The streets of New York are filled with shoppers right now carrying armfuls of Build-a-Bear boxes and Macy’s shopping bags as they hurry to check off gifts for everyone on their Christmas list. Tis’ the season for giving, or so they say, but more often than not the presents we find under the tree will be used and forgotten in a year’s time (I mean where else will one wear that reindeer covered Christmas sweater?). Forgive my inner geek right now, but it reminds me of that scene in the movie, The Grinch, when he confronts the Whos of Whoville about how all their presents ultimately wind up with him back at the dump. It isn’t until the entire town is left without presents, after the Grinch successfully steals Christmas, do they all remember that the holidays are not about the gifts and that this season of giving isn’t meant to be just about giving each other nice things.
With that sentiment in mind, I wanted to find presents this year that not only would surprise my family but would also give back to the world in a big way. Perhaps that box of wine for my mother will help a dog get adopted, those bracelets for my sister could help save the ocean, that sweater for my father could benefit communities in Africa. Whatever the cause, the following holiday gift ideas make an impact so even if they wind up at the bottom of the closet in a year, the difference they made will always last.
1. (Finally!) A noble cause for drinking wine.
I first learned about OneHope when I received a complimentary gift card for their wine boxes from the New York Wine & Food Festival. Ever the sucker for wine, I was surprised to find that OneHope does more than just sell wine, it sells wine that benefits some amazing causes. The numbers speak for themselves when you look at the impact OneHope has made–from the 6,000+ animals it has helped fund to get adopted through its Pinot for Paws boxes to the 1 million meals provided to children in need. OneHope sells wine boxes and gifts that sends proceeds to numerous causes, now giving drinking wine a noble cause.
2. Pretty, little gifts that support local artisans.
Every now and then I come across a business that truly inspires me by how they give back to the community. Whether through charitable donations or sending a percentage of proceeds to non-profit organizations, there are an array of companies now that are founded on philanthropic principles. One such business is The Little Market.
The Little Market is a charming online shop that works with artisan groups from around the world. In an effort to empower female artisans, help them rise above poverty and preserve their traditional craft, The Little Market created a marketplace to connect these women with customers. Sourcing all of the artisan’s handmade products ethically, The Little Market supports talented women from Bolivia, Nepal, Kenya, India, Senegal and more. Selling everything from handwoven blankets and bags from Guatemala to ceramics from Tunisia, The Little Market offers unique gifts that make a difference.
3. An online auction of gifts that raises money for Syrian refugees.
The world has watched in horror this year as over 6 million Syrians have been displaced and set up camp around Europe–sometimes greeted with opened arms, other times with open hostility. The Shop for Syria online auction offers a wide range of gift ideas–everything from art prints to hotel stays—to raise money for the European Refugee crisis. The auction, launched in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and is set to last through December–so hurry!
4. Forget “normal” sweaters, these provide jobs and education for communities in Africa.
Instead of purchasing an average sweater from the H&Ms of the world, perhaps opt for something a little more unique with Slumlove. Slumlove sells classic sweaters for men and women that are 100% cotton. All sweaters are made by people living in the largest slum in Kenya, called Kibera, hence the company name “Slumlove.” Slumlove promotes fair work where employees are treated with respect, given fare wages, plus a portion of every purchase is used towards educating the children in Kenya.
5. Handwoven bracelets that support a multitude of causes.
Founded by two friends who flew to Costa Rica after graduation and fell in love with the country, Pura Vida bracelets are handcrafted by local artisans who try to capture that “pure vida” lifestyle in every strand. twaSince it started, Pura Vida has gone on to partner with over 190 charities to support important causes around the world. Proceeds from bracelet sales benefit animal welfare, cancer awareness, environmental causes and much more.
6. Glasses that give the gift of vision to those in need.
The slogan of Warby Parker is simple: “Buy a pair, give a pair.” Holding the simple belief close that everyone deserves to see, Warby Parker vows that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is given to someone in need. About 1 billion people worldwide lack access to glasses and corrective lenses–a number that in turn affects people’s ability to learn, work and live clearly. Warby Parker partnered with non-profit, VisionSpring, to tackle this issue and bring glasses to everyone.
For more gift ideas, check out our GIFT GUIDES and if you’re buying a present this year that supports a cause, share it below!