When my brother and I were growing up, we played a little game in our family. If we needed a drink refill or a box of Kleenex or the remote or anything, really, out of reach, we wouldn’t get up and get it ourselves. We’d wait until someone else took the initiative to get up to do something productive and then we’d say, “While you’re up . . . ” and make our request!

Sadly, Mark and I have been known to play the same game. But I’ve heard about some cool “while you’re up” ways to give this Christmas, and I think you’re going to like them.

Hey, at least I’m not asking you to refill my iced tea while you’re up.

First order of business is this: How do you feel about gift cards? Let’s just get it out on the table. Do you think they’re tacky? Practical? Fun? Boring? What do you think?

A certain mother I know has often said that it’s a tacky gift. Then again, this is the same mother who gave her daughter a Victoria’s Secret gift card.

That’s what I get for mentioning my need for new underwear.

Ahem. Anyway. Here’s my take on gift cards (because, yes, I know you were wondering): I think they’re great.

Now, does that mean I want a gift card in place of every gift I ever receive? No. It just means that if someone can’t think of what to get me or lives far away and doesn’t want to spend part of the gift budget on postage, it’s not going to hurt my feelings if I open up the envelope and find a gift card to Kohl’s. Or Target. Or Walmart, really. I’m not picky.

[Unless your name is Mark. And then you’d better be digging deep, reading and interpreting my innermost thoughts and feelings, so you can buy the 12 perfect gifts that show just how well you know me and how deeply you care for me.]

But everyone else can totally get away with a gift card.

There’s no easier gift to give than a gift card. Unless it’s a donation to charity. Have you ever gotten that one before? (Why do I feel like a stand-up comic right about now? No, not because I think I’m so funny. I think it’s how I phrased that or something.)

Anyway. Have you? Or have you donated to a charity in someone’s name as a gift? Did they like it? I’m not sure I’d love that gift. I mean, the thought is nice. And I suppose if the day comes that I never need new underwear (I’m kidding, Mom.), the thought would be enough for me.

But I’m not sure.

How about this, though? What if we combine the gift card that I get to spend with the donation to charity that you get to deduct and we both get to feel good about? What about that?

Well, friends, I’m happy to tell you that that is exactly what Clayton Nicholas and Jeff Jacobs had in mind when they created GiveCard in 2007.

The GiveCard is a prepaid gift card that shares a set value (determined by the giver and starting at $5) with the charity of the recipient’s choice. The balance of the card spends just like a Visa debit card. Because, I think, it is a Visa debit card. It’s just a charitable one.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Or . . . it’s two gifts in one! Um . . . it really is the thought that counts?

Well, whatever cliché we decide to use here, this is a great idea! GiveCard can be used to contribute to more than 5,000 charities – and in an age when charitable giving is down around the globe, every dollar (or five dollars) counts.

So, what do you think? Are gift cards in or out this year?

If you’re looking for more ways to help others while doing your own holiday shopping this year, here are a few ideas:

  • If you like to shop on Amazon as much as I do (and let’s put it this way: I got four packages from them just yesterday), you can donate without actually donating by clicking on this Amazon.com link before making purchases. Thrive Africa gets a small referral fee when you buy anything from Amazon after you follow the link. Thrive is an amazing ministry founded by my sweet bloggy friend, Alece.
  • Kraft Foods and American Greetings have teamed up to feed the hungry this holiday season. For every e-greeting you send through Recipe for Joy, Kraft will donate 10 meals to Feeding America.
  • And last but not least, Dayspring is offering a 15% discount off their Christmas photo cards. Just design your card and use the code CHILDREN15 when you check out. You’ll get 15% off – and here’s the best part – 6% of the sale goes directly to Compassion International!

What are you waiting for? While you’re up, double the giving, double the fun. What, you thought I was finished with the lame clichés? Fine. I’ll stop. But giving while I’m up works for me!


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