Thursday, November 27, 2008

Paying it forward

Blogger Colleen Gleason is holding a Pay it Forward contest this holiday season.

To participate, you just need to do something kind, unexpected, and unnecessary for someone else between now and December 19th.

It can be as simple as letting the person behind you in line go ahead of you, grabbing the door for the woman struggling with the stroller, donating blood, or taking a plate of cookies to a neighbor. If you just keep your eyes open for opportunities, plenty will present themselves.

You can enter more than once, so take every opportunity to do that little something extra for someone else. Who knows, it could become a wonderful habit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching your teen about charity and poverty

My kids have everything they need and almost everything they want. This has made gift giving a big challenge and has led to a sense of entitlement that really bothers me.

Last week, a co-worker told me about the Kiva gift certificate program. You can give your teen a Kiva gift certificate in an amount as small as $25 that will let your teen choose an entrepeneur in a developing country and make a micro-loan to that person. Your teen can then follow the progress of this entrepreneur online over the course of the loan (usually 6 to 12 months). This teaches your teen about the situation in developing countries, what it takes to start a business, and the power of one person to make a difference.

At the end of the loan period, your teen can get his money back or loan it out again to support a new entrepeneur.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tips for Eco-Friendly Holidays

According to the Use-Less-Stuff Report, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Check out my slide show for lots of ideas to have a greener holiday this year, from gifts to shopping to decorating.

You can buy energy-saving LED lights on Amazon:

100 Mini White / Clear LED Holiday Lights

100 Multi Color C5 LED Holiday Lights

Add a comment to share your ideas for new eco-friendly holiday traditions.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The best gift ever

Whatever holiday you celebrate, you can give a truly amazing gift this year.  Consider donating blood.  It costs you less than an hour of time, and it can make the difference between life and death for someone else.  

Two of my brothers have been in serious accidents. Both received blood donated by strangers.   I can never thank those people, but I can pass it on by donating blood myself, which I do regularly now.

The Red Cross  makes it easy to find a place near you to donate.    

This will fill you with holiday spirit like no trip to the mall ever will.

Environmentally-friendly gift wrap

I like beautifully wrapped packages as much as the next person, but it seems to me that wrapping-paper is an outmoded tradition in this age of protecting the environment and conserving resources.

I spent one evening this week turning 2 yards of holiday fabric into a dozen re-usable fabric gift bags to use this Christmas.  Total cost for fabric and ribbon, about $6.00, or about 50 cents a bag.  I figure if I make a bunch of bags this year, I'll be set for years.  

The eartheasy site has good instructions for making fabric gift bags.  I chose opaque fabric and didn't bother with the lining.  You can buy fabric gift bags on the web, but they're a little pricey.  

If you have old fabric or even old sheets around the house, you can even make fabric gift bags without purchasing new fabric.  

Not only are these wrapping paper alternatives good for the environment, they're faster and easier than using wrapping paper. Perfect for when kids need to wrap presents. You just pop the item in the bag and tie the ribbon. No scissors, no tape.

Other ideas for gift wrapping without waste:  
  • re-use old cookie and candy tins
  • give a gift wrapped in a re-usable cloth shopping bag (Ikea has some great ones) 
  • save and re-use the gift-bags and boxes you receive
Anyone else out there have ideas for gift wrap alternatives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tired of CSI _________ ?

If you like crime drama, but you're tired of CSI, here are a few other options that I like:

NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Stars Mark Harmon

Stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz

Both of these shows can be a little graphic with the body parts, so beware if you have young kids. If you want to catch up on old episodes, they're available on Netflix.