How to Find the Perfect Gift

I’ve been receiving a flood of great gift ideas from my friends all over… the blogosphere and the real world. And the lovely thing is that these ideas are not extravagant or expensive but instead, thoughtful and meaningful, expressing pure intentions to make a difference. From my friend, Kate, I received an introduction to World Vision. She says, “… an important way to give back and support others whose needs are so modest in comparison to the relative excess of my daily life.” Another one similar to World Vision is Hiefer International. My kids like saying they gave someone a flock of geese!

From my friend Emma, a sweet reminder in the form of her Daily Kindness email arrived: “…small acts of kindness (sharing the popsicles & sharing the bread) are the lovely, simple, close-to-home connections that make life meaningful.”

My favorite so far is The Mother Letter Project that I found out about from Tales from Oakbriar Farms. It’s so in line with our mission here at My Mommy Manual. The project is one man’s Christmas gift to his wife:

Share your stories—no matter how raw or difficult. Share you concerns—no matter how foolish they may seem. Share your wisdom—no matter how you came by it. Share your mother story. The only request? Start the letter “Dear Mother” and sign it. I will compile all of the letters in a Christmas book for my wife.

As of today, there are 97 letters. I’m writing mine this weekend!

But I don’t know if I can beat Beth Kanter’s Gift List. Thanks to Chris Brogan who turned me on to Beth and Beth, who turned me on to this amazing explanation on the nature of giving by Tara Hunt:

In The Gift, Lewis Hyde explains through several folk tales and anthropological studies that the Gift Economy is not one of reciprocation at all. In fact, this obligatory reciprocation has sprouted from the idea of trade in our current market economy. A gift is not, in fact, a gift unless it continues circulating. So, I buy lunch for person A, then person A gives away her last $10 to person B, who uses it to buy sandwiches, which he shares with person C, who is now well fed enough to get creative and paint that amazing piece of art, which she gives to person D, who is so inspired by that art that he donates it to the local artist community, who displays it in their community garden, which many walk by to admire, one of whom decides to donate some money to a local neighbourhood beautifying project, which builds a spectacular park where I can now enjoy reading in, which will lead to all sorts of wonderful things.

The gift, as it moves along, actually becomes more and more valuable. In my example, a gift of lunch from me could turn into a large improvement in my community, but in really basic terms, the very nature of the gift is to continue to grow in value as it gets passed along and the increments don’t tend to be felt as burdens to the person passing the gift along, either as it is a natural process. Remember the story of the guy who ‘Traded up’ the paperclip for a house in Saskatchewan? Well, that’s kind of the idea…each ‘trade’ became a simple increment between a red paperclip to a whole house.

My kids have been collecting money in their charity jar all year and like Kate and her two young boys, the kids will pick who they want to help with their contributions.

What gifts will you share this season? Popsicles? Cookies? A hug? Hey, it’s clementine season! They make great “red paperclips.”

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.