Rows of gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Master your gift giving

If you belong to a church group, your kids are in boy scouts/girl scouts, or some similar groups, you might have your volunteer schedule for the holidays covered.

If you are still looking to give back this season I might have an idea for you.

Holiday Wish Drive cards from Family Giving Tree.

Have any of your coworkers displayed Family Giving Tree wish cards? Please grab one of these cards and give the gift of giving. I know that some large companies in the Bay Area have cards like these in the reception area and you would drop off your purchased gift with them.

You can also lead a drive. This means you will pick up these cards from Family Giving Tree and post specific wish cards in a well-traveled area, or give them out to your coworkers, friends, or family members . Then you would collect the gifts and drop them off at the warehouse. I don’t know why they don’t call it something like elf helper? 

Little girl wrapping a gift at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Since 1990 the Family Giving Tree (FGT) has provided more than one million gifts for Bay Area children, low income families and seniors. Their promise is to give an exact gift. If a person only gets one gift in the Holiday season, an exact gift, something he or she really wanted, can make all the difference.

Little boy playing with the gifts while his dad is wrapping gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.


Last year I answered the call of FGT to help out at a warehouse in Santa Clara to wrap gifts. This was a two hour shift in a cold warehouse, but you just joined some people, made new friends, and shared some scissors and wrapping paper and off you went to beautify these gifts.

It was amazing to see all these volunteers; the volume of gifts warmed my heart.

Please consider volunteering this Holiday season.

homeless garden project store, Santa Cruz

Shop for homeless

It’s the time of the year again when we might soon exchange gifts. I am always on the lookout for something meaningful. Gift giving can be joyful, especially when helping others.

If you are in the same situation, looking for gifts, and find yourself near Santa Cruz, you should stop by the Homeless Garden Project pop-up stores, either in downtown Santa Cruz or Capitola.

The Homeless Garden Project operates a farm, which is on Shaffer Rd in Santa Cruz. This is a great spot to visit in spring and summer, when you can either pick your own vegetables or buy from the farm stand. The 3 acre organic farm provides the materials for the retail goods.

homeless garden project store, Santa Cruz

As examples of the bounty you will find in the stores: they offer wreaths uniquely created from dried flowers of the farm, organic jams and baking mixes, bath and body products.

homeless garden project store, Santa CruzCurrently they reside in two locations: one near the MAH, 110 Cooper St, Suite 100G, in the Cooperhouse Breezeway; open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, the other in Capitola on the Esplanade, 222 Esplanade; open Thursday – Saturday 11 am – 7 pm, Sunday 11 am – 4 pm. Both locations are open until 12/24/17.

 

They are even online, so no more excuses: http://www.homelessgardenproject.org

This is a great project that provides job training, transitional employment, and support services for people who are homeless.

Do you know of other great gifting opportunities?

Snowman shopping bags

Holiday Markets

It seems these days I have only shopping on my mind. Well, Christmas is near, and while I am not really a big gift giver, I prefer to gift something homemade, or close to that.

This weekend (1/5/2015) are two holiday markets that I will try to catch. One is at my sons middle school: Graham Middle School in Mountain View, CA from 9am to 1 pm. I am hoping for a lot of crafty items. I also heard that the food is amazing!

The other on is at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. This will feature local artists, not only paintings, but ceramics, jewelry and textiles. Sounds interesting, right? Well they have two bonus programs. One is a jazz pop performance from 3:30 to 4:30. The other one is the family art day from 10:00 to 2:00.

On December 12th, 2015 is the third annual German International School of Silicon Valley’s German Holiday Market from 11 am to 9 pm at the City Hall Plaza in Mountain View. This one I am really looking forward to! There are not many things I am missing from Germany (plenty people, not things!), but around Christmas time I like to stand in the cold and get warmed up by a nice mug of Glühwein. The food is also good traditional German fare.

Happy shopping, giving and partying!

Do you know of any Holiday Markets in the area?

 

Downtown

Downtown

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Actually, to call Silicon Valley suburbia does most cities here injustice.

A lot of towns in the Bay Area have nice, revived downtown areas, with interesting shops and restaurants.

Mountain View’s Castro Street, Sunnyvale’s Murphy’s Street and Palo Alto’s University are great examples.. They all have their own vibe and I invite you to stroll and explore all of them. Los Altos has a few streets where you sure find something for the holidays for everyone, from the Lego store to upscale gift stores. To make a festive entrance Los Altos celebrates the Festival of Lights on 11/29 at 6 p.m.

Downtown Redwood City advertises itself as the Anti Mall. A good place to discover treats and gifts.

What is your favorite downtown in the Bay Area?