The winter holidays are here and like me you are probably deep in the trenches of researching and buying for all the special people on your shopping list. While the many seasonal sales are tempting, and while boxes from popular retailers can be exciting, I encourage all of us to consider giving differently this year.
This season is famously about generosity and the spirit of giving, but it is also one to reflect on our core values and to reconnect with the people and experiences that mean the most to us. Let’s bring that quality to bear as we make our purchasing decisions, and choose gifts of meaning and purpose that nourish our bodies, our relationships, the planet, and the soul.
Here is a rundown of some quick and easy holiday gifts, perfect for the mama who wants to give generously while also making a difference.
Give the gift of shared memories
Time together is what memories are made of, and shared memories are more valuable than any sparkly object. Consider gifting a personalized experience. It’s a gift not only for the receiver but also for you, as you get to enjoy the pleasure of time with the ones you love.
Choose one of the experiences below or devise one of your own. Then print and present a coupon for that special time together!
- A road trip to her favorite destination. Pack up, create a playlist, bring her favorite snacks, and enjoy! Tips: 50 best road trip songs and the most scenic road trips in each state.
- Plant a tree together. If you think about it, this is not only a gift for the recipient, it’s a gift for you, for your community, for the environment, for all of us. Resource: The Arbor Day Foundation has lots of tips and mail order trees!
- Go for a hike. Take a walk together in a beautiful place, enjoying fresh air and time away from your daily lives for conversation and connection. Check it out: The best hike in every US state.
- Pack a picnic and hit the beach. A picnic is so perfectly simple, isn’t it? Good food, good friends, and a good time relaxing in the sun. Menu planning: 51 Easy Picnic Food Ideas
- Go to a museum. Many museums offer free admission. Check out what’s available in your area and make a date! Did you know that if you’re a Bank of America customer, you get a free museum day each month?
- Take a cooking class together. Cooking together can be fun and festive. It’s also a perfect way to try out new cuisines or recipes that you might be intimidated to try preparing at home. Groupon is a great source for discounts on local classes. Want to cook with kiddos but don’t live in the same city? Sign them up to take an online cooking class with you, and share the experience remotely.
- Head for a cozy cabin. Who doesn’t love a woodsy getaway? A trip to a cozy mountain cabin is a fantastic way to rest and refresh with the ones you love. Check the listings on AirBnb for cabins in your neck of the woods.
- Camp under the stars. The best conversations tend to happen in the backcountry, where we’re removed from the business of our day to day lives and free to let our minds wander. Need some inspiration? See Best Places to See the Night Sky.
- Meditation group session. Start a mindfulness meditation group and invite your friends! A great way to give the gift of presence and of connection with self and each other. Tara Brach provides great resources on forming a group meditation circle.
Make a donation to a worthwhile cause in their name
Many nonprofits depend on the holiday season and end-of-year giving to sustain their operations and amplify their impact year round. Below are 18 charitable orgs that are doing important work in a variety of areas. Support this work by making a donation in the name of that person on your holiday list who wants to make a difference.
- Postpartum Mental Health Charities: Postpartum Support International and Black Mamas Matter Alliance
- Children’s Charity: Prevent Child Abuse America
- Human Trafficking Charity: International Justice Mission
- Women’s Rights Charity: Global Fund for Women
- Women’s Health charity: Center for Reproductive Rights
- Mental Health Charity: Mental Health America
- Gun Control Charity: Sandy Hook Promise Foundation
- Animal Charity : American Human
- Cancer Charity Cancer Research Institute
- Black Community Charity: Color Of Change
- LGBTQ Charity: The Trevor Project
- Environmental Charity: World Resources Institute
- Water Charity: Waves for Water
- Education Charity: Scholarship America
- Alzheimer’s Charity: The Alzheimer’s Association
- Wildlife Charity: Africa Wildlife Foundation
- Support for Ukraine: International Rescue Committee
Send them gifts from fair trade companies
Choosing gifts from fair trade producers can help to maximize the positive impact of our holiday buying. Consider selecting one of the following companies that support sustainable, ethical lines of production and help provide autonomy and income to women and communities around the world.
- Fair trade kids clothing and decor – Global Goods Partners
- Support for women artisans and their families – The Little Market
- Eco goods for a healthy home – Goods that Matter
- Fairly traded (and delicious!) coffee, chocolate, and tea – Equal Exchange
- Ethical goods by artisan makers – 10,000 Villages
- Global giving gift cards: Global Giving
Choose products from cottage makers
Buying handmade items from small makers and artisans is a wonderful way to support local economies and the people who depend on them.
- Simple organic skin care – Toups and Co
- Candles handmade by women refugees – Prosperity Candle
- Comy hand made socks by Ukrainian makers – DuxLesa Traders Socks
- Handmade new mom and child bracelet – Mom and child bracelet
- Whimsical measuring spoons – Cooking positive spoons
- All natural, toxin free soy candles – Aromatherapy candles
- A warm cozy home in a box – Hygge gift box
Patronize companies that give back
The following companies have a buy one/get one model, in which they donate a product for each one that is sold. That means, your friend gets a lovely holiday gift, you get the satisfaction of doing something good, and someone in need gets something to help them this season. It’s a win/win/win!
- State Bags
- Betterworld books
- Conscious Step
Meaningful messages for faraway friends
If you’re far away from someone you care about this holiday season, or simply want to send a special greeting, below are a few services that will send a meaningful message and an eco gift on your behalf.
I hope I’ve inspired you to make a gift and make a difference this holiday season! Happy gift giving.