What is an Alternative Gift Fair?

The Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair is a fun way to bypass the annual stress of holiday shopping and accumulation of “stuff” while honoring friends and relatives with donations to causes that fit their values.

What’s more, the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair provides critical support for a diverse collection of community organizations whose work has local, national, and international reach.

We learned about the concept of an Alternative Gift Fair from the New Dream (formerly known as the Center for a New American Dream). Here are a couple of handy webinars that the New Dream has offered:

2013 WEBINAR: How to Organize an Alternative Gift Fair

2018 WEBINAR: Organizing an Alternative Gift Fair – FAQs

Ok, but what is an “Alternative Gift”?

Alternative gifts prioritize meaning over materials, in lieu of spending money on items which your friends and family may not need.  So instead of a wrapped package of “stuff,” you will have a card which states something like “Seasons’ Greetings! In your honor, I have donated 3 children’s books to XYZ organization’s library.”  Gifts in the past have ranged from $5 to give a compact fluorescent light bulb to a local, rural household; $10 for a week of school, clothing and two meals a day for an orphan in Zambia; to $100 for a “Golden Opportunity” scholarship fund to help students remain successful in area schools.

How does the gift fair work?  What do I do there?

Each organization that participates in the fair offers variously priced “gifts” that serve a specific purpose for the community. Walk around and look at the displays, talk with the organization representatives, and decide which types of “gifts” you might like to give. Pay for each gift individually at the table of the organizations you have choosen by cash, check, or credit card (note: not all orgs may be able to accept credit cards on site). The organization will provide you with a printed gift “insert” describing what the donation will provide that you can then put in a greeting card (a limited number of free holidays cards will be available at the event) to give to your loved one.