Modern Life

Find more kindness this holiday with gifts that give back

Wrap up the season with presents that pay it forward.

By Leigh-Ann Jackson — December 3, 2020

This year, shopping, traveling, and gathering with loved ones have all become more difficult, if not altogether impossible. Add a flurry of pandemic restrictions to the impact of a global recession and you get a holiday season like none other. If such a bleak forecast leaves you singing the “Bah Humbug” blues, just know that there’s still plenty of holiday spirit to go around. According to a recent survey, 79% of Americans still plan to purchase gifts for the holidays this year and three out of 10 shoppers say they plan to spend on charitable donations. 

For your gift giving, consider these goodwill goodies that deliver a double-dose of cheer and delight to everyone on your list. When you give someone you love one of these gifts, you will also be making a financial or in-kind donation to a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to making the world a better place. Plus, they are all available online, so you can check off your holiday shopping list from the safety of your own home. 

Holiday gifts that protect and give back to the environment

Left to right: Parks Project, United by Blue, Uncommon Goods

The planet and environment

For those who are passionate about protecting our air, waterways, and forests, these gifts support eco-minded organizations striving to safeguard Mother Nature.

Herringbone Recycled Wool Blanket, $80, United by Blue

Your favorite couch potato can while away the winter days snuggled under this recycled wool throw from Tartan Blanket Co. For every product purchased, United by Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways.

Night Sky 330-Pc. Puzzle, $90, Uncommon Goods

Puzzle pros who are up for a challenge are sure to get a mental workout with this handmade wooden puzzle depicting the majestic Milky Way. With every purchase, Uncommon Goods will donate $1 to a charity like American Forests, which is one of their four featured nonprofit partners.

Parks Project Gift Box, $60, Parks Project

Outdoors-y types will love this set, which includes a travel journal, a pair of trail-ready crew socks, a deck of park-themed playing cards, a keychain, and a “National Parks of the U.S.A.” checklist. For each set sold, Parks Project will help fund a project in a US national park, from restoring trails to sponsoring youth outdoor education.

Holiday gifts that stand up for social justice

Left to right: Bombas, Melissa Joy Manning

Social justice

This has been a watershed year for individuals coming together to demand a more fair and just society. Keep the wave of compassion and unity rolling with gifts that help to uplift those in need.

Women’s Snowflake Sock Gift Box, $65, Bombas

For every pair of their cozy cotton socks purchased, Bombas donates a pair of socks to someone affected by homelessness. That means that with this festive seasonal set, the level of giving is quadrupled. 

Silver Cuff Bracelet, $50, Melissa Joy Manning

For every purchase of this simple yet striking recycled silver cuff, socially responsible fine jewelry brand Melissa Joy Manning will donate $25 to RAICES, a Texas-based organization that offers legal and social services to immigrants and refugees.

Holiday gifts that donate to kids in need

left to right: yoobi, olivela

Children’s health and wellbeing

In order to stay safe and healthy this year, many children have had to dramatically change the ways in which they learn, play and even spend time with family. And those who were already among the most at-risk have had to face even greater challenges. Why not give a gift that will help put a smile on a child’s face?

DIY Melty Bead Kit, $9.99, Yoobi

Here’s a hands-on craft to spark kids’ creativity and give them a break from all that screen time. For every item you purchase, Yoobi will donate school supplies to a child in need, in partnership with Kids in Need Foundation

Akola “Strength” Pendant Necklace, $175, Olivela

Handcrafted in East Africa by an all-woman team of artisans, Akola’s crystal-studded pendant is engraved with a single inspirational word: “strength.” Proceeds from each necklace go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to provide supplies for children undergoing chemotherapy.

Holiday gifts that give back to essential workers and others in need during COVID-19 recovery.

left to right: Family Meal, Mark & Graham

COVID-19 recovery

For months, essential workers have bravely and diligently put their lives on the line to keep the country running. They deserve a token of appreciation — that’s where these gifts come in.

Family Meal: Recipes from Our Community, $5.99 (Kindle Edition), Amazon

Satisfy your favorite foodie with this collection of recipes created by Ina Garten, Samin Nosrat, and more culinary celebs. All proceeds from this digital-only cookbook benefit the Restaurant Workers’ COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Face masks from Hedley & Bennet and Mark & Graham

Give the gift of both style and safety. For every purchase of the “Wake Up and Fight” masks, a mask is donated to first-responders and frontline workers. And proceeds from the flax linen “Be Happy” masks go to fund Doctors Without Borders’ lifesaving work.

Holiday gifts that donate to help animals

left to right: west elm, WWF

Animal welfare

Creatures great and small need our help, too. For the furry ones and those who love them, chip in to support a cause that’s friendly to those with paws, tails and claws.

Polar Bear Slippers, $55, World Wildlife Fund

These cute and comfy slippers were produced using eco-friendly practices and proceeds go toward the fund’s global conservation efforts. Plus, your purchase automatically makes you a WWF member.

Cat and Dog Mugs, from $14.50, West Elm

Pet-lovers can enjoy a warm cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa in these mugs inspired by terriers, tabbies, and more. For every purchase, West Elm will donate $1 to the ASPCA to further its animal rescue and placement efforts.


RELATED: How to have a magical holiday season at home.