18 Holiday Gifts That Give Back (but Are Still Super Cool)
What’s better than that look of pure glee a person gets when they unwrap a gift that’s so perfectly, epically them? A gift that’s all that and does some good in the world. With so many gifts that give back out there, it can be hard to tell what’s worth it and what’s truly helping those in need. That’s where we’re here to help. After speaking with Ashley Post at Charity Navigator, a leading site for investigating nonprofits and where their money is going, we came up with a few simple insights to follow to make sure your gift really does give back—and we’ve rounded up our top picks for presents that are legitimately cool in their own right. And you can feel good about gifting them.
How Can You Be Sure What You’re Buying Is Giving Back?
"First, it should be clear what charity the item supports," says Post. "Then look at how much of the proceeds are said to benefit the organization." From there, Post goes on to explain, it’s somewhat of a blind trust to assume the best from the brand. But what you can do is look out for red flags. "If a company uses vague language, like 'this water bottle will help environmental charities' or just 'proceeds will go to charity' without naming specific organizations and donation amounts, you can have very little certainty the money you’re putting out to purchase the product is going to a cause that means something to you."
How do I find out more about the charity a brand is donating to?
To learn more about the organization your proceeds are benefiting, consider evaluating it through BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or Charity Watch. And if it’s not included in these databases, vet their website or call them directly. Post says a good rule of thumb is to check that 70 percent of the organization’s income is spent on its programs (where and how it delivers on its mission) and the rest is split between their fundraising and administrative costs.
To save you some time searching, we’ve rounded up 18 of our favorite gift ideas for the holiday season.
1. Samara Fanny Pack
You’ve probably heard by now that fanny packs are having a moment, but in addition to being on trend, this minimalist one is ethically made, vegan and super functional. It comes with not one but two straps that you can interchange depending on how you want to wear the bag. The thick one is for wrapping around your waist as a belt bag, and the thin one turns the purse into a crossbody. Or, leave the strap off entirely and hold it as a clutch. It has three built-in card slots and enough room for the biggest phones, plus the proceeds support children in need, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
Charity Benefited: The Soular Backpack, which provides children in East Africa who don’t have access to electricity a light source through their solar-powered backpacks
Donation: For every purchase, Samara covers the cost of a Soular Backpack for a child in need
2. Honest Company Twinning Moments Gift Set
Just imagine the adorable #twinning photos the new parent on your list can take with their newborn while wearing these matching big and little socks? The set—a collaboration between Honest Company founder Jessica Alba and husband Cash Warren’s company, Pair of Thieves—also includes an equally cute printed bandana bib, seven latex-free diapers and a package of plant-based baby wipes.
Charity Benefited: Baby2Baby, a charity that provides children living in poverty with diapers, clothing and other basic necessities
Donation: An Honest product of equal value of your purchase
3. Bird + Stone Enamel Pin
Skip the meaningless stocking stuffer and replace it with this statement-making pin to celebrate the inspiring woman in your life. Everything crafted by this NYC-based designer is ethically made (mostly from recycled materials), and a portion of the profits are donated to organizations that support a variety of important causes.
Charity Benefited: Planned Parenthood of NYC
Donation: 10 percent of your purchase price
4. Fairwell Ceramic Travel Mug
Considering that roughly 100 billion single-use cups go to a landfill each year—99 percent of which will never be recycled—it’s no wonder this newly launched company is on a mission to reduce waste. Their beautiful ceramic mug was created as a sustainable alternative to our society’s reliance on takeaway coffee cups. But it also helps support women through charitable donations and employment. Each mug is made by ethically employed women artisans in India.
Charity Benefited: Room to Read, a nonprofit collaborating with local governments, schools, communities and families to keep girls in school
Donation: A portion of each sale helps pay for a girl’s schooling
5. Amazon Echo 3 for RED
Feel good about ordering Amazon’s latest generation of smart speaker. The company teamed up with (RED) for the second year in a row to create a limited-edition crimson red shade for the newest Echo (third generation). This one’s said to have better sound quality than prior generations, so be sure to get that holiday playlist ready to go. You can currently preorder it or wait until December 12 to purchase.
Charity Benefited: (RED), which helps fight AIDS through the Global Fund
Donation: $10 for every purchase
6. Lush Charity Pot
This moisturizing body lotion is lust-worthy for the way it’ll soften your skin (it’s made from hydrating cocoa butter and antioxidant-rich moringa oil!), but you’ll really love the cause behind it. Every penny (minus taxes) of this velvety product’s sales will go toward small grassroots organizations working in environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.
