Tag Archives: gift guide

Last Minute Gifts Om Gals And Guys Love

To help you finish any last-minute shopping, I enrolled a few “om elves” to share their wish lists. I asked for inexpensive but fantastic finds, over-the-top indulgences, and things that bring Zen. Here are a few of the highlights:

Little and Light

A beautiful candle in a decadent scent can be a great way to indulge friends without stressing your wallet. My elves covet various candles. The Voluspa line is an excellent choice, for its modest prices, unique fragrance combinations, and scents so lovely they’re intoxicating. My pick of the season: White Currant Quince. (Available on Amazon).

Something to Write

Even something as small and practical as a notepad becomes an expression of good taste and a nod to creative giants Matisse, Van Gogh, and Hemingway (all original fans of the brand) with Moleskine pocket “cahiers.” My friend, Daisy, a graduate student in architecture, chose these so that she can sketch and scribble in style.

Glitter to Do Good

It would figure that my fashionable and fleet-of-foot marathon training pal, Cara, would select these sparkling shoes by TOMS, to add a dash of glamour to her otherwise athletic wardrobe (she’s an executive at lululemon). A multi-tasker to the core, Cara’s gift does good while looking fab; with each pair of TOMS purchased, the company provides a pair of shoes to a child in need.

A Llama, a Bunny, or Some Sweet Honeybees

While finishing her first book, Yoga for Emotional Balance, debuting on March 8, 2011 (Shambhala Publications), Bo Forbes underwent her fair share of sleep deprivation and social life sacrificing. So, you might guess that she’s hoping for some pampering this holiday. Perhaps a spa day? Or an over-the-top tropical trip where the only crucial item on her agenda might be to reapply sunscreen? Nay, friends. That would be soooo un-Bo. Instead, she suggests making a contribution to Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that donates sheep, llamas, bees, bunnies, and more to help families in developing countries become more self-sustainable.

For the Run

A more predictable wish list item came from Om Bro, Reece. As a child, he never liked shoes, to the point that I recall he and my Dad having a stand-off on Christmas Eve circa 1987. Reece was adamant that he did not want to wear shoes, despite the fact that it was winter, and a special occasion, and, oh yeah, there was snow on the ground. Hence, some 20+ years later, Reece wants Vibram Five Fingers, to simulate the feeling of running barefoot through the streets of Manhattan, in the winter, on all occasions, likely with snow on the ground.

For the Yum

Reece also said he’d appreciate organic, fair trade chocolate. Which begs the question: Who wouldn’t want organic, fair trade chocolate?

OG intern, Jess, hopes for a sweet holiday, too, with a few new tools for her vegan kitchen, including Gingerbread Yogi Cutters (above) for delicious cookies in the shape of yoga poses, Lunch Bots stainless steel containers to tote her healthy creations on-the-go, and the mothership of kitchen appliances, a Vitamix high-performance blender.

To Have Some Fun

A fashionista gal and outdoorsy dude, respectively, both shared wearable wish list items that scream fun, albeit in different ways. Jessica, who manages the Beacon Hill boutique, Wish, swoons for party dresses like this one by Rebecca Taylor (top), which kinda screams, “I’m sassy; smooch me under the mistletoe!” Meanwhile, outdoorsy dude, John, pines for a puffy jacket by Cloudveil (bottom) for screaming down the slopes.

Turn Inward

A high school English teacher, mother of two adult children and one teen, former serial marathoner, longtime yogi, and all-around community builder, my friend Abigail hopes she’ll steal some time to sit still and read during the holiday break. Fittingly enough, she hopes Santa delivers Go In and In, a book of poetry written while the author retreated at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA, a favorite spot of mine.

Get Away

Speaking of which, Abigail would love of a weekend at Kripalu. To which, I say, “Ditto.”

Say Ommmm

The youngest om elf, 16-year-old, Alli, is also hoping to receive the gift of yoga. “Zen would be my mom paying for four or five yoga classes over [holiday] break.”

What’s on your wish list?

Forget The Long Lines And Crazy Parking: Give Your Loved Ones A Gift Online

In the age of the internet, gone are your excuses for not remembering someone special with a gift during the holidays. You need not fight crowds at malls or elbow your way into a post office. You can find the perfect item from the comfort of your own home. However, with the myriad choices to comb through, you might get discouraged. Fear not! Here are six great gift ideas, all available while you shop your pajamas and enjoy your morning coffee.

