‘Tis the season to be giving (and giving, and giving, and giving…)!
To cover all bases and help you feel good about the gifts you give or request, I’ve compiled a clear and simple list of my top 6 charitable gifting options for you — just in time for the holidays.
Before I jump into the list, I want to remind you something you know: The holiday season isn’t really about giving and receiving grandiose gifts. It’s a sacred, special time of year when we are all gifted opportunities for quiet, calm, togetherness, and reflection. Those are all gifts of plenty given freely by nature. It is samsara — which in the Buddhist context means conditioned, mundane existence; habit; lazy or lackluster thinking — that keeps us stuck in a mindset of rush-rush-rush, buy-buy-buy. There is a way to find balance within the season where we can still enjoy giving and receiving tangible gifts (I love gift giving!) without getting lost in the hype of marketing and obligation. This post is about ways to give true gifts from the heart so that you may tap into the magic of the season. Which, by the way, I do not believe is cliché. I believe magic lives in a space of love and childlike belief. It is a real thing to strive for and experience this time of year!
It is samsara — which in the Buddhist context means conditioned, mundane existence; habit; lazy or lackluster thinking — that keeps us stuck in a mindset of rush-rush-rush, buy-buy-buy.
My two favorite ways to overcome the hype and my own propensity toward lackluster thinking at holiday time are to give experience gifts and handmade items that I’ve crafted with love while thinking of the person I’m going to give the gift to.
Experience gifts are ones that offer the receiver a special experience, and the most meaningful ones are usually those that either alleviate pressure or stress, or provide genuinely connective time together. Our most precious commodity of all time is time! We are all here for a very limited period of time to expand our capacity for love, to share more time in a heartfelt connective space of love. So, why not let our gifts do just that?
We’ve given and received all sorts of experience gifts in my household over the years. The best part of these, on top of the anticipation and excitement for the upcoming gift, has been the memories made while having the actual experience. Experiences offered don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be meaningful, they can be super simple. Maybe you could give the gift of a specialty class or workshop that you and a loved one will attend together. Maybe you’ll make a gift certificate for a spring picnic or a homemade dinner enjoyed together. Maybe you’ll arrange to have a friend’s house professionally cleaned so they don’t have to do it. My best friend just did this for my other best friend who has a brand new baby and is in the midst of grieving a tragic family loss — what a gift of ease and practical help!
This year I happened upon some adorable inexpensive mugs for kids and that inspired what we will be gifting our three closest “faux family” kids: Each child will receive a unique mug with a homemade gift card in it for a special date with our family. One is getting a doughnut date with us, another a little high-tea experience at our home, and the third will simply get to choose a day to come play at our house all day and have some cocoa. They’ll get these gifts alongside some sweet Out of Print t-shirts (see the list below if you don’t know what Out of Print is — they are so cool!) and that’s it. I know they’ll love their gifts. No hype. No technology. Rather, something they can use as long as it fits them that supports charity which can later be handed down to another kiddo, plus some special time centered around them for us to love on and enjoy them. We will all remember our time together way more than whatever trinket we could have given.
DISCLAIMER: I’m no so hoity toity that we don’t also get, give, and love trinket gifts and stuff. We do that plenty! I just know in my heart that the most meaningful gifts are those that involve spending precious time together in a space of love. I also know that gifting this way is much more enjoyable and stress-free for me as the giver. There’s no obligatory running from store to store or hours spent staring at a screen online shopping. Win-win!
As far as handmade gifts go, only do these if you’re inspired to, you have time, and it feels natural to. If you’re a crafter, you’ve already been perusing Pinterest for ideas and don’t need me giving you a bunch of pointers. If you’re not, and you have no idea where to begin and the thought of it stresses you out, don’t bother. In that case you may want to look for local crafters/vendors and support their small business endeavor. Everyone always feels so good knowing their gift supported the work of a person making things by hand and from heart. Go to local farmer’s and artisan markets. Check out mom & pop shops or festivals/craft fairs.
I happen to LOVE making things by hand — in fact every item in the Magareeshi product line was originally created as a gift and eventually people encouraged me to make them for retail. So every time I’m blending tea, beading bookmarks or jewelry, pouring lip balms, concocting natural skin care and crafting natural candles, I’m infusing them with the love energy of gift giving. I’m remembering the first time I made such a thing and who it was for. I’m imagining the receiver enjoying their products as if they’ve just gotten a beautiful gift. There are oodles of other creatives like me who would be so grateful to have you as a customer. So if you don’t want to make something, just go to Etsy and you’ll find approximately 7million people who do. LOL!
Lastly, but definitely not least, my other favorite way to give gifts is to support charitable organizations working to make the world a brighter place. Nowadays, several of them either focus on, or have a component of retail items.
