Starting at the end of this week, the Christmas madness begins. We all feverishly make our lists, attack the stores, and desperately seek out unique and thoughtful gifts.
I gave up on the stores a few years ago – I discovered that Amazon was easier, and often less expensive. Plus, having all of my Christmas shopping delivered to my door was too dreamy to pass up.
But this year, I’m going to do something new – shopping for good. I know I won’t be able to do it for all of the presents I need, but for those that I can, I will be buying from organizations that are helping others. And by doing so, my gift is a double blessing: a blessing for the recipient, and a blessing for the gift creator.
I’ve done my research and identified many reputable organizations selling quality products, and I’ve listed them here if you want to join me in this mission.
Disclosure: I am not being compensated in any way to share about these companies.
1. Freeset – Freeset is a jaw-droppingly incredible ministry that I’ve been excited about all year. Their domestic headquarters are here in Birmingham, but have their factory in Kolkata, India, where they employ women set free from the sex trade that is rampant in their city. There are 10,000 trafficked workers in their factory’s neighborhood alone with stories that are unimaginable. Most trafficked women do not willingly choose this as a profession, and many were stolen as children and sold as slaves into the industry – it’s horrifically heartbreaking.
Freeset has a vision of employing all 10,000 of these women. Would that not be a miracle?
Freeset was also affected by the UPS plane crash in Birmingham earlier this year – their entire fall inventory, $150,000 of merchandise, was on that plane. Yet instead of being upset, they chose to make new t-shirts and sell them to raise money for the families of the two pilots who died in the crash. And, although UPS reps told them that nothing survives a plane crash, they were miraculously able to retrieve over half their inventory, in sellable condition, from the crash site.
It gives me chills every time I read about it.
Freeset’s organic bags would make magnificent gifts on their own, or would be super cool gift wrap that is also an extra present for your recipient AND helping to set women free from human trafficking.
I love their Bondhu Bags,
their Hope Bags with braided sari straps,
as well as their Horizon Bag,
and their whimsical Apollo Bag in Moby Dick Print:
Their Farmhouse Bags are also fantastic for everyday toting.
Freeset has many other great bags and t-shirts, and also offer customizations and special orders.
2. Karama Gifts – I told you all about Karama in August and I am still IN LOVE with Dyan and her team behind the operation. They train, equip, and employ women from all over Africa who need a way to provide for their families with dignity and a fair wage. And in the process, they make lovely gifts. They have even more products now, and I highly recommend browsing at length for your Christmas shopping.
These gift tags from Tanzania are a fun, inexpensive way to add uniqueness to your gift-wrapping:
The Loleen Necklace, with beads made from recycled paper, is gorgeous and on sale for $12!
Karama also has a collection of stunning scarves, including this Sarah Scarf from Ethiopia:
I love their vibrant colors, unique designs, and the heart in their products.
3. Krochet Kids – This company was started by three guys who learned how to crochet in high school because they enjoyed making themselves cool beanies. Years later, they turned their talent into a non-profit to teach over 150 people in Uganda in Peru how to crochet and provide for their families with their product. They now sell hats, scarves, purses, shirts, and countless other items that are made by these people groups.
I especially love The Hoot hat for kids,
The Juliet headband for women,
and The Pocket Hoodie for both men and women.
4. Project Hopeful – Project Hopeful is a missions organization that has a far-reaching impact in advocating for and aiding families in adopting children with HIV or special needs. They also run a Village of Hope in Guatemala where they provide Family-Style care and love for special needs orphans who have little hope of ever being adopted, since international adoption is currently closed in Guatemala. In addition, they have Hope+ Sisterhood, an organization which offers HIV+ mothers in Uganda and Ethiopia skill training, jobs and even micro-loans to start small businesses.
They are selling this beautiful Guatemalan Hand-Beaded Wrap, and proceeds go to the Village of Hope.
They also have these Hope+ Red Strands, all proceeds going to benefit the Hope+ Sisterhood,
Or, if you would like to directly and practically bless the people they serve, they offer a way to give $45 to give an Ethiopian family a goat, $50 to feed a Ugandan family for a month, $250 to provide an Ethiopian woman training, support and startup costs for her own business, $10 to provide a Ugandan child a mosquito net, and many other life-changing gifts.
