Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts that Give Back

In 2012, Cyber Monday — the annual online shopping bonanza that takes place the day after American Thanksgiving — was followed by a new holiday known as Giving Tuesday. Originally established by the Mary-Archie Theatre Company, this activist movement has become an international push-back to the rampant consumerism of the holiday season.

Our 2019 holiday gift guide is taking a cue from this movement and focusing on gifts that all give back in one way or another. Read on to find out how you can infuse the commercialization of the season with some charitable, eco-friendly, socially conscious giving.

Conscious Step

Conscious Step is a fair-trade-certified sock manufacturing company that produces cute socks from organic, vegan-certified cotton. An ethical workplace and sustainable supply chain make this one seriously socially conscious company, but that’s not all; profits from each purchase are redirected to different non-profits. There are tribal-patterned socks that help protect 20 rainforest trees through Conservation International, spectacle-patterned socks that provide a child with a book through Room to Read, key-patterned socks that help build homes through Habitat for Humanity. Think of these as the kind of stocking stuffers that exemplify the true spirit of the holiday season.

The Giving Keys

These inspirational pieces of jewelry are stamped with buzz words like HOPE, INSPIRE, CREATE, and many more, as well as custom words that can be chosen by the purchaser. Describing itself as a “social impact company,” The Giving Keys is specifically focused on job creation for those transitioning out of homelessness. A social enterprise rather than a non-profit, the company has created over 70 job opportunities that have helped employees on the road to finding safe and comfortable housing. These keys are designed to be worn by all genders.

Lula’s Garden

Capitalizing on an ever-growing love for the trendy succulent, Lola’s Garden is an LA-based company reinventing the art of gifting. Founder Liraz Birnbaum spent over a year developing a gift box that could double as a planter, reducing waste while creating chic vessels for our most-beloved household plants. The company’s mission to “create memorable gifts that express life while improving the lives of others” is further achieved in its support of organizations around the world that work to provide access to safe drinking water.

World Vision

Unlike the others on this list, this one isn’t a company with charitable inclinations; it’s a charity with a gift-minded model. World Vision is a global Christian humanitarian organization that has been working to tackle poverty and injustice since 1950. This Christmas, the World Vision Opportunity Collection by Patricia Heaton includes chic gifts with donations of $75 (a coaster set), $85 (minimalist serving spoons), $150 (a beautiful serving bowl) and $310 (which includes all three items).

Out of Print

Out of Print is one of those perfect gift ideas for the lit lovers and bookworms on our lists. Founded in 2010, the company’s mission has been to promote literacy and a love of reading by creating bookish apparel and accessories inspired by literary classics. Clothing, socks, totes, pins, jewelry, scarves, and more have all been adorned with artwork inspired by beloved works like The Little Prince, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, the dystopian worlds of Margaret Atwood, etc. Since its inception, Out of Print has donated over 3 million books to communities in need and supported various literacy initiatives.

LSTN Sound Co.

Inspired by a video of a deaf 29-year old experiencing sound for the first time thanks to a hearing implant (a short clip that went viral in 2011), Bridget Hilton and Joe Huff founded LSTN Sound Co. The company develops stylish headphones, speakers, earbuds, and more, while also working with a charity partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation, to help over 30,000 people receive hearing aids. LSTN Sound Co. creates positive change through the power of music, and its beautiful lineup of products will make for gifts that both delight and deliver hope worldwide.

The Tote Project

The Tote Project is a company that works to end slavery through ethical manufacturing, spreading awareness, and by giving back. Its whimsical totes, bags, and pouches are made by different ethical companies. The pouches are produced by Freeset, a fair-trade freedom business that provides employment for women escaping West Bengal’s sex trade, providing them not just with living wages, but also with pension plans, health insurance, occupational therapy, and literacy and budget lessons. Its totes, on the other hand, are manufactured in partnership with Oasis Bags and are sewn in factories dedicated to empowering women in Kolkata, India; 85% of its employees here come from a training program for socially disadvantaged women.

Me to We

Me to We has a wide product line that includes everything from chocolate and coffee to jewelry, Rafiki bracelets, and special collaboration collections. The company is a social enterprise that was founded in 2009, and its unique partnership with WE Charity makes the initiative a fundraising model unlike that of any other charity. At least 50% of Me to We’s profits are donated annually to WE Charity, and any outstanding balance is then re-invested into growing the social mission. And while that 50% is the mandated minimum threshold, over the past 5 years, the actual number has been closer to 90% — in other words, $20 million in cash and cost-offsetting in-kind donations to date.


Looking for a gift for the wine lovers on your lift? A bottle from ONEHOPE is something sure to delight the palate while also starting an interesting conversation. The company was founded by eight friends who wanted to marry the acts of luxurious indulgence and charitable giving. Not only is ONEHOPE committed to quality wine, but it also supports a wide range of socially and environmentally conscious ventures. Since its inception, the company has raised nearly 5 million dollars in donations, planted over 100,000 trees, found loving homes for over 60,000 pets, fed meals to nearly 3 million children, and delivered almost 200,000 vaccines. The ONEHOPE California Brut Sparkling Wine Gold Shimmer Edition will make for a perfect glittery gift.

Cuddle + Kind


Cuddle + Kind is a family company focused on families. The makers of these adorable knit dolls and cutesy prints are the proud parents of three children. Their background in health led them to a keen awareness of the importance of nutrition in childhood development, and a heartbreaking documentary about childhood hunger galvanized them to do more. And so they set out to start a company that could help fight malnourishment around the world. For every one of these adorable dolls sold, ten meals are given to children in need. In August of 2018, the family travelled to Kenya to meet the children their company helps to feed, and they met some of the 6,750 children in 9 schools who benefit from meal programs funded by the company. These dolls represent a beautiful gift for children and at the same time can become an important teaching tool for how to practice the spirit of the season in a big, beautiful way.