The list below is a mix of the top 6 I’ve returned to time and time again to support personally and to gift to others. I have always had joyful responses to my gifts from them. They’re in no particular order. Click through to go to their websites and research them for yourself. The organizations listed don’t know I’m writing this post, nor have they asked me to and I am not getting anything in return for doing so. Part of my personal/professional social mission is to share things that make the world better, so that’s all I’m doing here. Sometimes it’s hard to weed through charities and know who is on the up and up. I thought maybe I could take a little unwanted to-do off your holiday plate and help you with that task.
THE MAGAREESHI 2018 LIST OF 6 GIVING GIFTABLES:
By training people who are in need on sustainable farming practices, supporting farmer’s endeavors to take their goods to market, and empowering women, Heifer aims to end world hunger. For as long as I can remember you’ve been able to donate in the name of others’ and purchase things like livestock and training for people in their programs, and this year they’ve added a marketplace that you can purchase gorgeous gifts from and the money goes directly to supporting their programming. I began supporting Heifer as soon as I learned about them over 20 years ago and whenever I gift things from them people are truly appreciated. One year my husband and I saved our pennies and purchased one of their largest livestock/farming offering and split it up into parts to gift to every family member. Easy peasy gift giving that actually cost us less than we would have spent running around to find stuff for every person.
In an effort to make a massive positive impact on our most vulnerable global communities and to support global adoption, Noonday designs and sells an inspired collection of jewelry and accessories made by artisans from all over the world. They have a deep desire to support women artisans and entrepreneurs and they fulfill this beautifully by working directly with female artisans through fair trade practices who craft their wares, as well as creating business opportunities for females who wish to be brand ambassadors and by giving back to women who host trunk shows. My sweet niece, Alissa is a world traveling do-gooder and a Noonday ambassador. She is a new mom with the vision of providing for her family while doing amazing good in the world through her work with Noonday. You can see what’s she is up to and support her business directly by visiting Alissa’s direct page or use the link above to view the entire collection and find an ambassador near you.
Omaze makes supporting world changing charities and organizations loads of fun. They partner up with celebrities to create incredible, once in a lifetime experiences. You simply make a donation to enter the contest to win the experience you’re excited about. They send all proceeds to the charity connected to the experience and one lucky winner gets the experience of a lifetime! They also sell great t-shirts and odds&ends that you can buy outright to support various organizations. We’ve done several donation efforts on our own behalf and for others, as well as purchased cool t-shirts from them and always had a blast and felt so good doing it!
Out of Print
Every time someone purchases the whimsical, bookish apparel and goods from Out of Print, the company donates books to kids in need globally and supports literacy programs around the world. So far, since 2010, OofP has donated more than 3million books and supported a variety of literacy programming. They sell everything from socks and boxers to mugs, pins, bags and great shirts that sport iconic book cover artwork. In addition to their literacy efforts, OofP supports the authors, publishers and artists who first brought the infamous books to life. We’ve given apparel and accessories more than a few Christmases now and everyone always likes their gift! I personally have some censored book titles and Where The Wild Things Are socks that, as well as making me smile every single time, never go unnoticed when I wear them.
Founded by the ever amazing Maggie Doyne on the idea that, “In the blink of an eye we can all make a difference,” Blink Now has created a sanctuary in Nepal for children whose needs go far beyond what us Westerners can imagine. Maggie has taken in over 50 now-thriving children as her own, running the Kopila Valley Children’s Home a personal home filled with a real, loving family. 350 Nepalese kids attend school at Blink Now’s Kopila Valley School which was created to close the gap between un-education and poverty. The Blink Now Women’s Center was created to provide education and job training to women in an effort to bring about more gender equality. They now offer a variety of practical and creative classes as well as a retail shop in town housing the beautiful wares of the women from the center. The shop is also staffed by graduates of the center program. As if this wasn’t all enough, Blink Now has even more programming you can read about on their website including a Safe House for teenage girls who were attending school but going home to dangerous, toxic environments and a Futures Program that supports kids beyond their educational years to be all they can be in their adult life. You can donate directly or create a fundraiser to support any and all of Blink Now’s truly world changing work. When any one of us suffers, we all suffer and I believe Blink Now is working to alleviate suffering in Nepal which can alleviate suffering the world over.
Love146’s mission is clear: To end child trafficking and exploitation.
One of the most amazing things Love146 does is provide homes for survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. They have homes for both girls and boys who have been victimized. In their homes they focus on holistic care so as to give the broadest levels of support providing the children in their charge the most possibility of healthful re-integration to life. Love146 also provides global prevention education to families, kids and people who work with kids, plus unique professional training to create a larger network of people who can care for these child victims and work to end child trafficking and exploitation altogether. Donations can be given one time, or you can become a monthly donor, helping Love146 provide care for kids for the long haul.
I hope this list inspires you to give mindfully this holiday season… and always!
There are people doing amazing things in the world. We all have opportunity to support their efforts and be inspired to make our own positive impact and brighten lives.
May you be happy. May you be free. May you be at peace and may we all live in a peaceful world. Happy holidays!!