Tall Drink of Nerd: Give It!

 In *Archives, Amy Robinson

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A blogumn by Amy Robinson

The consumerist push of BUY! BUY! BUY! at Christmas has always cheesed me a little.  Every year, some dufus is interviewed, camping out in front of Best Buy on Thanksgiving night saying he “doesn’t know what he wants, he just wants to SHOP tomorrow morning.”  Ah, the true meaning of Christmas “Spend Mindlessly!” That mentality has brought us Wal-Mart stampedes for at least the past 3 years. People are getting KILLED for a $10 DVD player. Ick.  I try to avoid that nonsense and aside from a few presents for my husband, I usually donate to charities for my family members.

In years past we’ve donated to Heifer.org, which sends livestock or trees to needy people around the world.  Even for a very good cause, the responsibility of sending adorable bunnies or goats to their ultimate doom makes me a little squidgy, so I usually send the bees or the trees.  Last year, the Humane Society received a gift in my parents name to help kittens and puppies.  Maybe this year we’ll donate to the Clean Water Project, which was posted on FaN over Thanksgiving.  These are just a few of the places I know of.  There are a TON of charities, most are hurting in our crappy economy.  Feel free to add the charity that is closest to your heart in comments!  A charity donation may not be the most firework-inducing, breath-stopping, jig-dancing present to open on Christmas Day, but it’s hella better than a stuffed, singing, ninja hamster that was made overseas. (okay, not as funny, but the universe will be happier with you.)

Still, there are times when presents are necessary and I’m not saying that all presents are a hum-bug.

My family does a name draw for the tykes under 12, so every kiddie has a present at Grandma’s on Christmas Day.  Since I don’t have my own babies to buy for, I love playing in the toy aisle in December.  I am also lucky, in times like these to still have a cubicle to hold me to a paying gig.  That means co-worker presents.  This year I’ll be buying presents for; the family-in-need that our office adopted, two Yankee Swaps (one will be a cheaper “re-gifting” Yankee Swap) and one Secret Santa.  As usual, there is a nerdy way to do up the office holiday fun.  We’re using Elfster.com for our Secret Santa exchange and it’s so awesome I want to slap it.  Gone is the confusion and ultimately un-used gift carding of Secret Santa.  All participants can ask questions, create wish-lists and cause chaos.  Elfster also has charities you can choose from for donations in your name, which wraps these holidays up in a nice karma ribbon for me.

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Photo Credit: Ivan Lian
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Showing 24 comments
  • ernessa

    I'm still trying to make up a donation list. Too many worthy causes and I can't decide whether I want to support the poverty-stricken or the arts (NPR seems to be seriously suffering right now, but then again do I really want to donate if there's no more NPR West?).

    Ask for people gifts, I've decided to abstain this year and CH and I are buying a mutual gift for ourselves as opposed to exchanging with each other. I just can't bring myself to shop when the economy is down like this.

    I've always liked every part of Christmas save the gift bit, which just bums me out these days.

  • andrea

    Please consider helping out New Orleans. It has been 3 years since our government forgot about a city of a million people and the oldes African American community in the US. The local church I went to served as an outreach post to help rebuild the community with the help of volunteers- but 3 years later while outreach continues- the time has come to rebuild the building so it can provide food for those in need and a safe tutoring environment for the students of the community.

    http://www.carrolltonaid.com/Site/Home.html

  • gudrun

    One year my mother gave family members socks and underwear… that would be donated to the local homeless shelter. She drew up cute little certificates that read "a donation of 12 Fruit of the Loom white briefs has been giving in your name to…" Maybe that's why we've moved onto a Yankee Swap.

  • C_H

    I love the Idea of giving clean water for Christmas. I was thinking of giving to nothing but nets myself.

    http://www.nothingbutnets.net/

  • AmyQOTWF

    Gudrun, that's hilarious! It's almost as good as getting undies under the tree for yourself.

