Holiday How To
Image: Tim Kamerer

Give Back Without Going Broke

Depositing even small change in the barista’s tip jar can feel painful in this economy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to give. GoodSearch.com, a search engine powered by Yahoo, will donate a penny to the charity of your choice each time you conduct a search (think of it as Google with a conscience). More than 1,200 Oregon nonprofits are listed, including the Oregon Humane Society, Girl Scouts Columbia River Council, and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. Even if you conduct only 10 searches daily, after a month you’ll have tallied up enough to help the Humane Society mail donation requests to 12 other (possibly richer) souls. Still feeling miserly? Go to Good Search’s sister site, GoodShop.com, where more than 700 companies will donate a percentage of any purchase to your designated charity. You’ll get that warm, fuzzy feeling and the cashmere sweater you’ve been eyeing.
—Kasey Cordell

 

Meditate Anywhere

You’re standing in a mile-long line at a department store, trying to block out the sound of the baby screaming behind you and worrying about the turkey that may be burning in your oven when you realize the woman ahead of you has decided to purchase the entire store. Don’t panic! It’s actually possible to de-stress and meditate just about anywhere.

  • First, stop what you’re doing and take three deep, long breaths while folding your arms behind your back. Concentrating on your breathing is key to calming yourself, says Genko, a novice monk at the Dharma Rain Zen Center at SE Madison Street and 26th Avenue.
  • Being fully present forms the basis of calm, so as you mind your breathing, focus on positive thoughts. (Repeat after us: “I love that baby, I love that baby … ”)
  • Stop and breathe before you react. Jacqueline Mandell, a Buddhist meditation teacher at New Renaissance Bookstore on NW 23rd Avenue, says, “Harmonious speech creates a calm environment of ‘no regret.’” Plus, the Dalai Lama likes to remind us: “Do good. If you cannot do good, at least refrain from harm (to both yourself and others).”
  • If all else fails, walk away from the situation and find a quiet
    place to clear your head.
    —Anna Dukehart

4 Ways to Wrap With Recycled Materials

Recycling can be boring and tedious, and so can wrapping presents. According to one of Murphy’s lesser-known laws, sometimes combining two distinctly boring tasks can yield pleasant results: DULL + UNITERESTING = FUN². We suggest having a look around the house and reincarnating some of the old stuff as gift wrap.

1. Road maps and atlas pages can provide unique texture and can be personalized. (Remember our trip to Burning Man, Mom?) For the gift tag, use a blank postcard or museum stub.
2. Your old dorm-room posters are usually big and vibrant enough to cover and enliven larger gifts. But, for the holidays, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from anything bikini- or beer-themed.?
3. Mayor-elect Sam Adams wants to impose a tax on your shopping bags, but would he still want to do that if he saw us reusing them to wrap our tax-exempt gifts? You can wrap a colorful shopping bag around a gift, plume it out, and make a festive bow. Just make sure to remove the spinach detritus first.?
4. Sometimes all that caring and giving just gets too mushy. To leaven the mood you need a good old-fashioned prank. This isn’t really a gift-wrapping tip, but we like it anyway. With pieces of recycled cardboard, you can trick your child into thinking he’s receiving the Japanese robot he begged for when in fact he’ll receive a sensible sweater. Instructions: Cut and shape the box as desired, fill with canned food for extra weight, wrap it up in, say, one of the aforementioned methods, and voilà—you’ve punked your kid. (Then bring out the bot.)
—Lucas Bradley-Kelly