12 Gifts that Give Back:
Gifts that Provide Even More Reason to Celebrate!

by | Dec 11, 2020

This holiday season, why not spread a little holiday cheer to an even wider audience than just your giftee. This list of holiday gift ideas are not only gifts people will actually want, but they also give back, and isn’t that always the best gift?

Some of the gifts on this list donate a portion of the proceeds to specific causes, others offer a one-to-one donation (where you buy one item and they donate that same item or similar to someone in need), and others give back to the planet that sustains us all through initiatives like reforestation projects.

Everything on this list is under $100 in order to be budget conscious, but don’t worry big spenders! Many of these companies offer higher priced items that will let you splurge with purpose. To make it easier to navigate, we’ve separated this gift guide by giftee type, and we have something for everyone!

Onto the list!

For the Foodies, the Thirsty, & the Coffee Lovers

Sip & Squeak Bundle from Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co ($44.99)

grounds for change dog coffeeGrounds & Hounds Coffee Co. has a wide range of gift options, but we think the coffee and pet lovers on your list will love the Sip & Squeak Bundle, which comes with the rich and savory Lovable Blend, a 14 oz. “Pibble Crew” mug, and a squeaky toy for their furry friend. Not only will they get a great present, but they will also be helping animal rescue organizations—Grounds & Hounds donates 20% of all profits to animal rescue programs across the U.S. 

Grounds & Hounds was founded in 2014 after CEO Jordan Karcher met his rescue pup, Molly, (a Dalmatian and Pointer Mix that serves as their logo) and wanted to do something about the high rate of unnecessary animal euthanasia and improve animal welfare. All of their coffee is sourced only from organic or fully traceable green coffee, and they emphasize developing a responsible supply chain.

So far, Grounds & Hounds has provided 2.1 million meals at shelters, 2,250 vaccines for rescued dogs, 600 spay or neuter surgeries, and has saved 2,750 dogs from euthanasia, and much more. If your giftee isn’t quite the Sip & Squeak type, they also offer clothing, mugs, tumblers, straws, coffee makers, and coffee subscriptions, so you’ll be sure to find something for everyone on your list!

Price: Coffee starts at $13.99 and gift packages range from $13.99-99.99.

Impact Type: 20% donations to animal rescue organizations and initiatives.

Eco-Friendly: Grounds and Hounds uses only 100% organic fair trade coffee beans.

Cozy up with a cup & pup at groundsandhoundscoffee.com.

Chocolate By Nature Gift Box by Alter Eco ($24.99)

alter eco chocolateWho doesn’t love chocolate? Well, okay, actually I don’t, but judging by the amount of horrified looks I get when I say that, nearly everyone loves chocolate. And who wouldn’t want a big box of decadent dark chocolate bars and truffles? Especially when it’s not only a box of yummy treats, but a chance to help the Peruvian rainforest? Well, even I wouldn’t say no to that.

This Certified B Corp was founded 15 years ago and is dedicated to a full circle way of eating, farming, and business. Their ingredients are sourced from farmer-owned co-ops practicing regenerative agriculture and their chocolates are 100% Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified. 

Not only is their chocolate eco-friendly, but their packaging too. Most of Alter Eco’s packaging is recyclable or compostable, and they aim to be 100% compostable or recyclable by the end of 2020. We’ll have to check back in soon!

But it’s not just that Alter Eco is eco-friendly or that they’re a Certified B Corporation that puts them on this list. For each gift box that’s sold, Alter Eco will plant one tree in the Peruvian Amazon. As of the writing of this article, Alter Eco has planted over 27,484 trees in the Amazon. When you give someone a box of chocolate, you’re giving them a tree in the rainforest too! 

For the super chocolate lover, try the Best Seller Gift Box ($44.99).

Price: Bars start at $3.99 and the largest gift package rings up at $44.99.

Impact Type: 1 box of chocolate = 1 tree in the Peruvian Amazon.

Eco-Friendly: Certified B Corp, Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, eco-friendly packaging

Treat ‘em with a piece of the good stuff at AlterEcoFoods.com.

