This Christmas, I’m trying only to give gifts that do good: either they come from small, ethical businesses, artists, and craftspeople, and/or their use makes the world a better place. At the risk of spoiling a few surprises for people on my list, I’m sharing a handful of ideas here in case you too are interested in being a better consumer this holiday season. Note: There are hundreds of “gifts that give back” lists on the internet. This one features only creators and products I will personally vouch for; the sellers are my friends, acquaintances, and heroes!
- My go-to for years now has been South Ranch Creative. Creator Becca Grogan specializes in “urban rustic” art in a myriad of media. She has ready-to-go pieces and also offers custom items. She’s eco-friendly and regularly contributes to social causes. SRC is the real deal.
- Sarah Duet is a graphic artist whose Society6 store is diverse and rockin’. From a portrait of Stevie Nicks to a visual depiction of a beet-juice recipe, the collection offers something for everyone on your list. I’d especially recommend her store if you’re in the market for nursery or children’s room prints; her “Wolf” series is just too cute.
- Whether your budget is <$50 or you’ve got a thousand+ to spend, you should hit up Polly Cook Art for the art lover on your list (ahem, meeee). You know how some people dream of making enough money to own a home or a nice car or whatever? Yeah . . . if I ever hit the jackpot, the first selfish purchase I’m making is a giant Polly Cook piece. I’m not even kidding. For now, the small ceramic mirror I’ve had since I was a teenager will have to do.
- My friend Gabie helps run an organization called DuHope. Gabie, a native Rwandan citizen, helped found the organization to support women in her home community. Through jewelry-making, women in the program learn entrepreneurship skills. You, Westerner, can help by buying some of the awesome pieces! The earrings are super popular, but I have to say, I have my eye on a gorgeous red tassel necklace. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit. (Also, they’re Christian-affiliated, so if that’s your jam, there’s a plus.)
- EDIT TO ADD: I can’t believe I forgot Travel Queen of Scarves! I knew I was missing something! Caitlin Dobson makes beautiful scarves with hidden pockets—perfect for carrying a passport when you’re jet-setting! She’s an incredible human, and she donates a portion of all proceeds to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Black Lives Matter. Unbelievable.
- My friend Jedidiah Jenkins recently published a book that’s become kind of a big deal. To Shake the Sleeping Self details his bicycle journey from Oregon to Patagonia—and, more significantly, his journey with his faith, sexuality, and more general orientation to life and the world. He writes beautifully; you won’t want to put it down, and you’ll be a better person for having read it.
- The most Instagrammable family I know, the Russels, created a gorgeous children’s book—but, really, it’s for folks of all ages. (I treasure my copy fiercely.) A Little Radical: The ABCs of Activism isn’t your typical alphabet book; it lays out 26 essential components of good activism. Every young change-maker needs. this. book. (P.S. There’s a three-for-$50 deal going on right now! You can check three little ones off of your list in one fell swoop!)
- Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls. AH, just typing the title gives me goosebumps. Former girls, who of us wouldn’t have benefited from a girl-positive, body-positive puberty book? When I was a preteen, I had an American Girl book about taking care of my body. I kept it under my bed and read it like the Bible. I wonder to this day how my relationship with my young body would have been better had I learned that every part of me was good and fine. This book, written by amazing black feminist Sonya Renee Taylor, is rated for girls ages 8 and up. Don’t pass this one up, mamas.
- EDIT TO ADD: I just have so many amazing creative friends, and that’s my excuse for temporarily forgetting Camille DePutter’s newest publication, Little Poems for Big Hearts. This gem features sweet rhymes that can serve as mantras, journaling prompts, and/or security blankets. Plus, the watercolor illustrations are stunning. My copy lives permanently on my night stand. For the big feelers of all ages, this book is a win.
Things to use
- Byta insulated stainless tumblers: they’re gorgeous, and 10% of the proceeds go to the Environmental Defense Fund. You know that person on your list who always forgets to bring their reusable cup to the coffee shop? They won’t forget this beaut.
- For the friend on your list who loves sending snail mail: Alissa Klaus Ink has you covered. Her cards are gorgeous, simple, and classic. Take it from me, the girl whose stationery drawer is stuffed to the brim: these handmade pieces are way lovelier than any paper products you’ll find at the nearby box store.