Un "stuff" your Christmas

Did you know? When it comes to gift giving, quality is better than quantity
By Paul Viau | Nov 20, 2012
Photo by: File photo LESS IS MUCH MORE — Don't let gift giving get in the way of the real meaning of Christmas.

A few years ago my wife and I realized (maybe later than most folks) that we had way too much “stuff.” So when the holidays came around, and the family and friends asked us, “What do you want for Christmas?” we started steering them toward alternative gifts.

First we requested consumable gift items — mostly in the form of food and drink that we could either consume ourselves or share with others.

You know what I mean — beer, wine, cake, cookies, and let’s not forget fruitcake. I may be one of the only people in the world who still likes fruitcake — the denser the better.

But the problem with consumable items — especially during the winter months — is that they can stick with you. The beer turns into beer belly, the wine fuels winter weight gain, and the cakes and cookies form their own kind of “stuffing.”
Thankfully, my sister-in-law always gifts us pears from Harry & David for the holidays. They are healthy consumables — great for snacking, baking, and kicking up arugula salad. Thanks, Barbara.

In addition to healthy consumable items, my wife and I are turning more and more to alternative gift giving. Here are a few examples:

For that pet lover on your Christmas list, make a donation to Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation. For food lovers, why not provide some real food for thought — with a donation to The Open Door. For that military veteran you love so much, show your love and support by making a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. And a perfect gift to anyone with a happy home right now is a donation to the American Red Cross to aid the thousands still reeling from devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

Gifts to charitable organizations work wonders in our community, and throughout the world, and I was so happy to read in The Mountaineer that Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church is sponsoring an “Alternative Market” this coming Sunday, Dec. 2.
The gifts available at this market will directly benefit artisans, farmers, families, impoverished children and developing communities around the world.

Each gift purchased will help change lives — both for the artisan who created it, and the worthwhile cause he or she represents.

Items for sale at the Alternative Market include jewelry, purses, scarves, candle holders and musical instruments. Also, for fans of  “consumables” like me, you can purchase from two of my favorite categories — coffee and chocolates.

In addition to the many gift items available for purchase, the “Alternative Market” is your opportunity to make a meaningful donation — to purchase livestock, help dig a well, or provide one of the greatest gifts of all to people in need — education that will help them help themselves.

Representatives will be present from Start with One Kenya, Bead for Life, Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, UMCOR, SERRV and many more.
As the mission of SERRV states, this holiday season is your opportunity “to enrich and inspire” with gifts that are handmade, fair trade, and directly linked to a nonprofit organization. And don’t forget to support local Haywood County merchants.

I’ll be writing about many of them in the next few weeks. In the meantime, remember to think “out of the box” with gifts that will make a real difference in peoples lives.