This unfortunately is a true 'wise as' story : l once gave my nephews and nieces UNICEF vouchers for Christmas ...
They were all aged below ten at the time and already had a lot of 'stuff'. I struggled to see what I could possibly give them that would add to their lives. I finally settled on giving them some positive karmic points; instead of buying them presents, I'd donate on their behalf :)
Thankfully UNICEF had a wonderful selection of 'inspired gifts' that lined up to their interests. My older niece liked reading so I donated books on her behalf, my nephews loved soccer so donated play and sporting equipment, and the youngest niece was still a baby so made baby formula and immunisation donations on her behalf.
I thought I had nailed it.
So the look on their faces as they ripped off their envelopes, fully expecting wads of cash, and only to find UNICEF cards with pictures of other happy kids holding their favourite things ... was priceless!
"What's this?" they uttered in pure confusion (and with a degree of disgust).
My niece stared at her UNICEF card trying to make sense of it whilst the nephews (bless'em) mercilessly chucked theirs away. Meanwhile, my parents treated me to a "told you so" look; I had dissed their presents as being "tacky" but it had clearly saved the day. My siblings, to their credit, stepped in and did a good job of explaining what was written on the cards and what it meant. Needless to say, I didn't win any 'aunt of the year' awards but those UNICEF vouchers did make it to the following year's 'show and tell' at school :) The consumerism, materialistic and environmental impact of gifts has always bothered me. At the same time it can feel terrible to deny children the anticipation, excitement and delight that comes with receiving (and tearing open) their presents.
UNICEF vouchers remain my go-to gift for all the very fortunate friends and family who are blessed with every material comfort of life. But where kids are concerned, I know better now; they get a good book and a little toy! That little episode has however inspired us to do 'Black Friday' differently.
It's impossible to discount books any further you see, so this 'White Friday' long weekend, our customers get some positive karmic points instead :)
This 'White Friday' long weekend we will be donating 20% of all sales proceeds to UNICEF on our customers' behalf.