Freelance writer, amateur photographer and qualified in Environmental Science ... I'm also a mum and a lover of all things Melbourne :)
Published December 13th 2012
Other Ways of Giving This Christmas
Every year in the lead up to Christmas, we see stories and articles suggesting 'what to get the person that's got everything', then every year after the festive season, we hear of how many unwanted gifts Australians have received and how many thousands people have a credit card debt due to buying these gifts for friends and family.
How many Christmas gifts under the tree will be unappreciated or unwanted? (christmasstockimages.com)
According to recent surveys, over half of us receive at least one unwanted gift, and in one year in Australia, these unwanted gifts can total up to $1 billion. There are many social and environmental implications of sharing too much stuff around. Check out The story of stuff video on Youtube.
At the same time, there are many organisations which are doing worthwhile work, ensuring people and animals have the basics they need year round.
So this year, instead of giving the people that have everything more of things they don't want or need and battling through the shops at Christmas time, I have a few suggestions on how to still enjoy experience the joy of giving, whilst knowing that it's going to someone who wants and needs it.
Gifts For Those Who Need Them There are a number of Not for Profit organisations which have online gift catalogues, where you can choose from a range of worthwhile gifts for those in need and make a donation on a loved one's behalf.
Other organisations online gift catalogues include many practical items aimed at assisting people in need both here and overseas. There is a wide range to choose from, depending on your interest, or that of your gift receiver - you can choose to purchase a gift that supports the eradication of human trafficking, provision of school supplies, provision of basic healthcare needs, clean water supplies, or the purchase of animals and farming tools to assist in income generation.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a goat. (George Chernilevsky / Wikimedia Commons)
Gifting Things You No Longer Need It can be cathartic to have a clear out, instead of gathering more stuff in the home that you need to find a place for after Christmas. As well as the traditional drop off of clothing and op shops, there's a number of other options for things you may have around the home that you no longer have a need for. Again, you get to enjoy the experience of giving to people or animals that are in greater need of these things than yourselves, whilst creating more space in your home.
As post Christmas is a busy time for animal shelters they may be grateful for the gifts of towels/blankets that you no longer need, these can be used for animals bedding. The RSPCA has drop off bins for these as well as cat/dog food donations. Enquire at your local animal shelter to see if they would find these useful as well.
If you've been on some holidays over the year (and previous years) and felt that you just had to take the shampoo, condition, shower gel etc. bottles as they were included in the cost, only to now have a growing collection of these in your bathroom, these can also be put to better use. Pinchapoo distributes these toiletries to organisations such as woman's domestic abuse safe houses and homeless shelters in various locations around Melbourne.
Someone else could make use of the glasses that are no longer trendy (photo courtesy of Jakes World - Flickr.com)
Finally, if you have old glasses that you don't wear anymore these can be donated to OneSight via your nearest OPSM store. The One Sight foundation needs up to two million pairs of recycled glasses each year to keep up with demand, so as with all these organisations, the need is not just at Christmas, you can donate at any time.
Gifting the Basics Non-perishable food gifts can be given from excess groceries you have in the cupboard or buying an extra item or two at your next shop. Due to the rising cost of living, organisations such as Anglicare and Wesley Mission are currently struggling to meet the need of people requiring help over the festive season.
Photo courtesy SMC - Wikipedia
If we remind ourselves of all the unwanted stuff that gets gifted, perhaps we should all buy a few small food items instead.
The Wesley Mission Food for Families appeal has boxes at Woolworths and IGA supermarkets around the state.
Food for those who need it is an valuable gift (photo courtesy of irrational cat - Wikipedia)
If you had excess cat or dog food at home, or wanted to buy an extra can or too at your next shop the Lost Dogs Home also has donation boxes at Woolworths stores.
Giving Your Time
It's easy to get caught up in the hype and end up stressing out at the shops trying to find the perfect gifts, perhaps we should instead give our time to others in need of company and a listening ear.
Volunteer organisations are inundated with volunteers at this time of year, so I'm thinking more of giving your time to people you think might need some company at this time of year. The festive season can create greater financial pressures, stress, depression and greater feelings of loneliness and isolation for many in the community. Also, kids don't appreciate gifts nearly as much as someone spending time to play with them and give them the attention they deserve.
So whether it's popping into visit a neighbour that's on their own for a cup of tea, or giving a child you know an hour to play. These gifts of time that of let someone know that someone else cares, these are gifts that won't be thrown away or sold on Ebay by Boxing Day.