An increasingly popular gift idea is the charity donation: Oxfam does a famous line in chickens and pumps for third world villages and produces attractive and amusing cards to give to the donor, and many other do-gooders have jumped onto the bandwagon too.
Here are the pros:
- No matter how strapped for cash you are, if you’re an average Australian, you live like a king compared to most of the people in the world, and redistributing some of your wealth in the season of goodwill is generous and useful and is surely in the best spirit of Christmas.
- Many of the people you will be giving presents to will have so much stuff in their houses already that it will be hard for them to find room for your gift.
- It’s very green.
- It’s tax-deductible.
Here are the cons:
- Most people like getting presents. (And some people count a donation as not getting a present at all.)
- If you like to disguise how much you spent on a present, you can’t do that with something that’s basically a festive price tag.
- Target donations appropriately: middle-aged people with good incomes, cluttered houses and guilty consciences are more likely to appreciate them than young, materialistic couples who are setting up their first homes and would have really liked a fancy cheese grater or a scatter cushion.
- Check with the recipient before you go ahead.
- You don’t have to stick to the obvious charities: you can choose your own, donate in the name of your intended recipient and make your own card to go with it. (Just because your local primary school doesn’t solicit alms for its library doesn’t mean that won’t be glad to receive the cost of a few new books.)
Don emailed me the skiing proposal: beginning of July, Baw Baw. Wendy and Don are in, Emma and Chris are out, Jeremy, Ben, Cassidy and Jack are in and Hannah is out. (I wonder if I have time to knit myself a new beanie before we go. I recently saw a pattern for a green hat shaped like a frog’s head and the young ones will absolutely hate it and sometimes we middle-aged folk like to get our own back on the next generation.)
 WWF do “adopt an animal” (and I’m betting they get more takers for snow leopards than for Vesk’s plant-louse).
 And compared to most of the plant-lice in the world too.
 The year before last, my Auntie Margie moved into a granny flat at the back of her daughter’s place. So when her son gave her a coffee maker at Christmas, she handed it straight back to him and said “You’ll have to keep this at your house”. (She was a tea-drinker anyway.)
 Yes, these presents cost you less than you pay for them.
 And have a Plan B in place in case they say, “Hell no! Give me a real present!”