Though every one of these programs is doing fabulous wonderful necessary work, one of my personal favorites is Heifer International. They donate animals, trees and other stock to needy families around the world in order to increase sustainable self-sufficiency. They have a "Knitting Basket" donation that provides two llamas and two sheep to a family for income-producing wool.
Each year Gus and I go through the catalog and pick out an animal to give. Two years ago we had Merry Chicksmas and last year was Merry Cowmas. He donates all of his December allowance and then asks relatives to each donate a few dollars too. And that adds up to a lot of chicks! Or one cow!
Most of these organizations will accept donations on behalf of someone else, so think of it as a nice alternative to a gift card to the local mall. A donation to a charitable organization is especially nice for a teacher's gift.
And, as I tell myself 10 times a day this time of year, stay calm! Take some time to stop and smell the pine and cinnamon scents around us, hear the beautiful holiday music, watch the twinkly lights, sip some hot chocolate, and appreciate all the little good things we have in our lives.