'Tis the giving season, but no one said you had to spend money on gifts …
With Christmas right around the corner, we can all look forward to our wallets growing slim while our waistlines grow out like tree rings of holiday fat. Not only is this the time for eating pounds of fudge, visiting every retail store within a 10-mile radius, and yanking your hair out due to gift giving stresses, it’s also time to empathize with those in need and help out the less fortunate. Here’s how to give gifts and appear charitable without opening your wallet too wide.
Re-gift your belongings
Drag out that box of X-mas/birthday presents you’ve been waiting to sell at a yard sale since 2006 and repurpose them. Give those vanilla-scented B,B, & B candles to people who need them, like your cousin who asked you to be in her wedding, but only because she doesn’t have a ton of girlfriends, wiccans in need of ceremonial flame, the neighbor whose yard your dog always shits in, Alaskans who don’t get much sunlight this time of year … you get the picture. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so dig through your unwanted for potentially charitable gifts. And if you can’t find anyone that wants them, there’s always Goodwill.
Personal canned food drive
When you go to parties, home for the holidays, or are just snooping around random pantries you find yourself confronted with, look for weird canned food items. Not the nice Amy’s soups, Goya Cuban style black beans, or Solid White albacore tuna. That’s the good stuff and someone will definitely miss it.
Reach past that into the deep recesses of the pantry for preserved food items sans expiration dates. No one ever uses sliced beets, hearts of palm, or brownish yellow canned asparagus. People inherit those when they move into new homes or they are tucked at the bottom of a brown paper sack your grandmother brings over and passes off as a housewarming gift but it’s really just décor she was sick of.
You’re like the Robin Hood of canned food, stealing from the middle class, white college students, giving to the canned food drive at the church down the street.
Donate bodily fluids
In need of a little extra holiday cash and want to help people? Plasma centers fill up with college kids. They pay anywhere from $30–60 for just a few hours of sitting in a chair watching television or scrolling through Insta, which you were going to do anyway at home. You might as well get paid for it.
Just a warning though, you may live the rest of your life with a sizable injection scar and have to explain to your dad that you really don’t use heroin, just sell vital fluid for $50 a bag.
If you want to pull off the ultimate charity, get paid to masturbate into a cup or donate an egg, and give the gift of human life this holiday season. You’ll be donating your marginal DNA and turning a profit at the same time.
Personal IOU coupons
If you’ve done any of the above three options, your close family and friends already know you’re cheap. Which is okay. That’s what our late teens and early twenties are for — to run up credit card debt and ask our parents for holiday gifts that are actually vital elements we just don’t want to spend money on (i.e. vacuum cleaners, new tires, a haircut).
As a nice return, gift your family handmade coupons good for whatever you’re good at. Your mom probably doesn’t need another CU Boulder Buff’s hoodie, but she could probably use her car detailed? It sounds lame, and in truth, it is kind of lame. But you’re broke and you should still do nice things for your family all the time, but especially during the holidays. They birthed you, so you’ll never get them a gift equivalent to that, but a nice “Good for one dinner that I make” coupon certainly is a drop in the bucket.
If you can’t avoid actually purchasing a gift, the best thing to buy is alcohol. This is the gift that keeps on giving, and that no one ever returns. It makes family gatherings bearable, everyone except Mormons enjoy it, and it’s easily shared. Gift it when you go to holiday parties as a hostess gift, then subtly suggest that the receiver can open said gift at the party, and pass it around.
There’s an array of choices too, all at affordable prices. Don’t want to splurge on a $60 bottle of McCallan 10 year? Evan Williams is essentially the same thing! They’re both brown! You could even get away with spending your time tracking down some rare Pliny the Elder or Bourbon County. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but you spent your time looking for it, and that counts even more.
If you’re above dumpster diving, but not above free shit, check out Moe’s Bagels. After noon, they gives away so many free bagels and people seem to have too much pride to take them. You don’t have to inhale the entire dozen, but instead can take them, along with your less than desirable canned options, to a food pantry close by. Or give them to the homeless hanging on Pearl Street. Or donate the money you saved from getting free bagels to a cause of your choice. So much good can come from free bagels. If you’re not near a Moe’s, Einsten’s (and a ton of other food culprits, Panera we’re looking at you too) throw a bunch of their food away at the end of the day. Good-hearted cashiers will usually tie up baked goods in clean trash bags and gingerly place them around the dumpster for easy pick up. Who doesn’t love free bagels?