Every year my husband and I get together with about 12 of our nearest and dearest to celebrate the holidays and eat a whole lot of old-school Italian food. For a long time we handed out gag gifts and other trinkets to one another—a Velveeta t-shirt here, a doggie chew toy in the shape of a politician there.

But then we got to thinking.  What if we pooled our money, avoided the trinkets, and collectively gave to something worthwhile? We might actually be able to do a tiny bit of good in the world.

So last year we gave the gift of honey bees!  Together we collected about $250, which buys 6 beautiful, buzzing hives through Heifer International, a non-profit dedicated to helping struggling families lift themselves out of poverty.

Bees help individuals in developing countries (ours went to Tanzania) by pollinating crops, and providing a steady stream of honey, wax, and pollen for food and income.

Better than another cheesy t-shirt any day.

Hey chicken fans: Heifer provides lots of different livestock and other productive animals including flocks of chicks for just $20

Please tell us your best charitable giving ideas for the season.

By Samantha Schoech, Sunset senior editor

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