    Ernessa, Yankee Swap is a present exchange for large groups of folks, good for office parties and HUGE families like the one I was born into. Anyone who would like to participate brings one gift at, or below an agreed price point. All the gifts are put in a pile and all participants draw a number (1-30 in my fam) Whoever get's the highest number goes first (so #30 picks a present from the pile first and #1 has the final pick at the end of the game). Then #29 can either take a new present from the pile or steal #30's present. #15 can take a present from the pile or steal any of the preceeding participants present.s If you have your present stolen, you can pick another from the pile. Normally the most obnoxious or nicest gifts pass hands a LOT before the game is over. My family has set a limit of 3 steals per present, so it doesn't get too crazy. It ends up being a lot of fun!

  • ernessa

    I'm still trying to make up a donation list. Too many worthy causes and I can't decide whether I want to support the poverty-stricken or the arts (NPR seems to be seriously suffering right now, but then again do I really want to donate if there's no more NPR West?).

    Ask for people gifts, I've decided to abstain this year and CH and I are buying a mutual gift for ourselves as opposed to exchanging with each other. I just can't bring myself to shop when the economy is down like this.

    I've always liked every part of Christmas save the gift bit, which just bums me out these days.

  • andrea

    Please consider helping out New Orleans. It has been 3 years since our government forgot about a city of a million people and the oldes African American community in the US. The local church I went to served as an outreach post to help rebuild the community with the help of volunteers- but 3 years later while outreach continues- the time has come to rebuild the building so it can provide food for those in need and a safe tutoring environment for the students of the community.

    http://www.carrolltonaid.com/Site/Home.html

  • ernessa

    btw… what's a yankee swap?

  • gudrun

    One year my mother gave family members socks and underwear… that would be donated to the local homeless shelter. She drew up cute little certificates that read "a donation of 12 Fruit of the Loom white briefs has been giving in your name to…" Maybe that's why we've moved onto a Yankee Swap.

  • C_H

    I love the Idea of giving clean water for Christmas. I was thinking of giving to nothing but nets myself.

    http://www.nothingbutnets.net/

  • AmyQOTWF

    Gudrun, that's hilarious! It's almost as good as getting undies under the tree for yourself.

    Ernessa, Yankee Swap is a present exchange for large groups of folks, good for office parties and HUGE families like the one I was born into. Anyone who would like to participate brings one gift at, or below an agreed price point. All the gifts are put in a pile and all participants draw a number (1-30 in my fam) Whoever get's the highest number goes first (so #30 picks a present from the pile first and #1 has the final pick at the end of the game). Then #29 can either take a new present from the pile or steal #30's present. #15 can take a present from the pile or steal any of the preceeding participants present.s If you have your present stolen, you can pick another from the pile. Normally the most obnoxious or nicest gifts pass hands a LOT before the game is over. My family has set a limit of 3 steals per present, so it doesn't get too crazy. It ends up being a lot of fun!

  • JeffRogers

    Amy, thanks for explaining that, because I too was wondering. I've heard about that, and it sounds fun. Now, if you'll forgive me a moment, I'm going to be a word Scrooge. "Price point"–that's one of those expressions that drives me nuts. Now, I know you're probably using it humorously, but anybody, help me: what the hell's the difference between a "price point" and a "price?" Merry merry (quite contrarian).

  • ernessa

    I'm still trying to make up a donation list. Too many worthy causes and I can't decide whether I want to support the poverty-stricken or the arts (NPR seems to be seriously suffering right now, but then again do I really want to donate if there's no more NPR West?).

    Ask for people gifts, I've decided to abstain this year and CH and I are buying a mutual gift for ourselves as opposed to exchanging with each other. I just can't bring myself to shop when the economy is down like this.

    I've always liked every part of Christmas save the gift bit, which just bums me out these days.

