I love giving presents so much that I'm infamous among family and friends for coercing people into opening their gifts as soon as I buy them--sometimes even weeks before a birthday or Christmas.
But presents rarely live up to expectations: the promise of artistic wrapping paper, shiny ribbons, and a mysterious shape too often give way to boring ties, frumpy bathrobes, or laborious-to-read books.
Each year, despite my love for giving presents, I've become more and more disgruntled by the commercialism of the holiday season. Now that I have a young son, it's more crucial to me that I fight the insipid commercialism of our culture and find ways to give in a more meaningful and lasting manner. I know I want my son to be more excited about having a heifer purchased in his name than a video game, or new pajamas, or another Elmo toy.
Below are some organizations that let you donate to important causes on behalf of others.
Heifer International: Through Heifer International, you can give a family a source of food for the long-term, instead of fleeting relief in the form of money. Through this organization, you can purchase a heifer, sheep, llama, water buffalo, goat, or a flock of chicks. Millions of families in 128 countries have received life-changing gifts through this organization.
ONE The Campaign to Make Poverty History: Instead of buying your loved ones clothing that will be tossed out when the next fad arrives, purchase ONE campaign t-shirts on the Web site. There are also white bands and snazzy water bottles that would make great stocking stuffers.