I enjoyed doing this post last year. we all get, and give, so much stuff in the US over the holidays. Do we really need everything? do the people we give presents too really need them? I'm not going to rant about materialism. My mom loved her "present" that i gave her last year: school books for an African child from Oxfam Unwrapped. If everyone donated one present, instead of giving one, imagine how much good we'd do. Some ideas:
Habitat for Humanity. They build houses all over the world! They have a range of things you can get for someone, from a hammer for $10, a pallet of 2x4's for $90, a front door for $150, to a roof for $5000!
The International Rescue Committee is "a critical global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Working together, we provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression" and has items that are more immediate use.
The World Wildlife Fund does species adoption and for $50 or higher your giftee gets little plushies of the animal you choose. the bucket of frogs is too cute!
Oxfam Unwrapped. I listed this one last year and it seems that they have many more gifts to choose from now, with a bigger range in prices.
Have a friend who loves animals? Make a donation in their name to a Humane Society or pet shelter. I don't know any book lovers (lol) but if you do you could donate to a library or children's literacy program. Female music fans would probably like to know you gave to the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls! While the food may not be gourmet, a donation to someplace like Second Harvest or a homeless kitchen transforms your friend's love of food into food people really need. Practically any thing/activity people are interested in has a group to promote it to children. So many groups need funding in this economy; contribute if you can.