the days leading up to Christmas and the more thoughtful your gifts will be. If you are like me, you want your gifts to mean something, and so I've put together a list of items which will are not only thoughtful but in some cases, help others out there as well:

1. Feed Bags - Last year my sister bought me the feed one bag from The organization was started by Laura Bush and the proceeds of their products go to the United Nations World Food Program. The proceeds from the bag I got, for example will provide one child in Africa school lunch for an entire year.

The project has grown and the website has even more of a variety of products you can buy at a variety of retailers. I really like the Feed Bracelets which you can get at Forever 21 which come in an assortment of colors with each color representing the country designated to receive the 2 school meals that are provided with the purchase of every bracelet.

They also have a gorgeous feed Kenya scarf which are handcrafted in Kenya by a co-op of women and deaf artisans and provide 10 school meals to children through the United Nations World Food Programme’s School Feeding program.

2. - This website has become my best friend this holiday season. You can upload your photos (even directly from facebook) and use them to make personalized gifts for the ones you love. Since the beginning of December they have featured a Merry Deal Reveal deal of the day where anything from water bottles to photobooks will be on sale. There was an offer for buy one photobook (at $19.99) and get two free so I used that to make an album for my grandmother, chad's grandparents and my aunt. You can also use websites like to find extra coupon codes for snapfish for free shipping or a discount on your order. Check out to find out the specials they have going on right now and start crafting!

3. - Another website which I have signed up for and receive daily deals. I was able to buy 4 tickets for $20 for the Denver Botanic Garden Trail of Lights. I figured it would be something fun for my family and Chad's to do on Christmas eve and a nice gift for us to give them. I am all for giving experiences to people which is why this website is so great. You can also browse other cities and buy say, a massage or cooking lessons for those family or friends who live out of state. Groupon also lets you do a gift certificate in any amount so if you aren't sure what someone would like you can purchase an online gift card which will be emailed. It may seem a little impersonal giving a gift through email, but trust me there are so many great gifts on this site no one would be disappointed in your gift to them!

4. Etsy - If you have never visited you will be overwhelmed the first time you visit the site. There's everything handmade you could ever ask for from art to furniture, vintage accessories and hand knitted items. I like to support small business owners and I've always had good results with everything I've ordered from the earrings I wore in my wedding to stenciled wall art. I could spend hours browsing through the sellers list items and unlike ebay I've never had a problem with getting my items in a timely manner or having payment problems. If you like browsing farmer's markets or boutiques for unique handmade items this is the website to turn to when Christmas shopping.
I love these necklaces:

featured by:

5. Mercy Corps - I've advocated for before but I really can't say enough good things about this charity. I donated money to them for Haiti and immediately began receiving emails and mailings about how my donation was being put to use. Year round they feature gifts you can purchase that are perfect for that person on your list that has everything and would rather have a gift in their name that benefits others. This year I am loving their gift of yoga. Mercy Corps incorporates yoga classes into their youth programs in places like Columbia which can help kids recover from the trauma and violence they have experienced. For only $65 you can give the gift of "OM" to those who really need a little serenity in their lives.

6. Harry and David - With my schedule as a flight attendant I really don't have the time to hand bake tasty treats and send them off to family like I wish I could. This is where Harry and David ( come in. For $24 I can send a tower of treats that includes their famous Moose Munch as well as yogurt dipped pretzels, truffles, waffle cookies, fruit candies, and mini mints:

They are known for their Royal Riveria pears so if you have someone on your list who can't have sweets you can send them a beautiful box of pears and assorted cheeses instead. I've used Harry and David as a thank you gift as well for a gracious hostess.

The true spirit of Christmas doesn't come from a store or involve how many things are wrapped under a tree but the time you spend together with your friends and family. I am truly grateful to have my in-laws and my mom, dad and brother spend the holidays with us in Denver and that's all the gift I could really ask for. I do believe though, that if you are going to take the time and money to pick out a gift it should come from the heart and feel as good to give the gift as you know it would be to receive it. After all you should be excited to have someone open your gift, not embarrassed! I try to take the time to look for sustainable and organic gifts as well because if my purchase can benefit someone else who really needs the help, I feel that much better in my gift giving.

Happy Shopping!

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