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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v06n24)
Right in my Own Backyard - Gifts That Last All Year - by Brandt Carter
posted: Dec. 04, 2009

Right in my Own Backyard header

Gifts That Last All Year
You can go beyond traditional gifts for the holidays. Why give another dress tie, chia pet, or the toy that will be broken in less than a day? Choosing those gifts that give continuing pleasure is a talent. When I receive a gift that lasts all year, I think of the giver again and again.
So what are some of those wonderful gifts that keep on resonating? Magazines have become a staple in my gift giving. Choosing a publication can suit both young and old, and it's so much fun to match a periodical to a reader. From Outdoor Indiana, Ranger Rick, Birds in Bloom or specialty publications like Bark and American Girl to a title as popular as Midwest Living or Better Homes and Gardens, a magazine subscription brings gift sentiments all year long. You may well be remembered when each issue comes in the mailbox.
I also like to give memberships for local venues to my family. The Indianapolis Zoo is my yearly offering to my kids. I have also made presents of memberships to the Children's Museum, The Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Art Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, Friends of the Library, and Conner Prairie. One of the appeals of this kind of gift is that the recipients can use it at their leisure and as many times as they want. Often, the memberships are accompanied with great newsletters and always, seasonal activities that make for special occasions.
Another gift option I often turn to is something for the yard. Whether my friends or family live in a condo or home, I usually can choose something with a tie to nature that complements their lifestyle and taste. From chimes, bird feeders, bird baths, statues to a field guide or nature book, gifts for the yard are nice reminders of the giver. I really enjoy giving birdseed because I know it will get used rather than stuffed in a closet. What's more, it will not end up on a garage sale. Birds are the added beneficiaries when birdseed is the gift, and an active birdfeeder provides hours of enjoyable viewing.
Other options with a backyard in mind might include a heated birdbath, a peanut feeder (a tidy way to feed birds), a birdfeeder that jolts freeloading squirrels via a remote control, and a thistle feeder with capacity for 18 or more finches at once. Gifting with nature in mind always makes me feel like I'm doing a little something to make this a better planet.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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