It happens every year, without fail. Around early December, Ken will peer at my phone on the kitchen counter and see dozens of incoming texts from my friends’ husbands. He’ll raise an eyebrow.
Gift suggestions, I’ll say.
For all of them?! he’ll ask.
Yep. All of them.
It’s what I do, I suppose. Some girlfriends are really good at bringing a bottle of merlot on the bad days. Some are good at remembering to pack extra snacks/wipes/everythings for a trip to the zoo. Some girlfriends are good at offering the perfect advice at the perfect time, which sometimes means offering no advice at all.
I’m the girlfriend that’s really, really good at telling your husband what you want for Christmas.
As much as I love a good gift recommendation, gift guides can make me weary. They sometimes feel consumerist at best, exploitative at worst. They can feel overwhelming, like standards or expectations. Suddenly, you find yourself scrolling through dozens of recommendations for flannel pajamas and custom cheese boards and wondering if perhaps you didn’t spend enough money on your mother-in-law who happens to hate both (a) flannel and (b) cheese. You wind up buying things you don’t need – for yourself or others. Because it was on sale. Because it’s Christmas. Because, because, because.
So, this isn’t a Because Guide.
It’s a Cause Guide.
It’s a list of organizations who need some love this year, who are willing to offer a really beautiful product in return for your support. And can I tell you a secret you probably already know? They could use your support all year long, not just when Bing Crosby’s on the local drugstore radio station.
So, in the spirit of the holiday, and so I can stop sending individual texts to my friends’ husbands, here’s a list of over 40 in one fell swoop:
Chilote House Shoe ($72)
Handmade with natural raw sheep wool through a coop system in Patagonia, it’s the factory-free slipper you’ll never want to take off.
Espe Boot ($178)
Designed in the U.S. and hand-crafted in Guatemala to provide fair living wages to local communities, it’s a bootie with a heartie.
LSTN Walnut Bluetooth Speaker ($99)
Tiny but powerful, this speaker offers premium sound quality with a premium mission: proceeds from every sale help someone hear for the first time through the Starkey Foundation.
Uashmama Paper Bag ($24)
Designed and handmade by a family-run company in Tuscany, proceeds go toward Aid to Artisans to help low-income artisans around the world to build profitable businesses inspired by handmade traditions.
Uzma Notecards ($10)
Made from discarded paper waste in the foothills of of the Himalayan Mountains, these classic note cards provide access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care and education for marginalized women in Northern India .
Give-a-Care Hoodie ($32)
Warms your head and heart: 100% of proceeds help fund Rethink Breast Cancer’s programs that support young women and families affected by breast cancer.
I Am a Man Cap ($14)
For all the dudes we’re cheering on, this cap supports the National Civil Rights Museum in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how it continues to shape equality and freedom globally.
Mugavu Wine Stopper ($45)
Geometric and gorgeous, this bottle stopper is crafted – start to finish – by a group of fair trade woodworkers in Kampala, Uganda.
Cassan Linen Quilt ($325)
This modern patchwork quilt pays homage to the strong, inspired relationships Fait La Force (“Strength in Unity”) has formed in a Port-au-Prince cooperative with artisan partners in Haiti.
Boot Socks ($22)
One pair for you, one pair for someone in need. Plus, each Mitscoots purchase is packaged and shipped with love by shelters and placements agencies for the transitioning homeless.
Mini Double Bar Cuff ($28)
Pretty, and pretty meaningful. Soko utilizes smartphone strategies and technologies to revolutionize the ethical supply chain, connecting independent artisan entrepreneurs directly to Soko and global customers. See ya, micro economy.
The Best Brownie ($35 for 12)
Greyston maintains an Open Hiring™ model, which offers employment opportunities regardless of background or work history while offering a holistic environment to further individual and community potential. I’ll brownie to that.
Everest the Penguin ($45)
Handmade in Peru, each doll purchase provides meals to 10 children in North America and beyond through WFP School Meals Program. Full bellies, bull hearts.
Commit to ethics. CAUSEBOX curates ethical goods from socially responsible brands to deliver a slew of surprises every season – straight to your doorstep.