Donation: Matching up to $150,000 of purchases
7. Driftaway Coffee
Give the caffeine addict in your life one more reason to look forward to brewing a fresh cup of java with this single-origin coffee subscription that highlights and benefits small-scale farmers. Each month, they’ll receive a new coffee from around the globe that matches their taste profile and is sent to their home within 12 hours of having been roasted in Driftwood’s carbon-neutral production facility in Brooklyn. The foam on top of the latte? Their shipments are mailed in sustainable, compostable packaging.
Charity Benefited: World Coffee Research, which contributes to long-term coffee sustainability
Donation: 5 cents for every pound
9. Grove Collaborative 3-Pack Assorted Bee’s Wraps
Food storage without the unnecessary plastic wrap and aluminum foil? It’s about time. Meet the sustainable way to store leftover bread, half-sliced veggies and the block of cheese your book club barely made a dent in during the last meeting. The warmth of your hands molds the wraps to fit any item or container and seals it closed. Wash with cold water and dish soap to use again and again.
Charity Benefited: Arbor Day Foundation
Donation: Plants trees using proceeds from sales
10. The Lipstick Lobby In the Clear Vitamin E Lip Balm
Even though this lip balm is clear, it still makes a statement. Thanks to The Lipstick Lobby, a beauty activism brand that’s supported by Gloria Steinem, a simple purchase for her pout speaks out to benefit important causes. This one helps empower women in the mass incarceration system for life after prison. But you can also feel good about this purchase for its vegan and cruelty-free formula (that’s boosted with vitamin E), so it’ll be her go-to for keeping her lips hydrated all winter long.
Charity Benefited: unPrison Project
Donation: 100 percent of net profits from sales
11. Bon Temps Tea
Here’s the tea: You can actually relax while drinking this organic brand’s product since they use bags made from non-GMO corn fiber instead of plastic or bleached ones, making them more eco-friendly. Plus, the cute packaging makes tea time extra sweet.
Donation: Each month, they grant one woman $1,000 to kick-start her creative or business pursuits.
12. Cuddle + Kind Doll
Aren’t these the cutest? They’re not just adorable little cuddly creatures, though. For every doll sold (made by artisans in Peru who are paid sustainable, fair-trade wages), Cuddle + Kind gives ten meals to children in need.
Donation: 10 meals for every doll sold
13. Fjallraven Kanken Art Backpack
Swedish artists were commissioned to use the outdoor brand’s classic backpack as a canvas to express their relationship with nature. The outcome? Four bold limited-edition prints made with the same durable, water-resistant fabric and functional design that gave this bag its cult following.
Charity Benefited: Arctic Fox Initiative, which supports nonprofits that give back to nature
Donation: Fundraising is decided by a jury and a public voting system based on the sales of selected products
14. Ole Henriksen A.S.A.P. (As Smooth As Possible) Age-Fighting Set
Your #glowgetter sister will love this set that contains travel sizes of radiance-boosting products, especially when she learns the purchase helps fund workshops to boost women’s confidence and leadership skills. Included is the Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner, which evens skin tone, Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum to brighten and target fine lines and Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Creme to fight wrinkles while keeping your skin hydrated overnight.
Charity Benefited: Self-Esteem Rising
Donation: $1 from every order on OleHenriken.com from October 1 to December 31, up to $25,000
15. Bombas Snowflake Calf Sock Gift Box
The wintry pattern of these stylish socks definitely doesn’t indicate how your feet will feel while wearing them. Made from warm yet breathable merino wool and engineered for comfort thanks to their seamless toe, cushioned heel and honeycomb weave, we guarantee someone on your list (heck, the whole family probably) could use a pair. It also doesn’t hurt that by purchasing them, you’re giving back to homeless communities across the country.
Charity Benefited: Homeless shelters and community organizations in all 50 states
Donation: One pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased
16. WeWOOD Kappa Watch
Step up his accessories game with a reclaimed-wood watch that shows he’s both fashionable and socially conscious. And no, he won’t have to wear it delicately in fear of damaging it. WeWOOD carefully selects the highest-quality wood and durable movement parts to ensure each timepiece can perform for years to come.
Donation: One tree is planted for every wood watch purchase
Gift this subscription box to your cousin who won’t stop showing you pictures of Daisy on their phone when all you did was ask how their weekend was. It comes packed with toys, treats and accessories handpicked for their furry friend, with the option of a cat box or three different-size dog boxes. But the part they’ll feel best about is that for every RescueBox sent, the company donates five pounds of food and two vaccinations to shelter pets across the country through RescueBank and Greater
18. Make a Donation
The straightforward way to give back: Make a direct donation to the charity of your choice in your giftee’s name. Find an organization you’re both passionate about through GiveWell, a nonprofit that helps donors learn where their money will have the most impact.
Bonus: One More Way to Give Back
Shop the same nail polish remover and disinfecting wipes you normally “Prime” to your doorstep, but through smile.amazon.com, wher