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Oh Sh*t Gifts

15 December 2011

There are the gifts of the season that are full of excitement and intention, like the great items I've picked out for my mom, sister and husband. Then you have the fun gifts that you see and know it will make a great present for someone on your list. Then there are "Oh Sh*t Gifts." The gifts for an aunt or cousin, teacher or supervisor where you don't know what you would get even if budget wasn't an issue and you also put off until the last minute.

Last year I did a little gifting experiment. Instead of going out and buying a cheap candle, traditional ornament or random bottle of wine, I shopped some charity gift catalogs. Charity gift catalogs are a great way to make a gift to a non-profit in the name of someone on your Christmas list and be able to tangibly show how the gift is going to be put to work. It went over great and I am looking forward to battling holiday stress again this year with some worthwhile, tax-deductible gifts!

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For example, my aunt is a very hardworking doctor with great taste and the ability to buy her own scented candles. This year instead of purchasing her a gift that would just clutter her home, I bought her a year's worth of micronutrients for 10 children through one of my favorite charities, Church World Service. These micronutrients come in powder form in packets and are stirred into children's food in areas recovering from famine to iron, zinc, vitamin A and folic acid to children. Markus' parents are in the process of moving out to to their organic farm full-time, where they keep gardens, chickens and goats. Instead of giving them one more thing to pack and move, we are excited to send a pair of goats to a community that can use them to make high-protein milk, an income for families and fertilizer for sustainable gardening. If you are looking for a gift for your children's teacher besides the standard coffee mug, how about sending five bundles of new school supplies overseas to give children the gift of an education? I love Church World Service becuase it is an organization about teaching people better ways to help themselves for the long haul, and I feel as though these simple items make a world of difference to someone working to stand on their own two feet.

Another great charity gift catalog that everyone is sure to recognize and appreciate is the American Red Cross. Their disaster prepardeness training and relief, CPR and first aid classes, fire response and military services are what has kept our world seeing a light at the end of the tunnel during our world and local disasters, and what allows us to be able to fundraise and respond to tragedies of all shapes and sizes. How about donating a calling card to an American solider in the name of a veteran or parent of a military member? I plan on buying my boss measles vaccinations for 25 children, a disease that can be wiped out with a simple shot but still takes 450 lives a day. If your interests are international, the American Red Cross video below shows how great their global impact was in 2011.

I am really grateful to have found some last-minute gifts that are more than just Christmas filler. Both of these organizations will send you a card to give to your recipient explaining the gift and what it is providing to a person in need. If you're ordering very last minute (like maybe 15 mintues before Christmas dinner, as I have done before) there are cards you can print from your home printer and even e-cards for relatives out of town. What do you usually do when you realize that there is someone on your list that you've forgetten?


  1. Hi Lilly,

    What a great post! I work for the American Red Cross and found your blog through your reference to our giving catalog (thank you for that), but I was also excited to learn about the other gifts you highlighted. Thanks for sharing and have a great Christmas!

  2. Very cool! I have several people who fall into this category!


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