The Eugene Elf

This past weekend, my hometown received a little holiday magic visit from The Eugene Elf!

Inspired by Maggie at Northern Expenditure’s “The Experience Based Christmas,” taking on Tawcan’s “A Reader’s Challenge – Christmas Giving” and perpetuating the use of a Flexible Philanthropy Fund I explained in a past post – my fiance & I set out on an adventure to give back this holiday season in a spontaneous way. I think we may have created a new tradition!

While spending a glorious Saturday morning watching Christmas movies & wrapping our Secret Santa gifts for our family exchange, we were brainstorming different ways to give back more during this holiday season.

Both of us agreed while Savoring Your Bonus is Not Erroneous, we wanted to put half towards our savings goals (specifically, the home down payment fund) and give the other portion to others. Then my mind kicked into full on idea generating mode (thank you, coffee).

I pulled out my stationary storage box (okay, I’m not even kidding about the saved part – I have leftover graduation announcement envelopes back from 2012 I still use). There were 10 leftover holiday cards equipped with red envelopes I specifically remember snatching up from the Target Dollar Spot last year (incredibly festive, and they are holiday neutral – the red envelope was my favorite part as shown in the header image above)! We decided to take $20 to fill each envelope, and include this little handwritten note (there was also a generic message the card featured as well):

“Holiday magic is all around you! Please take, save, share, give, spend.

Happy Holidays!

-The Eugene Elf”

eugene elf

eugene elf 2

The question was: how could we hide these envelopes around town to surprise people with this holiday magic? 

We thought of sliding underneath apartment doors, leaving on car windshields. Handing off to passerby pedestrians downtown,or leaving in city flower pots. We contemplated placing in newspaper, or randomly picked residential mailboxes.

The trickiness was that we wanted to be left anonymous & hope the location of the envelopes would allow them to not get rained on (its been raining like crazy as of late)! Not to mention, a bright red envelop in a random location has this sort of ominous vibe (but it is the holidays?).

Then we circled back to one of our most favorite places in the city…

The Public Library.


It’s inside, allows for anyone in the city to visit, and the envelopes would either be discovered soon – or in the future for when that certain book gets checked out. My fiance & I both couldn’t count the number of times we’ve been reading a library book and all of the sudden a previous persons’ bookmark, receipt, postcard, sticky note, etc. slipped out of the book and onto our laps. Why not have a holiday cheer card from The Eugene Elf to slip out while you are reading? 🙂

We entered the library & divvied up the cards. We went our separate ways & strategically selected books to place the red holiday cheer envelopes in. After we both finished, we checked out more books that were on our lists to read (can’t get enough!) and reported back on which books we selected & why. We giggled, smiled & couldn’t believe how “stealth” we felt entering the rows of books to slip in these red envelope surprises. (You know, kind of like the E.L.F. squad in The Santa Clause – but not really your worst nightmare, or with attitude ha).

Now, I can’t quite say which books we hid them in (it keeps the holiday magic a surprise!) – but I can give you hints –

My List of Books Chosen:

  1. A book that changed my perception on personal finance.

  2. A book written by a powerful writer that allowed me to challenge the status quo norms.

  3. A book that relates to my Dad’s heritage.

My Fiance’s List of Books Chosen:

  1. A book that relates to his passion and line of work.

  2. A book in a series that is a very popular, hit TV show.

  3. A book that is written by one of the most gripping suspense writers of all time.

  4. A book that incorporates a percentage in the title.

*If you’re taking note that there are only 7 cards listed here – you’re absolutely right! 2 cards we did place on cars located in the parking garage on the driver’s window. The 3rd card (and first one I gave out) I attempted to pass on to a barista to choose a customer at random to give at a local coffee shop…but he was very skeptical (I don’t blame him – hey, random girl that’s passing off a sealed red envelope that could be filled with something other than holiday cheer & cash). I felt a bit awkward (I should have thought my presentation through better), and decided to open the card in front of him, showed him the message, and just asked that he put the $20 in the tip jar to be allotted to each employee. This is nothing against this employee & coffee shop, I understand that safety is of top priority!

My fiance & I plan to check back on the books we selected in a year to see if the red envelopes filled with holiday magic have been discovered, or not. Thank you again to Maggie at Northern ExpenditureTawcan (& several other personal finance bloggers!) for sharing your holiday magic and inspiring others to do so.

I want to wish all of you an incredibly wonderful holiday season!

May it be filled with spontaneity, magic & all those you love. 


24 thoughts on “The Eugene Elf

  1. Very cool… I don’t want to say what I left in books when I young, but $20 is much, much better!

    I’m glad you took the time to find books that touched your life. Makes it feel like you’re connecting to somebody of the same mindedness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaaahhh, this is so cool, Alyssa! What an awesome idea (and creative use of your FPF!). I love that you chose the library too, and that you chose books that are meaningful to you. That somehow makes the whole endeavor sound even more special. Thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sarah!! I appreciate it!! I have to give credit to this whole community for the amazing holiday spirit inspiration. 🙂 We’re excited to “connect” with the people that choose the books that were meaningful to us!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Where did you say you live around again? 😉

    This is great Alyssa! That’s very generous of you and your fiance. That’s what the holidays are all about – giving back. Not this crazy consumer culture that it has become.

    Hope you have a great holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing and I think it’s great that you’ve decided to use half of your paycheck for holiday cheer. You’ve inspired me and I think next season I’ll have to join in on this celebration. Who knows, maybe I’ll have to get started earlier. 🙂 keep up the great work and I’m sure you’ll be making someone’s day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great idea! Another thing people can do to encourage them to give is to set up a mutual fund specifically for giving. For example, you could put a $3,000 bonus into a Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund, then each year between Christmas and New Years sell off 10% of the fund and give that money to charities, your local church, and randomly as desired. You could also keep the cash generated in a specific giving account to dole out during the year as the need arises. If you add some money to the fund periodically – maybe a portion of your bonus each year – the amount in the fund should grow, allowing you to make bigger and bigger gifts as you get older.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a fantastic idea, SmallIvy! Why not set aside the money you have, allow it to grow, and then give away even more? I also like the concept of having it set up to give out throughout the whole year, and not just specifically during the holidays. Thanks for the idea, I’m going to have to set that up!


    1. Yes, definitely! That’s why we were incredibly happy to select books to do so. 🙂 We chose a few that we knew would definitely be checked out within a week or so (more recent, or highly sought after authors). A few may take quite a bit to checked out, and that’s what I am excited about – in a year (or more!) someone could find that surprise. 🙂


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