Whether you’re hoping to do something more meaningful with your kids than just hitting the mall, or if you’re just looking for some gifts that give back, here are some ideas that could bring more joy this holiday season.
Teaching kids (and grown ups) the joy of giving
Gathering friends or family together to assemble a gift box for a needy recipient could be a new, purposeful holiday tradition that you start this year.
Kynd Kits are an activity for the whole family. You choose a cause or group of people important to you, and then request the corresponding kit.
Each kit will contain items specifically requested by people in those groups. You assemble the pieces together, write a card, then send it off. Among the recipients you can choose from this year: the homeless, victims of domestic violence, immigrants, senior citizens, LGBTQ people and foster children.
If your family would like to help a foster child this holiday season, Together We Rise is helping kids without permanent homes by providing colorful bags to tote their items around in. (Many foster kids lug their worldly possessions around in trash bags.) They send you a panel to decorate, that you then send back. They attach each artwork panel to a duffel bag, which is stuffed with a teddy bear, a blanket, a hygiene kit and a coloring book.
A family art project can brighten up the walls of a long-term care facility. The Foundation for Hospital Art will send you a kit, complete with pre-drawn canvases and art supplies. You color it in, create one panel of your own design and send it back with the pre-addressed UPS label.
If you can knit or crochet, consider helping Knots of Love. You could knit a beanie to support a patient going through chemotherapy or a blanket to warm a baby in the NICU.
Gifts for children in need
The Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree” program is online again this year, making it easy to shop for a child in need. Just enter your zip code, add the requested items from their registry to your cart, and the Salvation Army does the rest.
Shop smart, shop small
For your caffeine-loving friends, why not send them bird-friendly coffee? These coffee beans are grown under a forest canopy that provides a habitat for birds – important since the North American bird population has decreased by almost three billion birds since 1970.
And if you want to spend your money at a local bookstore but don’t want to leave the house, consider buying from bookshop.org. They partner with independent book sellers across the country to send your dollars to stores that really need it.
Supporting Black-owned businesses
If you want to support Black-owned businesses this Christmas (or any time of year) the website and app https://www.supportblackowned.com/ helps you find shops and services all over the US.
The EatOkra app helps you find Black-owned restaurants and food services (buying a gift card helps keep small eateries in business).
You can also search Instagram by using the hashtag #SupportBlackBusiness.
Larger retailers doing good
Finally, many larger retailers are giving back this season. If you just want a name-brand gift sure to wow a picky tween or teen, many stores and brands partner with charities to give back over the holiday season.
Some companies even make it a yearlong mission to do good.
If you are looking for a present for someone worried about the environment, Patagonia gives a portion of all profits to environmental causes.
Ivory Ella donates up to 50% of its profits to charities helping elephants, including Save the Elephants.
Sock company Bombas donates a pair of socks to a needy person, for every pair sold.
And what Christmas stocking couldn’t use a fuzzy pencil case and some unicorn-themed erasers? Yoobi sells colorful pens, pencils and stationery, and for every item purchased, they donate a school supply to a child in need.