Giving feels great—so great that there’s an entire holiday season devoted to it. This year, instead of limiting yourself to conventional presents, give a gift that extends that warm and fuzzy feeling to your loved ones. Making a donation in someone else’s name or gifting an item that benefits a charity is the perfect way to brighten the holidays for those who need it most. And when your friends and family feel included in the effort, a little generosity can go a long way.
1. ONE WORLD FUTBOL; $39.50
For every soccer ball purchased from the One World Play Project, one ball is given to children in a disadvantaged community. The organization’s model is simple but effective: So far over 1 million balls have been distributed in the name of “the power of play.” Each ball is ultra-durable, making it a great gift for any roughhousing kid.
Give back: One World Play Project
2. WHOLE TURKEY FOR A BIG CAT; $20
More than 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, and other exotic cats call the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, Florida home. After rescuing the abused or abandoned animals, BCR provides them with shelter, healthcare, and plenty of fresh meat to eat. One of their favorite treats to enjoy around the holidays is poultry. For $20, you can make a big cat’s day with a whole turkey given in someone else’s name. The sanctuary also lists cheaper gift options: $10 for a chicken or half turkey for medium-sized cats and a $5 Cornish game hen for even smaller cats. If your donation exceeds the cost of the bird, that money will go to meeting other needs around the sanctuary.
Give back: Big Cat Rescue
3. THE AUTOBIOGRAPHER'S HANDBOOK: THE 826 NATIONAL GUIDE TO WRITING YOUR MEMOIR; $13
Whether you’re a part-time pirate, superhero, or cryptozoologist, there’s an 826 chapter out there for you. The national organization of themed tutoring centers has been inspiring kids to read and write since 2002. If you’re looking for a way to give back to the nonprofit, includeThe Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir on your holiday shopping list. This how-to guide is full of precious nuggets of advice from accomplished writers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Nick Hornby, and Sarah Vowell. In addition to upping your memoir writing game, the proceeds of each purchase will directly benefit the student programs offered at 826 centers across the country.
Give back: Amazon
4. ROMA BOOTS; $62
Roma makes giving back look good. Every purchase of a pair of their sleek, fashionable boots results in a new pair donated to an underprivileged child. The shoes come in a variety of styles and designs, with the cheapest classic boot priced at $62.
Give back: Roma
5. ALPACA; $150
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning an Alpaca but don’t have the yard space, buying one for someone in need is a great alternative. Heifer International does more than provide livestock to families—they also empower them with the tools and knowledge they need to turn animal products like milk and wool into a source of income. Alpacas are some of the more fun items in their gift catalogue, but gifters have their pick of farm animals ranging from $20 for a flock of ducks to $500 for a heifer. After selecting the gift, donors can send a personalized card to the person who inspired it.
Give back: Heifer International
6. JELLY HEART IPHONE CASE; $30
If you have a friend who still hasn’t gotten around to putting a cover on their phone, here’s a good excuse to buy them one. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this stylish iPhone 6 case go to The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). The organization’s Countdown to a Cure for AIDS project aims to find the basis for a cure by the year 2020. They plan to put $100 million towards the initiative, so every dollar helps.
Give back: The Blonde Salad
7. SOLAR LANTERN; $40
For families living without access to electricity, a simple lantern can help extend their day. This solar-powered lamp from the global charity Oxfam doubles as a cell phone charger. And because it runs on sunlight, owners never have to worry about spending money on fuel or batteries. If you want to donate the lantern in honor of someone else, Oxfam gives you the option to send them a physical or digital card or print one out at home.
Give back: Oxfam
8. NARWHAL ADOPTION KIT; $55
Narwhals are known as the unicorns of the sea for a reason—they’re mysterious, elusive, and famous for their horn-like teeth that grow up to 8.8 feet long. For just $55, you can symbolically adopt the sea creature for yourself or someone you know. An adoption kit includes a photo, a plush toy, a gift bag, a species card, and an adoption certificate from the World Wildlife Fund. Donors looking to make an even bigger impact can choose to opt out of the gifts with more of the proceeds going towards WWF’s conservation efforts around the world. And if you don’t have any whale lovers in your life, WWF has dozens more “adoptable” species to choose from.
Give back: World Wildlife Fund
9. MOSQUITO NET; $10
One of the easiest ways to save a life is by providing a mosquito net to a family that needs one. According to Nothing But Nets, a campaign from the UN foundation, bed netting reduces malaria rates by 90 percent. After donating $10, the organization will send a insecticide-treated net to a home in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is especially prevalent.
Give back: Nothing But Nets
10. COOKIE JAR MIX; $15
If you don’t have the energy to bake cookies for everyone on your gift list this season, buy them a jar of dry mix instead. The mixes come in two flavors, pumpkin and s’more, and include a recipe for putting all the components together. The cause it benefits makes this sweet treat even more satisfying: For every jar purchased, That’s Caring will donate a weekend food bag to a child facing food insecurity.
Give back: That’s Caring
11. THE UNEXPECTED PIT BULL 2017 CALENDAR; $20
This 2017 wall calendar shows that pit bulls are just as deserving of love as any other breed. The calendar includes photos of the dogs jumping, snuggling, and striking handsome poses, and each month features a true story from a human owner who’s taken a pit bull into their home. All of the proceeds go to helping dog rescue and advocacy groups. For animal lovers who can’t adopt a pet of their own, hanging up this wall calendar is a simple way to show support.
Give Back: The Unexpected Pit Bull