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What's in a Gift? Six Holiday Strategies to Make Giving More Meaningful

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Holiday gifts by Meryl Ann Butler (modified from public domain clip art)

Here are six creative ways to make your holiday giving really count as you support small businesses, gender-balanced politics, creativity, positive vibes and humor. It's the Season of Light, so don't forget to turn on the switch!

1. Shop Small
Support local businesses on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30) and earn $10 from American Express. AmEx is offering card members a $10 statement credit when they enroll their eligible American Express Card and then use it to spend $10 or more in a single in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location on Small Business Saturday. The number of enrollments is limited. Enrollment opened at 12:00 am MST on Nov. 24th and continues until 11:59 pm MST on November 30th unless the enrollment limit is reached sooner. (Terms and conditions apply.) More info here.

by Graphic design by Meryl Ann Butler for

2. Support Women in Politics
Wear or give an ElectWomen T-Shirt to advertise your preference for more gender-balanced representation.  (Small - XXLarge, 100% cotton. WARNING: Menfolk who wear this T-shirt may not have to be positioned under the mistletoe to get kissed.) Also available: "Alison" (KY Senate) and "Wendy" (TX Governor) ElectWomen T's. Want to find out how to elect women? Read Kathy Groob's Pink Politics, also available at

ElectWomen T-shirt by

Give ElectWomen buttons (available in packs of 25 buttons, 1.25"- diameter)  for stocking stuffers, gift-toppers, or as "Random Act of Kindness" gifts to the people who comment appreciatively on your t-shirt.

ElectWomen Button by
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3. Encourage Stress Reduction and Creativity
Give the gift of fun and relaxation to yourself or anyone on your holiday list with a Zentangle kit that has everything you need for meditative doodling. No artistic ability nor experience is needed - anyone who knows which end of the pencil to use can easily learn this clever method of drawing patterns.

Zentangle Kit by Zentangle

 The obvious care that went into every aspect of the creation of this kit, and the extremely high quality of every component, is just so, well, zen

Zentangle Kit by Zentangle

The lovely, organic designs that result from these simple techniques are easy to create, and the process enhances stress-relief, creativity, and a deeply satisfying sense of wellbeing.
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My first Zentangle! by Meryl Ann Butler

The small (just 4-inch square) heavy paper cards provided for "zentangling" feel so inviting. I drew mine while spending a long time in a waiting room, and was disappointed to have to stop when my name was finally called!

4. Focus on the "Humerus"
Humor is a gift to everyone's mental and physical health, not to mention a great solution for the "hard-to-buy-for" folks on your list. Surprise a comedically-inclined loved one with an I found this Humerus T-shirt from Cafe Press.

I Found This Humerus ... by CafePress

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing for over 25 years. She studied art with Harold Ransom Stevenson in Sea Cliff NY for seven years before opening her own art school. Stevenson had (more...)

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Great ideas, Meryl Ann - proud to be included in t... by Greg Tamblyn on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 12:14:46 PM
Thanks, Greg! And I appreciate all you do to save ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 7:55:37 PM
Instead of buying products - all of which help to ... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 7:29:20 PM
That's a great idea, also!  (Although food an... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 8:05:30 PM
great ideas, Meryl Ann!  I love that you were... by Lise Stoessel on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 8:53:58 PM
Thanks, Lise! Glad you liked it, it's always rewar... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 9:02:30 PM
Thanks for the unconventional ideas and humor.&nbs... by Cynthia Piano on Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 6:52:14 AM
you are absolutely right, thanks for the reminder ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 8:41:40 AM