Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Five Faves: 'Tis the Season to Give

Now that we are full swing into Advent (and I am loving that I made myself do all that extra prep for our Advent calendar), I realize that I haven't spent more than a moment's thought on our Christmas wishlists! How perceptive of Hallie to provide her Ode to for this week's Five Favorites.

Part of my struggle this year is that I have an inner desire to simplify. As such, I really don't want to ask for a lot of "stuff" I know I will not be essentials. Some of the little things I do need are subjective by taste, such as tights or a new pair of boots. Not really something someone else can buy, and well, it's just not glamorous to ask for socks, right?

I've already bought everyone's books, and Jennifer's book isn't available for pre-order yet (ummmm....come on Ignatius!). The few things I do really want, I won't ask for because they are too expensive. They're more of a "save and reward myself" item for over the next year (like a camera lens or computer). What is a gal to do?!?

In light of my little tirade about Giving Tuesday, here are five of my favorite "do-gooder" sites to shop from when I'm searching for gifts for the friends who have everything.


St. Jude Children's Hospital

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Now, you could always just give a donation in someone's name outright, but if you feel the need to have a little somethin' somethin' to give in addition, check out the St. Jude's gift shop. As far as organizations go, this one is at the top of my list. To know that there is an organization out there dedicated to conducting research and providing medical care for children free of charge to families does this mama's heart good. You can also make a virtual ornament free of charge to send their families a note this Christmas. Plus, that cappuccino drink mix set is looking rather tasty...and our "Jude" can claim the mug later!


PIME Missionaries

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With their North American headquarters located right in Detroit, and having worked with many of their priests over the years in our ministry, we feel a desire to help support the work and missions of PIME throughout the world. Here's a bit about them right from their own website:
"The PIME Missionaries are Catholic priests and brothers who commit themselves to lifelong missionary service, especially to non-Christians. (PIME stands for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Latin.) Founded in Italy in 1850, PIME is an International Society of Apostolic Life with about 500 members in 17 countries. PIME's priority is the proclamation of the Gospel. We are actively involved in human development and the promotion of justice and peace. Our ministries include the foundation of schools, hospitals and clinics, orphanages, and the pastoral care of newly founded Catholic communities."
They have a small gift catalog that you can purchase items through, and an Adopt-A-Child program for children throughout their missions. I highly recommend browsing through their site to get to know them...and taking a look at the many purses they have available in their store!


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One of my favorite little gifts for friends (and gifts that I've received) are the animals and/or shares of animals from Heifer. My friends and I are "Friends" fanatics, so who doesn't like getting a duck and a chick for special occasions that won't poop on your hand or eat your jewelry? While they don't have a Flock of Seagulls, they do have a flock of geese you can give for $20. You could create your own 12 Days of Christmas if you get creative!


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I know that my love of coffee and chocolate does not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the production of both of these beautiful, beautiful gifts from God are havens for abuse. While you can do your own research, and I have certainly tried, the best way to know whether something is produced ethically is to look for that Fair Trade logo...or just go here. Coffee, chocolate and crafts, OH MY! I can personally vouch for the chocolate (Divine) and the coffee we get in Michigan - we've used both in our ministries in the past, but just didn't seem to transfer that over to our home.

When we are on a budget, I can get fixated on finding the lowest price. As my dad used to say, though, you get what you pay for...or in this case, someone else might be getting taken advantage of because you pay less. While I enjoy my coffee and chocolate, my consumption needs to change if we want to stay on budget and be mindful that we are not contributing to the abuse of people across the globe. So, in this case, perhaps less is once again, more.


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Like Compassion International and World Vision, Catholic Relief Services also has a gift catalog that offers opportunities to help support the work of the missions. Whatever is on your heart, you can probably find a way to help. Mothers and babies tug on your heartstrings? You can provide prenatal care, baby scales, vaccinations, and children's health exams. Clean water is your thing? Plenty of options there too! Prices range from $20 into the thousands depending on the project.

Please take some time to explore alternative giving this season. If none of the organizations listed above peak your interest, find one that does - there are more than a few out there! Extend the reach of your giving - I know I'd appreciate it in my stocking, if not under the tree. We have so much already, it seems a shame that at least part of our receiving shouldn't in turn pass along our blessings. (Of course, I won't turn away coffee, chocolate or a good 6+ quart dutch oven either...or items on my Amazon Wish List)

Happy shopping, happy giving, whether at a spot above or on!

QUICK UPDATE: While this isn't part of the alternate giving idea, another gift I love to give as a stocking stuffer or in lieu of a card is having Masses offered for the people on my list. It's the gift that keeps on giving eternally!

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  1. What a neat idea for 5 favorites, Rakhi! Great list.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Hope you are having a restful and happy Advent so far!

  2. Thanks Rakhi, for the great list! Especially PIME - I'm always looking for lesser-known Catholic causes to give to.