Are you looking for more meaningful gifts this holiday season? One way to do that is to pick a present that not only surprises your loved ones, but also gives back by helping those in need.
We've rounded up gift ideas that will be enjoyed by a range of recipients — from women to men to the kiddos — that also donate to a wide array of charitable causes. These charities use a portion of the profits from their products to support causes, such as employing women in war-torn Uganda, teaching kids in U.S. cities to write, finding medical cures, and more.
So that pretty necklace? It makes her look great and gives people hope. Now that's a trend worth following.
Click ahead to see ideas for holiday presents that keep on giving, and double your generosity with a single gift.
By Valerie Reiss, Special to CNBC.com Posted 11 November 2011
Whether they’re holding wine, a fresh bloom, or a flickering votive, Glassybaby’s handblown cupsadd beauty. Tougher than they look, the multipurpose glasses are made with three layers of glass and glow in a rainbow of colors. Started in 1998 by Lee Rhodes — who was then juggling the care of three young kids while fighting a rare form of lung cancer — Glassybaby supported her search “for a few moments of serenity.” The company’s built-in goodwill policy has already donated more than half a million dollars to charities that benefit “health, healing, and quality of life” — that includes Gilda’s Club,American Red Cross, and Humane Society. Single vessels cost $50, or $250 for sets of six.
“Look good. Do Good.” That’s the motto of Altruette,a company that gives 50 percent of its net profits to a range of charitable organizations, from Toys for Totsto the African Wildlife Foundation.First select a chain (bracelet or necklace; gold or silver), then add charms — everything from a mini coffee cup to a cupcake to a dog to a laptop. Proceeds from each charm go to a specific organization. Silver bracelets cost $150; charms start at $75.
What to get the baseball fan who has everything? Philanthropic vino, of course. Charity Winescollaborates with players to label a vintage that gives back to their favorite organizations. About 70 percent of pretax profits go to the charity; the celebrity gets nothing. Jon Lester’s CabernAce, for example, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Healdsburg, Calif., benefits the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Lester, a lymphoma survivor, is dedicated to striking out the disease, and each purchase helps. Single bottles are about $13.99 and less; a six-bottle Red Sox set is $69.95.
Stay elegantly warm while helping Cambodian women earn a living. That’s the basic approach of Blue Silk Scarves,a non-profit that employs women in extreme poverty who might otherwise be forced into prostitution. All proceeds directly benefit the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center, an organization that gives women (and men) in a remote Cambodian village access to health care and child care, literacy, and a daily lunch. The group cultivates its own silk worms, spins the silk, and weaves it into soft scarves in two sizes and many colors. Scarves are priced at $40 to $50.
Though they’re designed for students latched to their laptops, these fair-trade gift basketscan give just about anyone a tasty break. The Haitian coffee supports local growers; the Snickerdoodle cookie mix is from The Women’s Bean Project,which helps women out of poverty in Colorado; a ceramic mug is from the fair-trade organization Prescraftin Cameroon; and the mini Nepalese notebookset benefits Mahaguthi (supporting “craft with a conscience”). The total cost: $39.
You may have heard of TOMS one-for-one footwear program: The company has donated more than one million pairs of its comfy slip-on shoes to kids in extreme need. But you may not be aware of TOMS’ chic new line of sunglassesfor men and women. The one-for-one concept stays the same: But now each pair of shades gives a blind or sight-challenged person around the globe — starting with Nepal, Cambodia and Tibet — medical treatment, prescription glasses, or sight-giving surgery. The glasses are made in Italy, hand-painted, and have 100 percent UVA/UVB protection too. Glasses are priced between $135 to $145.
Adorn her with this triple-strand necklace made of shiny paper beads — while helping an entire community. Ugandan women handcraft these unique, colorful baubles from recycled paper for 31 Bits,an organization that employs nearly 100 women and offers them financial, health, and vocational training. The idea behind the company’s transformational four-year employee-training program is to empower each woman to sustain herself and her family through her creations. This Rock Palette necklace costs $38, and layers beads of grey, red, teal, and brown on leather strands.
Make the holidays sweeter with Dancing Deer Baking’sSweet Home cakes and cookies. The all-natural dessert company’s Sweet Home line donates 35 percent of its retail price to One Family,which helps homeless and at-risk parents and children receive education and other support. The Sweet Home Pick gift box, which costs $40, includes a dark chocolate cookie, gingerbread cake (enough for six to eight people), and 16 molasses clove cookies.
A good lipstick is hard to find — and a do-good lipstick is even more elusive. Slip a luscious tint from Peacekeeper Cause-Meticsinto her stocking and give to women’s health and human rights organizations, all while keeping her kisser toxin-free. The all-natural, cruelty-free company gives all after-tax, distributable profits to a worthy group, such as V-Day,Project Hope International,and Unifem.It costs $12 for a tube of Lip Paint lipstick.
Give the gift of cozy with this organically modern mug. Made of slipcast ceramic by potters in remote Indonesia, every 16-ounce vessel helps support the livelihood of artisans. The company that sells them, 12 Small Thingsby Hand/Eye, supports creators around the globe with its fair-trade practices and a mission to create sustainable livelihoods for those in war-torn and poverty-torn parts of the world. The mugs cost $32 for a set of two.
The oft-dreaded wardrobe staple can now be career-boosting and meaningful. Started by “fashion-lanthropists” who wanted to create a business that made a difference, the Life Tie Project’ssilk ties and other accessories fund cancer research, prevention, and care. The company’s mission includes a dream of seeing at least a 10 percent reduction in cancer deaths in 10 years. They support this vision by contributing more than 25 percent of proceeds toward anti-cancer groups, including the American Institute for Cancer Research,The Public Patent Foundation,and Cancer 101.Ties cost between $50 and $68.
If the music lover in your life needs a MP3 infusion, you can do it with a conscience. The slick, ultra-portable red iPod nanobenefits (PRODUCT) RED, the organization dedicated to quelling AIDS and HIV in Africa. To date (PRODUCT) RED has donated $170 million for the Global Fund.A portion of the sales of each of the (PRODUCT) RED iPods goes to the organization. It costs $129 for eight-gigabyte iPod.
Warm a loved one’s home with this festive starburst basket. Handcrafted from sturdy, sustainable raffia and reed by a women’s cooperative in Uganda, the beautiful vessels can brighten a coffee table or kitchen. It’s 15 inches across and comes with a card that tells the vessel’s story. Sold by the Women’s Peace Collection,an organization that works with local non-profits to employ artisans in and emerging from war, proceeds go directly to the creators. It's $42 for the basket; prices vary for other items.
Does the child in your life love alter-egos and other up-up-and-away fantasies? If so, Super Hero Suppliesis a dream come true. Providing everything from astronaut kits to Invisibility Phasers, the Supply Co. allows the imagination to fly. Even better, proceeds support 826NYC,a non-profit with a slew of free programs to help students ages six to 18 years old learn to write and to help teachers to inspire them. The organization is part of 826 National, an umbrella organization founded by author Dave Eggers that serves 826’s all over the country. Identities start at $32.