Fill it Forward for the Giftee and More: The Clean Water Series Cupanion Bottle — (Under $20)

clean water seriesIt’s amazing how many benefits there are to staying hydrated: sustained energy, clearer skin, and increased brain function to name a few. Sometimes we need a little something extra to give our body what it’s looking for. Fill it Forward Clean Water Series is the perfect opportunity to encourage the habit.

With each Cupanion Bottle, you receive a tag that you can scan each time you refill via the Fill it Forward app. This tracks the users footprint and lets them know exactly how much they’ve contributed to global clean water and sanitation projects through their refills.

With Fill it Forward’s initiative, you and your giftee can play a part in both tracking your environmental impact and ensuring more clean water is available to people around the world. If you buy a bottle from their Clean Water Series, you unlock a $5 donation to various projects you can choose from as well.  

These reusable water bottles are a very simple design, and the boxes they come in need no wrapping! Our team loves them, and they make for a smooth transition to sustainable hydration (we also kept our box which now sits by the front door, holding our masks). 

It’s a seemingly basic bottle with a remarkable story and sentiment to share in gifting.

Give Clean Water & Sanitation at Fill it Forward.

For the Little Ones

Penelope the Flamingo by Cuddle + Kind ($60 for the 13” Little)

cuddle kind penelope flamingoWhile all of the dolls at Cuddle + Kind are too adorable for words, we think Penelope the Flamingo is just too precious to pass up. Each doll at Cuddle + Kind is handmade—meaning knit, loomed, embroidered, and crocheted by hand—by artists in Peru with premium natural cotton. 

That’s not all, folks! Each doll provides meals to children in need too!

Cuddle + Knit was started in 2015 after the Founders watched a documentary about childhood hunger and wanted to help. Being the parents of young children at the time, they knew how important nutrition is to children’s development. They also wanted to make sure their company was sustainable, so all of their dolls are fair trade and ethically produced by over 750 artisans.

They established their company to fight hunger around the world by giving meals to children in need. Each doll sold provides 10 meals to children around the world. Cuddle + Knit have also partnered with different programs to help end childhood hunger, including World Food Program, Children’s Hunger Fund, and Breakfast Club of Canada. 

Since they opened in 2015, they have been able to provide over 13 million meals to children. So while the little one on your list may care more about their doll’s birthday (Penelope’s is June 21st), you can feel good knowing their new doll is also providing nutrition to a child in need.

   Tip

Cuddle + Kind also sells inspirational prints that provide 5 meals for children.

Price: Dolls start at $52 for the 13” Little and go up to $80 for the 20” Regular.

Impact Type: 1 doll = 10 meals to children in need around the world.

Eco-Friendly: All dolls are fair trade and ethically produced.

Gift them a better-for-the-world cuddle buddy at CuddleandKind.com.

Kane Kids Backpack by State ($75 for the one shown)

kane kids backpackKids will be styling in this Kane Kids Backpack by State, and there are plenty of colors to match your little one’s personality. Plus, they can even be personalized! There are various sizes, but the Kane Kids fits the older little’s school needs. The main compartment can fit a 13” laptop, standard size folders and books with room leftover for their after school necessities or the matching Rodgers lunchbox. And…drum roll, pleeeease….each backpack helps American families and school kids!

State, a Certified B Corp, was started from a nonprofit camp for underprivileged kids in NYC, Camp Power. The founders of both Camp Power and State, Jacq and Scot Tatelman, noticed a lot of kids brought their belongings to camp in old trash bags instead of backpacks or bags. So they started State to help American kids and families in need by donating backpacks packed with educational tools to kids in underserved neighborhoods. It soon grew bigger than they had ever imagined; they’ve even partnered with Beyonce and worked with President Obama!

Up until recently, State operated on a one-to-one donation model, where for every backpack that was sold, one was donated—fully stocked with supplies—to a school or child in need. Now, State has grown to incorporate social justice issues, like Black Lives Matter and mass incarceration, into their giving. And State makes more than just backpacks and bags for kids, they also produce bags for the whole family

Price: Kid backpacks range from $65-$110.

