Maybe it's the global economy. Maybe it's a newly discovered sense of pragmatism. Whatever it is, this is without a doubt the first Christmas in recent memory that doesn't have me excited about shopping. And I know I'm not the only one! My friends and family seem to have been struck by the same anti-shopping - and even anti-gift getting spirit.
So, while I've received the cookie-cutter answer "nothing" every time I pose the question "what do you want for Christmas?", I still do have my own ideas about the gifts I'd most like to give. I've decided this year to give meaningful gifts - in other words, gifts that keep on giving.
It's fine to give someone a traditional gift like a sweater, perfume a book. But why not support a company that "pays it forward". Or, purchase a special limited-edition gift from a charity. These are some of my favourite sources for meaningful giving where you can not only shop for the best gifts, but also shop for a better world!
1) Elton John AIDS foundation Candle - A candle is always a can't miss gift at Christmas. They make a perfect hostess gift - but when you purchase the EJAF candle, they also make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. I love the "Christmas tree" fragrance of these candles and the fact that a portion of proceeds from each candle sold supports such a critical cause.
2) The Brave Foundation - According to the Brave Foundation's website, "over 30 million people are enslaved today, meaning that there are more slaves today than at any point in human history." Hard to believe, isn't it? This website sells bracelets made by craftswomen in Cambodia. Sales from these bracelets support organizations like the Somaly Mam Foundation. And most importantly, these bracelets help shine the light and raise awareness of human trafficking.
3) Tom's - One of my favourite gifts to give because everyone loves them! Tom's brought the "one for one" concept mainstream and what a difference this company is making. For every pair of shoes sold, a pair is given to someone in need. Brilliant!
4) Falling Whistles - I am a big fan of jewelry and the symbolism behind this particular piece is so incredibly powerful. In war torn Congo, no one - not even the smallest children - are spared the harsh realities of war. In fact, they are often sent to the front lines of the fighting with nothing but whistles around their necks. Proceeds from the sales of their whistle necklaces "help end the war in Congo with proceeds going to help their on-the-ground programs that are creating vocational training schools for women affected by the war to provide them with skills traning, hope, and opportunities to have a better life."
5) Jack's Soap - Like candles, soap is a great "plus" gift...a little extra something for a gift bag or hostess gift. Bringing the one for one concept to soap, Jack's Soap operates based on the astounding fact that "each year over 5 million people die of diseases caused by poor water quality and lack of proper hygiene and half of those deaths could be prevented with just a single bar of soap."
6) Warby Parker - Whether you want a pair of stylish frames for yourself, or sunglasses to gift to someone special, check out Warby Parker. For each pair purchased, a pair is donated to someone in need! Doesn't get any easier than that.
7) Krochet Kids - Who doesn't love a new winter hat for Christmas, especially when the purchase of said hat helps "empower the women of Northern Uganda and Peru with the assets, skills, and knowledge to lift themselves and their families out of poverty." Krochet Kids provides jobs, education and mentorship to enact lasting, fundamental changes in the lives of those in need.
8) Project RED - There's literally something for everyone in the Project RED shop, all designed to support the fight against AIDS. Skateboard decks, beanbags chairs, techie goodies and more.
9) Orphans International Worldwide - Reusable totes make a great gift. Not only are they good for the environment, but this particular bag supports children in need all around the world. What's best is it's adorable and only $5.00!
10) Music Philanthropy - No Christmas list would be complete without a little music!!! Pandora is offering limited-edition posters in exchange for a $10 donation to their music philanthropy program
What about you? What types of gifts are you giving this year? What are your favourite meaningful gifts?