Glass Water Bottle ($30)
A proud sponsor of charity: water, Soma’s glass water bottle partner helps bring safe drinking water to over 663 million people without access. Cheers indeed.
Made with Fair Trade certified sewing and organic cotton, Patagonia gives one percent of all sales – always – to grassroots activists.
Max Wanger Print ($35)
Drink your inspiration. For every print sold this holiday season, $2 goes straight to charity:water.
Gum for good. Project 7 partners with nonprofits to offer assistance in 7 basic areas of need, from feeding the hungry to healing the sick.
Trench Boots ($248)
These boots were made for helpin.’ Based in Nashville and Trujillo, Peru, Nisolo sustains jobs for over 500 people across three different modes of ethical production.
Fuel up and fuel others — all Created Co. purchases offer 10% of net profits to help build wells worldwide.
Handcrafted to capture the art and beauty of the culture it represents, every Tribe Alive purchase employs impoverished women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income and a chance to determine their own future.
Olive Oil ($79)
Adopt a gift tree through Nudo and your recipient receives premium olive oil – from your tree to their door. Sautee (and service!) with a smile.
Star Pajamas ($60)
Block printed with love, each set of Symbology pajamas offers direct support to women entrepreneurs in Rajasthan, India.
Bath Bomb ($6)
With the long-term goal of bringing antiseptic resources to everyone, Bare Soaps repurposes used hotel soaps to bring hope to the masses and joy to your bath.
Slate Serving Board ($40)
The serving board that serves. Through Delhi-based organization TARA, artisan workers receive medical insurance, interest-free loans and advances, a savings program and skills training.
Buy a pair, give a pair. Warby Parker’s nonprofit trains men and women in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices.
Bamboo Toothbrush ($10 for 2)
For every hand-crafted and eco-friendly toothbrush purchased, Smile Squared sends to a kid in need of basic dental care.
Matchbook Set ($8)
Light up your love for reading with a set of classic banned books matches. Each Out of Print purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.
Almost 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa, but less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is made there. Madecasse’s mission is to make chocolate entirely in Madagascar. (My mission is to eat it all.)
Fringe Earrings ($42)
Partnering with 29 artisan businesses in 12 countries, Noonday develops artisan businesses through fair trade and empowers them to make a difference in their communities.
Hand-poured with wax made from US grown soybeans and cotton wicks, you’ll breathe easier knowing a portion of every Mercy candle sale is donated to help fight against human trafficking.
Charcoal Soap ($20)
Buy a lump of coal (soap) and one woman in Kenya gets a new charcoal-efficient stove. Not bad, Santa.
You carry the bag. FashionABLE carries the deeply-held belief that social business, not charity, might end extreme poverty. All win.
By giving artisans access to the global market, 31 Bits aims to help preserve the beautiful, traditional technique of metal work in Indonesia.
Travel Box ($50)
Keep their little hands busy doing good. For every purchase of a hand-picked box curated for your child’s age and interests, Penguino gives a Welcome Box to a refugee child new to Texas.
Leather Duffel Bag ($499)
An oversized bag with an oversized mission: each bag is ethically handcrafted from cross-hatch textured cowhide leather by Sseko’s artisan partners in Ethiopia.
Warmer hearts for all: for every comforter sold, a new comforter goes to a homeless child in need.
Tempera Paint ($5)
Crafting a better future: for every Yoobi item you purchase, a Yoobi item gets donated to a classroom right here in the U.S.
Hand Loomed Pillow ($39)
Handwoven and stitched in Guatemala, this affordable, one-of-a-kind pillow from supports long-term employment for men & women with limited opportunities.
Baby Hat ($24)
Created by Krochet Kids International, this bear essential helps keep over 150 people in Uganda and Peru working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future.
Contour and Highlight Set ($65)
Give those cheekbones a reason to smile: 10% of sales from this contour set are donated to the We See Beauty Foundation.
Geometric Ornament ($19)
Handmade with brass and wire sourced from the U.S., this ornament will brighten more than your tree: proceeds go to Rain City Rock Camp for Girls.
Here’s to a merry Christmas, friends. And an even merrier year to come.