Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Gena Bigler: When considering gift-giving, be creative – and pick one that keeps on giving
You can give gifts that keep giving. It seems there is always a gift giving holiday just around the corner. Besides birthdays and Christmas or Hanukkah there are anniversaries, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Grandparent’s day, Easter baskets, weddings, graduations, house warming and hostess gifts. There are inexpensive gifts that will meet the social obligation but have no lasting impact. With a little creativity, you can give an inexpensive gift that holds a deeper meaning.
There is always the beloved DIY option. Making something for someone is a gift of your time and an expression of love. In our busy society, time is often the most precious thing we have. You can give a gift of time by giving your time to their project. Years ago my sister and I gave our mother a few hours of gardening for Mother’s day. My sister has a lovely green thumb and I’ve been known to kill dill. But she directed me and I can dig and weed. We spent a few hours working in the dirt but the results lasted for much longer.
One of my favorite gifts I’ve received was from my sister. She bought all the ingredients and taught me to make a favorite recipe. The gift of knowledge is everlasting as is the memory of the hours in the kitchen with my sister. Share a skill you have with someone you love. Teaching my nephew to knit is one of my fondest memories. When you give your time and skill, you receive as well.
My mother gave me a photo album filled with pictures from our life. I was overwhelmed with the care and time she took to put it together. From baby pictures through the teen years, she captured moments full of emotion. Looking through that album with my children is priceless.
If you don’t have time for a DIY project, there are still ways to give a creative and thoughtful gift. Tickets to a play or concert are a wonderful way to give a memory. Giving a membership to a museum or zoo, will benefit the recipient for at least a year and support the non-profit.
Donating to a charity is a good way to give thoughtfully. The Heifer project has a wide range of options for donating that give you clear picture of where your money is going. I’ve bought honey bees for my nephew. He loved looking at the photo and talking about who might actually have the bees and eat the honey. You can also ‘adopt’ an animal from the Newport Aquarium; many zoos offer the same adoption plan. Depending on the level of giving, you may get a photo of the animal, a stuffed animal or even a special tour or animal interaction. A creative way to support a loved non-profit and give a unique gift.
In the internet age, it’s even easier to locate unique giving opportunities. With sites like www.kickstarter.com, www.indiegogo.com and www.startsomegood.com you can support interesting non-profits or help create documentaries and give it as a gift tailored to the recipient.
There are also more traditional ways to give gifts that keep giving. You can give a savings bond, an excellent gift for a child. You can donate to an education fund. You can pay for a summer camp or fun extracurricular activity. Buy season tickets to a sporting arena; minor league baseball is fun for the whole family and the tickets are very reasonably priced.
Gifts don’t always have to come in a box. There are wonderful ways to share the giving. Maybe the next time someone asks what you want, you could suggest ‘let’s volunteer together.’ An hour or two at a food bank will create an unforgettable memory for you and your friends and provide some much needed support for overworked non-profits.
Gena Bigler is passionate about public service and credits her time serving nonprofits in AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America (V.I.S.T.A.) with teaching her extreme budgeting and bargain shopping. Gena is now CFO of a Kentucky business and serves on the board of the Kentucky RiverKeeper. Gena would be happy to hear from you at email@example.com.