Netflix Gift SubscriptionWho doesn’t love movies? You can give a Netflix subscription for a month, a year, or anywhere in between. One month costs only $9.99 and a full year is $118.88

iTunes Gift CardGot a teenager or college student on your list? You can’t go wrong with an iTunes gift card. Buy them online in increments of $15 – $100 dollars. They come in a variety of styles, the newest features The Beatles!

Amazon.com Gift CardsLet the lucky recipient choose from a wide variety of options: books, audiobooks, music, toys, housewares, clothing, electronics and more! Gift cards start at $10 but go all the way up to $5,000! Plus, Amazon offers instant email notifications, so even if you wait until the very last minute, you can get it all done.

Pandora Internet Radio SubscriptionFor just $36 a year, give the gift of high quality audio, commercial-free, internet radio. Pandora is easily customizable for the most enjoyable radio experience they will ever have!

Harry and David Fruit of the Month Club.  Every moth, Harry and David promises to deliver “top quality fruit, brimming with flavor” to your friends or family members. Monthly selections depend on what is in season, but include delicacies such as tropical pineapple, sweet grapefruit, juicy pears, and more. Prices range from $99 to $299 dollars. Standard shipping delivery charges are included in your gift subscription costs.

Audible.com Gift SubscriptionAudio books are wonderful for the busy person who loves to read but spends time stuck commuting or doing other things where reading, either in print or on an e-reader, is impractical. Consider giving them an audible.com certificate. Audible.com’s audio books can be downloaded to a variety of audio players and costs only $7.49 a month.


The Tonic Holiday Charity Giving Guide

With almost a million charities in the US, it’s tricky to decide where to direct your donor dollars. Your mailbox might be crammed with letters from organizations looking for a holiday pick-me-up, but that doesn’t mean you’re any closer to figuring out which nonprofits are worth their salt.

We’re here to help. Tonic has teamed up with Charity Navigator, the premier charity-rating organization, to bring you a list of 20 particularly effective organizations in 10 categories. There certainly are other charities worthy of your hard-earned cash (and some you might want to think twice about), but if you’re looking for a charity to donate to for the holidays, these are 20 standout organizations that do right by your donations.

The organizations we recommend depend on donations to do the incredible good they do and are always looking for new givers, especially in this economy.

Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, our top pick in the Helping the Homeless category, said that receiving gifts from new donors gives her staff a boost.

“On a personal level for all of the staff, a new donor is a tremendous encouragement to us because it means that people have confidence in our ability to succeed in ending homelessness," she said.

Related: See how we made our picks, including information about Charity Navigator’s methodology and scoring, and what being selected means to some of our listed organizations.

And now — drumroll please — the Tonic Holiday Charity Giving Guide:

Feeding the Needy  

  • Top pick: Feeding America’s Hungry Children (score 69.83) solicits food and grocery products from the nation’s food and grocery industry, which it distributes to 100 local hunger relief agencies in nine states through a network of 13 regional food-rescue organizations. Last year, the organization helped provide over 1 million pounds of food for more than 884,000 meals to ward off hunger for over 22,900 families.
  • Runner up: Action Against Hunger-USA (score: 66.42) detects, prevents and treats malnutrition around the world, especially when caused by emergency situations of war and natural disaster. The organization brings expertise in nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, health and advocacy to create long-term solutions to hunger.

Playing Santa (Gifts for Kids)

  • Top pick: Give Kids The World (score: 69.23) offers kids struggling with life-threatening illnesses and their families a free visit to the Central Florida attractions, including Give Kids The World Village. Since 1986, the organization has offered this special gift to over 88,000 children. 
  • Runner up: Shoes That Fit (score: 64.60) gives needy kids new shoes and/or clothes for school by matching sponsoring groups — companies, schools, churches, civic organizations or even teams of friends — with local schools whose students lack proper attire. Once dressed properly, the students can concentrate on their studies and not on their circumstances.