Impact: Every product sold provides backpacks and supplies to children in need or supports their social justice projects,

Eco-Friendly: Although not fully eco-friendly yet, they plan to be sustainable by 2025.

Pack It Up at StateBags.com.

For the Beauty and Health Lovers

Give a Self Care Spa — “Balancing Trio” Bundle by SheaMoisture ($35 for bundle)

self care spaThe Balancing Trio bundle by SheaMoisture is the perfect gift for anyone who needs some easy access TLC (which, okay, is everyone). This bundle came out with SheaMoisture’s Back to School sets, and it’s making a name for itself throughout the seasons. 

The bundle comes with soothing body lotion, bamboo charcoal scalp scrub, and a clarifying mud mask, all you need to give your giftee a little self care treatment that will leave them glowing. The bundle treats your giftee from head to toe!

Made with all certified organic, natural, and fair trade ingredients, you cannot go wrong with SheaMoisture. One of my favorite things is you can search for products based on skincare concerns ranging from dry, oily, dull, aging…the products are made for us all. 

And that goes for product and impact. Not only does your purchase from SheaMoisture leave your giftee glowing, but it keeps Black women entrepreneurs and small businesses growing around the world. 

SheaMoisture’s entire business is built around lifting up communities. With each purchase, they design and support programs around strong community infrastructure in Ghana and educational and entrepreneurial programs in the U.S. To date, SheaMoisture has invested $6,100,000 in community commerce programs, and during COVID, announced its $1,000,000 fund committed to supporting entrepreneurs of color and small businesses. 

   Tip

While we often reserve self care for women, there’s room (and need!) for everyone to give their body some healthy pampering. SheaMoisture has products specifically for men as well as babies and kids if you want to spread the love!

Price: Individual products run from $4-$17.

Impact: Proceeds go toward health, safety, education, and entrepreneurial programs for Black women entrepreneurs and communities.

Let them indulge at SheaMoisture.com

Clean Hands Set by Hand in Hand ($19.99)

clean hands set holidayThere are a lot of great gift options at Hand in Hand, including body washes, sugar scrubs, and bar soap sets, but for the people who love to be clean—but also help communities in need—try the Clean Hands Set. This set comes with 4 bottles of their liquid hand soap in each of their amazing fragrances, a full-sized hand sanitizer, and a bonus sanitizer for on-the-go. And just look at the fun colors!

Hand in Hand started in 2011 when founders, Courtney and Bill, read an article about how 5 million children die each year from water-related illnesses and how these deaths could be cut by 45% through basic hand washing alone. 

They decided to combat these health issues around the world by creating a product that would help save millions of lives. In addition to helping others, Hand in Hand also wanted to be sustainable “for a clean life + a clean conscience”. All of their products are palm oil-free, vegan, and made with fair trade ingredients.

Originally, Hand in Hand worked with a one-to-one model: with each bar of soap sold, one was donated to a child in need. But by partnering with child advocacy organization, My Neighbor’s Children, they have been able to start a clean water initiative in Haiti and have built or repaired four wells that provide thousands of people with clean drinking water, in addition to donating over 1.6 million bars of soap to date. In 2018, Hand in Hand increased their donations to Cambodia by working with Eco-Soap Bank and have donated over 1.3 million bars of soap to children in almost 950 schools.

Price: Soap products range from $3.99-19.99 with gift sets ranging from $19.99-59.99.

Impact: Every product sold provides one bar of soap and one month of clean water.

Eco-Friendly: Palm oil free, vegan, made with fair trade ingredients and recyclable packaging.

Up their soap game at HandinHandSoap.com

Pure Skincare Delights Set by Tatcha ($88)

tatcha holiday setSkincare enthusiasts will love the Pure Skincare Delights Set by Tatcha. The four-piece skincare ritual promises to purify, polish, plump, and provide hydration for “youthful radiance”. The set comes with some of their best sellers including Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, The Rice Polish: Classic, The Essence Skin Softener, and The Water Cream. Try them all because each purchase provides schooling for young girls, and who isn’t game for that!

