12 Days of Giving

As Johnny Mathis sings in my 12-year-old CD, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." But for a lot of us, it's also the most stressful.Right about now, you're probably looking at your holiday list and thinking about the crowds, the costs, the likely returns.

I've decided that this year, I'm abandoning the silver bells and five golden rings... all I want for Christmas is to give gifts that give back, especially during a time when so many people are suffering and in need.

For the next 12 days, (Get it? The 12 Days of Christmas?), I'm going to be your personal shopper and recommend some great gifts that help support great causes.

Every day, you can go to Facebook, or Twitter and find a new idea, including many things I'm buying this year for my friends and family.

I've already shopped at Global Goods Partners - a website that sells beautiful handmade scarves, jewelry and other crafts that support marginalized women in developing countries. SPOILER ALERT! I bought my friends hand-embroidered scarves made by women in Kandahar because I was so moved by the plight of women in Afghanistan when I visited in August.

When I was growing up, my mom had something called the "goody drawer," where all our rejected gifts ended up. (This was before the practice of re-gifting began, so most of them are still there.) But, I don't think any of the gifts I'm suggesting will find themselves in the re-gifting pile. In fact, I think the recipients will wear or use them with pride... and tell their friends.

At the end of the 12 days, I'll list all the websites. Hopefully, you can refer to them for birthdays, anniversaries, Flag Day, whatever! I just don't want to spoil the surprise by giving the full list here. (Wow! Aren't you getting excited?)

The holiday spirit isn't something you can buy, but there are ways to buy some real good will toward men AND women. I look forward to discovering and sharing them with you. 

Happy holidays, everyone!