They don't know it yet, but my family will be getting something slightly different in their stockings this Christmas. It might be seeds, or four saplings. It could be a few chickens, or 365 eggs. Maybe schoolbooks or a health check -up ...
No - my family don't need 365 eggs, or health check-ups for Christmas. The gift isn't really for them. But in their name I'll be donating to a charity who will give the seeds, or the chickens, or the health check-up, to someone who does.
Expensive? No. There's a huge range of gifts for less than €15 - that's about US$22.50 or £13.50 at the current exchange rate. And some are only half that price.
Why am I giving them? Well, one reason is that I'm sick of trawling the shops for presents for people who already have everything they need. Don't worry - they'll have other presents, and if they've asked for anything special I'm sure Santa will oblige (just in case they're reading this and panicking ...). But often at Christmas I feel that I'm looking for presents to buy for the sake of it. Yes, a surprise is always nice, and during the year I note down anything that occurs to me that might suit one or other of them - but sometimes it's just consumerism for the sake of it. And I'm fed up with it.
And the other reason - well, just the ethical one. Most of us do have all we need even if we're not quite as rich as Bill Gates. Many people don't. Bill Gates can make a difference all on his own. The rest of us can't - but just imagine if every blogger in the world who could afford it bought a charity gift costing somewhere between $1 and $15 this Christmas. Together we would make a difference - at least to the lives of a significant number of individuals.
Choose the cause you prefer - that doesn't matter. It could be hunger, education, climate change, animal rescue, health, education - or a wealth of other issues. There's so much to change in the world that, sadly, whatever most angers you is catered for. Here are a few possibilities, all under the €15 limit - but there are hundreds of others, obviously including gifts which are more expensive if you can afford more. Check out the sites for yourself.
Oxfam is my favourite for easily affordable gifts. You can buy 5 bags of seeds to aid self sufficiency for a third world family for £10, give a chicken for £11, or provide safe water for 10 people for £9. Then there are school supplies for £7, mosquito nets for £11 and many, many more. If you want to pay more, how about planting an allotment for £24?
Or over at Save the Children ,for £7 you can pay for a week's high protein food for a malnourished child. Or you could buy a child a breakfast egg per day for a year for £14, or a pair of shoes for £10.
Nothing grabs you yet? Then try the shop of the related sites The Hunger Site, The Rainforest Site, The Breast Cancer Site, the Child Health Site, the Literacy Site and The Animal Rescue Site. There for $15 you can help remove landmines in Mozambique, care for a street animal in India or plant a vegetable garden in Rwanda.
These are just examples. The shops of all the sites include many, many more gifts in all price ranges. So if there's someone that you just can't think of a present for - well, perhaps they don't really need anything. But maybe someone else does.