5. WorldHelp – Speaking of helping others with practical gifts, WorldHelp has an entire catalog of items that you can purchase for families in need. We’ve supported and corresponded with a Guatemalan child, Nataly, through WorldHelp for years, and can vouch for this organization’s integrity and aid for children and families in need.
I love these Beauty from Ashes Green Earrings from Haiti:
as well as these Ugandan Hoop Earrings.
7. Adoption Fundraisers – With regards to adoption, there are so many families selling beautiful things to raise money for their own adoptions. International adoption is expensive, requires great sacrifice, and is often coupled with intense heartbreak as the process is long and arduous. Supporting these families and getting great gifts in the meantime is a fantastic way to help bring a child home. Feel free to add your own links in the comments, but here are a few I know about.
a. Mei Mei and Co Hair Products – I’ve known the creator of these products, Tiffany, since we were kids. Tiffany and Steven recently adopted a beautiful daughter from China. They are now in the process of adopting her a little sister, so Tiffany is making beautiful clips and headbands to sell to raise funds. And her hair products would make adorable stocking stuffers for little girls.
I think these a la mode headbands are beautiful, and only $8:
These lemon drop clips are lovely as well – I adore the pigtail use!
b. Noonday Collection – This is a super cool company. It was started as an adoption fundraiser, selling beautiful homemade items from artisans in third-world countries. After adopting their own children, the creators turned it into a trunk show company so that other families could do the same. They now provide for over a thousand artisans AND have helped families fund hundreds of adoptions. Brilliant!
(I will note that their products are a bit pricier than a lot of the others I’ve featured, but there’s a lot going on with that money, so it totally makes sense.)
(Also, my links to their products is raising money for an adoption of a friend of a friend of mine.)
They have beautiful notebooks, stationary, and tea towels in their Home and Gifts section,
As well as some fantastic jewelry, including this Shalom Necklace,
And Violet Necklace.
c. Vitafamiliae’s Suggestions – My beautiful, wonderful, amazing friend Lora Lynn has adopted internationally and has many friends still adopting, and she recently wrote a post about how to support these families as they are trying to bring their children home. She has many helpful links and tips.
8. Women’s Bean Project – Based in Denver, their mission is to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty by helping women discover their talents and develop skills by offering job readiness training opportunities. They strive to be the stepping stone to financial independence for families in need. They sell gourmet food items as well as jewelry.
I love this Glamour Necklace, and it’s on sale for $15:
And how cool is this Dreams Necklace? It would go with any outfit.
9. Ten Thousand Villages – This company is HUGE, and no wonder, because they’ve been selling fair trade products for over 60 years. It may take some dedicated browsing time, but they have some beautiful stuff.
This Embroidered Star Garland from Kolkata, India is a really fun decorating touch,
For Grandparent gifts, I have always found framed photos of the kids to be a great add-on – even though it is perhaps a bit narcissistic on my part, they are always thrilled. With that in mind, Ten Thousand Villages has a great selection of handmade picture frames, some ornate, and some uniquely entertaining, like this recycled Bicycle Chain Frame:
10. NOVICA – Another giant clearinghouse of international artisans, I’ve written about NOVICA several times in the past. Besides the fact that their products are fantastic, the handmade packaging that they come in is often better than any giftwrap you could buy here. But again, combing through the massive selection can be insanely time-consuming. They have EVERYTHING and I’ve bought many pieces of jewelry there, but here are a couple sweaters that jumped out at me this year:
Both of these sweaters are handmade Alpaca Wool sweaters from Peru. Stunning.
And, since you can’t buy anything for the men of my state unless they’re in team colors (I jest) (no I don’t), I found an Alabama and Auburn sweater, which I’m sure were the exact teams those Alpacas were cheering for while being sheared in Peru.
There are so many more similar organizations out there – it just takes a bit of research to find them. Let me know of any you have found. And Merry Christmas Shopping!