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Gifts that Give Back: 2016 Holiday Guide

The Gifts that Give Back guide has quickly become one of my favorite posts of the year. As early as August, I start planning and pinning, finding new organizations and businesses to fall in love with. Just like earlier years, I was overwhelmed again by how many beautiful, life changing organizations and products exist. It really is possible to find something for everyone on your list.

The following are some of my favorites of the year, including products for men, women, kids, and your home. The organizations below are committed to producing quality goods in an ethical way. The communities they support range from women scholars in Rwanda to shoe makers in Guatemala to people right here in my home state of Ohio. I’ve tried to include a short summary of the work of each business, but I’d encourage you to visit their websites to learn more about what they do.

There is so much inspiring, encouraging work being done. You can shop your values this Christmas, putting your dollar towards the causes you care about most, while also getting a unique gift for someone you love (or yourself)! Trust me, I was tempted to give myself plenty of early Christmas gifts this year. This list includes many new finds, as well as some old favorites. There simply wasn’t enough room to include all the organizations I researched, so definitely check out last year’s Gifts that Give Back guide as well as my Pinterest board, which is updated year round! I hope you all enjoy the list as much as I do and have a ton of fun giving back this year!

If you're looking for unique and meaningful gifts this Christmas, check out my Gifts That Give Back Guide, full of fair trade, ethically conscious gift ideas!

MudLOVE Custom Rise and Shine Mug or Stein– We gifted these mugs to several family members and friends this past year, and everyone loves them. They’re beautiful and hefty, with just the right size handle. Evening Hike and Man in the Moon are the hers and his steins we have at our house.

Mango and Math Square FramesTen Thousand Villages works with makers throughout the world, who handcraft their variety of jewelry, accessories, clothing, and home goods using local materials.

Twill Throw BlanketTwill is on a mission to provide warm, comfortable products to your neighbors. Guys, I couldn’t love this idea more. For every cozy purchase you make, you choose a local friend to donate a second product to. Give where you live. How awesome is that?

Olive Wood Cheese Board– My husband probably needs to place me on a restraining order with cheese boards, because I can’t seem to get enough. I am definitely eyeing this olive wood one from From the Earth, a business committed to holistic partnerships and investments in farmers and makers around the world. Check out their selection of home goods, coffee, cufflinks, and accessories as well.

Buttercup Pillow Cover– Forai supports immigrant and refugee woman who have home based microbusinesses. They also carry a range of clothing, jewelry, accessories, and adorable kid’s onesies, dresses, and bibs.

Hand Hammered Copper Candle Bowl– If you’ve never heard of the Preemptive Love Coalition, go visit their website right this second. The work they are doing in the middle east providing life saving heart surgeries, emergency refugee relief, small business grants, and education for children is truly inspiring. Their soaps and candles are all handmade by refugees of ISIS.

Write with Purpose Notebook from Marie Mae- Every purchase of their gorgeous stationary, notebooks, and cards provides one hour of business training to women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, like Rwanda.

The Plum Journal– Flora Stationary makes gorgeous stationary, notecards, prints, and even a coloring book. Best of all, every purchase helps support the tuition fees for a woman in Kosovo to attend university.

If you’re in Columbus, consider booking a housecleaning for a friend (or a gift to yourself!) and help support women who have survived sex trafficking through the She Has a Name cleaning service.

The Gifts That Give Back Guide features loads of ideas for beautiful and unique gifts with a purpose for this Christmas season.

Gaby in Emerald Shoes– The Root Collective makes the most gorgeous shoes, and every purchase supports a quality job for makers in Guatemala. Watch the video of Otto, a master shoemaker, on their site. It’s truly inspiring to see the process and the possibilities of a simple shoe.

Strand Bracelet– I’ve had my eye on this arrow stacked bracelet from Mulxiply since last season. Their collection of jewelry, ipad and laptop sleeves, and totes is gracefully modern and simple. Every item is handcrafted by an artisan in Nepal, where Mulxiply is committed to providing artists with dignified employment.

Aasha necklace– Every item in Paisley + Sparrow’s shop has a purpose, whether it’s empowering women in Tanzania to earn an income for their families or teaching literacy to women in India. This particular item was handcrafted by survivors of modern day slavery. Paisley + Sparrow also has scarves, bags, shirts, hats, and beautiful stationary and baskets.

Sofia Silk Tie Shirt Dress– Their motto is “empowering women through design” and their entire collection of accessories, clothing, and purses is way cooler than I am. Everything on the site is made by at-risk women around the world.

Soleil Bag from Three Chords– Three Chords makes purses, totes, and hair accessories in bright and bold fabrics. I have one of their Soleil bags and love it. It’s comfortable, a great length, and perfect for carrying our book selection when we visit the library. Three Chords employs Haitians with disabilities, and right now 25% of every order goes directly to Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts.

Cambodia Clutch– Trades of Hope works to provide opportunities for women artisans around the globe. This particular clutch was made by Cambodian women who have been attacked with acid, a terrible and heart wrenching practice that leaves women permanently scarred and with few options. Through Trades of Hope, these women have a future full of opportunity. You can shop their catalogue online, but they also host in home parties (think LuLaRoe or Pampered Chef), so if you want to get the girls together this season to shop, this is a great organization to partner with!

