Gifts That Give Back: Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Happy holiday shopping season! Welcome to the Gifts That Give Back Holiday Gift Guide, an array of fabulous gift items that give twice. It is my favorite post of the year. As you shop this year for the holidays, why not consider giving a gift that gives back?

Gifts that Give Back: Holiday Gift Guide 2013

For Him

US of A Camo Hat: Salute The Brave is a clothing line whose mission is to give back to the men and women serving in the armed forces.  The company has partnered with Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends 100,000 care packages overseas to the troops annually. For every one of these hats purchased for $25, one is donated in a care package to the troops, and as a thank you to them the back of each hat says, “free to be because of me”. This adjustable camo baseball hat has an outline of the United States on the front in the colors of the flag and says, “Salute The Brave” on the side.

Toiletries Bag: This handsome toiletries bag is convenient for carrying your incidental items while traveling. In a stylish dark blue cloth exterior with a plastic interior, a zipper enclosure, a convenient pocket on the outside, and a small handle on the side. This toiletries bag is made by the women at the ISAN Weaving Center in Thailand and retails for $25.00.

For Her

Njabini Loop Scarf: This infiniti scarf is functional, stylish and gives back. It is made of 100% acrylic and is available in fabulous colors such as magenta, navy and paprika. Get one as a gift or get one for yourself! Proceeds from the purchase of the Njabini loop scarf for $40 will benefit disadvantaged and handicapped mothers in Kenya become more self-sufficient and take care of their families.

Infiniti Scarf: One scarf is never enough, is it? I am a huge fan of the Connected in Hope Foundation, and their scarves are fabulous. Each one is handwoven in Ethiopia by a member of the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association. They are long enough to wrap up to three times around. This year, I am loving the dark purple and deep teal Infiniti scarves. Each one retails for $35 and comes with a hangtag sharing the name of the woman who made the item. You can then find her name and read her story here.

World Bracelet: According to the description, “Each of the multi-colored stones in this mosaic bracelet represents another group who has been impacted by this pandemic. Five-rows of stones symbolize the connection we all have to each other.”  This great-looking bracelet is 1” wide, slips on the wrist and retails for just $20. Proceeds go towards Until There’s a Cure, which provides financial support and care for those infected with HIV/AIDS, as well as contributing funds for prevention education and the development of a cure.

Daybreak Sikasso Necklace: I love this necklace made of recycled red beads, gold beads and gray glass. Red is a power color and this fabulous 18.5” necklace can be dressed up or down with almost any outfit. The Daybreak Sikasso necklace is made by women in Mali who are recovering from obstetric fistula corrective surgery. This piece will make a special gift because it comes packaged in a lovely handmade paper box from Nepal and an artisan story tag. At $29 it is a great price point too.

MADHAVI Pajama Bottoms: PUNJAMMIES is a loungewear brand made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking through the International Princess Project. It is estimated that there are currently more than 3 million women and girls enslaved in India’s sex trade. They come in shorts, capris and full-length pants, in a variety of fun colorful patterns to fit everyone’s personal tastes and styles. While I love quite a few of them, my personal favorites are the MADHAVI capri pajama bottoms, which come in chocolate hues accented with warm grey details atop soft navy cotton. Each piece is made from soft cotton and the capri bottoms retail for $35.

Peppa Necklace: This is another piece I simply cannot take my eyes off of because I adore it so much. The Peppa Necklace from combines two strands of paper beads (in grey or ice blue) with two twisted strands of gold accent beads into a tiered pattern. 31 Bits helps women in Uganda earn an income enabling them to provide for their families. The women in their program receive counseling, education, finance training, and business mentorships. The beads are made from recycled paper and 99% of the materials used are sourced in Eastern Africa. The Peppa necklace costs $44 and would look beautiful dressed up or down.

For Everyone

Stand for Peace Keychain: Each year I try to include at least one item from Esty in the gift guide. This ‘I Stand for Peace’ keychain costs $22 and is made with a vintage, silver tone peace sign pendant and a new silver tone keychain. The pendant measures .75” and the keychain clip is 1”. Hurry up and get yours because this piece is a limited edition, though the shop owners also have a variety of terrific peace necklaces too. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Somaly Mam Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to ending human trafficking. Co-founded by sex slavery survivor Somaly Mam, the Foundation works to eradicate sex slavery, liberate its victims, and empower survivors.

