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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea #5: Eleventh Hour Rush

Okay, it's Christmas Eve. There's still one extremely hard to shop for person on your list, and you're stuck. He or she didn't seem too enthused about the chia pet last year, so you have got to find something meaningful.
Okay, last minute, simple, easy, and meaningful -- Big Bad Wolf's got you covered.
Go to the following website: (Well, not now. Read the rest of the steps and then come back and click on the link.)
This is the website for Heifer International: an organization that does an awful lot of good in the world (unfortunate moniker aside).
Here's how: Heifer International provides families in starving nations around the world with livestock essential to building a sustainable way of life. Following the "teach a man to fish" axiom, these animals aren't sent to be butchered, but rather to become part of a thriving, self-sustaining farm.
Goats, for example, provide milk for growing youngsters and fertilizer for growing crops. A flock of chicks will grow into a hen house that provides eggs daily for a family as well as a surplus that can be sold at market.
This is the abridged version of the project, but I know that you're in a hurry. At some point you ought to peruse the whole site, but for now just scroll over the tab that says "Give" and click on "Online Gift Catalog."
You will see just over twenty different items with prices. A donation of a heifer is $500 or a share of a heifer is $50. A flock of chicks is $20. Honeybees, pigs, llamas - all of these critters will help needy families move from poverty into prosperity. Click on a picture that looks interesting, and read about how a little thing like a flock of baby ducks can change a village for the better.
Once you have decided on the creature or combination of creatures that you think will hold meaning for your gift recipient, go ahead and check out just like you would on any other online merchant site. Once your transaction is complete, you can create an e-card for your gift recipient with a link back to the site, so they can see how the gift given in their honor can impact a starving family.
You can also print out a card if you want - there are even folding instructions.
There. The shopping is done, and you have given the best gift you can give - hope.
Followed in a close second place by Elmo Live.
I'm joking, of course, but there is also something to be said for a gift that won't get shoved in a drawer and re-gifted next year.
This time of year, everyone is always saying, "It's the thought that counts." Well how about a thought that feeds people as well?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea #4: Happy Feet

My good friend Ali told me about this idea. She just graduated with her Master's in Non-Profit Management (Congratulations, Ali!) and spent a couple of weeks this last semester in Alaska as part of an externship. While there, she stumbled upon this very unique gift idea from the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Look at this.
It's called a puffin painting, and is created by these funny little aquatic birds sometimes called sea parrots or the clowns of the sea.
Regularly priced at $150, through December 24th you can get one of these one-of-a-kind works of art for just $100 and the proceeds go to benefit the Alaska Sea Life Center and the good work that they do there.

*Update*: Ali just posted another (and less expensive) way to support puffins in the comments section throught the Puffins Cereal website, which I have now made a link here in the main post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea #3: A Little Wilder, Perhaps?

As in wild animals.
Here is a really great gift idea for that person on your Christmas list who is crazy about polar bears, penguins, otters, or, of course, wolves.
You can symbolically adopt just about any endangered fauna in someone else's name through either of these two organizations: Defenders of Wildlife or The World Wildlife Fund.
You can adopt at many levels, and what your recipient gets a nice little adoption package and the knowledge that their favorite critters are being given a fighting chance to be around for years to come.
For example, with a $25 Gray Wolf Adoption through Defenders of Wildlife, here's what gets sent to your gift recipient: a certificate of adoption, a photo, fact sheet about the species, and this little 8" plush wolf.

At the $50 Wolf Family Level, you get the certificate, fact sheet, photo, a kids wildlife activities book and this 17" plush.

The Wolf Pack ($75) includes everything in the above package plus a nice frame for the photo and certificate, so that your recipient can display their support of their favorite animal for one and all.

The Wolf Mom and Pup ($100) adds a little wolf cub plush to the package.

The Giant Wolf Level ($250) replaces the smaller plush with this 40" plush wolf.

Pretty cool idea, no?
World Wildlife Fund's packages are a little different, but it's pretty much the same idea.
Again, it's a chance to give a gift that really speaks to the heart of your giftee and does some good at the same time. It's sort of like saving two birds with one coin. (See what I did there? Sometimes I even impress myself.)

Here are just a few of the animals available for adoption at one or the other of these two sites:
Wolves, polar bears, snow leopards, pandas, bison, meerkats, sea turtles, vampire bats, penguins, anacondas, bald eagles, great white sharks, dolphins, and orangutans.
There's a little something for everybody.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Puppy Love

Any pet lovers on your christmas list this year?
Well, I can't think of a more thoughtful gift than one that also helps out our four-legged friends in the process.
Here are a few ideas for the dog's (or cat's) best friend in your life.
The North Shore Animal League, the world's largest no-kill shelter has all kinds of fun pet-related gifts, and, of course, the proceeds go toward keeping this amazing endeavor up and running.
Look at this necklace for $28. (The same design is available in a lapel pin for $21.50.) Check out their whole catalog. Lots of good stuff here.
A little closer to home is the Denver Dumb Friend's League right here in the Mile High City. Take a look at some of the goodies in their gift shop. It's through Cafe Press, so, you have a lot of options for every design featured.
Maybe the person on your list is moved by the spirit of activism. Well, how about a "We are their voice" t-shirt with a loveable dog or cat on the front from the ASPCA Online Store?
Or you can get even more to the point with a "Stop Puppy Mills" T-shirt from the Humane Society. You could even give it to them early so that they can stand outside the mall pet stores and educate people about the conditions in which those cute little doggies in the window were sired.
Anyway, I think you get the idea. There are a lot of ways to spend your holiday-shopping dollars that can allow you check a name off your list and support a worthy cause at the same time.
Of course there's always the option of making a donation in the name of someone who really just does not need one more t-shirt or coffee cup.
Show you appreciate them by showing that you appreciate their cause.
Now, before you accuse the Big Bad Wolf of being a little canine-centric with this entry, here's a little something for you cat lovers out there:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Gift Idea #1

Okay, you've survived Black Friday. You've made it through the easy part of your list.
A home beer brewing kit for Dad.
A snuggly warm bathrobe for Mom.
A Tickle-Me-Yoda doll for little Tommy. (Would be cool, though wouldn't it?)
Now, what about those people on your list who are a little harder to shop for during the holidays?
Gift card? Maybe, but isn't that just a little impersonal? Besides, many gift cards have hidden fees and expiration dates, and about 27% of the gift cards purchased for the holidays in 2007 never got used.
Never fear, the Big Bad Wolf is here! I've got a few ideas for unique, heartfelt gifts that have the added bonus of making the world a better place, and over the next few weeks, I'm going to share a few of them with all of you.
Today's gift idea:
Check out this cool logo hat and t-shirt combo in a distressed, retro style.
Normally $18, now just $15. This is a great gift for those office holiday exchanges, too.
Don't recognize the team logo?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
That team is working and succeeding every day to cure childhood cancer and other diseases.
That's right. That is a St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital logo hat and t-shirt combo, and 100% of the profits from the sale of this gift goes straight to the hospital.
This gift and many other just like it can be found in the St. Jude's Hope Gift Book.
These are gifts that you can feel good about buying and the receiver can feel good about receiving.
If , like me, you sometimes feel that the true meaning of the holidays gets lost amid all the jewelry and toy ads, here is a way to bring real giving back into the gifts.
While you're at it, why not pick up some wrapping paper designed by some of the kids who have been patients at St. Jude's?