Ribbon Sandals from Sseko- These sandals are amazing. They’re a universal sandal base with loads of unique leather and cloth ribbons you can tie in over 20 different ways. You can literally customize a new look for every mood. Along with sandals, Sseko also make bags and jewelry. Every purchase supports employment for women in Uganda as well as college scholarships for continued education.

Coal Infinity Scarf– Not pictured: the coziest, warmest, comfiest looking scarf ever. COLORS is a social enterprise providing job opportunities for women recovering from the sex trade, drug addiction, and refugees in Atlanta, GA. Their site includes all kinds of lovely, cozy scarves.

If you're looking for a unique and meaningful gift for the man in your life this year, check out my Gifts That Give Back Guide. There are tons of great options for everyone on your list!

Damn Handsome Shave Cream– Guys, the Damn Handsome Grooming Co. has one of the coolest business models, products, and packaging I have ever seen. They make soaps, after shaves, and shave lotions out of recycled hops from brew makers in Michigan. I guess all that hoppy goodness at the bottom of the barrel is actually great for your skin! For every purchase made, the company donates to a child in need, through organizations like Clean the World.

For the hipster who loves Ohio– Clothe Ohio combines so many of my loves. Fabulous Ohio gear, supporting local business, and helping families in need. For every order, they donate a t-shirt or sweatshirt to an Ohioan in need. That’s what I call Buckeye spirit.

Black Velvet Bow Tie– It doesn’t get more classy than a velvet bow tie. Bull + Moose is a veteran owned socially conscious business which uses its profits to help fund microloans for underprivileged men in North America.

Pocket Square from Neighbor’s Apparel– I have one of the Ohio tees from this company and love them. Each purchase empowers refugee women in Akron, OH through meaningful employment opportunities. They have apparel for men, women, and children.

Ebony Bluetooth Speaker– LSTN makes gorgeous, dare I say sexy, headphones, ear buds, and speakers. Best of all, proceeds from every purchase go towards helping someone hear for the first time through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Steel Belt– Mission makes adjustable belts with no holes and interchangeable leathers and buckles. For every belt purchased, $1 goes toward funding microloans for people living in poverty throughout the world.

1 Face Watch– 1 Face makes watches with bold, colorful designs. Every color supports a different charity–from cancer research to hunger to AIDS. There are vibrant pinks and aquas for the trendsetters in your life, but also more classic blacks and golds for those looking for something more traditional.

If you're looking for meaningful, unique, fair trade gifts this Christmas, check out the Gifts That Give Back Guide. There's really something for everyone!

Alpaca Baby Mittens and Hat- The Little Market is a HUGE fair trade store I just discovered this year. They are a non-profit founded by women with the purpose of empowering women. Every purchase of their ethically made products help transform lives in women all over the world. Visit their website to learn more about each of the artisans they support!

You Are My Sunshine Wrap– Rockin Baby makes adorable kid’s clothing and reversible slings and pouches. For every sling purchases, Rockin Baby donates a sling to a mother in Haiti. Also, check out their Fairisle Christmas Romper (cuteness overload)!

Benedict the Bunny- I honestly get a little teary every time I look at these dolls. Aren’t they the sweetest? cuddle + kind sells these ethically made, heirloom quality dolls for girls and boys. They are adorable, cuddly, quirky, unique. I LOVE THEM. For every doll that’s purchased, they donate 10 meals to children in need.

Donut Rattle from The Little Market

Learning Carpet– Little P loves playing with cars, so we’re in the market for these learning carpets! Endeavor Toys was founded by parents who struggled to find socially conscious toys for their children. Years of research led them to develop this website, which has a huge selection of unique, fun toys for all ages, all sourced from companies who ensure their workers are fairly treated and compensated.

Knit Fox Hat– I have long been obsessed with Krochet Kids’ lovely knit scarves, hats, and accessories, but now that I have a little one, the obsession has only grown. Their baby booties will make your ovaries explode. And these fox hats? DYING. Krochet Kids empowers women to rise out of poverty and transform their families, communities, and the developing world.

Cotton Toddler Dress from Dsenyo– I need someone in my life to have a baby girl so I can channel all my need to buy cute things onto them. These cotton dresses were made by a cooperative of women in Malawi, Africa. The site has matching baby bloomers (GAH!), headbands, and skirts for mom as well.

Locally made onesie– from Clothe Ohio- I can’t even with this cuteness.

If you’re still at a loss for what to get that one person who seems to have everything, I recommend checking out the World Vision Gift Catalogue. You can pick a category you’d like to give towards, such as hunger, clean water, education, or medical care and then choose a gift you’d like to donate. The site has everything from a New Mother and Baby Kit for $95 to 2 Chickens for $25. These also make fantastic gifts to give as a family. It’s a great way to teach kids about giving back and a wonderful tradition you can practice every year.

I hope you enjoy shopping for the ones you love this year, and please, help spread the word about these wonderful organizations by sharing this post with your friends!

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  • Sues November 22, 2016, 10:26 AM

    Great gift guide!! I LOVE those emerald shoes. I used to live near a Ten Thousand Villages retail shop and it was such an awesome store!

  • Forai February 15, 2017, 5:01 PM

    We received our first order this week that came from your posting and we didn’t know it was up! We want to send our deep gratitude for including Forai and our wonderfully resilient resettled refugees!
    Darlene Perry and Jennifer Owens

    • Courtney February 16, 2017, 2:41 PM

      That makes me so happy! I’m thrilled to support your work in some small way. Thank you for all you do!

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