Give The Gift of Good Karma

Let’s look past the heavy-handed religious bit of this video for a moment.

As y’all might know, I’m a big fan of non-traditional gift-giving. Non-stuff gifts, DIY gifts, I love them in equal measures. I also like making donations in someone’s name. This, however, can be a tricky one. A donation to Planned Parenthood in the name of your Red State uncle can make for a pretty awkward Christmas Dinner. There are also plenty of stuff-lovers out there who will eye the charity thank-you card with skepticism and say “So, you pretty much got me nothing, huh? That’s cool. I got you a Wii. But you know. Whatever. Cause you got me a card.”
In my experience the trick here is to donate to a charity that’s directly related to something your gift-recipient is into. And then give them something in the theme of the donation to satisfy the all-important stuff-quotient. And then glare at them if they insist on acting like a douche.
For your cyclist
Re-cycle collects unwanted bicycles and reconditions them to provide cheap, sustainable transportation in Africa. These bikes give children opportunities to attend schools that are miles from their homes and allow farmers to transport their crops for sale.
Token mini-gift: This cargo net will keep all that organic produce from falling out of their milk crate.

For your audiophile
The Current is the sister station of Minnesota Public Radio. It is an amazing station that supports independent and local artists without heaps of rubbish adds or djs named ‘Boner Rob.’ It has exposed me to, well, pretty much everything that I listen to now days and I don’t leave my car feeling dumber for having listened to it.
Token mini-gift: If you donate $20 to The Current, they’ll send you a thank you CD featuring the likes of Atmosphere, Mates of State and The Walkman.
For your outdoor enthusiast
Your outdoor fanatic loves white water rafting and rocking climbing and hiking. Surely they’d want to share the love with at-risk youth or people with physical disabilities! Outward Bound “inspires character development and self-discovery through wilderness exploration.” It’s probably a lot easier to stand up to that awful bully in your Geometry class after you’ve climbed a mountain.
Token mini gift: This! It’s a carabiner! It’s a thermometer! It’s a compass!
For your animal lover
There are approximately a million animal-related charities out there, so if you want to make this gift extra special, find a charity that deals with your gift-recipient’s favorite animal. Charity Navigator handily allows you to search charities by keyword. Would you like a box of adorable pandas? Or how’s about adopting a cheeky little sea otter? Can I interest you a slick and shiny penguin? Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.
Token mini gift:
These gourmet chocolates in animal shapes
For your writer
You surely know McSweeney’s as a website rife with hilarious and insightful writing. But did you know that they also oversee 826 National? 826 is a non-profit that provides tutoring, writing and publishing opportunities for kids ages six to eighteen. The group produces amazing books, magazines and films every year. Oh, that I would have had access to this as a kid. The world would have been spared much bad poetry.
Token mini gift
: The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets

For your fashionista
Your fashionista knows that dressing the part elevates one’s confidence, garners respect and helps you land better jobs. Dress for Success helps disadvantaged women find work by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools. Fantastic!
Token mini gift
: A pocket-sized edition of The Fashion Book. Truely a mini-gift, y’all.
Good Karma Gifts loved by all
For $20, Green Dimes will rid your mailbox of junk mail and plant five trees in your name. Two birds! One stone! (This is what Mom Von got for Mother’s Day and she is now very happily credit-card-offer free)Remember that tear-jerking story about my refugee students being reunited with their friends thousand of miles away from their homes? The non-profit I work for needs new student computers, more desk and, um, a janitor.
These reusable nylon shopping bags are so much cuter than those awful plastic things you’ll never go back
Karma Cleanse Elixir. When they’re so bad, putting coal in their stocking isn’t enough.

What good karma gifts are you giving this year?

reposted from 2008 because everybody still needs a little good karma under the tree.


The Naked Redhead

I kind of refused to buy the hype this year, and besides two people, I said "no" to gift-giving in 2009. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought…I just explained that I wanted to do less this year, and just about everyone breathed a sigh of relief. My boyfriend's mom and I are taking around eight bags of newspaper over to our local dog shelter over the holiday (they go through over a vanful every day to line crates and cages), and I'm looking forward to that gift-giving more than any other treat this holiday.

Good stuff, Ms. Von.


My mother is a gerontologist so I often give to Meals on Wheels in her name. Or, for Mother's Day, a donation to have tulip and daffodil bulbs planted in Central Park in her name. She cries every single time she gets the notice on either of these. A real live Hallmark commercial every time! Super cute. (Oh, and this year, a few friends are getting Yes & Yes calendars! Encouragement and positive vibes also generate good karma!)


Such great ideas! Thanks!

btw, my word verification is "floss," which *could* be a mini-gift of another sort altogether…:)


love it, and all the great ideas, too. And don't worry about heavy-handed religious. I actually think it was fitting, given that this is specifically talking about Christmas.
Can't wait to use some ideas for last-minute gifts this week.


Absolutely loved these ideas!
I especially love the adopting animals one! I told one of my good friends that he looks like a sea otter (and he likes them a lot), so I think I might just have to adopt a sea otter for his birthday for him.
Thank you!

emma wallace

What great ideas! I've always wanted to donate in someone's name as a gift before but I never knew a nice way to do it and the token gift is perfect.

Good karma-wise, I did try to do all of my shopping (well, most of it anyways, from Etsy or Powell's or other independently-minded companies. And I shopped at Amazon through iGive and donated a portion of their proceeds from me to World Wildlife Fund!


our whole church participated in advent conspiracy this year–with less gifts, it was truly the best christmas i've ever had


I really enjoy your blog..being a new blogger myself its amazing to see how people work these things:) I pray your New Year is prosperous. I admire how much you have accomplished in 2009. I just hope my goals can someday be as big as yours. And in the 1999 when the clock ticked over I was downtown, with my girls watching fireworks and falling down in front of police officers…my response: " no officer ( in a much drunken voice) there was a hole there it musta moved." Luckly it was followed by laughter and picking up my person. AL


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