General Etiquette > Holidays

Asking for "donations" instead of Christmas gifts

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I've read obituaries where it asks that instead of sending flowers, to please make a donation to a charity. I'm going to assume there's nothing wrong with that since so many people/families do that.

Would there be anything wrong with doing something similar for Christmas presents? Here's what I'd like to say or write (snail mail or email) to my relatives:

While I appreciate that you would like to give me a Christmas gift this year, I would like to ask that you give a gift of "donation" instead. As you all know, I take in stray and sickly animals that would otherwise be euthanized in an animal shelter. I care very deeply for the well-being of these animals. Due to the rising cost of animal/pet care, I ask that you either "donate" a Petsmart, Walmart, or preferably Visa gift card for pet supplies or "donate" one of the following pet supplies items: (this is where I would list pet food, pet supplies, etc.). While I do appreciate receiving gifts that I can use for myself (who doesn't?), I am at a point in my life where it is far more rewarding to put my four-legged furpals before my own wants and needs. Thank you... and I'm sorry but your "donation" is not tax deductible.

I can tweak that a bit if needed, it could probably use better wording. But is there anything wrong with sending that to my family? Afterall, I thought Christmas was supposed to be about giving and not about selfish wants. While I can afford to care for these animals, money does get tight and it seems silly to put useless, unneeded material possessions before a living being.  If Christmas truly is about giving, then no one should object to me asking for pet supplies. At least, that's how I see it.

How many relatives normally give you Christmas gifts? Can this not be done in conversations with them? An email or letter seems a little like fundraising.

I would be put off by a letter like that. I only give gifts to my immediate family and I am close enough to them that I ask them what they want and expect them to give  me an honest answer.

I would say, when/if someone says "Hey lilblu, what you like for Christmas", you let them know what you'd like for Christmas. Which is supplies to help care for your animals. But sending out a pre-emptive please donate email seems a little like saying "I know you want to buy me a big gift, here's what to get me". Someone might not have been planning to get you anything or maybe they were just planning on making you cookies or something. Maybe they've already bought you a gift. I'd wait until someone asks and then let them know.

Just to be sure I'm reading the post right, these donations would be coming to you to take care of the animals you have in your home, not being donated to an "outside" charity like the humane society?

I think the way to go is probably to not frame it as a "donation," which sounds more like you're trying to get them to donate to an outside rescue, and some people might misinterpret it and do that anyway (and it can also be controversial etiquette-wise to ask for donations instead of gifts anyway). I'd recommend putting out the word through whatever means you usually tell your relatives what you want for Christmas. If they look at Amazon wish lists, list pet stuff on there. If they ask what you'd like, mention that you could really use (x,y,z or a pet store GC) for your foster pets. If they give you other stuff anyway, see if you can discreetly return it for pet stuff money.

Thank you for taking care of the critters. :)


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