I have discovered two websites this Christmas that are helping me change the way I think about Christmas gifts. I'm trying to focus more on the act of giving, and less on the shopping and the money spent and the quantity of gifts per person. I'd like to share them with you during this Christmas of deep economic turmoil in the hopes that you can also benefit from them.
Freecycle is a site along the lines of Craig's List-- basically people post classified ads and buyers respond and pick up the item. It's divided by county or region and you have to join the Yahoo Group in order to participate. There are moderators, so no worries about inappropriate items or listings. Here's the awesome thing. It's all free! That's right. People are posting items that they are giving away-- first come, first serve basis. It's awesome. Think of all the stuff you could get rid of! Stuff that you can't quite bring yourself to throw out, because there's still some use left in it. For instance, a lovely older woman came and got all our left-over dog supplies (worm meds, flea treatment, upholstery cleaner, etc.). AND, this year (drumroll please) we managed to be online at just the right moment as a woman from a
ritzy upperclass part of town posted her sons' pre-Christmas toy closet clean-out stash! We cleaned up, people. Not only did we get Judah's Christmas gifts, we saved some out for his birthday! This is a sample of the few things we haven't wrapped yet. What you don't see is a gift bag full of matchbox cars and one full of knights and dragon figurines. I highly recommend you check it out.
The other site, Paperback Swap is one I've mentioned before, but a deal like this bears repeating. It's almost like an online neighbor with exactly your taste in books. You give him your books and he gives you his! The way it works.... You post books on your profile that you are looking to get rid of. They have a database of ISBN numbers that pulls up a cover photo, so you don't even have to worry about uploading pics of the book. When a member requests a book that you've posted, you print out a pre-addressed label, wrap the book and ship it out (average shipping cost for me has been right around $2). When the member receives the book, they comment and you are awarded a PBS "point" that allows you to request a book from another member. You begin your membership by posting ten books to receive some initial points (I think you might get three points to start with?). Here's one of Judah's Christmas books; as you can see, in mint condition.
As an added bonus, both of these methods of gathering gifts for my kids include recycling, in some way, products that have already been purchased and enjoyed by others. Things that might otherwise get tossed in the trash, or shoved to the back of the shelf and forgotten about.
To read some other hints and tips-- seasonal and otherwise-- check out Works For Me Wednesday at the Rocks In My Dryer blog.
PS. I'm not including any info or pics of Sofi's gifts because I simply don't trust the little bugger not to find out about it. She takes after her daddy...