13/11/2009 08:30 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Tip Of The Day - Have A Charity Shop Christmas

A few years ago I decided that as much as possible I was going to do my Christmas shopping through charity and fair trade suppliers.

Since I didn't fancy trawling the charity shops for second hand bargains, and giving donation gifts like the Oxfam goat can be an ethical minefield, this still left the actual charity stores which sell new goods to raise funds.

This is really the lazy person's way to donate, since it involves shopping that you'd be doing anyway. Or you could rebrand it and say it's multi-tasking and a smart use of your endlessly juggled time.

So anyway, I sent off for a bunch of catalogues and started trawling the websites but - oh dear - the gifts were all so earnest and dull. I might as well have bought a goat and a hair shirt and be done with it.

Thankfully, charity shops have upped their game substantially since then and are selling some of the cutest and best quality stuff around. So do consider the charity route this year - it's no longer alpacas made of porridge and the like. Now you can have a clear-conscience, charity shop Christmas and net some fab stuff too. And these gifts come with that extra warm glow of knowing you have done A Good Thing.

First of all, the National Autistic Society has teamed up with Lego, and if you buy any products via this link here, NAS gets 5% commission. I'm willing to bet that many of us will be buying Lego for our children this year, and that adds up to an awful lot of help to the charity.

And there's more

Cancer Research UK have a great online shop with some lovely gifts for children. Look at this pretty little watch with ribbons for straps, and this cupcake moneybox. What little (or big) girl wouldn't be thrilled with either of those?

The children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent also has an online shop with some beautiful gifts for the whole family, and a new range of fun Yummy Mummy (and Funky Uncle and Glamorous Granny) branded items available here.

For some beautiful fair trade notebooks and toys with an international theme, visit your local Oxfam shop, or the online version here. They also do ethical advent calendars and fair trade chocolate coins for your Christmas stocking.

If you have a charity shop website to recommend, tell us about it in the comments box below.

More handy hints in our Tip of the Day section