Last year, I made a last-minute gift guide and posted it to Tumblr, hoping to encourage people to support charities and other good causes while doing their holiday shopping. I plan to make a new one this year, but below is the 2010 version, updated.
What’s wonderful about charitable donations is that you can print out a nice certificate to let people know that you’ve donated in their name and hand it over with baked goods or a small gift that can be bought last minute. I’ve suggested some items that will pair well with each of the organizations below.
For your finance-loving father:
Give: A donation to World of Money, which teaches underserved youth financial literacy and business skills.
Pair it with: Michael Lewis’s Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and a bag of gold-wrapped chocolate coins.
For your mother, who deserves flowers monthly:
Give: A gardener’s gift basket, which will provide a family with everything they need to start a sustainable farm.
Pair it with: Henri Bendel candle in Gardenia or Tuberose; flowering tea; rose macarons (I love Laduree’s).
For your technology geek cousin:
Give: A donation to Urban Tech, which provides computer training and other essential life skills to at-risk children.
Pair it with: organizational grid system for electronics to make traveling hassle-free; lego block iPod speaker; Etre Touchy gloves, which are fingerless for your thumb and index finger so that you can use your iPhone and keep your hands warm.
For your best friend:
Give: International Princess Project pajamas. Purchasing these helps support women previously involved in forced prostitution and trafficking.
Pair it with: fun Christmas socks; Sseko sandals, which are made by women in Uganda to help them raise money to continue their education.
For your fashionista teenage sister (or sneaker-obsessed little brother)
Give: Kiva gift cards— the microloans can be used to help fund tailors and shoemakers (or bakers, auto shops, artists, etc) in countries all over the world. The best part? It really is the gift that keeps on giving, because once the loan is repaid, you can lend to someone else.
Pair it with: a magazine subscription; nail polish from the essie winter collection; the Graffiti World book.
For the foodie in your life:
Give: a school meal program to a child in need, support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, lend to fair trade chocolate makers with the Hoop, or (this is my favourite) provide women in Rwanda with invaluable business experience and a safe space by donating to the country’s first local ice cream store!
Pair it with: Flour Bakery or Tartine Bread cookbooks; homemade hot sauce (or baked goods, of course); a gift certificate to your favourite local restaurant; legal moonshine; JSF’s Eating Animals (for the pretentious vegetarian).
For the book lover:
Give: Here are a number of great book-related charities. You can also donate to McSweeney’s 826 National or its tutoring centers across the nation. They have some great themed stores— I went to the pirate one in San Francisco last spring and loved it.
Pair it with: a gift certificate to a local indie bookstore; the Rumpus Book Club subscription; a Moleskine iPhone case or a laptop case that looks like an old book; a line-a-day five year diary; or a book off of one of the best-of-2010 lists (my vote goes to Shteyngart or Nicole Krauss for the literary-minded, the Hunger Games trilogy for the friends you wish would stop reading Twilight, and Lane Smith’s It’s a Book for children or people who hate e-readers).
For the pet lover:
Give: A donation to a local animal shelter or to HeroRats, to train rats to save lives by detecting tuberculosis and land mines.
Pair it with: homemade dog treats (peanut butter + bacon); a commissioned pet portrait; two really-sad-but-worth-reading-books, Animals and The Dogs of Babel; a mustache dog toy.