Thursday, December 9, 2010

The NYC Survivalist Holiday Gift Guide

     With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to give you some gift suggestions for friends and family that I have found I prefer to give.  This guide is for all people no matter what religion you are, and is geared towards the spirit of giving that we sometimes forget in this consumer driven country we live in.  It is also meant for any budget no matter how large or small.

     My first suggestion is something I personally have given as a ‘gift’ to my family members for a few years now; a donation in their name.  Why I do this stems from my beliefs in minimalism, and from traveling to other parts of the world allowing me to witness just how fortunate I really have been.  Since I grew up a white, middle-class American man, I really never knew, and may not ever know, real poverty.  What I consider “real poverty”, is when something as basic as fresh drinking water and food are precious commodities to you.  

     For years I fought the system, telling friends and family members to forgo gift giving to me, as I would to them.  I felt that I did not want to buy a stupid _____ (insert pointless gift here), just to receive something of equal value and of no use.  Or the ridiculous gift cards that people so often give these days.  At some point you realize that you gave a $25 gift certificate to store “X”, just to be gifted a $25 gift card to store “Y”!  I got disappointed, and disillusioned around the holiday season because it started to occur to me that we really lost the spirit of giving, and found the spirit of shopping instead.  Beyond that, I noticed that there was nothing I, nor my family members really “needed” as we have all grown up at a time of amazing wealth in this country.  So there was my dilemma; what can you buy a person that has virtually everything?

     Becoming a survivalist, and self-reliant over the last few years helped me to have the confidence to realize that I don’t have to conform to what other people are doing, or what people deem ‘acceptable’ and ‘expected’ in this society.  This confidence led me to a revelation; to give money to a trusted charity in the name of the gift recipient so I would not have the guilt the holiday season made me feel.  I know it seems pretty obvious, but truthfully I had not thought of it before.  You can give as much as you would spend on that person, and it will make a world of difference to the people receiving the gift.  Just think, instead of buying your co-worker “Bob” a new tie that he probably won’t wear, you can give a village part of the funds to help build a water pump that serves all the people.  If that is not the spirit of giving, then I don’t know what is!  I usually buy a big box of cheap holiday cards and write my holiday greeting along with a note that this year they gave the gift of water (or whatever I decide for that person) to someone who needed it.  A great site for a bunch of worthwhile charities is GlobalGiving.  I’m fond of giving donations to charities that give solar ovens this year.  Solar ovens are a simple, yet very functional way to cook without fuel.  It is also an excellent, environmentally sound way for third world countries to make water potable.  I will do an article on them soon, and suggest them in the NYC Survivalist long-term apartment preps (also coming soon.)

     If you want to give a more ‘personalized’ gift to close friends and families, then start them off on the path of survivalism without them even realizing it!  The way to do this would be to buy some of the bare minimum items that every household shouldn’t be without.  Things like a hand-crank radio and hand-crank flashlights make great gifts to the unprepared, and can possibly be very useful to them someday.  You could also send them a case of #10 cans with different freeze dried foods from a company like Shelf-Reliance or from my sponsor The Freeze Dry Guy to help get their food storage started.

     If you have a brother, or someone whom you consider a brother, I feel one of the most honorable gifts you can give that person is a good knife.  A knife signifies respect in many cultures for good reason.  Here is a site that has some great handcrafted knives.  I prefer to give a knife that can be used in the field, is practical, and does not cost an arm and a leg.  Here is a link to my post on what I suggest and use.  I also own a Ka-Bar utility knife that I mention I carry with my B.O.B.  Ka-Bar's make great gifts, and I will be doing a post on that knife soon.

     For children, I suggest giving them what The Survival Podcast host Jack Spirco recommends; precious metal coins.  This is a great way to get children to understand the value of an object, and can also start a realistic savings program for their future.  My Grandfather used to often gift me minted coins, as his generation saw the long-term value of metals and coins.  We can see a revival of that with the present "gold boom".  Here is a link to a great site for precious metals.
     Because NYC is a “Holiday Mecca”, it’s easy to get lost in the sales and deals of the stores we pass on a daily basis.  Try and remind yourself that you really don’t need anything beyond you and your family’s health and happiness.  Appreciate all you have, and all you have had in the past.  This holiday season skip the updated laptop, or 'newer' shoes and give to someone much less fortunate.  Being a survivalist goes beyond just helping you and your family live, prepare, and survive.  A true survivalist wants humanity to live on, prepare for the future, and survive, so we can grow


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