Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gifts Outside the Box

The Long and Winding Road   Honour a friend or loved-one while helping to create the world's longest network of recreational trails!  The Trans Canada Trail will extend 22,000 kilometres linking the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans and will support a variety of activities, such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and  canoeing.  Make a gift in tribute to honour a friend, or shop Trans Canada Trail gift shop. Perfect for the outdoor enthusiast or nature lover in your life!

Canada's Most Meaningful Gifts  Giving gifts from World Vision Canada's Gift Catalog has become a regular part of my Christmas celebrations.  For as little as $25, you can buy a gift that will significantly and positively impact the lives of people around the world - or right here in Canada, if you choose. Some of my favorite gift purchases have included the Literacy for Children package ($30), Winter Clothing for Children ($35), a Wood Conserving Stove ($50), Olive Trees ($30), and the Supply a Classroom package ($50).   Make your gift purchase go even further by choosing an item from the "Multiplier" section.  Consider one of the Education gifts to honour your child's teacher. For each gift you buy, you will receive a greeting card to give to your recipient that explains the item you have chosen for them.

Remember Our Furry Friends  We are all familiar with our local animal shelters, who do a fantastic job caring for unwanted and abandoned pets.  But what happens to the larger critters in our midst - farm animals, for example - when they are neglected?  The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada near Guelph, Ontario plays a crucial role in rescuing and rehabilitating donkeys, mules, and hinnies.  Think you don't care?  Go to their site and gaze at those sweet little faces.  Such character!  Such gentleness and furry wisdom!  It makes a person want to bring them all home.  (Do you think my cats would mind...?)  While you can't actually bring them home, you can do the next best thing.  For $50 (or more, by donation) you can sponsor a DSC donkey.  You - or your recipient - will receive a photo of your beloved donkey, a biography, adoption certificate, DSC newsletter, and an annual report.

Give With Love...And A Conscience   For more traditional gift-giving, I recommend the Ten Thousand Villages network of stores and festivals as the place to shop.  Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit, Fair Trade Organization that benefits artisans and agricultural organizations in low-income countries.  You are certain to find lovely gifts for every taste and budget, including spices and chocolate, exquisite handmade stationary, soaps (the cinnamon nutmeg soap is a perfect stocking stuffer for this time of year!), jewelry, keepsake boxes, ornaments and nativity scenes, musical instruments, home decor (love the hammered copper vase), and the list goes on.  While not strictly a Canadian organization, I feel this deserves special mention.  Ten Thousand Villages has 50 retail stores across Canada and an extensive online Canadian store. If you're seeking unique, thoughtful gifts, and want to know your hard-earned money is benefiting people instead of huge corporations, Ten Thousand Villages is a good place to start.