Tatcha is a big name in the skincare biz—they are always on the best selling list at Sephora, and even Megan Markle is a huge fan. Tatcha was started by Victoria Tsai in 2009 after a trip to Japan where she learned some Japanese beauty secrets from a real geisha. The brand was first treasured by makeup artists and aestheticians before it became a huge seller. 

Tatcha heeds to Japan’s high safety and purity standards in order to be pure, high quality, and time tested. They are also a sustainable company and plan to be 100% reusable, refillable, recyclable, or compostable by 2023

Along with their purity standards and sustainability, one thing that makes Tatcha different from other skincare companies is their commitment to giving back. Every purchase made supports girls’ education through their Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures program. 

They partner with Room to Read, which not only provides traditional education, but also offers life skills coaching and mentorship to girls in Southeast Asia and Africa. As of September 30, 2020, Tatcha has provided 4,600,378 days of school for girls around the world. So give your loved ones the gift of a healthy glow inside and out.

Price: Their gift sets range from $32-524.

Impact: Every product sold provides educational opportunities to girls in Asia and Africa.

Eco-Friendly: Though currently sustainable, they aim to be 100% reusable, refillable, recyclable or compostable by 2023.

Give the gift of a healthy glow at Tatcha.com

For Book Lovers

Little Golden Books tote bag from Out of Print ($20)

little golden booksLiterally everything is amazing at Out of Print, so it’s hard to pick just one item, but this 100% cotton canvas Little Golden Books tote bag is a fun throwback that’s also practical. Not their style? They also offer socks, mugs and water bottles, shirts, face masks, and so many other options that any book lover would enjoy. No matter what you choose, your giftee will also enjoy giving the gift of reading to so many other people!

Out of Print, founded in 2010, initially started out selling t-shirts with covers of classic novels. Business soon boomed and they have since expanded into all kinds of literary merchandise. But as book lovers at heart, founders and childhood besties, Jeff LeBlanc and Todd Lawton, always wanted to spread the joy of reading. They decided that with every purchase, one book would be donated to communities in need. Once Out of Print started growing, they expanded into supporting different literacy initiatives. To date, Out of Print has donated over 3 million books and supported literacy programs around the world.

Price: Totes generally stay in the $20 range, but they have gifts from $4 bookmarks to $45 sweatshirts.

Impact: Every purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.

Read a little, give a lot at OutofPrint.com.

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett from Better World Books ($23.50)

vanishing half 3d bookshotThe Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett is the story about twin sisters who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. It was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by Oprah Magazine and has been very well received by critics and casual readers alike.

You can find this title as well as any other book on your giftee’s list at Better World Books. This certified B Corp has thousands of other books for every bookworm on your list. And, like the other gift for book lovers on our list, they are dedicated to literacy causes.

Founded by three Notre Dame students in 2002, Better World Books has grown from selling used textbooks out of a backroom to selling millions worldwide. But they didn’t set out to only make a profit—When they started finalizing the business, they built in the social aspect into their plan and even won a “Best Social Venture” award from a Notre Dame University business competition.

In addition to their literacy dreams, Better World Books also set out to help the environment. When libraries have to get rid of books to make room for newer ones, Better World Books sells them instead, which keeps them out of landfills, and in turn, raises money for the libraries themselves. So far, they have reused or recycled 370,750,094 books.

Better World Books’ giving philosophy is simple, each book sold is a book donated to someone in need. They partner with Books for Africa and Feed the Children and have donated 29,153,654 books to date. But your purchase on their site goes further than that. Their Annual Literacy Grants fund literacy and educational nonprofit organizations and libraries around the world. They have raised a whopping $31,649,350! With a gift from Better World Books, you’ll be helping to fund literacy programs and donating books all over the world!

Price: Prices will vary based on the book (new and used), but they have something for every budget.

Impact: Every book sold is a book donated + funds donated to literacy programs around the world.

