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 and the other 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: Make sure it works with their typical schedule. (Ex: Bring a meal to the patients and families of the American Cancer Society New Orleans Hope Lodge or read books for the blind on the air at WRBH 88.3 FM)

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. The reviews will live in perpetuity and do more good for them long-term.

Tip: You can support local industries and look “informed” by buying limited edition versions of coffee, beer, booze, pralines, jewelry, and clothing.

3) Support Their Cause

Make a donation in the person’s name to whichever charity, arts, school or endeavor they strongly support. You’ve heard this one? Well, here’s the New Orleans approach: Take the time to give it the royal treatment by putting the donation letter 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 startup through Fund Dat.

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. It will cost about the same.

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 – A ghost tour or Segway tour is a gift a local would enjoy but would never buy on their own.

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 by buying your favorite quarterback’s clothes.


  1. Laurie Wilkerson says

    Informative and cleverly written as usual. Keep up the good work!

  2. Lorraine McCaslin says

    Great gift suggestions….doing a great job. Thanks.

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