Have a Merry Alternative Christmas

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There's no denying we are thick in the throes of the holiday season. But, before you ‘shop til you drop’ for those on your gift list, I'd like to wrap your head around some alternative gift suggestions. Gifts which are useful and unique; gifts that can change a person's life; gifts that can make a difference without blowing a hole in your wallet.

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Help the local arts community grow. A $60 donation to theFund will support 28 different art and cultural nonprofits in San Antonio. Plus, it comes with a card for discounts on admission and purchases at all represented organizations, all year long.

A gift of learning lasts forever. Just $25 will place a budding writer in a Gemini Ink workshop. They can write about what a wonderful gift this was.

Spend time with your family. The San Antonio Symphony is offering a Family Holiday Pops Concert on December 19, at Trinity University. Pre-concert activities include petting zoo, conducting lessons and much more. Bring a donation of children's socks and underwear to benefit Mission Road Ministries, and you'll receive a voucher for 2 tickets to an upcoming Symphony concert.

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My family knows I don't give video games, gadgets which require batteries or toys that have many small pieces--some of which immediately disappear, only to show up in the dog's poop. But, I have given a giraffe. The San Antonio Zoo offers “adopt an animal” at various levels beginning at $25.

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Give a gift of music and support a great cause. A Miracle Foundation Christmas CD contains nineteen songs by Texas artists such as Bob Schneider, Dale Watson, Kacy Crowley, and many more. CD is $20 and available here.

Instead of a material gift, think about what someone needs to make their life better and easier. Look into being a mentor or volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels. Or, offer to grocery shop for that older relative who needs a ride and/or some companionship.

Last, but not least, a gift for yourself. From a blog by my friend “The Old Silly.” “Make a new friend. Someone who you would not normally allow into your life. Someone different than you, maybe from a different ethnic, religious, and/or economic background. Invite him or her (and family if they have one) over for dinner and really talk. Get to know each other. One new friend a year creates a vast wealth of emotional/spiritual richness in your life.”

What are your alternative gift suggestions?

Whatever your celebration, may it be merry.

For more from Laura Carter follow @LauraCarter or visit A Small Blog

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