I know that when I was growing up a good present was wrapped into a nice box and contained SOME STUFF. And usually everyone was happy, because STUFF used to be The Thing that made people happy.
Not sure if you have noticed, but material things don't have a similar effect on many of us anymore (well, except new Apple widgets, of course:). We have enough - and too much - stuff already - and we don't want to "adopt" another toaster or espresso machine into our lifestyle.
What many of us really want is a sense of contribution, belonging, happiness, a stress-free lifestyle and many other things that you can't really fit in a box.
So what are the alternatives if we want to make someone feel really, really, really happy by making them a present? Besides treating our friends in an amazing, loving, caring way every day, of course:)
Well, in case your friends have also reached the modern era where STUFF doesn't excite them as much as it used to, consider this - a large part of the world is still living in quite a different era. Many people are in a constant need for STUFF - and quite often not for bare comfort or entertainment, but for survival.
And the good news is that thanks to internet it's easier than ever to make a real contribution and get a sense of meaning.
I ended up buying a goat to the couple through an Estonian NGO Mondo promoting ethical gifts (highly recommended for Estonians) - the goat will be actually delivered to a group of widowers in one of the remote villages in Ghana.
There are a lot of reliable organizations that co-ordinate the work with partners in Africa, Asia or even in well-developed Europe to bring relief to various issues and that also make a wonderful gift to someone who doesn't want more stuff.
So next time when choosing a gift to your friend consider this selection of a several reliable opportunities for quite unique gifts.
MY TOP 7 UNIQUE GIFTS
1. Adopt an animal in danger of extinction
2. Pay for doctor's monthly salary in Dominican Republic
...or vital stuff for any other country around the world through Christian Aid
3. Buy a goat for Sudanese or Bangladeshi family
4. Make a lifechanging mini-loan to a start-up entrepreneur through KIVA
5. Microfinance female entrepreneurs through buying their craft
6. Adopt an acre of rain forest
7. Educate a child in Africa
Any other cool ideas on how to use your monthly give-back budget?