Eco-Friendly: Certified B Corp, focused on keeping books out of landfills, option to ship carbon balanced for just a few cents extra.

Make the world a better place at BetterWorldBooks.com.

For the Wildcard

Chalcedony Dangle Earrings from UNICEF Market ($39.99)

unicef earringsYou’ll find a lot of unique gifts at the UNICEF Market, and these Chalcedony Dangle earrings are sure to dazzle! These versatile earrings are made with sterling silver and chalcedony by artist Khun Boom from Thailand. Every gift you purchase from the UNICEF Market sends lifesaving supplies to children in need. These earrings in particular can provide enough polio vaccines to vaccinate 48 children!

As you may know, UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, has been around since 1946 and focuses on saving children’s lives all over the world. The UNICEF Market was created to offer unique, handmade items to help raise money to support their efforts. Each item in the UNICEF Market has its own impact message to show you what your purchase can provide for children in need. So no matter what you get from the UNICEF Market, your giftee will be happy to know that they helped save children’s lives.

Price: Prices will vary based on the item and there are pricing filters to help you search.

Impact: Each item provides something different, but anything you buy will make an impact on children’s lives.

Dazzle eyes and hearts at Market.UNICEFUSA.org.

Harry Potter Codenames from BoxLunch ($24.90)

box lunch harry potterIf all you know about someone is that they like a certain pop culture item, whether it be Marvel, Star Wars, or Harry Potter, BoxLunch is your new go-to store. This Harry Potter edition of Codenames is the perfect holiday gift for HP fans (or Potterheads as they’re called). Teammates have to work with one-word clues to find secret Agents who are hidden in a grid of Harry Potter references. And they’ll be happy to know they also helped provide meals to other muggles in America. (I refuse to use “no-maj”. I just won’t.)

BoxLunch was created in 2015 as a separate company of Hot Topic (yes, that Hot Topic). BoxLunch was created with “philanthropy” as a core value and has been partnered with Feeding America since its inception. For every $10 spent at the store, BoxLunch provides a meal on behalf of local food banks. To date, they have provided over 75 million meals to families in need. 

   Tip

If you really don’t know anything about your giftee but still want to give back to Feeding America, BoxLunch also offers some non pop culture related items like this Foodie 3 Pack Socks Gift Set for $34.90.

Price: Prices vary across all items, but the Harry Potter collection ranges from pencil cases for $13 to Hogwarts figurines for $200.

Impact: $10 = 1 meal with Feeding America.

Give the gift of magic and full bellies at BoxLunch.com.

Other Gifts that Give Back

There is a surprising amount of gifts that give back on the market. A couple that didn’t make it on our list, but need an honorable mention include a beanie from Love Your Melon ($30) that helps children fight cancer and the Family Meal: Recipes from Our Community ebook ($5.99) that benefits the Restaurant Workers’ Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. 

Many of the gifts in our Eco-Friendly Gift post give back but were not included in this gift guide (for big give back we love hone in on Bombas Socks and Thrive Market), so be sure to check out that post for even more ideas!

animal backpacks detailBut if nothing on this guide satisfies your holiday gifting needs, there are some other ways you can help and shop at the same time. Donating to a charity or cause in someone’s name is actually a great gift. (I did this for my whole family in 2016, and it went over surprisingly well. I designed a nice letter to give to each person, and it looked great!…If I do say so myself.) Some organizations offer a free gift with a donation, which is a double whammy. 

For instance, WWF offers many different options for gifts with a donation, including this adorable animal backpack, sloth mug set, or bamboo cutting board with a $55 donation (or this “plush bucket” for a $75 donation!).

Even a small contribution is better than nothing, so why not buy some of the smaller items from the companies listed as stocking stuffers!

If you have a favorite gift that gives back that we didn’t include, give us a shout!

Melissa Zepeda

Melissa Zepeda

Contributor

Melissa is a graphic designer by trade who loves to find opportunities to try new things wherever she can. Hailing equally from Denver and Houston, she now lives in San Antonio with her little monster/pup. You can keep up with Melissa on her website.

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