The Giving Keys Jewelry: I absolutely love the concept of this item is special because it benefits the organization, recipient and you, the gift giver. It does not get better than that. Founder Caitlin Crosby wore a key as a necklace and had the idea to start engraving old, used keys with inspirational words. She began encouraging people to wear and embrace the message on their key necklace, and when they were ready, to pay it forward by giving the necklace away to someone who needs to receive the message more. The items are made from upcycled keys by people who are trying to transition out of poverty. They can be purchased at the marketplace or directly from

Handmade Soap Set: Handmade soaps make a terrific gift for a host and hostess, but this soap set will make your gift extra special. This set from Raven + Lily comes in a beautiful package and was made by women in northern India. Raven + Lily connects artisans to the global market and empowers them through employment and the implementation of literacy programs. The set retails for just $18, making it the perfect price point for a lovely holiday gift.

Save the Wino Wine Bags: If you are going to someone’s home for the holidays, these wine bags are a terrific way to bring along a bottle of wine (or three). And by purchasing these whimsical wine bags for just $15, you are helping to empower mothers in Kenya and across east Africa who have been shunned by society for having children with special needs.

ONEHOPE Wines: And speaking of wines, I am still a huge fan or the ONEHOPE Wines collection, which donates a portion of the proceeds off the sale of its wine to various organizations. My favorite is the Darius Rucker Signature Series, 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a sophisticated gift which retails for $60, and half of the profits on this item go towards helping children with disabilities.

Wine Inspired Candles: Candles are always a popular gift for the holidays, and here is a way to make your candle gift incredibly unique. These candles are made from organic soy wax and the glass holder is designed using sustainably sourced, recycled and biodegradable materials. If that were not enough to convince you, the profits from the sale of these candles support animal rescue shelters and environmental preservation in Northern California. Oh, and did I mention that they are available in the scents of different wine varieties? They cost $28 and burn for up to 80 hours.

Relaxed Bottle Tray: I will get off the wine kick soon, I promise. Bottle trays are really popular right now, due to the surge in popularity of both wine and upcycled materials. (I served chocolates on one at a wine tasting party last year.) So why not get a bottle tray that is reasonably priced and helps people in Bolivia? The trays cost $20 and are made by a team of artisans living in Bolivia, with five master craftsmen and three assistants.

Grasslands Mirror: This is so neat. At 14”, this uniquely framed mirror is made of stiff grasses that are stained green and wrapped on a metal frame. It is made by artisans from the Community Crafts Association of the Philippines, and we all know how much the Philippines could use our help right now. The mirror costs $39 and would make a terrific present for the holidays.

Belvedere Vodka: This is not just any Belvedere vodka, my friends. This is the RED Special Edition Vodka bottle from Belvedere. From the purchase of every bottle of this Belvedere vodka, 50% of the gross profits go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. This costs $30-$50 per bottle and each bottle purchased provides 37-62 days of life-saving pills for recipients.

Bell Jar Lamp: I am absolutely crazy for this simple, masculine, industrial-looking bell jar lamp available at the marketplace. It is made from a locally sourced, solid Mugavu wood base topped with a simple glass bell jar. Sold by Rose & Fitzgerald, this piece is handmade by local artisans in Uganda. Based in Kampala, Uganda, Rose & Fitzgerald utilizes the creativity of local artisans to create a line of high-quality handmade accessories sourced from natural materials. At $150, this is the priciest piece in this year’s gift guide but well worth the expense.

Feed Project Bags: FEED began back in 2006 when model and activist Lauren Bush designed a reversible burlap and organic cotton bag to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) School Feeding program. Today FEED sells a variety of products that benefit programs working to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world, including bags, backpacks, bracelets, tech cases, and more at different sizes and price points.

Mason Jar by #GivingTuesday: This one is a bonus item, because at just $10 it can be a meaningful gift for someone else or for yourself. The official #GivingTuesday is on December 3rd. In the spirit of the holiday season, #GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to paying it forward. has teamed up with #GivingTuesday on the sale of these mason jars which can serve as a reminder about the importance of paying it forward. Hurry up and purchase your mason jar today, because the campaign ends on December 9th!

So, what will YOU be giving this year?

Gifts that Give Back - Holiday Gift Guide

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  1. This is my absolute FAVORITE gift guide this year! Love, love, LOVE it!!

  2. AWESOME! I love this. Thank you for putting this together!!

  3. What an amazing list!! I think I want that red belvedere because the bottle is so gorgeous! I was looking at those ONE HOPE wines the other day but didn’t realize what they stood for… now I need those too!

  4. SO many great ideas and I love that they all give back! Thanks Jessica!

  5. Love this! I’ll be shopping off of this list this year. Will let you know what I buy!

  6. Don’t forget beautiful, artist-designed iPhone cases that enable clean water access! :)

  7. Connected in Hope says:

    Thanks, Jessica, for the Connected in Hope mention and for all the wonderful gift ideas. We’re taking notes. :)

  8. Great list! Another gift that gives back is Green Tea Mints gift sets that are 15% OFF and give back 15% to children’s education through and UNICEF.

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