A Holiday Gift Guide for Giving Better Stuff

Posted by on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

I heard someone joke about going to the local thrift store the day after Christmas to donate the just-unwrapped and unwanted bounty of gifts. Yes, we definitely have a collective problem with too much stuff (and too much waste), which is just one of the reasons why it’s great to give experience gifts or contributions to good causes in the recipient’s name. But sometimes the best gift really does come in a package you can hand to your loved one for opening. For gift-giving that’s more meaningful, ’tis the season to:

Give twice.

When you buy items from stores or auction sites that benefit nonprofits, your dollars support their work. Also, sites like Bidding for Good offer products and experiences that benefit a variety of organizations.

Another way to give back is by buying products from gift shops for museums and parks, in person or online. (A few local museum shops: LACMA, The Getty, MOCA, Natural History Museum.)

If shopping on Amazon, use Amazon Smile, which allows you to choose a nonprofit organization to receive a portion of sales. (Climate Resolve is a choice!)

Stay local.

Support the independent businesses in your neighborhood by shopping local—especially at book stores and places that sell the works of local artisans or products made sustainably. It’s even better if you can shop on foot or bike, leaving the car behind.

Be a maker.

Homemade gifts, including food and personal care items, are twice as nice. Extra touches: attach a recipe for the recipient and consider a vintage glass jar, container, or tin that can be reused.

Celebrate good taste.

Put another way: give tasty edibles. Choose locally grown produce, sweet treats, and other items for out-of-the-ordinary dining experiences at home. First stop: food vendors at your local farmers’ market. Bonus: adding a cookbook or favorite recipe. My grandmother always said, “Food is love.”

Make it an experience gift.

Give movie, concert or theater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, or museum memberships and you’re giving the recipient an experience to enjoy. The same goes for magazine subscriptions, books, music CDs, and DVDs of movies or TV shows. Also consider giving games or a puzzle from a photo-printing service that allows you to create one with a personal photo.

Go green.

One size fits all: House plants, herb gardens, and seeds, or outdoor plants for loved ones with yards.

Divert waste.

It’s true about one person’s trash being another’s treasure—and when you buy from antique markets, consignment and thrift shops, eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and other sources of second-hand items, you do your part to reduce waste to landfills. Think of it like the island of misfit toys from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”—there are worthy, good-as-new items out there looking for a home.

Buy better products.

Another factor to consider: the maker of the merchandise. Give from companies with responsible business practices—organic, Fair Trade, sweatshop-free, environmentally-friendly, etc. Look up B Corps companies and ones signed on to 1% for the Planet.


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