So, you want to avoid holiday commercialism? These gifts give back to those in need


If you’re stymied as to what to get that fussy friend/co-worker/spouse as a holiday gift, something that has a philanthropic component is always a safe bet. Whether a percentage of sales goes toward rescuing a dog, caring for orphans or funding a homeless shelter, giving something from this list will convey that your heart is in the right place.

Upcycled, eye-catching

The pieces from World Vision look like they could have come from a trendy Melrose Place store, and a purchase means help goes to where it’s most needed — be that medical supplies, chickens and goats to sustain families in developing countries or blankets and clothing for struggling families in the U.S. Here, a bowl “upcycled” from reclaimed industrial waste of wire and metal, hand-soldered by artisans in India. $135.

A bowl made from reclaimed industrial waste of wire and metal.
(World Vision)

Protecting their eyes

A charity called 147 Million Orphans will receive $100,000 from sunglass brand Diff Eyewear as a result of its collaboration with Lauren Akins, who with country singer husband Thomas Rhett adopted a girl from Uganda this year. Akins helped design the $85 Ella frame, which comes in four colors, including bronze and rose gold. Diff will also donate a pair of eyewear to someone in need, for every frame sold throughout all their collections.

Orphans will receive $100,000 from sunglass brand Diff Eyewear.
(Diff Eyewear)

Helping hounds

For the dog lover in your life, a recently launched product, the Dogipack, makes walking their pooch a breeze; a waist belt is attached with pouches for money, phone, treats, bags, water bottle and collapsible bowl. It comes in pink, red and gray. And a portion of sales of the $63.99 product benefits places such as the L.A.-based Amanda Foundation, which offers free spaying and neutering programs.

The Dogipack makes walking your pooch a breeze.
(Amy Graves)

Greening Africa

Conveying quite the Alpha male vibe are watches from Original Grain, made from repurposed barrels once used to house bourbon. Each time a watch is bought, the brand works with the Trees for the Future organization to plant a tree in Africa. Whiskey Barrel Watch, $219.

Watches from Original Grain, made from repurposed bourbon barrels.
(Original Grain)

Baking for good

Architec, an all-female-run company in South Florida, is behind the Totally Sweet Products line of pretty kitchen essentials, whose sales raise money for Bake for Benny, a charity that supports no-kill animal shelters. The products are directed toward the aesthetically minded baking buff — mixing bowls in hot pink, mini-sifters in rose gold, BPA-free cupcake cups in pastel blue and pink. Prices start at $4.99.

Architec offers a line of pretty kitchen tools.

‘Women are sacred’

A timely gift in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal; local brand Our Sacred Women makes tote bags, buttons, cards and T-shirts with sayings such as “Women Are Sacred.” A percentage of proceeds go to organizations such as the Breathe Network, which works with survivors of sexual trauma. Prices start at $6.

"Women Are Sacred' tote bags benefit charity groups.
(Our Sacred Women)

Feeding kids in need

Everyone loves a gift box. And Gratitude Collaborative ups the feel-good factor with its curated boxes that each include a built-in donation to provide meals to the hungry all over the country. For example, the “Fun For Him” box, at $150, includes filet mignon beef jerky, a handmade slingshot, chocolate, toffee and a cocktail kit. And ordering one means 25 kids in need are fed.

Curated boxes include a built-in donation to provide meals to the hungry.
(Gratitude Collaborative)

Helping kids at home

Kids within the Los Angeles Unified School District whose families can’t afford clothing or backpacks benefit each time someone buys a bag from local brand August, which works with Operation School Bell. The travel-friendly luxe bags are named after a locale — The Luxembourg, The Ubud; little coin purses start at $58.

August donates proceeds from sales of bags.

We’ll always have Paris

You might have a friend who longs for their alma mater, pines for Paris, or is homesick for Australia. Petaluma-based Catstudio feels their pain — and has made products, including pillows and dish towels, emblazoned with clever and colorful tributes to numerous colleges, cities and countries. The company partners with organizations like COTS Center, which helps the homeless, and literacy advocation nonprofit the Learning Lab. Prices are from $15 to $178.

Pillows emblazoned with clever and colorful tributes.

Helping around the globe

Fair trade is at the heart of Meridian, a lifestyle brand that seeks to support communities of craftspeople around the world; the company sells $55 woven palm baskets made by women in northern Zimbabwe, sustainably sourced $199 alpaca throws from Peru, and $32 block print napkin sets from Rajasthan, India.

Meridian sells items made from craftspeople around the world.

Hurricane rebuilding

As post-hurricane rebuilding continues in the Caribbean, fragrance brand Nateeva has stepped in with an initiative to restore animal shelters in the islands by donating a percentage of proceeds from sales of its perfumes and body lotions. The scents are created using native flowers — such as hibiscus, lignum vitae, elderflower — from St. Martin, Aruba, St. Thomas and other islands. Lotions are $52, eau de parfum $125.

Fragrance brand Nateeva has stepped in to help islands.

Gifting wellness

A nifty stocking stuffer — or small gift — is a sleek hair tie bracelet from San Diego brand Maria Shireen. Designed by an engineer, the bracelets go from accessorizing a wrist to keeping hair neatly off the face while exercising, working or running errands. The company donates a portion of sales to women’s health and wellness nonprofits. Bracelets start at $45.

Hair tie bracelet from San Diego brand Maria Shireen.
(Maria Shireen)

More gift guides: