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Here’s A Great Idea For A Christmas Present

christmas-shopping-imageFellow Riskologist,

I watched the horror of Black Friday unfold the other day from the comfort of my living room. I’d check out CNN or The Huffington Post throughout the day to see the ridiculous headlines emerge.

Children getting trampled for a pair of socks. Two ladies tasering each other for the best deal at Wal*Mart.

And what are these people doing? They’re Christmas shopping!

Running a business myself, I don’t begrudge a good sale. But seeing the monsters we can become during a time of year when we’re supposed to be thinking of ways to give and care for one another causes me some inner turmoil.

But fear not. There is a solution!

If you don’t want to be part of the holiday shopping mad dash, but you’re wondering what to get everyone for Christmas this year, I have an idea. You can buy it for everyone on your list.

In fact, I feel confident saying it’s the best Christmas gift you can get anyone in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for a man or a woman. A husband or a wife. A child or an adult. It doesn’t matter if they already have everything they could ever want or have nothing at all. It doesn’t matter if they’re rich or poor, eccentric or conservative, an avid traveler, golfer, photographer, painter, carpenter, technophile, movie goer, hunter, baseball card collector, ham radio operator, alien conspiracy theorist, or indulger of any other odd interest.

You give it just once, but it’s received by many over and over. And the best part? It’s a gift universally loved by everyone who truly believes the spirit of Christmas.

Ready to know what it is?

It’s a charitable donation.

Several years ago, I talked everyone in my family into giving up the idea of Christmas shopping and, instead, to make a donation to a favorite charity.

Rather than trying to come up with a list of things I might want but could just buy for myself:

  • A Moleskine
  • A new jacket
  • Umm… what else? I’m really bad at making Christmas lists…

I made a list of people I’d like to help:

Homeless youth in Portland.

My parents picked “hungry families” in their home town. My grandparents picked “immobile elderly” in their neighborhood.

When Christmas Day came, there were no presents under the tree. And guess what? No one missed them! Instead, there were envelopes with receipts for the donations we’d made to each other’s favorite charities.

Rather than write on a fancy stack of paper (Moleskine) for a few months, I got to spend the whole year knowing the money went to help a high schooler kick a heroin addiction and get a job before ending up on the streets.

And rather than get Mom yet another set of scented candles, she got to feed a hungry family for weeks.

If you haven’t experienced it yourself yet, I can testify that the feeling you get knowing you made someone less fortunate’s life better outweighs any feeling you get receiving a present yourself. The feeling is so good, in fact, it is a present.

When you get a normal Christmas gift—something stuffed in a box and wrapped in paper—the best you’ll ever feel about it is the moment you open it. After that, it’s all down hill. Even if it was an amazing gift perfectly crafted for you, it eventually falls by the wayside.

When you give (or receive) a donation to a worthy cause, the feeling of happiness is just as instant, but it lasts forever.

I can hardly remember a single Christmas gift I’ve received throughout the years. The ones I can are a nice memory, but they don’t hold a (Christmas-scented) candle to the donations that have been made in my name. And each time I remember, it makes me feel just as good as the first time I received it.

And the best part? Everyone who truly loves Christmas also loves this gift. You can’t go wrong!

Think you can’t do this with young children? Think again!

Sure, you’ll want to get your child a little something to play with, but think of the amazing gift you’d be giving your child by instilling the characteristics of kindness and gratitude in them by teaching them the true meaning of Christmas at such a young age.

Maybe, instead of a donation, you could take your children to a local organization to volunteer their time. What kind of impact would that have on their lives down the road?

If you’re looking for the perfect presents for the people in your life who you love so much, at least make the gift of a charitable donation a serious consideration this year.

This Christmas, I’ll be making a donation to my favorite charity, Outside In—on behalf of all Riskology.co readers. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to support, I’d encourage you to do the same. You can make your donation in the name of “The Riskology.co Community” or, of course, anyone else you like.

I hope I’ve solved all your Christmas shopping needs!

Yours in giving,
Founder, Riskology.co

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What smart people are saying about this...

  1. Thanks for the inspiration! This is exactly what I’m going to do. I found a great farm animal rescue organization that I will donate to as a gift to my best friend.

  2. Hi Tyler,
    Thank you for posting some great alternatives to the standard BS that is forced present giving at xmas time. We have orchestrated things over the last few years so that our friends and family now know that we don’t need or want a gift, and if someone insists, they know that we don’t care about cards or wrapping paper, but if they insist on wrapping they know that we’ll probably keep the paper to reuse! Ha.
    I struggle with the wastage and carelessness about xmas. I hope that your post encourages others to rethink their “obligatory” gifts, and choose something that will really make a difference in the world.

  3. Great post Tyler,

    Christmas is such a stressful time of the year that I try to be far away from the madness in my home city. Giving donations would make it much more tolerable. I hope this catches on!

    P.S. I love the new site design. Simple and beautiful. Nicely done.

    • Thanks, John. I hope it catches on, too. And it doesn’t just make Christmas more tolerable, it really makes it a lot of fun. I can hardly explain how good it feels to have other do good on your behalf.

  4. I recently wrote a post about this exact same thing. I really hope more people begin doing this. I didn’t discuss it with anyone beforehand, though. I just made it clear what I wanted, then I gave gifts to charities that I knew my relatives supported or causes that I knew they cared about. This was incredibly popular, and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it. Let’s keep spreading the word!

  5. A few years back, my mother gave me a $25 gift certificate to a microlending organization for Christmas. I contributed to my first microloan and have continued to re-lend that same $25 every year to an entrepreneur somewhere in the world. It’s been an amazing ongoing gift and I have since given similar certificates to friends. I have also added additional funds to my account every year to support loans more often.

    Last year, I gave mom a “nest of baby turtles” through a donation to a rescue organization. She is now planning a trip in 2014 to help relocate threatened eggs during a volunteer vacation with that organization.

    A well-thought out gift to an organization that fits well with a friend or family member’s interests and values gives so much more than some trinket or goodie. And it gives us all a chance to connect with each other and with our world in ways that are truly meaningful.

    Thanks for the post, Tyler! Think how amazing it would be if everyone gave just one charitable gift this year.

    • How fun, Andrea. One year, I used Heifer Intl. to “give” all my friends a water buffalo. Everyone got a kick out of that. I love organizations that make giving a fun/interactive experience.

Founded with love by Tyler Tervooren

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