More gift suggestions for the holidays

Libero Della Piana suggests supporting the Writers Guild strikers and buying union-made, cool and funny T-shirts at .

At The Labor Heritage Foundation Deb Wilmer bought two CDs, “De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children” and “Ella Jenkins and a Union of Friends Pulling Together,” for her nieces.

Marguerite Horberg says this year she’s going “Unique” (as in thrift store). “So far, I found a $1.15 Japanese music box for my niece which will be filled with other trinkets; for my modish mom, a $1.55 bright red ceramic candlestick that has Calder pretensions; and a Peruvian figurine with the original sticker “Lime” (also $1.55) for ‘mi amiga’ Elizabeth, who remains nostalgic for her childhood.” But, she warns, “The only problem with all my unique gifts is that I always want to keep them for myself once I get them home and set them out to admire their effect.”

Along those same lines, Susan Webb suggests crafts box for kids (or grownups!). “Go to a fabric/crafts store and buy an assortment of fabric scraps, rickrack, googly-eyes, sequins, felt, pipecleaners, ribbon, lace trimmings, etc., and glue or glue sticks. Find a spare box with a lid such as a shoebox, cover the lid and box with attractive cloth or holiday wrapping paper, put the crafts stuff in, tie with a ribbon, and presto! A terrific gift. My kids used theirs for years!”

Julie Peterson writes about one special homemade idea: “I just started recording my mom talking about when my sister and brothers and I were born and when we were little. I am also thinking about making a photo album recording the whole family talking about each picture. My mother’s been ill this year and the recordings about family history are very precious.”

Brad Gilchrist’s family hosts their extended family Christmas party and they try to give everyone (family) something simple but thoughtful.

“Our goal is to keep each gift under $10, but have some well-valued thought behind them,” he writes. “Two years ago, we put together forced bulb pots, daffodils, crocus, snow drop combinations — with instructions. In late March we got wonderful phone calls and thank you notes.

“Last year we made stained glass snowflakes (fortunately, I know how to create stained glasswork and had the equipment). My wife was inspired by snowflakes she saw in a high-end craft store and drew a picture for me. Using beveled glass diamonds and blue and green glass beads, we worked together to make beautiful 10-inch snowflakes. A big hit.

“This year, we’re going green. In Connecticut, we can buy compact fluorescent bulbs for $1 a piece through the CT Energy Efficiency Fund. We bought reusable grocery bags and are filling them with six bulbs and two LED night-lights.

“It’s a challenge every year and requires a little thought and planning — but it’s well worth it.”

Marc Brodine suggests two books for environmental consciousness-raising. One is “Eating Fossil Fuels — Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture,” by Dale Allen Pfeiffer, New Society Publishers , $11.95. Brodine says, “This book integrates potential problems with Peak Oil, water scarcity, declining agricultural production, and climate change, to give a well-rounded picture of how this will all impact the agricultural systems which we depend on for food.”

The second book, “Ecology Against Capitalism,” by John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review Press , $17.95, is a relatively short book, in which the author “explains why capitalism is incapable of solving the complex of environmental challenges that confront humanity.”

Another gift of time suggestion comes from Elisa Solomon, who suggests giving three hours a week all year along “to causes that uplift the life quality for someone besides oneself and own family.”

Ann Pallotta Nagin went to a local nonprofit web site “Esperanza Threads” that teaches sewing and business skills to women prisoners in the Cleveland area. “Good holiday gift purchases,” she says. “The socks are the only item I personally checked out, but everything looks real good. The ‘tall crew socks’ are especially nice socks — thick quality yarns — the kind of sock your feet say thank you for over and over.”

Some readers suggested giving donations to assist women and families in developing countries. Jenny Carson writes, “Last year for Christmas my husband and I made a cash loan to a woman entrepreneur in Africa in my parents’ names through Kiva. In turn, they made a cash loan to a woman entrepreneur in Mexico in my and my husband’s name. Once the loans are paid back, we keep the money in Kiva and give it to other entrepreneurs. Anyone can make a loan for themselves or in the name of someone else through . It’s the gift that keeps on giving!”

Linda Beckstrom says, “We never give material items as gifts to our siblings and their kids. We have, for the past five years, given to Heifer International in their names. You can choose to give a certain kind of animal to a family in an agricultural region across the world. When the kids were very young, they thought the animals were coming to live with them first.”

But she and others said they are considering another donation. “This year, we are thinking about making the donations to the Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping church.”

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