Alternative Christmas

In recent weeks, I’ve had conversations with my brothers and sisters about approaching  Christmas gift-giving a little differently this year.  We’re all adults with pretty well-established lives, and the fact is we don’t really need more “stuff.”  Still, we’d like to preserve the Christmas season’s sense of generosity and giving.  So, we’ve thought about some alternative ways of giving that we hope will extend the joy of this season to people whose lives are much more precarious than our own.

If you’re hoping to escape a consumerist Christmas, but still have gifts to put under the tree, there are many web sites and retail outlets that sell “fair trade” products– usually hand-made products that are sustainably produced, and that guarantee a living wage for the people who make them.  Some examples are, and  Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Church in the US, offers coffee, chocolate, and handcrafts at

There are also many opportunities to make charitable gifts in honor of another person,  Catholic Relief Services is offering “shares” in many of their relief projects.  So, your gift recipient can be honored by helping to provide food, water, healthcare, and education to people in the developing world.

For additional ways that you can have a better holiday season with less guilt, less stuff, and less time circling the parking lot at the mall, check out the web site or search the internet for “fair trade gifts” or “one hundred dollar Christmas.”