Even though I really love giving and getting presents, the material worth of gifts has ceased to be important to me.
This was burned into me one year in college, by a friend who told me that the poem I wrote for her wasn't a good enough present, and despite being a penniless student I should have at least shelled out for a $5 gift.
But when your pockets are empty, $5 is worth more to you than a trinket that will inevitably be thrown away with this season's gift wrapping. Of course she and I are no longer friends.
So this year my friend Emi and I have decided to collaborate on how to spend your holiday dollars wisely (and locally and morally).
See each of our suggestions below. Mine were inspired in part by being underemployed: we simply do not have a lot of dough to spend this year. But my husband and I are also on a mission to shed our home of the stuff we've acquired throughout our lives that only take up space and collect dust.
Dawn's Gifting Ideas:
* Donate to your favorite non-profit or public media organization. The work they do is priceless, but they need help keeping their lights on just like the rest of us. (We love WMNF, WUSF, YES! Magazine, The Nation, Sea Shepherd, and more.)
* Buy a present for a child in need. Contact your closest YMCA or public school for more info.
* Spread your wealth by re-gifting! You probably have some great books, shoes, art, and other stuff that have lost its sentimental value or your changing tastes, but are still too good to throw away.
* Be crafty! Use your talents to make something. I love reading to my friends's kids via Youtube or an easy-to-make iMovie dvd.
* Eat, Drink, Be Merry! Buy gift certificates at the Tampa Theatre, or mix & match fancy beers at Vintage Wine Cellars. Catch dinner and some music at Ella's or the New World Brewery.
Emi's Gifting Ideas:
Emi also proposes a challenge to you hard-core shoppers: