It's the day after Thanksgiving, or, Black Friday, as it's know in American retail parlance. According to the Wikipedia, Black Friday is named so because there's so much shopping going on that retailers are “in the black,” in other words not “in the red.” OK, profitable. Time to shop? Maybe. But I often find this official start of the holiday season to be stressful.
One I tried to stop the spending extravaganza by asking friends and family not to exchange gifts with me. My suggestion was met with vehement resistance. Another year, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I listed three charities I wanted donations to be made to in my name. This was met with even more resistance. I want to get YOU a gift was the reply. Never mind that I didn't WANT a gift.
After years of intermittently suggesting I be left out of the gift exchange, I woke up today resigned to find the gifts my family expects in return for the gifts they give. I often find the Gift Guides from my favorite magazines provide ample inspiration for nifty (and inexpensive) gifts. Today I was delighted to flip to the “Give a Lot” section of this month's O Magazine. In it she lists fourteen ways to give to people in need for under $20. Then the old above-the-head light bulb gleamed.
What a perfect, inexpensive, high-impact guest favor!
In a recent conversation I had with mountain wedding planner Stephanie Anderson, of One Fine Day in Lake Tahoe, Stephanie said that no matter how wonderful, useful, or tasty the favor, nearly half of them get left behind.
Bummer, you know I'm committed to the idea that the best favors are edible. However, Stephanie added that the best favors are donations to charity.
- They're eco-chic as they require no shipping, no packaging, and no manufacturing of new products
- They cannot be left behind.
- They help make the world a better place.
- They can cost as little as a dollar or fifty cents per guest.
Here's a roundup from O Magazine listed in order from least expensive to most expensive.
- $1 buys two textbooks for African Children. You think American schools in the inner city have problems, many students in African countries share a single textbook among 20 kids. BooksForAfrica.com With charity, you can make a $1 for each guest. It's a personalized gift and the impact can be great. Imagine your wedding making a donation of 400 textbooks in the names of your 200 guests! A great donation for teachers, book lovers, or even writers who value the power of education to change the world for the better.
- $2 will buy a set of drumsticks for a low income public school student. This a a great donation for the musically inclined couple.
- $3 buys a cultural field trip to high risk American kids. They can go to a museum, concert or play. CreateNow.org Again, this is a low enough price point that you can make a donation in every one of your guests' names and is great for the couple who values public cultural outlets.
- $4 Will buy two hours on a pre-paid phone card for a solider stationed overseas. CellPhonesForSoldiers.com
- $5 will buy a one burner kerosene stove for a family who would otherwise use an open fire to cook. The stove is reusable and cuts down on deforesting. FoodForThePoor.org
Want to make a more substantial contribution?
- Consider making a donation in a family's name.
- Make a single donation per guest table. You can even name the tables after different donations to different charities, for example, the Red Cross table, the ASPCA table, or the Friends of Education table, supporting a hometown charity.
- Allow the guest to choose from a small selection of charities and make a single large donation based on the votes.