Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Ridiculously Simple Holiday Gift Guide - $25 and up

Part 2: $25 and up - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Once again, most of us are struggling, in one fashion or another, to buy the perfect gift for a variety of people on our shopping list. As always, some people are harder to buy for than others. 

Cost: $25 and up. Effort: Practically zero. Impact: Huge. 

So, for the 2nd part of The Ridiculously Simple Holiday Gift Guide, my suggestion is Kiva. As I said in my first part, studies show that consumerism (buying stuff) doesn't really bring happiness. What does bring us happiness, however, is being grateful for what we already have, and selfless acts such as helping someone else. 

  If you've not heard about Kiva, it's a micro-lending organization that enriches entrepreneurs in third world countries. By securing micro-loans from individuals, it gives hard working people the means to start or grow their small businesses and become more successful and self-reliant. It also positively affects the quality of life for their families. 

This may be the perfect gift for the person who really has it all, or for the boss, client or colleague you're not comfortable buying a personal gift for, but would like to do something lovely or appropriate, just the same. Nothing says, "I've arrived", more nicely than doing something great in the name of someone else. 

Keeping it real on the flip side, nothing is more sly, smart or satisfying than circumventing a gift you feel obligated to give, than by giving the gift to someone else, in the name of your required recipient. Unsavory relative, client or co-worker? The Secret Santa nightmare? It's the perfect solution, and someone really deserving benefits, too. 

 Regardless of who, how or why you're gifting, in nearly every case where you and the recipient live an industrialized nation, you are light years ahead of the poverty and hardships that the Kiva recipients face, many of which live below one or two dollars a day. We all have so much living here in these advanced societies, sharing with someone who doesn't is very meaningful to everyone involved, and subsequently, may also increase your happiness quotient when you realize how much you truly do have. 

For any of the gifting scenarios, $25 in their name to a worthy recipient through Kiva, which is actually a LOAN that is repaid, is a wonderful way to give and make a real difference. When the loan is repaid, the recipient can choose to reinvest in another worthy entrepreneur, in a country of their choice. Or, they may take the dollars you originally gifted back into their own pocket and waste spend it on a round of Starbucks or something equally fleeting overpriced desirable. Karma is their choice. At least your gift can't be rebuffed or misconstrued, doesn't start out as a reindeer sweater that they're going return, or worse surreptitiously re-gifted. Problems upon problems solved! 

 But there's more. You also have a Kiva gift for waiting for me, and this one won't cost you a thing. Follow my invite to Kiva. Simply for registering to have a look around, a benevolent donor at Kiva will give me $25 to invest in a worthy person to enrich their lives - for free. When these donor loan are repaid, it stays within Kiva to help yet another person - which is perfect. I always pick women entrepreneurs and generally those who are working in healthy food enterprises. 

The site is inspiring, which will also increase your happiness & gratitude quotient. Now tell me, when was the last time a holiday gift guide gave you so much? 

Please join me in checking out Kiva and jot down three things you're grateful for today!

There are, of course, many worthy organizations that may better match those on your gift list. There are a multitude of world wide children's organization,  Animal foundations, such as one of my favorites, The Elephant Sanctuary or home to so many of us here, BreastHealthOnline. There are many, many more worthy places, including your own local civic organizations. All of which are in need of our help and would make inspiring choices for your gift recipients. 

I'd love to hear how micro-lending at Kiva or gifting through to any organization made a difference in your holiday giving and changed someone's life, including yours!

Here's wishing you a happier holiday and more prosperous New Year to everyone on your holiday list, and beyond. 

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