Christmas Gift Ideas that Make a Difference

Christmas gift ideasIt’s that time of year when people are running back and forth trying to come up with Christmas gift ideas for their family and friends. This year, instead of just giving the usual store-bought stuff, consider trying a few Christmas gift ideas that actually make a difference.

Too many of the store-bought (and usually made in China) gifts that are purchased this time of the year end up returned, exchanged or simply never used; ultimately doomed to an overburdened landfill somewhere. The winter holidays are a time of giving and helping those in need and there are some Christmas gift ideas that are capable of both.

One of the most helpful Christmas gift ideas is to donate to a charity in the name a friend or a loved one. It’s a trend that is growing more and more popular. Not only is it a great gift, it also saves the giver from having to shuffle through shopping malls and over-crowded parking lots. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving and one that your friends won’t be taking back to the store.

Heifer International

My favorite charity to give to is Heifer International. It’s an organization dedicated to helping end world hunger by giving animals to people in need. Unlike some charities which just give people money, a donation to Heifer International helps people become independent through the animals. It’s the old “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” philosophy.

The animals that Heifer International gives people can provide a family with food, nourishment and even income through the sale of animal products like milk and eggs. Donating a share of an animal for each night of Chanukah is also a creative way to celebrate the festival of lights. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving as the family passes offspring from their animal onto another family need.

Nature Conservancy

If your friends are more of the loving-nature’s-beauty type of people, why not buy an acre of rainforest in their honor? Organizations like the Nature Conservancy have Adopt-an-Acre programs. These programs allow you to donate in the name of a friend and protect areas of rainforest land. As an added bonus, when you donate to the Nature Conservancy, your honoree gets a subscription to the Nature Conservancy’s magazine – a way for them to enjoy the gift the whole year.

The Human Rights Campaign

Have a relative who’s concerned about tolerance and equality in society? Donate to the Human Rights Campaign in their name. You will be able to send your honoree a personalized eCard letting them know about your donation. They’ll also receive a code for 15% off a purchase at the Human Rights Campaign’s online store so they can wear their support all year long.

Make-A-Wish Foundation

A donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation is a great way to honor someone who loves children. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Sometime these are just very simple wishes such as going to Disney Land or being a ballerina for a day. To child who may not live enough to reach their dreams, these simple wishes are everything to them.

Charity Navigator

Not sure what other charities are available to donate to? Check out Charity Navigator for a list of great charities for holiday giving. You’ll also find a list of charities to avoid, so you know your donation is going to a reputable organization.

These are just a few of the charities that make great Christmas gift ideas, and the best part about them is that they don’t have to be used as just Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas gift ideas. They make great wedding gift ideas, mother and father’s day gift ideas, and even that hard-to-buy-for / person-who-has everything. Most of the charities you donate to provide beautiful ecards or printable images to give to the person you’re honoring with your gift. These informative cards tell them about the donation you’ve made in their honor and explain how the donation benefits someone in need. And as final additional perk, some charity donations are tax deductible (you’re not going to find a gift in a store that can boast that). So this year, instead of giving just another gift, give a gift that really matters.

Do you have any favorite charities not list here that make great Christmas gift ideas?

Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

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