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    • 6 Alternative Holiday Gifts with Substance, #NewOrleans Style... gifts that give back http://t.co/3rExpyflp6 #nola

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6 Alternative Holiday Gifts with Substance, New Orleans Style
6 Alternative Holiday Gifts with Substance, New Orleans Style

NOLA Postcard

The holidays are here and you know what that means: gift-buying stress! If you're stuck trying to figure out what to get someone, here are a few local, alternative gift ideas to help you get through the holidays with your mind intact while also helping do some good in New Orleans.

1) The Greatest Gift - Time

Whether it's just you, you and another person or an entire group, ‪make a commitment to do something charitable together for a whole day. This could include serving at a soup kitchen, visiting residents at a seniors home or mentoring youth.

‬Tip: Call up an organization and see where they need help most. Ex: Bring meals to the patients and families of the American Cancer Society New Orleans Hope Lodge, read books for the blind on the air at WRBH 88.3 FM or befriend someone in a nursing home through the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. Or try out our Good Karma Slot Machine to get a quick idea for a good deed you can do today.

2) Leave a Review of Their Company

Small business is the lifeblood of New Orleans and the same goes for cities across America. That's why leaving good, honest reviews on a friend's business page can go further than sending them a generic holiday card. Go to a few different review services, such as Yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook to share your appreciation. The reviews will live in perpetuity and do more good for them long-term.

Tip: Give a shout-out to your favorite local businesses on your social media while encouraging friends and family to use them as well. Positive word-of-mouth and personal recommendation is the strongest form of marketing a business can have, and one they will highly appreciate. Check out WhoDoYou.com to see which businesses your friends recommend locally.

3) Support Their Cause

Make a donation in the person's name to whichever charity, arts, school or endeavor they strongly support. While this is nothing new, here's the extra mile approach: Take the time to give it the royal treatment by putting the donation letter sent from the charity into a fancy frame.

Tip: Try these for meaningful action: Animal Rescue New Orleans (Animals), Tipitinas Foundation (Music) and Covenant House (Children). Or support a local start-up through Kickstarter. You can view some other great, local organizations by clicking here.

4) Shop Local

Buy paintings or music from local artists, purchase gift cards to small restaurants, pick up jewelry and clothes from boutiques. Plot your course... Decatur, Magazine, Oak… You could even venture out to Metairie (gasp!).

Tip: Instead of a holiday card, send a local artist's 5"x7" card of their artwork or keepsake-turned-ornament.

5) Send Them Packing

The infrastructure in New Orleans has been on the upswing since Hurricane Katrina. The airport is finishing a major overhaul and the cruise industry is rockin' and rollin' with more departures than ever. ‪Buy a low-cost plane ticket from MSY (New Orleans Armstrong International Airport) or splurge for a 3-day cruise (This is for a good friend... i.e., Thanks for the kidney).‬

Tip: This also works for staycations. Tickets to local museums or ghost tour is a gift a locals would certainly enjoy but almost never buy on their own. Other great tours to consider - cemetery, vampire, voodoo, Garden District and French Quarter.

6) Buy From Businesses with "Greater Purpose"

Ever bought a gift that's had twice the giving power? There are many local, socially-conscious businesses that do more than just make a profit -- they improve the world while they're doing it. Consider buying products, gifts or supporting these businesses so you not only can cross someone from your gift list but also do some good at the same time.

Tip: Buy a necktie and fund GED courses or support the Brees Dream Foundation or Team Gleason by buying clothing from your favorite football players and inspirational people.

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Around the Farm

Head on over to our blog for marketing tips, information, news and fun from HERO|farm, an idea factory and marketing agency in New Orleans.

We formed HERO|farm with a social mission not only to help us break away from the old way of doing things and stand out, but also because we wanted to make a difference. A cornerstone of HERO|farm is to do at least one campaign per year pro bono for a non-profit, as well as work with clients who have admirable missions of their own. Visit our Causes & Affects page to learn more.