It’s that time of year when every blogger writes and publishes a beautiful holiday gift guide, but I simply can’t bring myself to do it. In theory I want to. In practice, I won’t make the time. But more importantly, it’s because the best Christmas I’ve ever had was the year I gave my family donations to different charities instead of material gifts. For a while when I had very little money, we’d stick to a $25 gift limit, which helped my wallet. But the year we extended the rules to be a charitable donation of $25, plus a small little something for your stocking (like a great-smelling soap – everyone uses soap!), was the most thoughtful giving year we’ve had. Nothing has topped it before or since.

So this year, I’m encouraging you to do the same. Why spend all your money on something you don’t know the person will like? Why not contribute to something that will help someone or something? Go ahead and buy the beautiful gift boxes and wrapping paper and ribbons and bows (that’s half the fun, isn’t it?!), then fill that gorgeous gift with a print out of the receipt confirming the donation. You can even add some sparkly stickers or color it with markers if you want to add some flair.

Need some ideas? You can certainly have fun with it by choosing a unique charity for your loved one. Here’s what I did: My sister is an animal lover so I donated to the humane society in her area. My mom is a teacher, so I donated to an organization that provides training and jobs to those in under-served communities, and my dad is a war-history buff, so I donated to a veterans’ charity. They were REALLY touched that I had found organizations that were so tailored to their own passions.

If you really must go for a gift, that’s great! To each her own. In that case, allow me to refer you to some of my favorite blogs who have published beautiful and thoughtful gift guides: Memorandum, The Fox and She, and The Golden Girl.

Happy Holidays, y’all!