With the holidays just around the corner, there is no doubt that thousands of consumers are running around anxiously trying to make the perfect gift purchase for friends and family. It’s already the second week of December and admittedly I have not ONE gift purchased. I was not daring enough to brave the crowds on Black Friday and have come up empty handed in the past two trips to the mall I’ve made – this puts me in quite the predicament.

Choosing the perfect gift is a daunting task…what if the person doesn’t like it, what if they already have this, what if this doesn’t fit? These are all questions that every gift giver must entertain and frankly it takes the fun out of holiday gifts. It is the thought that’s supposed to count right? Well this year I am strongly leaning towards alternate gift ideas for my friends and family, and apparently so are many other Americans.

Donating to charitable causes takes the guesswork out of holiday shopping!

Liberty Mutual recently conducted a survey looking at the trends of holiday gift giving. The survey found that many Americans are refocusing their 2010 gift giving habits towards charitable causes rather than physical gifts. So, instead of buying that funky sweater for Aunt Sue that you know she would like (but quite frankly shouldn’t wear), why not donate to a charity in her name instead? Donating to charitable causes takes the guesswork out of holiday shopping and is actually a proven gift that many enjoy. In fact, 81 percent of Americans appreciate this method of giving rather than receiving physical gifts.

Short on cash? No problem. Instead of making a monetary donation, you could donate some TIME by volunteering at a local charity. Alternative gifts such as cash donations or volunteer hours are going a long way this Christmas and are quickly gaining in popularity. Four in every five American adults prefer when a donation is made to a charity of their choice rather than receiving a gift!

Many corporate donations are in the works for the 2010 gift giving season. One of the largest scale donations is being orchestrated by Coca-Cola. Coke is encouraging its users to donate their My Coke Rewards points to generate gifts for underprivileged children. Users can log onto www.mcr.com/holiday to donate their points by entering the codes found on 13 various Coca-Cola products. Toys for Tots will then be able to turn these point donations into toys for children. This is an easy way for Coca-Cola fans to participate in holiday giving at a fairly easy and economical fashion. In addition to the point accumulations, Coca-Cola is also donating $120,000 to the Toys for Tots foundation which span across 8 different US cities. There will be a collection of five holiday Coca-Cola Caravans that will drive cross country spreading cheer to children and adults while making their $15,000 donation at each of the 8 locations.

Citibank is another corporation making an effort to spread some holiday cheer. Citi is offering a Holiday Rewards program that allows its users to enter to win a prepaid Citi rewards card for up to $10,000. The company recently launched this commercial which not only conveyed their rewards program but also highlighted the importance of spreading the wealth this holiday season. Take a look, I loved this commercial!

About the author

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten is a promo expert with a passion for branding . Her vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several articles and published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.