The world keeps on changing. Doesn’t it seem like every morning we wake up to something new? World-shaking events make us pause and fit them into our daily perspective. Our own personal wants often shrink in comparison, and we find we are viewing the world through an ever-changing lens.
At least the one thing that never seems to change is the love we give to – and get from – our pets. I don’t know about you, but when I’m having a hectic day, or I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, all I need to do is go spend some quality time throwing tennis balls for my dogs, and everything seems to fall back into place. Our pets help keep us grounded and remind us what truly matters in life—the connection we have with our fellow humans, all living beings, and our planet.
With the holidays approaching so quickly, now is a great time to think about how you plan to allocate your gift-giving dollars. Of course, we love watching friends and family unwrap gifts that they can wear or use personally, but a lot of people already have so much STUFF!
They smile just as happily over presents given in their name that have an impact that reaches beyond their own home or closet. So, I put together a little resource of meaningful presents that spread love far beyond our own lives – and I think the animal lovers on your gift list will smile when they open them, too.
- Donate to a cause local to the recipient that has meaning for them
My brothers and I started a tradition years ago that, rather than buying ‘stuff’ that none of us needs, we donate to a charity that is meaningful to the recipient; one of my brothers supports a local autism organization in North Carolina, my other brother supports his adopted home in the Adirondacks Foundation. My brothers donate to Salt Lake County Animal Services on my behalf. These gifts are meaningful to us, as givers and recipients, because it shows respect and understanding of our interests while helping good causes.
- A subscription box that helps pets in need
Subscription boxes that give back are monthly presents that give your dog fun new goods (and a box!) each month, while also supporting good causes. The Rescue Box will send them a box packed with paw-lickin’ good treats, toys and chews, and you can choose small, medium, or large dogs, or cats! Each box provides 60 meals for shelter dogs – a definite – win-win
Any pet lover can feel good giving or receiving one of these boxes!
- Help family tell their stories
Everyone has a lifetime of stories to tell. One of the best parts about visiting my parents every few months is the time in the evenings when we sit around and talk about ‘the old days’ – things my parents did, people they knew, adventures they had before I was born, or when I was too young to full appreciate the adventures. My parents also have stories about their parents and grandparents, and every time we talk, I hear new stories and learn more about my own family history. It’s amazing, and gives me such a strong sense of connection to my parents, and family members I never knew.
The hardest part about family stories is knowing what questions to ask and where to start Storyworth gives you and your loved ones the opportunity to share their stories in an enduring printed book.
Storyworth also has the option to include images in the book. Professional photos of you and your family, as well as scanned photographs from past generations would be fantastic additions to this lasting living history.
If you are interested in adding photographs of your family now, I would be more than happy to help you get photographs of your pets and their family. If you would like to add older family photos, I can recommend several local companies that provide high-quality image scans (and restoration, if needed) of old photographs.
- Buy goods from artisans in emerging countries
Your dollars can stretch even further in some other countries. Supporting international artisans can provide impactful income for their families and also help fight supply chain exploitation. You can find jewelry, home goods and more at Discovered
These gifts pack a meaningful punch and put your hard-earned dollars to good use.
One of my most treasured gifts I’ve ever gotten is a bronze coin from Constantine the Great’s rule (306-337 CE). My Dad and I were on a trip to Rome (when we were in Saudi Arabia, flying to Europe was fast and free – my Dad worked for TWA – and my family would often take short holidays in Greece or Italy, and this particular trip was to celebrate all those trips when I was a child), and the trip created a lot of memories for me and my Dad that we still laugh about to this day.
But, the significance of the coin was that when we travelled we liked to shop at place beyond the scope of tourists (or, “out of reach of the American Express tour busses” as we used to say). We ended up in a small street that had a bunch of appliance-repair places, and a small jewelry shop that looked like it did most of its business changing watch batteries and silver necklaces. The owner spoke very little English, and we spoke very little Italian, but the owner’s daughter was able to tell us the history of the coin, and I was really interested in it. The idea of being able to have something that was 1700 years old was amazing to me. 1700 years old! It still blows my mind! My Dad knows my love of all things history, and thought this would make and excellent momento of our trip, so he negotiated a price and gave it to me as a gift to remember the trip.
Every time I see my parents I show my Dad the coin and we chuckle over the fact that we really have no idea if we got a good deal on it or not – as a collector, the coin is pretty much worthless (not completely, but a lot of these coins were minted), and since we were paying in lira (this was a long time ago) and the exchange rate fluctuated daily, we have no idea how much he really paid. But as my Dad says now, it doesn’t matter; clearly the coin is priceless. (And to me, it is.)
- Photography gift certificate
If a pet-lover is on your gift list, a gift certificate for pet photography is a fantastic way to honor the human and their pet. Professional photography sessions allow the pet and owner to be in the moment and enjoy their adventures together (whether in the backyard, or high in the Uintas) while the photographer captures their story so it can be enjoyed and experienced again and again.
No fumbling with phones and trying to get everyone to look at the camera while trying not to look *too* posed! I offer gift certificates starting at $300 and can give you a tangible printed certificate (in a nice gift box if you wish!), or a digital file if you aren’t in close proximity to your recipient, or you have passed the mail-by deadline.
What’s on your holiday gift-buying list? Double your joy by sharing your gratitude for your family and friends with a present that’s not only thoughtful and beautiful, but makes a real difference for the lives of others, as well.