Add some soul to your season: gifts with extra karmic oomph

December 7, 2012

This time of year tends to bring out a lot of people’s inner grinches. We start grumbling about Christmas carols/crowded malls/commercialism/in-laws/family fueds/the weather, you name it.  I’m guilty of a little under-the-breath cursing myself (mostly about sweatshop goods and cold winds; I do love a good Bing Crosby carol though, sorry).

True, the holidays may not always turn out the way we dreamed they would as kids. So why not reclaim the season and sprinkle some magic back into it? How exactly? Give! Not gifts you feel guilty about, ones that get re-gifted or broken and forgotten after a month or two. I’m talking about gifts with extra karmic oomph. Ones that actually help build communities near and far.

Charities depend on our seasonal generosity to help them function all year round. In this week’s Ecoholic column in NOW, I highlight some of the awesome gifts (both tangible and abstract) from nonprofits like Oxfam (top), WWF, Free the Children, Me to We (left; FYI you’ll find more ethical/funky clothing styles at metowestyle.com), Evergreen, Sick Kids, CAMH -from wells and goats to cookbooks and necklaces. To get the scoop on those, read the column. All of them do involve opening your wallet in some way. But there are lots of alternative cash-free ways to give. 

  • Donate clothes/(nontoxic) toiletries/transit tokens/household items/school supplies/gift cards/Canadian Tire money to your local women’s shelter/youth shelter
  • Donate knitted scarves/sweaters/mitts to The Street Knit Project
  • Parents: donate the toys/clothes your kids have outgrown to the Children’s Aid Society
  • Sell something you don’t need and give the money to charity (could be your barely used bread maker/stationary bike/university text books, etc)
  • Collect dry goods for food banks: comb through your kitchen and give up boxes/bags of unopened pasta/beans/rice/PB, and Tetrapaked items, too. Try to steer clear of BPA-lined canned goods.
  • Give some of your time! Volunteer at your favourite local charity/nonprofit.