Christmas is on it’s way (eeep!) and I am sure I’m not alone in being increasingly conscious of the environment, minimalism, and generally wanting to spend my money in ways that benefit the world 🙂 Finding brilliant Christmas gifts can be super tough so I have been doing lots of research into fun and charitable ideas. I hope this list is useful to you and gets you lots of big smiles on Christmas day!!
Donating in their name
I wanted to get the obvious one out of the way here…. giving to a charity in their name, sponsoring a goat, etc etc. Of course these are all AWESOME and probably have the highest charitable impact per dollar, but I wanted to mostly fill the list with physical gifts where the charity aspect is more of a bonus. The one twist I’d add to this is to include a physical element: e.g. give a cuddly gorilla with the card saying you’ve sponsored a gorilla, or something edible that matches up – like cookies in the shape of that animal, etc. You get the idea!
This is a great list for more specific charity donation links: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/charity-gifts/
My personal favourite charity though it Kiva. The cool thing about them is you are giving loans – people who are running a business but need a cash injection to level up (e.g. to buy a new machine for their farming) and then can gradually pay it back. The thing I love about it is that because you get the money back you can re-loan it. So I’ve put in about $200 but lent out almost $600!
Another one I love (and have gifted to multiple friends/family members) is Toilet Twinning. With your donation you get a framed photo of the actual toilet (or very similar) which they can then hang in their own toilet. For me that makes it way more entertaining than just donating online.
Honestly I am increasingly realising that this is all people truly want to receive (myself included!). I have started taking people out for dinner or to the cinema, or offering to babysit or help redecorate their house. Really anything you can give time-wise is (in my opinion) the best gift of all.
Here is a great diagram I saw on Instagram which inspired this blog post!
Even better than buying new is to buy second hand. Most charity shops save their best donations (e.g. brand new gift sets etc) to put out at Christmas time as gifts. So if you go thrifting in December you’ll find even more amazing things than normal. This way you are donating 100% of the ticket price to charity (not just a cut from the sales like big brand charity partnerships), and also avoiding manufacturing more stuff into the world. Fantastic! I find this to be especially good for Secret Santa, stocking fillers, and white elephant presents – basically when you’re looking for just bits and pieces and miscellaneous stuff. Those are the worst kind of things to buy new on the high-street (they’re normally just for fun/a joke and not actually useful) and the best to thrift because people have probably donated them to clear out their house! Haha.
Charity Online Stores
Most big national charities also sell new goods (not second hand) – so this is a great option if you don’t want to buy used, or you want to be able to shop online. All the profits go to that charity and the selection gets better and better every year.
(side note – it’s also a great option for Christmas cards, wrapping, calendars, and birthday cards if you’re reading this in time for all that)
Here are a few of my favourites…
Save the Children: a chic selection of candles, reusable water bottles, and painted plant pots.
Amnesty International has absolutely TONS of options for any type of person! Here are a few of my favourites… Succulent temporary tattoos (RIGHT?!?!), a Frida Kahlo cushion, and beach waste flip flops recycled into colourful animals for kids.
British Legion: for me they’ve hit the tone exactly right for a stylish grandmother or aunt. Their choices are chic and timeless but also appeal to a broad audience. Check out this Emma Bridgewater poppy bag, the apron designed from different Commonwealth flowers, and the colourful poppy tea towel. I bought a bunch of things from here!
PDSA – As an animal lover I had to include this one. Plus it’s by far the biggest selection I’ve seen. They seem to do an entire catalogue and it’s honestly endless!
Whilst these aren’t for charity – they do at least avoid you buying more things for landfill.
Some ideas are gig tickets, a bucketlist activity like a hot air balloon ride or monster truck driving (yes we got this for my Dad one year!), a dinner voucher for a local independent restaurant, offering to babysit for them etc
As with the charity donation I mentioned earlier you can jazz this up with a small physical thing if you want too (e.g. gig tickets with a poster of the band etc).
Booking an Airbnb experience for them (in their town or for their next holiday) is one of my personal favourites. Local people host you for a unique activity – like paddle-boarding at sunset, a cookery class, or a guided tour. They’re always fun and I highly recommend them!
My final option is brands which have an ethical spin – they may not be an out-and-out charity but they are zero waste, do a “buy one give one”, or give part of their profits to charity. Here are a few I personally love or have been recommended.
Ethique – a huge range of plastic free beauty. I absolutely adore their conditioner and shampoo, but I don’t rate the body/face products that I’ve tried so far.
Lush – plastic free, no animal cruelty, and generally an all round wonderful family run company originating from my home town!
Batoko – Recycled swimwear which I’m really lusting after right now. They also do matching mother and daughter outfits – SO GOOD! There are lots of ethical and recycled swimwear brands so if this one doesn’t catch your eye then I’m sure you’ll find one which does.
Social Supermarket is a brilliant list of ethical or low waste companies for gifts. Spoilt for choice!
Akojo Market: Sustainably sourced products showcasing independent African designers.