I love birthdays- especially mine.
I’ll confess (to the surprise of absolutely no one who knows me) that I love getting gifts. But as I’ve grown older (or maybe just since I started living in Portland), I’ve been volunteering more, which I’ve found to be as rewarding- if not more so- than unwrapping presents.
I don’t know if it’s an actual trend but I’ve been reading a lot of instances in which people who are celebrating some sort of occasion in their lives would ask their family and friends to donate money to a particular charity they’ve chosen in lieu of gifts. I always like to point out to people that money isn’t the only thing they can donate. Time is a valuable commodity as well.
What I decided to do for my recent birthday was have a special volunteer session at one of my favorite local non-profit organizations- the Children’s Book Bank. I knew my core group of friends was already of the charitable sort so it wasn’t that hard to convince them to do this for me. I wanted to do something that made a difference, to make some sort of impact, and I wanted to share the experience with others. I, for one, enjoyed myself and appreciated my friends more in the process.
If there’s a charitable cause or charity you’re passionate about, ask the organization if they hold birthday volunteer sessions. Let your friends know what you’re planning and why it’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be a four-month advance notice like mine. (I told you, I love birthdays!) More importantly, have fun!
So, you’ve screwed up Valentine’s Day. You just completely forgot about it. It does seem land on a different February 14 each year, and all the holiday signs and advertisements are easy to overlook. Whatever the reason, it’s important to admit that you fail at life and strive to overcome that failure next year. The best way to accomplish this is an Emergency Gift Stash.
The Emergency Gift Stash is a box filled with emergency gifts and cards for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. When Valentine’s Day is over and done, rush to all available stores and buy lots of Valentine’s goodies at a discount price. Keep in mind that all the best gifts will be gone, so it’s important to spend a lot of time looking for good cards and gifts (plush animals are good; jewelry is good) Also, don’t buy candy; it won’t be as yummy if you wait a year to eat it. Don’t buy flowers either; they’ll be dead in a year.
Having trouble shopping for that family member or friend who has everything? Are you looking for a stand-out gift this year? Or maybe you are hoping to give back while gift giving this Christmas? Each holiday season, my parents donate to a charity of my choice on my behalf. Every year, it is my favorite present. Here are a few of my fellow Cash4Books employees’ favorite charities, and some great suggestions for ways to give gifts that keep on giving:
American Red Cross
Susan G Komen
Cancer Research Institute
St. Jude Children’s Hospital
Ronald McDonald House
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Wildlife Conservation Society
National Arbor Day Foundation
Disabled American Veterans
Books For Soldiers
Adopt A Platoon
A Million Thanks
Room to Read
For ideas on giving internationally check out: Global Giving
So, you have book clutter. Let’s talk about ways to deal with it.
Cash for Books
The first option is to sell the books you no longer need or want. You can check your local independent bookstores to see whether they offer this service or not. Sometimes, they only offer exchanges or give in-store credit.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, check out Cash4Books.net. It’s fast and easy. Type the ISBNs and get an instant price quote. Box them up and print the mailing label. There are no service charges and shipping is free.
Created by Earl Dizon. Illustrations by Michael Bowen.
Books for Everyone
Donating your books to Goodwill or your favorite library is another great way to get rid of that clutter.
There’s also BookCrossing which dub themselves as “the world’s library”. You print out their labels and “release” the books into the wild. You can track where they are- if the recipients take the time to record it.
Books Make Great Gifts
My favorite thing to do is to give books as gifts. A warning, though: Just because you love your first edition hardbound James Patterson novels or your well worn copies of Nora Roberts, it doesn’t mean other people will. Keep their likes and dislikes in mind. And make sure the books are in good condition.
Happily Ever After
After doing any or all of this, remind yourself not to let it happen again. Don’t buy any new books until you’ve read everything in your library. And only add more if you’ve got room.
Parting with books is sometimes difficult. But, at least now, you can properly maintain what you have.