I’ve been thinking of ways to give back this holiday season & I found a couple of great ways to do just that! There are lots of organizations that help people in India & Asia. I found two that have a great “give back” programs.
offers many ways to help. You can give a practical gift to a family in India (or another country): a sheep, two chickens, a goat, a cow, an education, or many other things. You can find a gift for just about any price range & best of all, you can give the gift in someone else’s name. Say you wanted to buy a goat for a family in India in lieu of getting your spouse a gift, you can request a special keepsake card so they can know and be reminded of the gift that you sent.
With World Vision, you can also choose to sponsor a child in India (or another country) for approximately $30 USD a month. The neat thing about this website is you can specify what age, gender, country and even birthday your child will have. I plugged in my birthday, and a few kids in India popped up. How compelling is it to give to a child who shares your birthday!?
Another organization which offers a gift catalog is Save the Children
. They have the same general idea as World Vision, but they offer a few different categories. They also offer the chance to buy a product (like a woven basket or a bangle) and the proceeds will go to the aid programs. This would be another way to have a tangible reminder of the donation you’ve made.
Another bonus is that these donations are tax-deductible. There are lots of organizations which offer these kinds of programs, I’ve just highlighted two prominent ones. My husband and I are going to try and give something back this year, whether it is locally or through one of the above organizations. Even though economic times are tough I think we still have a lot to be thankful for!
One more way I plan to “give back” is through the proceeds from a new calendar that I have for sale in the IndianTies shop
. The calendars feature photos that I’ve taken on my journeys through India & Nepal. Click here to view the calendar
. (Make sure you click on the link to “view all calendar pages.”)
While I lived in India, I discovered that you can tell who is celebrating Christmas by the big, colorful star shaped paper lanterns that are hung outside homes and shops. While Christians only make up 2.3% of the total population, Christmas is becoming more and more widely celebrated.
These stars are really beautiful – they are available in every shape, color and size imaginable! I brought some home with me, however, I recently decided to try making my own. I thought I’d share with anyone who is interested how to make these beautiful lanterns and celebrate Christmas Indian style! Plus… it helps make my husband feel at home when we’re far from his home during the holidays!
These stars can be made in all colors, shapes and sizes. Small ones work great for homemade Christmas tree ornaments, while large ones look great hanging from the ceiling or on your front porch! I’ll share a pattern and instructions for how to make your own 5-pointed star. If you want different sizes, just enlarge the pattern… (or you could even modify it to add more points to your star – get creative!)
You will need, glue, scissors, paper (your choice of colors, weight), string or ribbon, and a some sort of light to light up the lantern.
2. Cut out 2 identical stars from the pattern.
3. Fold the pattern along all the dotted lines & glue the flaps to the inside wall of the opposite side (leave one flap unglued until you insert your light).
4. While still folded, cut out openings in any design you like for the light to shine through. (similar to how you’d make an old fashioned paper snowflake)
5. Tie a string or ribbon to suspend your lantern.
6. Enjoy your handiwork & allow all your friends to “ooh” and “aah” over your creation!
P.S. You also sometimes see these lanterns (and similar ones) during the Diwali festival in India.
Christmas is just around the corner! Of course this time of year we think about our families & loved ones. It is great to celebrate the holidays together. One of my favorite parts is picking out gifts for each person & trying to surprise them. Often times I’m unable to surprise my husband though. He is great at surprises and always seems to think of something wonderful to surprise me.
Last year, I thought that I’d turn the tables and surprise him with a new laptop computer. His old one had seen better days — especially when his hard drive crashed and he lost most of his thesis-in-progress — we knew it was time to replace it. So I waited until just 2 days before Christmas and went out shopping alone to the computer store. I picked out a shiny new laptop and brought it home, and hid it in our guest room upstairs (all wrapped up).
I was sure I’d pulled off the ultimate surprise. In fact, just to throw him off, I had told him I wasn’t getting him anything big for Christmas – and not to expect much. I got him a new wallet and a couple of odds-and-ends to put under the tree – but kept the laptop hidden upstairs. I was so excited I could hardly wait until Christmas morning!
So first thing the next morning, we got on our web cam with my family back home and his mom in India (we had a virtual Christmas with all the fam!) and opened our presents. He tried to act happy about the wallet, but I could tell he was disappointed with the slightly boring gift. So once we’d opened all the presents, I snuck upstairs while he was talking to our family online.
I came back with his laptop all wrapped up in a pretty package with a huge red bow. His eyes got wide and he started smiling his guilty smile. He opened it and acted so surprised. Until he started laughing…. I asked why he was laughing at and he finally admitted that he’d checked our bank account the day before and saw the large sum was missing and that it was spent the computer store. So he had a pretty good feeling what he was getting – and he’d played along the whole time! I was a little disappointed – until he told me the reason he’d checked the bank account is because he was going to buy ME a laptop! (Boy was I glad he’d checked or we’d have cleaned out our account!)
Anyway, the moral of the story is don’t try to outsmart your husband – and if you do try – do a better job at covering your tracks than I did! Don’t worry though – I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for this year! *wink*
P.S. The photo above is of our first REAL Christmas Tree – that’s one advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest – an abundance of evergreens! (We’re planning to go this weekend to cut our own.) I’ll try to get a close up of our ornaments – they’re hand-painted paper mache balls from Kashmir. At the right of the photo is a huge gingerbread house that I made.