 Helping the Homeless

  • Top pick: The National Alliance to End Homelessness (score: 68.73) works to prevent and end homelessness in the United States by promoting realistic policy solutions. The organization partners with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help homeless individuals and families change their lives for the better, to inform policy debates with reliable research and to educate the public.
  • Runner up: Family Promise (score: 66.23) helps low-income families improve their circumstances and targets the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness. The organization provides hospitality networks to shelter and support families, family mentoring, an interactive educational program and local community programs on transitional housing, job training, childcare and literacy.

 Caring for the Ill and Elderly

  • Top pick: The American Hospice Foundation (score: 63.06) uses education, training, research and advocacy to improve access to quality hospice care for terminally ill and grieving people of all ages.
  • Runner up: The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program (score: 62.36) provides food, simple medicines, clothing, fabric and yarn to help the elders of the Dine’ (Navajo) People maintain their traditional lifestyle in isolated parts of their land in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

 Giving Veterans a Hand

  • Top pick: The Fisher House Foundation (score: 69.56) is a private-public partnership focusing on meeting the needs of men and women in uniform by providing welcoming houses at major military medical centers to give military families vital support and the comforts of home.
  • Runner up: Operation Homefront (score: 66.25) marshals 4,500 volunteers in 30 chapters worldwide to provide emergency assistance to troops, their families and to wounded soldiers. The organization has helped over 45,000 military families in need with financial assistance, goods and services and care packages.

 Being a Friend to Fido

  • Top pick: PetSmart Charities (score: 68.67) works to save homeless pets and encourage healthy relationships between people and their animals. The organization supports over 3,400 animal welfare agencies around the country and in Canada and, through the PetSmart Charities Adoption Centers, saves a homeless animal every two minutes. 
  • Runner up: Morris Animal Foundation (score: 62.82) funds and disseminates studies to improve the health of pets and wildlife. The organization’s health research helps a wide range of animals around the world, including dogs, cats, horses, llamas, mountain gorillas, elephants, rhinoceros, wolves, sea otters, and a diverse assortment of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

 Supporting the Arts

  • Top pick: Fractured Atlas (score: 64.59) offers services and support to over 50,000 artists and arts organizations in every discipline nationally and globally. The organization, a technological innovator in the field, facilitates the creation of art by helping artists with necessities like funding, healthcare and education. 
  • Runner up: The Actors Fund (score: 60.06) serves some 308,000 entertainment and performing arts professionals throughout the United State via in-person and online resource programs. The organization meets the needs of all manner of professionals (not just actors) in film, theater, television, music, opera and dance.

 Saving the Planet

  • Top pick: Natural Resources Defense Council (score: 65.82) works to protect and restore the Earth’s life-sustaining air, land and water, and to defend endangered areas of nature. The organization operates on the belief that ensuring sustainability and caring for the Earth are some of humanity’s central ethical imperatives. 
  • Runner up: The Environmental Defense Fund (score: 65.65) designs innovative, just and practical solutions to society’s urgent environmental challenges with an emphasis on science, economics and law. The organization aims to protect the rights of all present and future people, including the right to clean air and water, nutritious food and healthy ecosystems.

 Fighting for Your Rights

  • Top pick: The National Consumer Law Center (score: 66.23) puts consumer law to work on behalf of low-income and other vulnerable people in search of economic justice. The organization focuses on helping specific groups such as immigrants, homeowners and victims of domestic violence, and also works on issues of consumer fraud, debt collection and predatory lending, among others. 
  • Runner up: The Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (score: 61.99) supports low-income and disadvantaged workers by tackling employment issues that prevent them and their families from reaching self-sufficiency. The organization operates on the belief that stable work and sufficient income are key to enabling families and communities to thrive.

 Doing Good Globally

  • Top pick: ActionAid International USA (score: 68.49) fights poverty for 25 million people in 49 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America by providing disaster relief, empowering women, working against hunger, holding governments accountable, improving health and making education accessible.
  • Runner up: Direct Relief International (score: 62.39) helps people in emergency and refugee situations improve their lives. With the involvement of the beneficiaries, the organization gives direct assistance to people all over the globe in the form of targeted aid and medical care.

 See how we made our picks and what it means for the orgs to be on the list and to receive your donations.

If you know of other great charities worth donating to for the holidays, let us know by leaving your comments below.

By Katherine Gustafson for Tonic.com

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