I have finished most of my Christmas shopping simply by giving money to Heifer international, an NGO that gives livestock and training on how to husband the animals to the poor people of the world so that families can feed themselves and eventually feed their villages when their animals reproduce and add more animals to the area.
For the past 5 years my family (me, my 2 siblings and my dad and Step-mom) has pooled money to donate to heifer. In the past, we have bought bees, geese, goats, llamas.
This year we bought a water buffalo for a family in SE Asia. That Buffalo, if it is a cow, will provide milk for the family, plow fields and pull a cart and will eventually have offspring the family can give to other villagers (which is a part of the agreement with heifer, when your animals start to reproduce you are to give the extras away to others in need in your area until everyone has enough and there is surplus to sell on the open market).
This year my brother bowed out of Christmas altogether and is not participating. I guess he feels he is in worse shape than someone who lived through the Banda Ache tsunami or a person who lives about anywhere in Africa. Not. But the rest of us pitched in to make lives of some people we will never meet a bit better.
The best part of this is I did not have to step foot in a Mall, something I try to avoid at all costs. I did not buy plastic crap no one really wants or needs made by child labor in Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka or some other place that has zero laws to protect workers (and ironically, these are places that might have the family that gets the Buffalo we donated). Crap made from non renewable resources that will be landfilled eventually (the packaging will be landfilled right away). I did not buy crap that will only take money and resources AWAY from the local economy.
Unfortunately I have not finished my Christmas shopping. I still have to buy for my brother and sister in law and a nephew. I will shop for them at the Oxford Farmers' Market Uptown Winter Market next weekend and buy an assortment of handmade soaps and candles and who knows what else. I will be keeping the money and resources in the local economy as well as buying things made from natural materials with little to no packaging that will NOT be tossed in the landfill.
If you do not have a winter farmers' market if you area try out Local harvest. True, you might not be buying from a local person but you will be buying from small independent farmers and artisans and not from a huge multinational corporation who only cares about profits and not people. And you will be buying something that was not made by slave labor and that is comprised of natural, non toxic pure materials. it's a win win situation when we think before we buy and try to buy either local or at the very least from the small guys.
Remember there are only 21 shopping daze left and not one has to be spent in a mall or box store.