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I woke up on Saturday with the shocking realization that it was already halfway through October. As a teacher and parent, September is a vast wasteland of trying to reconnect with my many roles as a working mother. Between the half dozen back to school events scattered throughout the month of September, packing lunches, wearing grown up clothing, and helping the kids adjust to the new school year, September is pretty much a wash for anything deemed unnecessary.  But October? While October begins with field trips and mid marking period reports, it can be a tiny respite in the bluster of the school year. Finally, I get to breathe again and think about the big picture.

The big picture just so happens to be the entire schedule for my entire family for the remaining 9 months of the school year. This means comparing multiple school holidays and… holidays.  I haven’t made a Christmas shopping list or bought a single item. How many days until Christmas?  Oh, no! Christmas is here and I’m not ready.

Yes, I know I can be a little over anxious about the schedule. I should relax more.  So, if you are like me and have not purchased a single item for the joyful Christmas season, then let me share some thoughts with you about making your gift giving count.  (Those of you like my dear friend Maureen, you can still read this as you begin your holiday shopping for next year, because we both know you finished your Christmas shopping in August.)

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Who are you shopping for this season, and whom can you bless?  Some of your gifts are more generic. These are small gifts of appreciation for teachers, service providers, or other people who you might not know well enough to buy a personalized gift for. Then there are the holiday parties with the white elephant gift exchanges or Secret Santas.   Before you run over to some giant store where you can find dozens of things on their holiday gift racks, or buy $5 gift cards to a major fast food locale, consider a gift that gives twice or three times.

The recent devastation in Haiti caused by Hurricane Matthew, impacts the already poor people of Haiti in ways that we cannot fully understand. Purchasing a Christmas tree ornament or a piece of jewelry from Papillion Enterprises can help support a family in need.  Better yet, host a Trades of Hope party where you can shop for products from around the world that support not only local artisans but also compassionate entrepreneurs in the United State.   Many other organizations also offers similar in home parties, such as Noonday Collection, Mercy House, SERRV, and Threads of the World.  Purchasing from organizations that are helping individuals and communities out of poverty through sustainable employment opportunities means long-term economic development.   Many charitable organizations also provide opportunities for purchasing gifts made by the people they work with directly such as Thistle Farms, Imagine Goods, and Darn Good Yarn. Consider simply making fair trade purchases of everything from shoes to the chocolate you put in Christmas stocking.  Buying local from small businesses supports your local economy and makes for more unique gifts than gift cards to major chains. Try a gift shop to a local independent coffee shop, boutique, or local consultant for anything from essential oils to health and fitness products.

If you must shop, shop with purpose!

Get started here without ethical shopping guide.

Written by Barbara Seidle

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