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And, here we are in December. I don't understand it, but this year — for the first time in a long time — my Christmas shopping has been extremely easy. So far, I've happened upon gifts that are handmade or personal — and not too expensive. I love when that happens.

So, for those of you who missed Black Friday (I did) and would like some inspirational ideas, here are a few you may want to consider:

Consider a tree

Plant a tree in one of our National Forests for a special someone who doesn't need another tie or bathrobe. It's a gift that gives back for generations. By the way, did you know that Arbor Day originated in Nebraska? Contact the Arbor Day Foundation at arborday.org or call 888-448-7337.

Give clean water

Help someone save the cost of bottled water with a product like Zerowater that filters solids (including lead) out of tap water in a simple filter-enclosed pitcher. It's pretty and sits on your counter. What could be more personal? Get more info at zerowater.com or call 800-503-2939.

An egg-cellent idea

Supply a flock of chicks in someone's name. A perfect gift for those concerned about feeding our world. Really. A flock of chicks ($20) can enrich the inadequate diets of families from Guatemala to Zambia with nourishing, life-sustaining eggs. Besides valuable protein, eggs are rich in choline, which is needed for brain development. Contact Heifer International at heifer.org/catalog or call 855-848-6437.

Get growing

For the 'shroomer on your list — I am not making this up — you can buy him (or her) a mushroom log kit. Soak it in water, place in a cool, dark place and voila ... home-grown mushrooms. It's even better if your gift recipient is from Georgia because this kit is made with salvaged logs and organic spores straight from this southern state. Find it at uncommongoods.com or call 888-365-0056.

Give yourself a special treat

At the end of the day, allow yourself a cute little ball of sweet rice dough surrounding a dollop of peppermint ice cream. It's a fun product call My/Mo Mochi found at most major grocery stores. And if you eat just one, you won't spoil your resolution to get through this season in reasonably good shape. Happy holidays.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

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