Last year you promised not yourself you wouldn’t buy another reindeer sweater, fruitcake or a gift-pack of international cheese food products for friends and family this year. Instead, you said you wanted to give unique gifts that truly inspire the spirit of the season, and keep on giving the other 364 days of the year. Well you’re in luck. Check these ideas out for those lucky people on your gift list.
The Wine Lover
One Hope Wine donates half of its profits to charities such as the Fight Against Breast Cancer, Fight Against Autism, Children’s Hospitals, Supporting the Troops and charities of your choice. Not sure which wine to buy? Choose a gift card instead. From $10.
Make a donation in the name of the recipient to Charitywater, a non-profit that helps provide clean drinking water to impoverished countries and send the news to the recipient on one of their personalized gift cards. Just $20 helps provide clean drinking water to one person for 20 years. Every penny you donate goes directly to water projects.
The Chocolate Connoisseur
If your gift recipient is a chocoholic, consider Gourmet Brownies from Greyston Bakery starting at $18. Greystone brownies are special. Not only are they baked with 100 percent all-natural ingredients, no preservatives, and a lot of love, but, they provide affordable childcare for the local community, affordable housing for homeless and low-income families, and affordable health care for persons with HIV.
Selecting a unique gift for a cherished someone is easy with Oxfam America’s online gift guide. Choose your gift from the gift catalog -- there are more than 70 to choose from starting at $12: a dozen chicks, tools, a can of worms, a camel, planting a garden or children’s art supplies. Then you’ll receive a free card with the image of your specific charitable gift to personalize online and have it sent directly to your friend or loved one, or have the card delivered to you to write your own heartfelt message.
Your donation will go to the people who need it, and where it will have the greatest and lasting impact by providing a lifeline for people living in poverty. All Unwrapped donations are tax deductible and you will get a receipt. It’s a win-win.
Queen of Glitz
If sparkle and shine is what you are looking for, the Jeweled Peace and Love Ornament ($12) at Pottery Barn is for you, one of two 'Give A Little Hope' products that benefit selected organizations that work to provide temporary and long-term housing for youth and families. There is also a cozy faux sheep-skin throw for those chilly holiday nights ($79).
If saving the planet is your recipient’s modus operandi, then look no further than adopting an animal species from the World Wildlife Fund. Choose an animal from a list of more than 100 species to symbolically adopt for a donation of $25, which includes a species adoption certificate, information card, and color photo.
Donations of $50 or more include a plush soft animal of the adopter’s choosing. Unsure which species to save? Adoption gift cards are available to let the recipient choose for his or herself.
Friends don’t let friends carry strictly utilitarian yoga bags. Not when these organic wax cloth yoga bags by Global Girlfriend let her be organized in haute style. Each bag is handcrafted by women artisans in Uganda and is a one-of-a-kind, just like she is. The $36 zen-inducing purchase will help extend the power of women’s rights around the globe.
Give the gift of fresh, organically grown food and support local farmers and sustainability at the same time by purchasing a Community-Supported Agriculture membership for friends and family. Find a local farmer to deliver seasonal produce to your door, or purchase a variety of natural products online to help small farms develop markets beyond their local area.
What modernist wouldn’t want a colorful and optimistic statement about community and culture as illustrated in a 100 percent cotton Peep pillow printed in tonal greens, yellow, red, pink and purple? Created by Antonio Benjamin, one of the artists at San Francisco’s Creativity Explored, a nonprofit visual arts center where people with development disabilities create, exhibit and sell art. (Learn more at www.creativityexplored.org).
The down feather pillow (other designs are available) is sold by CB2 in collaboration with Creativity Explored with a percentage of each pillow sold going back to the nonprofit. (About $40).
It’s easy to turn your gifts into charitable dollars and your friends won’t have to slog through malls looking for stuff you don’t want. Shift My Gift allows anyone, anywhere to turn philanthropist by selecting from 1.2 million charitable organizations and causes you care about to pay it forward. Simply create your cause online and invite friends and family to donate on your behalf. Easy. (They get a tax deduction so everybody wins.)
Lynette Summerill, an award-winning writer and scuba enthusiast lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two beach loving dogs. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Edited by Jody Smith