Our Season of Sharing

This past holiday season, spending time with my family was my priority. I was especially looking to connect with my nephews and new niece, who I don’t get to see very often. We ended up going to the movies, hanging out by the pool, eating pizza – things that don’t cost a lot (or any) money, but all fun, “quality time.”

Here’s a peek at how my family spent the holidays:

Family Volunteer Fun!

This year, we did a family volunteer activity: ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. I had never actually done this before, but I signed up for 2 morning slots in front of a popular supermarket and asked my nephews if they would help me ring.

Lucky for me, they were game! The plan was for 2 to come one day and the other 2 the next. But the second day, all 4 showed up because we had so much fun our first morning out! In fact, little Cornelius broke the bell 3 times he was ringing so vigorously! In all, we calculated we collected about $300 during our 2 ringing sessions.

Note #1 – There was some ice cream bribery involved. For more on how to introduce charitable giving to children, read my post: The ABCs of Kid’s Giving.

Note #2 – I admit, the kids are looking a little miserable in this photo, but I swear we were having a good time!

Gift Giving:

I have a pretty firm idea on gift giving these days. Here’s my framework for keeping spending in check and meaningful during the holidays:

  • Tiny Budget: This year’s budget was $10 for each gift – and I held myself to this. Although I bought all my gifts overseas, so there was a little bit of a cool factor involved.
  • Giving Forward: I gave gifts that supported nonprofit initiatives. For instance, for hostess gifts, I bought pot holders and pillows made in a battered women’s co-op in the Hondurans jungle.
  • Giving Year ‘Round: I don’t wait for special occasions, but buy gifts throughout the year. If I see something I think a friend will like while on the road, I’ll buy it and ship it to them.

Gift Receiving:

As a person without a home, I’m pretty tough to buy for, but I received two very thoughtful holiday gifts this year:

  • Kindle: From Mom. At first, I wasn’t too sure about another technological device (more power cords to carry), but then we took the time to register with a local library and now I can download all my books for free — so this saves me space in my bag and the costs of books. Nice!
  • K.I.N.D.: My bro and his family made a donation in my name to K.I.N.D., a UNICEF initiative that builds desks for school kids in Malawi. He knew I was just traveling through that country, so he was making a connection between my volunteer work and travels. Very cool!

That’s the type of holiday fun we had at the Michelson family fort! How did you and your family spend the holiday season?




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This entry was posted on Monday, January 9th, 2012 and is filed under The Giving Guide.

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