A few years ago we began cutting back on the holiday season. It feels funny to call it “cutting back” now, because the holidays in the years that have followed have been the most rewarding I can recall. It may be more appropriate to say a few years ago we became more intentional with our giving. Since then we’ve slowly expanded on it, choosing gifts carefully, trying to engage with the holidays and all it has to offer only in ways that increase our joy. This year I thought I’d share a few of the gifts we’ve either considered giving, have given in the past, or will be giving — gifts that all keep right on giving well past December 25.
1. ONE Bracelets. The multi-colored bracelet pictured assists in the fight against Malaria, but a product (RED) bracelet meant to benefit the fight against AIDS, and a white ONE bracelet in support of the entire organization are also available.
2. Livestock. Okay, it’s probably not a good idea to give the people you care about actual livestock, but you could give people who would truly appreciate it the gift of livestock via Heifer International and then just give your loved ones a card telling them about your donation in their name. They’re even running a Hanukkah promotion right now.
3. FashionABLE Scarves. FashionABLE was one of the two textile factories we visited while in Ethiopia and upon returning from our trip we found out that they were able to hire three more women as a result of the increased sales we brought them. Since they hire women who are ex-sex trade workers and pay them a livable wage that allows them to support their children that is a tremendous amount of impact. How neat would it be if we could help them hire a few more for 2013? Picture: The Mulu, but the have many gorgeous styles.
4. A Feed Bag. I first saw this particular feed bag when I was in Ethiopia. Karen was carrying hers around and I was immediately hooked. Every purchase through The FEED Foundation helps to feed the world’s hungriest populations.
5. Books for Kids. 10% of the purchase price of every children’s book at Little Pickle Press goes to Starlight Children’s Foundation. Starlight’s mission is to bring joy into the lives of seriously ill children. They partner with pediatric health professionals and the entertainment industry to play an integral role in getting kids and their families through some of the toughest times of their lives.
6. Water. Charity: Water works to bring clean water to the roughly 800 million people in developing nations who do not have access to potable water, many of whom walk five miles to access even dirty water for their daily needs.
7. Etsy Gift Cards. Support artists and small business owners and let your friends and family choose their holiday gift all at the same time.
8. Your Time. Cash strapped? Looking for a really out of the box gift? Give your time. Donate time to a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, or other charity in your local area and then write out a nice card telling your loved ones how you gave your time in honor of them this holiday season.
9. Local Food. Small, local farmers are even more likely than their larger counterparts to be suffering as a result of the drought this year. Search Local Harvest for a small farm near you and give the gift of local food this holiday season. Some farmers will have products this time of year, but others may offer gift certificates for next season as well. If it’s not listed on their offerings don’t be afraid to ask.