Geists, Goats, and Steals

December 22, 2010

Three more shopping days until Christmas!!! (Counting today, that is.)

Yep, getting a little tired of the constant reminders that we are running out of time to shop until we drop. Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety, but I’m starting to understand why my parents always asked for things like socks and eco-friendly water bottles. They ask for things they need, not things that will get a momentary “Oh, how nice!” followed by a lifetime at the back of the closet. Toys are great for kids (and I truly mean toys here. Lego, trains, and stuffed animals. The fact that six-year-olds want iPads and cell phones creeps me out), but what about those of us who are a bit older?

Even if your loved one says they don’t want anything, you feel pretty guilty on Christmas morning when they whip out a beautifully wrapped package and you stammer, “Uh… you said not to get a present… so… uh…” Chances are, it’s also the nicest-looking present under the tree.

Because we’ve been loving the lists over the past few days, here are a few suggestions.


Personally, I count books as exceptions to “stuff.” I go to the library a lot, but let’s face it: there are times when having your own copy is important. A nice edition of a favourite book makes a thoughtful gift. Besides which, books are immortal when taken care of. They can pass from person to person over the years, instead of crumbling to wires and circuitry like some electronic gizmos.

For SF fans, books of short stories are great. It’s like a buffet; there’s probably something for every taste.  I’m also pushing Geist on people this year (with moderate success, if I say so myself :P). The sequel can’t come soon enough for me… though tentative dates have it coming out on my birthday, which is pretty cool.

But I digress. Old, used copies of books are another awesome yet “green” idea. Old books are inherently cool. Get them used, and you’re continuing the “book cycle,” ensuring that another good book finds a worthy reader.


When I was about 9, my parents “adopted” a tiger for me. Even after I figured out that the tiger was on a preserve somewhere, and would NOT be showing up on our doorstep, I thought it was an awesome present. Knowing that a tiger had been protected gave me the warm-and-fuzzies just as much as a stuffed tiger would have. There are plenty of candidates for animal sponsorship: lions, polar bears, rhinos, elephants, whales…

You can give a gift by helping people too. Some donations can purchase a goat for a family, or school supplies and medicine. for a child. The only caveat with opting for a charitable gift is that you have to do your research. Unfortunately, there are charities that funnel very little money to your intended recipient.


And finally: if neither a book or a donation on their behalf is feasible, and you don’t feel like braving the hordes at the nearest mega-mall? Local craft sales have surprisingly diverse and sustainable offerings. I’ve seen everything from knitted tuques, to homemade honey, to hand-carved wooden trains. Crowds are often lower, a lot of the crafts use eco-friendly materials, and you’re supporting local, independent artists. And it’s fun to just look at the creativity on display, even if you don’t buy anything. Sometimes they even give you tea and snacks. I like snacks.

Gift-giving doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. The Anglo-Saxons used the reciprocity of gifts to establish relationships (you gave me a chicken, I want you to like me and think I’m richer than you, but not by too much, so I’ll give you a really nice goose), but today, so many of us seem to have so much, it’s time to focus on quality of thought again, rather than quantity of packages.

Me? I think a goat sounds lovely….




  1. Excellent post. I’m tired of the ads reaching into our wallets and suggesting that we love better when we spend more.

    So . . . we’re spending LESS! We set a $10 limit for each other ~ I’m giving my BFF a pizza. He’s giving me Lindor White Chocolate Truffles and a 2011 Calendar from the $ Store. 🙂

    Happy Holidays!

  2. I’m planning on dropping by a used bookstore to pick up some stocking stuffers for friends.


  3. Don’t even get me started on all this gift exchanging nonsense. The fact of the matter is that we all have everything we want and need because, in western society, if we want something, we go and buy it. So, when birthdays and other gift-giving occasions roll around, no one knows what to get anyone. I think we should scrap the whole thing (except for kids, of course, although I do agree that toys are more appropriate than electronics for children), and just enjoy spending time with one another. I realize that this is hardly a popular opinion in our “gimme gimme gimme” society, but it’s one that would help the environment and make us a whole lot happier, too.


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