it's a bit late in the season right now (for me, anyway), but i thought i'd throw this out there as a discussion point. i was toying with the idea of asking everyone to donate money to a farm sanctuary in lieu of giving me gifts this year (alas, a combination of greed, laziness, and forgetfulness got in the way of this plan), and i was also kicking around the idea of giving people animal sponsorships as gifts. that can be an expensive proposition in some cases (for instance, some sanctuaries like peaceful prairie or farm sanctuary only have what amount to relatively hefty yearly fees), but in other cases it can be done in a fairly affordable fashion. animal place, for example, has a holiday gift sponsorship that only costs $25, and animals asia (dedicated to rescuing moon bears from bile farms) allows you to befriend a bear for $80.
i've actually already made quite a dent in my holiday shopping already (thank you, sabbatical!), but i have a few people i still need to shop for (or "finish off") and it got me thinking about this idea again. have you ever given someone a sponsorship who didn't ask for it? how was it received? i wonder if it would be seen as the ultimate non-gift… it seems the kind of thing where you'd have to pick your recipient wisely.
sponsorships might make a neat gift idea for people who you almost never see, but always send gifts to… my husband's family, for example, lives all the way across the country and we never see them. we aren't even in contact with them very often, and christmas gift decisions are super-stressful because we feel completely clueless about what to send. my mother-in-law has always adored chickens, and used to raise a few, and so i was thinking a few minutes ago that an animal place sponsorship of one of the chickens might be a really nice idea for a gift… but that was immediately followed by the thought that my father-in-law would probably make fun of me. such is life, i suppose.