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Alternative Gifts for the Holidays

Updated on November 7, 2012


Many of us are brought up as children to look forward to unwrapping gifts during the holiday season. We are filled with excitement during our year-end cultural or religious celebrations. Spending time with family is wonderful as we come together and appreciate all that we enjoy year round. We give and receive gifts after shopping until we drop at the malls or online. However, for those who have been blessed with abundance --materially speaking-- I suggest another type of gift.

Perhaps choosing a non-for profit foundation that provides life-giving support to others would make your family member just as happy as whatever s/he got last year but can’t remember! Indeed, it may even bring a smile to her/his face.


Sadly, there are so many people on our planet that do not have as much. There are others who do not enjoy the celebrations of abundance like so many of us do. Perhaps we can include them in our celebrations by giving what I like to call “a triangular gift”. This is a gift that makes the shape of a triangle in that it begins with the giver who purchases the gift in the name of his/her friend or family member yet the person(s) who receives the gift are not within one’s limited circle of family, but rather pertains to the larger circle of all human beings, our larger family. By giving this type of gift, one includes those who truly will benefit from the gift in a way that potentially improves the person’s life as well as his/her family’s life.


Comfort and Warmth-Provided by the Red Cross
Comfort and Warmth-Provided by the Red Cross | Source


The Red Cross has international reach for those in need of humanitarian aid. For those of us who have ever been hit by a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake or blizzard, we know firsthand of the emotional as well as physical support the the volunteers provide. One suggestion for alternative gifts is to give blood or donate supplies, money or even time to those in dire need. Without the Red Cross, founded by New Jersey's own Clara Barton, many of us would have no where to turn for help when disaster strikes. Please consider donating especially this year after hurricane Sandy has devastated so many lives and livelihoods.

Give the Gift that Keeps on Giving--A Goat!

Children Receive the Gift of a Pair of Goats
Children Receive the Gift of a Pair of Goats | Source


Plan USA is an international foundation that focuses on helping children get their basic needs met. Everything from simple clean water and hygiene to an education, nutrition as well as animals and school supplies to help them along the way. One way to help is to sponsor a child from a particular country and donate quarterly or give a once a year gift for the holidays. It is a wonderful organization that is fiscally responsible too.

Financial Literacy for Women

Microlending in action.
Microlending in action. | Source


Finca focuses on microlending to women. If you’ve read Half the Sky (and if you haven’t, I recommend it fiercely!), then you know that the way to abolish poverty is by educating women. Women will work for the well-being of the family and use borrowed funds to start a business. The research shows that women will pay back the money as required by the loan whereas in traditional patriarchal cultures men will not.


The Seva Foundation began in 1978 and started with eradicating smallpox in India. Today the programs continue to focus on the physical health of the recipients whether they are in Nepal or the United States. Particular interests include eyesight health, fighting diabetes as well as educating Native American tribes’ youth how to cultivate plants in their communities in the USA.

SEVA at work around the globe


Heifer International Makes an Impact



Heifer International started bringing hope to families in 1944. In that time, more than 15 million families in more than 125 countries have gained knowledge from livestock training and when the animals reproduce they pass on the gift to another family. Did you know that a goat will have two sets of kids every year? Goats provide milk which is a nutritional powerhouse when protein is hard to come by. There are many options at Heifer for gift giving from $10 for a share of a goat to $25,0000 for the gift of transformation. This last gift provides herds of heifers, llamas and goats, flocks of chickens and sheep, a pen of pigs, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese. Each recipient also receives training to know how to care for their animals as well as how to financially improve their family’s standard of living from selling eggs, milk and wool.


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    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't heard of kiva but I will check it out.


    • tehjib profile image

      Kudrat-E-Khuda Barat 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      Very good ideas yoginijoy!

      You can also include kiva which focus on micro-lending in underdeveloped countries.

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi mecheschier, Thank you so much for the votes and for sharing. Yes, we are so blessed and why not share those blessings with others? Take care!

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      @hawaiianodysseus, Thanks for the compliments and for sharing. You are very generous and I am appreciative. Also, I thank you for those who will benefit from your generosity directly as well as indirectly.

      Happy holidays!

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 5 years ago

      Fabulous Hub. What wonderful gift ideas Thank you for sharing! Voted up for beautiful and useful.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      This is an excellent article, and I am sharing it across the board. You've gleaned innovative ideas and in turn gifted them back in this wonderful end-of-year harvest for the rest of us...I'll definitely do my part and pass them on.

      Great job of research and writing, yoginijoy!