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Our 3 Favorite Holiday Gifts that Give Back

It was supposed to be 5 but there were 2 that we REALLY wanted to work out but didn't (written December 2015 and they may have figured out the kinks by the time you're reading this.... Fingers crossed!)
Home Products We Love Our 3 Favorite Holiday Gifts that Give Back


Buying for the kiddos is pretty easy and fun (we still stand by last year’s picks, wink wink), but buying for the adults on your list can be tougher. If you want to get a gift or two that give back, check out our top 5 favorites. This isn’t just some list we threw together – these are gifts we are giving or have given in the past and has even been updated to provide feedback on a couple that just didn’t work out as we hoped they would.

It feels so good to give and the added bonus here is that your gift keeps on giving!

Our 3 Favorites:


We came across Bureo as an Instagram suggestion and fell right into love! Bureo makes super cool sunglasses and skateboards from recycled fishing nets, keeping harmful plastics out of our oceans. Such a great and innovative idea! If you have someone on your list wishing for a new pair of sunnies, consider getting them some Bureos so they can brag on them and spread the word while looking super cool. On a smaller budget, and going out to one of our gift recovers this year, is their bamboo utensil set. This set helps you say “no” to unnecessary single use plastic on a daily basis and do your part to help our environment.

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund has a great gifting catalog for both children and adults. Through your donations, purchases, and symbolic species adoptions, World Wildlife Fund works to not only protect animal species and their landscapes, but they have expanded to address the urgent concerns surrounding our forests, marine, freshwater, wildlife, food and climate. Through World Wildlife Fund you can make an in-kind donation on behalf of someone on your list or buy them a gift that gives back. We did a species adoption recently as a gift for a little sweetie’s 1st birthday because it comes with a plush of the animal being adopted. I let my son choose the animal and we learned about the species and the need for protection. You also have the option of sending a holiday greeting while spreading the word via their free e-cards!

Giving Tree Ornament tied to a bottle of wine

We started this tradition last year when having our son choose a gift for our neighbors across the street, and it is by far my favorite because of both the meaningful gift and the experience that goes along with it. These neighbors are more like family than anything else (my son calls him चाचा – “Cha Cha” – an uncle in Hindi) and they are generous with sharing their amazing meals and great company throughout the year, and shower Sutton with gifts on holidays. Both have a passion for animals and insist there is nothing they really need so we went to our local pet store which has a tree set up adorned with paper ornaments with wish items for our local shelter’s cats and dogs. We bought a gift for both a cat and a dog on their behalf, asked to keep the paper ornament, and tied it to a nice bottle of wine and gave as their gift. It was really a hit with them and one of my favorite gifting experiences of last Christmas. My son told them about why he chose each animal on the ornaments and what he gave them – it was very sweet. There are many agencies that do giving trees for animals, children and elderly in facilities – keep an eye out while you’re Christmas shopping for a cause near you that would also make a great give to someone dear!

Throughout December we are bringing in coins to preschool to donate to Heifer International, a charity the co-op director is very passionate about. If it is a cause you would like to support there is a gift catalog on their website, too. Have something to add? Leave it below in the comments! Want to skip gifting “things” and go for experiences this year? The post we did about experience gifts for Father’s Day has some great ideas!

The 2 That Didn’t Work Out:

Try the World

Two people on our list are* One person on our list is getting a Try the World gift box this season. An awesome way to experience new cuisines and spread awareness of cultures of the world through food; you can get Try the World boxes as a subscription or a single gift. Very often the items they include are organic, and each box comes with a Culture Guide that includes the story behind each product, recipes to make with the items, and tips to best experience the country’s culinary culture. Try the World supports small, family-owned and operated businesses by introducing them to the American market, often for the first time ever.

* Update: I’m so bummed but only one of our orders was processed by Try the World, and they completely lost all record of the second one (other than in my bank account, lol!). The box that did come was beautiful and on time, but in the end the polite, but slow-to-respond, customer service was not able to help us get the second Try the World box we ordered. Launched in 2013, it seems they may be working out a few kinks that I hope are from increased popularity and people being excited about this product – it really is beautifully packaged and makes a great gift – we hope our incident is more of the rare kind, but we felt the need to mention our experience since we’re making this recommendation.

When a cause we love is doing a campaign we can’t help but snap up a t-shirt in a cute design. Sevenly’s tag is “Designs to Inspire Positivity and Change™” and they do this by partnering with causes, creating 7-day campaigns, and inviting customers to purchase products like t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks that gave $7 to a weekly charity. started in 2011 and is now widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading “social good” companies; on the last Sevenly purchase I made the $7 donation was matched by a generous anonymous donor and The Gentle Barn received $14 per order!  This year a cause shirt is on my own wish list*. I encourage you to make your Sevenly purchase with plenty of time to receive the order – my experience has been that it takes a bit to get an item and it is easier to get a response about delays by phone than by e-mail if you do need to find out where your item is. I would create my whole wardrobe from their flowy long-sleeve and raglan tees – they run true to size in my experience, and there are so many causes beyond the Cause of the Week you are sure to find a great gift and support a cause close to someone’s heart.

*Update: Oh man, I know I mentioned “it takes a bit to get an item” but unfortunately it ended up taking 8 MONTHS to get the item we ordered in October as a holiday gift. The customer service was pretty terrible too… I really want this company to succeed and really hop it’s growing pains and they are turning it around now.  Though I experienced a delay the very first time I ordered, 8 months and bad customer service means I cannot in good conscience recommend getting a gift from here. If there is a organization you’d like to support through Sevenly I’d say do so knowing there could be a substantial delay getting your product.  

Have your own experience? Leave us a comment below – we’d LOVE to hear about it!