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Old 12-15-2007, 11:45 AM   #1
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Holiday gift giving

Now, I don't know about you, but in my years of employment, I received many perfume sets (scents I don't like), candles, and other such things. Somewhere along the way (yes there is a good story behind it) we started asking people to bring food for whatever local food bank there was for our holiday gatherings. I usually wind up with a bunch of wine, but what I really wind up with is tons of food.

We also have a local bar owner who adopts a family, usually a single mom trying to get by. We go on a shopping trip to buy what they need. When we were in the military, the "top three" (meaning the top NCOs) used to collect food and money to care for the young GIs who often were on food stamps. We always contributed, even when I was a child. Money collected went to buy turkeys, and food was collected.

What I'm getting at here is that if you have a gift exchange in your office, or within your family, why not change it to buying something that someone really needs. Instead of "secret santa" and other such stuff, have everyone bring something that is really needed or wanted.

Forget buying that c..... that you wind up buying for someone you really wouldn't buy for otherwise. Buy some food, sweaters, shoes and socks for people who truly need it.

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Old 12-15-2007, 01:20 PM   #2
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What a great idea Claire!
With all the commercials for fancy cars, diamond rings and big screen tv's, the true spirit of Christmas gets pushed to the side.
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Old 12-15-2007, 01:50 PM   #3
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I/we stopped all the gift giving to inlaws and outlaws etc several years ago. The money now goes to adopt a family. Most of time, like Claire said it is a single mother with children, that was in a bad/abusive marriage. Sometimes just abandoned. Sometimes it is a family where the guy has lost his job. We contact one of several charities that can provide you with the information on the family...number of kids, ages, sex, sizes etc. Moms usually ask for clothes, coats, jeans, shoes etc for the kids, and typical for mothers..... Nothing for themselves, but we always buy mom/dad stuff too. Plus toys for the Children, and lots and lots of candy. Most times we find the nearest grocery store to the family and order one of the Christmas Dinner's for them. You have the option of delivering the gifts to them personally or you can take it to the charity and they will deliver. It is a lot of fun! You would be surprised at how many people need help...they are right down the street, in your town....

Have Fun & Enjoy!
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:17 PM   #4
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I am suggesting this to the family this Christmas at our breakfast (this year it is Christmas Eve). They have exchanged presents for 30+ years now but I think it is time for a change. Some of the younger couples are struggling to make ends meet as it is, then to have a $ amount that you have to spend... This would just work better as you could give what you want.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:10 PM   #5
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great idea Claire, thanks for sharing. If we can not pull it off this year, it is certainly worthwhile to keep in mind for next year....just think the difference we could make!
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Old 12-15-2007, 07:15 PM   #6
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Except for the few people who aren't on line so they get a snailmail Christmas card, everyone else gets a email Christmas card complete with pictures and poem, and the saved postage and card cost ($75) is given to Salvation Army for their Christmas dinners they give out to those who need it. And in the family, no adults are getting anything storebought anymore. I send a donation to Oxfam for camels , chickens or bicyles in their honor. I usually make food gifts all year long like vinegars, dried fruits, and herbs, liquers, etc. and they are much appreciated .
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:32 PM   #7
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The idea started ages ago, when an acquaintance was to come to our annual holiday party. She called me in a panic. She and her husband, like us, childless, had volunteered to work at a soup kitchen in Honolulu for Christmas. Little did she know that she was expected to bring the food! I immediately volunteered to buy all the dressing (lots of Stove Top!), then started thinking about the party I was about to throw. I called her back for the list of stuff she needed, and started calling all of my guests. My husband's boss caught me at about my third call, and asked me for the list, put it on the bulletin board with a box under it, and showed up with tons of food. Over the years we've dropped food on church rectory doorsteps, senior citizen centers, etc. Like many of you, we, my parents and my siblings all tend to buy what we need or want when we need or want it. It was becoming close to impossible to buy gifts. Now I buy a big box of local food products to send to my family, but hubby and I just collect and bring food for our local food bank (run by a half-dozen of our local churches .... small town). I use the words "food bank" liberally; some of the most expensive items on your grocery list are paper and soap products. It was a horribly nasty, icey day the day of the party, and it was great that people brought a lot of items such a TP, paper towels, diapers, etc. They are easier to carry and are a huge portion of the "food" budget. Bars of soap, laundry detergent, and such are also usually appreciated.

I love the response I'm getting to this. Think of the lesson we can be teaching children when we do this! But even if you can't give up family gift giving (and believe me, the only way I could was to leave town), at least get your work place to stop that silly nonsense and do something that counts!
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Old 12-16-2007, 04:01 PM   #8
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Claire, you are the spirit of Christmas! Thank you so much for starting this thread and sharing the things you've done through the years for others this season. It warmed my heart reading all the posts.

We quit exchanging gifts with anyone years ago and only buying for the young children in the family. Instead we spend extra time together or bake or cook for each other. But, like you, the bulk of our efforts and funds go toward "Christmasing" others in need. Sadly, we never have to look too far.

But it's been wonderful for my children who have grown up feeling it's an honor and an obligation to share our good fortune with others who are having a rough time. And it's funny, when we all sit around reminiscing about the years, my grown kids never remember a toy or gift they received. Instead, they remember each Christmas as "that year we made video game carts for the children's hospital" or "the year we brought Andrei's family here to be with him" or "the year we made 60 fleece blankets and passed them out under the bridge nearby".

Thanks for reminding me that when the kids are all grown and gone, there will still be lots of opportunities to "Christmas" others.
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:48 PM   #9
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I think that all of these posts represent very beautiful sentiment.... but why does everyone wait until this time of year to be so kind?

Poor and underprivileged people are this way all year long. Please don't forget about them in June when you're having a bar-b-que.
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:34 PM   #10
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Exactly! That's why birthday presents around here are now "in honor of you" for Oxfam or Kiva.
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