5 Ways to Gift Differently This Holiday Season
Sarah Crawford is a mom to two young girls, two old dogs, and one adventurous rabbit, and wife to an Australian who was crazy enough to move to Virginia with her. She loves telling a different type of story with Noonday and making an impact beyond her little corner of the world. For more ideas on how to live a life of impact, follow her on Instagram @SocialSarahC.
The holiday shopping season has officially arrived! In the coming weeks, millions of people will look for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Wondering how to find that special thing for everyone on your list while using your purchasing power for good? I’ve got great news for you: there are plenty of socially responsible companies out there that sell for the greater good, not for maximum profit. Just jump on Pinterest or do a google search for “ethical gift guide.” It’s never been easier to buy thoughtfully. You can also search for companies, like Noonday, that are certified B-corps or members of fair trade organizations like the Fair Trade Federation, to ensure you are using your purchasing power for good (and read more about what makes Noonday “ethical” in my previous blog post).
The Cow Horn Hoops and the Underground Cuff are two of my best sellers; you can’t go wrong gifting either of these. I’ve also got on my ribbon sandals from Sseko, which provide work to women in Uganda continuing their education.
But don’t get overwhelmed, and don’t overthink it. Do you remember the Friends episode where Phoebe tries to find a selfless good deed? SPOILER ALERT – she fails, because every good deed makes HER feel good. And in the spirit of good deeds, here is a gift for you. You’re welcome.
When it comes to gifts, don’t be like Phoebe. It’s OK to feel good when you give someone a gift, especially when you are supporting businesses that share your values! When I gift Noonday I get a double dose of warm and fuzzies because I’m also giving opportunity by helping create jobs and grow small businesses in vulnerable communities around the world. No shame in that. But our tendency to look for things that we want may backfire in a different way. Make sure you are truly buying thoughtfully by giving what they want. That will mean less waste, and that is always a good thing.
So what’s a socially responsible shopper to do? Here are five tips to increase your gift-giving success.
1. Start early
If you wait until the last minute, you and I both know what is going to happen. You are going to head to the mall or some big box retailer and scoop up everything all at once for convenience and the sake of time. Or maybe you will do it online, but you’ll be getting gifts just because you’ve got to get something, and you’re also going to put a bunch of things you don’t need in your cart. Because marketing. And because it’s easy. But shopping ethically can be easy if you do a little research ahead of time. This year you can start NOW. It’s not too late. Read those ethical gift guides. Start a Pinterest board. Find businesses and social entrepreneurs that are creating the type of world you want to live in. If the idea of “research” seems too overwhelming, just ask. One of my favorite uses for social media is asking for recommendations. So easy.
Some women like their earrings large and in charge. The Fringed Crescent Earrings are for them.
2. Just. Buy. Less.
I know that seems strange coming from someone who wants you to buy things, but sometimes less is more. Years ago we started a Christmas gift exchange in my family where the adults draw one name each. I love it because instead of worrying about a dozen presents, you can focus your efforts and money on one really thoughtful gift. Or be like my neighbor’s family who decided to forgo gifts this year so they could put money towards a vacation. You could also gift someone a membership to a local attraction, tickets to a show, or anything else that would create a memorable experience for them. Think EXPERIENCES instead of things.
The most important things in life aren’t things. Buy less and you’ll free up money to spend on experiences. Go make some memories.
3. Buy global — or local
Noonday pieces are made with traditional materials and techniques from all over the world, in some cases using crafts that go back hundreds of years. This authenticity is part of what makes them so special—after all, you can’t get that in your hometown (unless your hometown is a rural village in Vietnam).
But there are also plenty of things you can buy locally. Go to craft fairs and find the artisans in your community. Search Etsy using your location and find creative people and people working for social justice that live by you. Refer back to #1 and just ask. Just a few weeks ago we had new friends over at our home and our guests brought beautiful pillows for my two daughters. It turns out, one of them designs and creates pillows to help support her family of six, who were recently granted asylum status, and she donates a portion of sales to other refugee families in need. They are out there, go find them!
4. Think with your nose
For most Americans, the holidays mean lots of eating. If you are entertaining guests or baking gifts, keep food dollars invested in your local economy by sourcing your ingredients or catering with local businesses and farms. You can also make a social impact with food. Buying fair trade ingredients is one easy way to do that, but it’s not the only way. I recently found out there is a cupcake bakery close to me that empowers survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking, by teaching professional baking and kitchen management skills. As if I needed another reason to get cupcakes. So many warm and fuzzies.
5. Gift cards
They will get exactly what they want. Short of asking someone what they want, this is your best bet for that hard-to-buy-for person. We all know one. So get yourself a Noonday gift card right now. It’s a gift that builds a connection to a person and a place thousands of miles away. I bet you didn’t know a card could do that.
Phoebe really did have it all wrong. Businesses can make a profit AND be a force for good. But they need you as a customer. Last year, according to DoneGood, Americans spent $1 trillion during the holidays and 60% of online sales during cyber weekend went to just 10 giant retailers. None of them have a social mission. Just imagine the impact if only a portion of those sales went to businesses that did.
Make anyone look well-travelled with the Blanca Bracelet. It’s made on handmade looms in Guatemala and everyone will think she picked it up there herself.
The Latifa Necklace is not just a statement necklace, it’s paper with a purpose! Made out of paper beads, it’s named after one of our veteran Artisan Partners in Uganda who now owns her own business and it’s perfect for someone with that entrepreneurial spirit.
I know the struggle is real. I should be in one of those Target memes about going in to buy a pen and coming out with $100 in my cart. But I’m getting better. And now that I’ve done some research, I spend more of my money thoughtfully, in my local economy, and with businesses that are doing their part to protect people and the planet. Plus, during the holidays I take advantage of deals from ethical brands and splurge on a few things in my wish list. I’ll always be a sucker for a good sale.
In addition to creating jobs for Noonday’s Artisan Businesses through Trunk Shows and my own purchases, I’ve supported new Artisans in Ukraine, helped fund efforts to bring running water to Navajo towns in New Mexico, and supported work serving refugees in the Middle East and the United States. How? I bought a toy, a woven basket, and a hand lettered print, respectively. So tell your inner-Phoebe to pipe down and follow your own ethical compass! Whatever your cause may be, I bet you can find a way to support it through your purchases.