This past Christmas I gave many gifts. None of them were dramatically expensive, but my family really enjoys the gift exchange and I enjoy finding the perfect gifts for each person. The hunt is almost as much fun as the actual gift exchange. This year, though, one of my recipients stumped me. When I asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” he said, “I don’t want any stuff. I’ve got stuff coming out of my ears. I want you to find a worthy charity and give the money you’d spend on my gift to them.”
Well, hmmm, I thought. I asked what he had in mind but he said, “Nope. Surprise me.” He was giving me the chance to do what I love (hunt down the perfect gift) but without having to hit a single store. More than any other gift I bought this year, I knew that this would be the most challenging and rewarding.
The first thing I did was to really think about this person. When someone tells you what they want or you just go out looking for stuff, sometimes you don’t think that much about the person. You think more about the stuff. But when you’re trying to match a person to a charity that you know they’d like, you really have to think about what this person likes and values. I had to search my memories for fragments of old conversations, things I’d seen around his house, and his hobbies and interests. All of those things paint a picture of the sorts of charities that this person is likely to value.
Once I knew what sorts of things were important to him, I had to find charities that matched those interests. I then had to research each one to find out how they use the money they receive and whether they are reputable. This is sound advice when giving to any charity, by the way. You don’t want to give to a place that misuses funds, gives to groups you don’t approve of, or that puts more of the money into their CEO’s wallets than they do into the cause they’re supporting.
Once I’d chosen the charity, I had to think of a creative way to present it to my relative. I didn’t want to just say, “Hey, I gave the money to X.” (Sadly, the place to which I donated didn’t have “announcement” cards.) I handmade a card showing the charity and the amount given, and then “regular” gifts. I got to put on my thinking cap and really think about who this person is and what sorts of things he likes and then track down the perfect charity for him. It was fun for me, rewarding for both of us, and satisfying for him because he didn’t have to store another piece of useless stuff. On Christmas morning we both probably felt better than some others in the room as we smiled at each other, knowing that someone else was enjoying his gift as much as we were.
(Photo courtesy of Debs (Ã²â€¿Ã³)â™ª)