Gift guide: Giving gifts with meaning
I love shopping for and giving the just-right gift, and nothing is better than a gift with real meaning. Something that not only makes the recipient happy, but helps somebody out — a present with a dual purpose. Here are some ideas.
More than in the past, this year I’ve seen an increased awareness and desire to buy local. Supporting local artists, artisans, services and the like helps your community grow and makes for good neighbors. I like the Miami-based Peace Love World apparel and accessories line. I think the “I am…” collection of tops is especially fun because you can choose from a variety of labels: I am life, I am mom, I am grateful, etc.
A friend of mine owns Sparkle by Design, which puts custom crystal images and sayings on T-shirts and other items. I also recently met a woman who makes beautiful gluten-free and paleo treats, known as Schadey Snacks. Most of us know people in our cities who do great work — let’s help them out and buy a gift from them if we can.
If you can’t find the right gift to give from local businesses, you might find unique items by professional crafters/artisans. Etsy is a great place to start looking for that perfect item. Shopping handmade items helps support the “small guy,” and your gift is more meaningful when it’s made by hand. Find an excellent list of suggested artisans here.
Gifts without pesticides that harm our Earth and bodies — yes! ShopOrganic.com has a variety of everyday items, but for the holidays, check out the organic gift baskets that are ready to be shipped to you or your faraway family.
Give Life Essentials
Donating to organizations like World Vision or Heifer International in someone’s honor is a beautiful gift for the socially minded — and it’s a much-needed gift for someone you’ll never meet, as well.
World Vision helps people around the world (including the United States). Check out the World Vision gift catalog, where you’ll find ways to help people get clean water, wheelchairs, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, business micro-loans or help to escape human trafficking.
The Heifer International gift catalog lets you give a family a goat, sheep, flock of ducks or other animals to help them raise food and become self-sufficient. They also have irrigation pumps and a variety of gift baskets that are necessary for daily life.
You could find the perfect gift for someone on your list at GreaterGood.com, which sells products that support a variety of causes: hunger, breast cancer, animals, veterans, autism, child health, literacy, women artisans and the rainforest. Many Greater Good products are fair trade and handmade items. Check out the tote and bracelet, which both support relieving hunger. You can also pay to send a girl to school in Afghanistan — something on our minds lately because of the recent Malala Day.
1000 Shillings sells hand-rolled bead jewelry made by women in Uganda that directly supports the women, who are raising money to start other businesses. At the 1000 Shillings site, you can even meet the artists. Buying a necklace for a family member or friend is a great way to help the artists support themselves and their families.
Books are always a great gift option, especially for children. The more children read or are read to, the more they develop a love of learning. And that helps the whole of society, right? I have already bought some books for the kids in my life this Christmas. If you’re looking for ideas, how about It’s a Small World: Christmas Around the World by Calliope Glass Susan Chen Fang? ($5.99) My kids love It’s a Small World so much. They also love Mo Willems’ Pigeon books, and they are going to be happy to read Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book! ($19.99)
You can also give a child a special picture book signed by the author! Buy one of the books listed on this page, then fill out the form to request a book plate signed by the author and sent to you to add to the book. (Don’t tell my kids, but I think they’ll each get their own signed copy of Baby Penguins Everywhere!)
As a nature lover and nature writer, it’s hard to witness how some of our natural areas and wildlife are taking a hit in places all over the world. Several organizations are helping conserve wild lands and species, and fighting for them. Buying gifts from these organizations — like greeting cards, calendars, books, plush animals or jewelry — helps fund their work for our natural world. Shop from National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund and other groups that help our world. You can also make a donation.
I like the NWF’s mobile apps because they are digital products — no trees or ink! — that are fun and educational for my kids and still help support this organization. The newest app is Ranger Rick Jr.’s Appventures, which we haven’t played with yet but which looks like a versatile app. (Psst, if you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, check out Bubble Buttons to decorate the home button for a cute, easy stocking stuffer. We like — what else? — the Animals Pack.)
For ideas for gifts that promote outdoor play — a great first step in getting kids to appreciate nature and the outdoors, not to mention helping them stay healthy — check out the outdoor-play gift list here.
For any gift-giving occasion, it’s true that it’s the thought that counts. So let’s think about giving gifts with, well, beneficial properties. We’ll help someone and look like a rock star gift giver.