Monday, November 12, 2007

We Interrupt Menu Planning Monday for a Blog Carnival

Happy Monday, everyone!

Don't Try This at Home is hosting a blog carnival on holiday gift giving. What a cool idea!

I've been meaning to post on "Gifts for People Who Have Everything" and this seems like as good a time as any. My take on this lately: If you have everything, why add to it? But of course we want to be festive and mark the occasion in some way. Here are my ideas for "stuff-free" gifts for this year. (Though oh, yes, there will be presents in our house; with a two and four year old, how could there NOT be? But with a two and a four year old, the sustained level of interest in any present has a half life of four days, so it's way to early to shop now for anything they actually want, and I've only gotten things they need, like clothes.)

--> I'm sure I'm not the only one who will suggest candy. But what I will be doing this year is supporting two local candy makers: Bevan's, a family-owned place on a modest corner in a nearby suburb, and John & Kira's, for the "haut" chocolate experience. Bevan's (no website! how quaint) has been in the same little storefront for longer than I've been alive. They stock some old-school penny candies, and they are well known for their buttercreams, but they also have decorated mints that are yummy, adorable, come gift-boxed, and are perfect hostess gifts for any holiday party I'm attending. John & Kira's is sort of a modern, more hyped version of this; they have artsy chocolates with lavendar and mint and other exotic flavors. I love that they are run by (wait for it) John and Kira, who used to be teachers, who branched out in to food, and I love that they use all local suppliers for their flavorings, including contracting with one of the agriculture programs at a city public high school to grow all their mint.

--> I've been inspired this year by some of my fellow Mothers and More members who give or get experiences instead of things. One is taking her entire in-law family to a great musical while they are together over Thanksgiving as their Christmas gift. Another, who lives far away from grandparents, asks them for gift memberships to the zoo or aquarium or other place they and their kids enjoy, and then send them a postcard every time they go throughout the year to thank them for the fun day and tell them what the kids enjoyed. I am keeping this in mind for nephews who love baseball in particular; while spring training seems far away, I'll bet tickets to see their favorite teams when they come to town will be welcome anytime.

--> Speaking of sports, my husband runs the town soccer program here and has for years. He's not a coach, so while many folks say thanks, it's not a big "gifting" kind of position, though some come his was on occasion at the end of the season. His absolute favorite all time gift? Thank you notes from the kids. I'm not joking. One was signed this year by "(first grade girl's name), SOCCER LOVER!" It made his day. (And ok, the fact that she included homemade gingerbread didn't hurt either but it really was the note that was the winner.) And, in fact, this same family gave him one of his other favorite presents: soccer balls from He didn't actually get the soccer balls; children in poverty did, to replace banana leaves or compacted trash substituting as soccer balls. For someone who is just eager to spread his love of the game, it was a perfect present.

--> Meanwhile, food certificates of one kind or another are big hits around here. Friends tell me that teams collect from all the parents for a really nice restaurant gift certificate for coaches or teachers, and my Nursing Mothers Network group sells WaWa Shorti Hoagie coupons that many of the moms use for trash collectors and other service providers. The coupons are sold for a little less than the actual sandwiches, so there's some savings for the buyer, and the group gets fifty cents per coupon.

--> On the side of my blog, you'll see a button for Kiva is an organization for microloans, often as small as $25, to small business owners in third world countries around the globe. You'll find a variety of businesses and proposed businesses and anything from someone requsting $40 to buy a mule to take products to market to $100 to build a shelter for a women's cooperative that makes sweaters for export. There are some really cool ideas there, and while it's a loan and not a gift, you can give someone a certificate to Kiva and let them choose which business to support.

--> Is there a birdwatcher on your list? Go to to sign them up with the Cornell ornithology study. It's $15; they'll get a kit with bird identification sheets, observation tools, suggestions for attracting more birds, and the opportunity to help scientists track what's going on in the sky with our flighted friends. My son, who is lately obsessed with our birdfeeder, is going to become an official FeederWatcher for Christmas.

--> Finally, there is always contributing to an organization with meaning for your recipient; maybe there's a group they belong to, or a cause they support. Books to the local public or school library or their alma mater with a faceplate honoring your recipient are always thoughtful. And my favorite creative charity is Heifer Project International. I love the idea of giving economic sustainability to a family in the form of a bunny hutch or line of ducklings.

When all else fails, Amazon is my gift certificate of choice for now. They can get books and CDs, or diapers and saffron...whatever their hearts desire. And, I either go through iGive or a friend's gateway so my purchase counts towards something good (blog support or organizational fundraising) either way

Those are my "gifts for people with everything" this year. How about yours? If you have some to add or are just looking for ideas, check out the blog carnival. And extra thanks to Shannon for the link!


Jane said...

Heifer has always been a favorite with our family. When you donate there are also printable cards to give. I am going to have to check out Kiva.

PT-LawMom said...

I love the WorldVision soccer ball idea! Thanks!!!

Randall said...

I agree, you can't beat an Amazon gift card. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Mommy Cracked said...

I love the Kiva idea. What a great cause! Thanks for the suggestions!

RuthWells said...

Based on your candy recommendations, I suspect we are neighbors! I've been lurking, but will try to be more social in future. : )

PS -- You were the first non-family member to blogroll me, which was such a shot in the arm for me! I've been meaning to thank you.

Ribbon Rock Star said...

Great list!