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Great Gift Ideas for Christmas

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by Jenny Rossiter (subscribe)
Writer, photographer, educator, explorer of places new, with a passion for adding fun back into life.
Published October 29th 2014
Give great gifts without going near the shops
It's less than 60 days to Christmas. The shopping silly season has begun.

Do you have lots of stuff? Do the friends and family you buy for, have lots of stuff? Is the thought of buying MORE stuff for people who don't actually need any stuff something you would rather not think about?

I love to encourage children to think about other children or families who might not experience any Christmas joy until we share some of our comparatively huge wealth with them. Take a step away from the self-focussed consumerism of the festive season and have a look at some of the charities that are making a difference in the day-to-day life of others.

My easiest and most rewarding year of Christmas gift-giving was the one when I bought Kiva credit for each child in my extended family. I created vouchers for each niece and nephew describing how they could go to the Kiva site online and together with their parents, read stories about people who are motivated to improve their life by getting an education, buying stock or purchasing equipment to grow their business. Kiva make micro loans to individuals and groups in countries such as Samoa, Peru, El Salvatore and many others. Loans are repaid and you can use your returned $25 to empower another person by providing a new loan, donating the money to Kiva or withdrawing it after one loan.

Kiva, microloans, Christmas gifts
Images provided by Kiva to advance its mission of connecting people around the world through lending to alleviate poverty

Would you like to help someone who is doing it tough in Australia? The Salvation Army's Wishes catalogue has many gifts with appealing names, that your child might like to give to another child. These range from a 'Warm Hug' blanket at $5 through 'Paintbox' (an art lesson) at $12, to a 'Santa Smile' which is a $20 Christmas present for boys or girls.

Salvation Army, Christmas gifts, charity gifts

Do you have a heart for a particular country? UnitingWorld produces a Everything in Common Gift Catalogue that targets areas of need in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. 'Lay an Egg' is a $10 donation to buy four chickens for a person in Zimbabwe. 'Create a Buzz' ($40) and 'Loan for a Loo' ($50) are other fun-sounding loans that might grab children's attention. 'Loan for a Loo' helps a family in rural Bali build their own toilet. Men and women in Zimbabwe can start their own beekeeping enterprise and sell honey at the market with 'Create a Buzz'.

Everything in Common, UnitingWorld, Christmas gifts

Everything in Common, UnitingWorld, Uniting Church, Christmas catalogue, gifts

TEAR Australia is a Christian organisation that responds to global poverty and injustice. They have a great video that demonstrates how useful gifts can bring life, hope and opportunity to others.

UNICEF and Oxfam are other well known charities that help others to help themselves. Oxfam have a range of humorous cards that will provoke an amused grin and then a satisfied smile ('I wanted to get you something deep and meaningful, so I bought you a well'). UNICEF Gifts have the double target of spreading hope, love and peace while delivering health, learning and protection to the world's children.
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