Alternative Gift Giving

Krampus, as you may know, is the anti-Santa Claus - his evil twin, as it were - who comes on Christmas to punish children who’ve been bad. The movie version Krampus goes even further, conjuring him and his creepy cohorts from the underworld in response to the greed and meanness that have displaced the true spirit of Christmas. The movie opens pointedly with slow-motion footage of Black Friday shoppers storming stores and wrestling each other for presumably discounted merchandise. The movie plays out like a cross between It’s A Wonderful Life and The Evil Dead, making for an amusing alternative holiday entertainment, if also a grim social commentary.    

Christmas shopping, we know, can be anything but amusing. It can make a grumpy Scrooge out of anyone. This especially as it draws towards the last minute and we’re pressured to find just the right thing for a loved one, or even a merely liked one. In our mission to appease the spirit of giving, and keep Krampus at bay, here are eleven gift-giving ideas that can be served up relatively easily at the last minute - without leaving a sasquatch-size carbon footprint in the snow (partly because it’s 60F out.)

Time. Time? Who has time? Anyway, doesn’t relativity show that time is an illusion, so how can you give it? The excuse of never having time can seem a sad fact of modern life. A great way to transcend this is by giving it. Offering time (even if you don’t have it) is always appreciated, whether it’s paying a visit to someone you haven’t seen in some time, making a date for a meal or an outing, or volunteering time to those in need or to a cause – you may find time grows on you.

Donate. Give to a charity or cause you think worthwhile. Honor someone by doing it in their name – it’s a gift no one will want to return.

Recycle/Upcycle. Give something that’s recycled or upcycled to show someone and the world you care. Old things that have been refashioned into new things have character and are easy on the environment. Shop for presents at a second-hand store such as Housing Works, or search websites that specialize in recycled/upcycled goods.

Give It Away. Give something of yours you love to show someone how much they mean to you – your first Jimmy Hendrix album, your copy of Truffaut-Hitchcock, your sock monkey – it’s akin to giving someone a part of you.

Event. Give tickets to a concert, sports event, theme park, parachuting lesson – the sky’s the limit when you give an event. What’s more, you can include yourself.

Green. No matter what the weather, plants are a welcomed addition to most any environment. You can even order them online and have them delivered – hopefully with instructions on how to keep them alive.

Photo Op. Find a photo of you and someone you’re fond of and frame it for them. You don’t even need to buy a new frame – recycling one will add to the gift.

Give a Goat. Heifer International works towards ending world hunger and poverty in sustainably responsible ways. You choose a gift from the Heifer catalogue – a goat, for example - and it goes to a family that can use it to become more self-sufficient. In the case of animals, they can then pass the offspring on to another family, and so on.

Give a Damn. There are a number of other organizations with similar programs. For example, through Global Aid Network you can sponsor a well in India, providing an entire community with water. Operation Christmas Child and Operation Carelift are two other giving opportunities for providing needed resources to underprivileged children and families around the world. World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club and many more will allow you to adopt an animal or buy gifts that benefit the organization and its conservation work.

Give Cheer. Think that an elderly or disadvantaged person in your building is spending the holiday alone? Why not ring their buzzer? Bring them some of those cookies, or just see if they need anything. It might keep Krampus really worried.

Give Bill. Give Bill Nye’s new environmentally empowering new book Unstoppable together with a wind-powered Nick Graham bowtie exclusively right here and have it shipped anywhere. It’ll make the world greener and more stylish. Happy Holidays!