Gift Giving, Indy Style

Jessica Lee Dec 9, 2007

alternative gifts

This holiday season shed your consumerism and put your money towards building a more sustainable world with an economy based on quality of life. Here are 11 alternative ideas for New Yorkers who love to give.

1. Buy locally. Not only will this support local artists, businesses and farmers, but you will lower your carbon footprint by not having to ship gifts around the country or world.

2. Buy used items. Take the challenge to buy nothing new. Look for used bookstores, record
stores, clothing stores, odds & end stores. Check out items on Recycle items through

3. Give “I owe you” coupons. This can be a fun way to do nice things for others, when they want them, without consuming anything. Think backrubs, cleaning the bathroom, babysitting, taking days off work or making dinners.

4. Give love, not presents. Thank significant people in your life for their love, support, friendship and partnership. Take time to write a nice letter or card. Light some candles and be kinky!

5. Bake. Spend money buying organic ingredients and take time to bake a treat or dinner for your loved ones.

6. Make your own gifts! Don’t run to the craft store just yet. Think about how you can use items around the house or even scraps of items you find around town or would otherwise throw away. Create beauty from waste.

7. Give plants. Buy plants from local businesses or at farmers markets to give to others. Pot them in old containers or in used plastic coffee cups. Make sure you drill holes in the bottom for drainage.
Instead of ornamental plants, give herbs that people can grow and eat themselves!

8. Treat someone to information. Give the gift of independent media by purchasing a subscription to publications that offer a voice more critical than that of the mainstream, for-profit media. If you’re going to buy books, don’t buy them at Barnes & Noble or Borders. Support local bookstores such as Bluestockings
(172 Allen St.), Revolution Books (9 W. 19th St.), Housing Works (126 Crosby St.), St. Marks Books (3rd Ave. & 9th St.), Mercer St. Books (206 MercerSt. ), Hue Man Books (Frederick Douglass Blvd. & 125th St.), Uptown Sister’s Book Store (156th St. & Amsterdam) and Community Book Store in Park Slope (143 7th Ave.).

9. Make a donation as a gift. Donate money on behalf of Iraqi refugees, environmental protection or to help out less fortunate people in our own community. Search for “ethical,” “meaningful,” or “charitable” gifts online to get some ideas.

10. Give your time. New Yorkers are always busy, right? Perhaps what would mean the most to someone is to spend time with them over the holidays, or make a larger commitment for the next year. Volunteer for local organizations. Care for family. Make a date.

11. Give yoga class passes. Yoga should be for everyone, not just yuppies. Give your loved one an opportunity to go to a safe space to get exercise, emotional balance and mental clarity. On the cheaper side, support the donation-based Yoga to the People studio in the East Village (

Art by Jennifer Lew.

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