  • andrea

    Please consider helping out New Orleans. It has been 3 years since our government forgot about a city of a million people and the oldes African American community in the US. The local church I went to served as an outreach post to help rebuild the community with the help of volunteers- but 3 years later while outreach continues- the time has come to rebuild the building so it can provide food for those in need and a safe tutoring environment for the students of the community.

    http://www.carrolltonaid.com/Site/Home.html

  • gudrun

    One year my mother gave family members socks and underwear… that would be donated to the local homeless shelter. She drew up cute little certificates that read "a donation of 12 Fruit of the Loom white briefs has been giving in your name to…" Maybe that's why we've moved onto a Yankee Swap.

  • C_H

    I love the Idea of giving clean water for Christmas. I was thinking of giving to nothing but nets myself.

    http://www.nothingbutnets.net/

  • AmyQOTWF

    Gudrun, that's hilarious! It's almost as good as getting undies under the tree for yourself.

    Ernessa, Yankee Swap is a present exchange for large groups of folks, good for office parties and HUGE families like the one I was born into. Anyone who would like to participate brings one gift at, or below an agreed price point. All the gifts are put in a pile and all participants draw a number (1-30 in my fam) Whoever get's the highest number goes first (so #30 picks a present from the pile first and #1 has the final pick at the end of the game). Then #29 can either take a new present from the pile or steal #30's present. #15 can take a present from the pile or steal any of the preceeding participants present.s If you have your present stolen, you can pick another from the pile. Normally the most obnoxious or nicest gifts pass hands a LOT before the game is over. My family has set a limit of 3 steals per present, so it doesn't get too crazy. It ends up being a lot of fun!

  • ernessa

    I'm still trying to make up a donation list. Too many worthy causes and I can't decide whether I want to support the poverty-stricken or the arts (NPR seems to be seriously suffering right now, but then again do I really want to donate if there's no more NPR West?).

    Ask for people gifts, I've decided to abstain this year and CH and I are buying a mutual gift for ourselves as opposed to exchanging with each other. I just can't bring myself to shop when the economy is down like this.

    I've always liked every part of Christmas save the gift bit, which just bums me out these days.

  • andrea

    Please consider helping out New Orleans. It has been 3 years since our government forgot about a city of a million people and the oldes African American community in the US. The local church I went to served as an outreach post to help rebuild the community with the help of volunteers- but 3 years later while outreach continues- the time has come to rebuild the building so it can provide food for those in need and a safe tutoring environment for the students of the community.

    http://www.carrolltonaid.com/Site/Home.html

  • ernessa

    btw… what's a yankee swap?

  • gudrun

    One year my mother gave family members socks and underwear… that would be donated to the local homeless shelter. She drew up cute little certificates that read "a donation of 12 Fruit of the Loom white briefs has been giving in your name to…" Maybe that's why we've moved onto a Yankee Swap.

  • C_H

    I love the Idea of giving clean water for Christmas. I was thinking of giving to nothing but nets myself.

    http://www.nothingbutnets.net/

  • AmyQOTWF

    Gudrun, that's hilarious! It's almost as good as getting undies under the tree for yourself.

    Ernessa, Yankee Swap is a present exchange for large groups of folks, good for office parties and HUGE families like the one I was born into. Anyone who would like to participate brings one gift at, or below an agreed price point. All the gifts are put in a pile and all participants draw a number (1-30 in my fam) Whoever get's the highest number goes first (so #30 picks a present from the pile first and #1 has the final pick at the end of the game). Then #29 can either take a new present from the pile or steal #30's present. #15 can take a present from the pile or steal any of the preceeding participants present.s If you have your present stolen, you can pick another from the pile. Normally the most obnoxious or nicest gifts pass hands a LOT before the game is over. My family has set a limit of 3 steals per present, so it doesn't get too crazy. It ends up being a lot of fun!

  • JeffRogers

    Amy, thanks for explaining that, because I too was wondering. I've heard about that, and it sounds fun. Now, if you'll forgive me a moment, I'm going to be a word Scrooge. "Price point"–that's one of those expressions that drives me nuts. Now, I know you're probably using it humorously, but anybody, help me: what the hell's the difference between a "price point" and a "price?" Merry merry (quite contrarian).

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