Everyone wants to give the perfect holiday gifts. But how many gifts make much of an impact after the wrapping paper is long gone?
We’d like to suggest a few ideas for giving that have far-reaching effects. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what to get someone, here are a few local, alternative gift ideas to help you get through the holidays while also helping do some good in New Orleans.
1) The Greatest Gift – Time
Whether it’s just you, you and another person or an entire group, make a commitment to do something charitable together for a whole day. This could include serving at a soup kitchen, visiting residents at a seniors home or mentoring youth.
Tip: Call up an organization and see where they need help most. Ex: Bring meals to the patients and families of the American Cancer Society New Orleans Hope Lodge, read books for the blind on the air at WRBH 88.3 FM or befriend someone in a nursing home through the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. Click here for a bigger list of some amazing local charities or try out our Good Karma Slot Machine to get a quick idea for a good deed that you can do today.
2) Leave a Review of Their Company
Small business is the lifeblood of New Orleans and the same goes for cities across America. That’s why leaving good, honest reviews on a friend’s business page can go further than sending them a generic holiday card. Go to a few different review services, such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook to share your appreciation. The reviews will live in perpetuity and do more good for the long-term.
Tip: Give a shout-out to your favorite local businesses on your social media while encouraging friends and family to use them as well. Positive word-of-mouth and personal recommendation is the strongest form of marketing a business can have, and one they will highly appreciate. Check out Facebook’s new recommendations feature to see which businesses your friends recommend locally and use this list of websites for where you can leave your own review.
3) Support Their Cause
Make a donation in the person’s name to whichever charity, arts, school or endeavor they strongly support. While this is nothing new, here’s the extra mile approach: Take the time to give it the royal treatment by putting the donation letter sent from the charity into a fancy frame.
Tip: Try these for meaningful action: Animal Rescue New Orleans (Animals), Tipitinas Foundation (Music), and Covenant House (Children). Or support a local start-up by tossing a few bucks through Kickstarter. You can view some other great, local organizations by clicking here.
4) Shop Local
Buy paintings or music from local artists, purchase gift cards to small restaurants, pick up jewelry and clothes from boutiques. Plot your course… Decatur, Magazine, Oak… You could even venture out to Metairie (gasp!).
Tip: Instead of a holiday card, send a local artist’s 5″x7″ card of their artwork or keepsake-turned-ornament. Check out Pelican Bomb to see some work from local artists or Stay Local’s list of area businesses you can support. Use Multiplottr to organize all your stops in order on a printable map for the fastest routes.
5) Send Them Packin’
The infrastructure in New Orleans has been on the upswing since Hurricane Katrina. The airport is in the middle of a major overhaul and the cruise industry is rockin’ and rollin’ with more departures than ever. Buy a low-cost plane ticket from MSY (New Orleans Armstrong International Airport) or splurge for a 3-day cruise (This is for a good friend… i.e., Thanks for the kidney).
Tip: This also works for staycations. Tickets to local museums or ghost tour is a gift locals would certainly enjoy but almost never buy on their own. Other great tours to consider – cemetery, vampire, voodoo, riverboat, homes, Garden District, and French Quarter. Click here for a larger list and more information.
6) Buy From Businesses with “Greater Purpose”
Ever bought a gift that’s had twice the giving power? There are many local, socially-conscious businesses that do more than just make a profit — they improve the world while they’re doing it. Consider buying products, gifts or supporting these businesses so you not only can cross someone from your gift list but also do some good at the same time.
Tip: Buy bird-shaped keepsake soap that supports the Gulf Restoration Network and International Bird Rescue, purchase handmade in New Orleans candles that donate to a variety of great causes, candles that support YEP (Youth Empowerment Program), acquire equity in the New Orleans Food Co-op for discounts on the store’s selection of food — which includes food that is minimally processed, Fair Trade, organic, sustainable, and locally/regionally produced, or support Team Gleason by buying clothing from one of your favorite football players and inspirational people. Check out Our Goods Matter for even more options for gifts with substance.
Have other gift ideas you want to share and think would make a good addition to this list?
Let us know! Tweet us @herofarm.