With Black Friday (aka a day better spent taking a long walk in the woods) and the largely pointless Cyber Monday behind us, it’s time once again to reach for your pocketbook in observation of Giving Tuesday.
Founded in 2012 as an altruistic antidote to the post-Thanksgiving carousal of consumerism, the role of Giving Tuesday is decidedly more vital this holiday season than in year’s past.
The truth of the matter is that following the recent presidential election, many Americans simply aren’t in the mood to shop or spend money — that normally infectious holiday cheer has proven to be elusive.
But what hasn’t been impacted is the drive to give. That is, the drive to give to organizations that might need all the help they can get during the incoming administration; the drive to give to organizations that matter. And while the selection of art- and design-centric holiday gift ideas featured below support a range of super-worthy causes that are global in scope, a few do support strictly domestic issues such as improving our national parks, feeding hungry families and fighting homegrown injustice, inequality and hate.
So, please, by all means, shop away. As I’ve said before, Giving Tuesday truly does offer the best of both worlds: a chance to buy stuff and flex your all-important philanthropic muscle, the latter of which is, of course, the goal of Giving Tuesday to begin with.
Without further ado, check out these 12 do-gooding gift ideas for just about everyone on your list including fancy candle fanciers, adult coloring book aficionados and design-conscious outdoor adventurers. What's more, a majority of these picks fall under the $50 mark, which depending on your charitable largesse, might leave room for monetary donations to crucial and highly topical social and environmental organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Wood Cabin Candle @ Keap ($35)
With key notes of nutmeg, cedar, juniper and burnt pine needles, this 7.2-ounce coconut wax candle housed in a reusable glass tumbler emits 50 hours of wondrously wintery whiffs. Founded by Google employees-turned-magnanimous fragrance maestros Harry Doull and Stephen Tracy, Brooklyn-based Keap crafts high-quality candles while operating as a do-gooding Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). For each candle sold, $1 is donated to SolarAid, a charity working to replace dirty and dangerous kerosene lighting with solar lamps in off-grid African communities. In addition to Wood Cabin, Keap offers three other evocative, clean-burning scents.
St. Jude Brass Love Object @ West Elm ($29)
Over the span of 12 years, West Elm has raised an impressive $34 million in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This holiday season, West Elm’s St. Jude-benefiting assortment of highly gift-able home décor items include metallic foil pillow covers, gilded gold keepsake boxes and this solid brass decorative object spelling out a single word that we could all spread a bit more on these days. Whether used as a paperweight or prominently perched on an end table, “Love” says it all and then some. As with all St. Jude-branded West Elm items, 50 percent of the price is directly donated to the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign.
World Map Wood Coaster Set @ Woodchuck USA ($40)
A shoo-in gift for map nerds and geography buffs, this set of handsome mahogany wood coasters doubles as a tabletop puzzle. Assemble all six hexagonal pieces together and voila – you’ve got yourself a nifty, vintage-y world map. Proudly designed and manufactured in Minnesota, the sale of each Woodchuck USA product supports the company’s "Buy One. Plant One." campaign. Working in cooperation with a range of tree-planting partners in both North America and Africa, Woodchuck USA — a conservation-minded company founded with the mission to “put nature back into people’s lives” — has planted over 386,000 trees to date.
Glass Water Bottle @ Soma ($30)
The latest addition to the growing Soma family of good-looking drinking vessels, this “thoughtful from the top-down” 17-ounce glass water bottle features a leak-proof bamboo cap, soft silicone sleeve and sleek lightweight design that makes it perfect for excursions in both the city and further afield. As with all items sold by Soma — "makers of beautiful, sustainable products to hydrate the world" — each purchase benefits clean drinking water projects in developing communities across the globe. That said, we recommend picking up two — one to gift and one to keep.
Totem Candles by Grain Design @ Areaware (Bundle of 9 for $120)
Okay, so their paraffin wax composition isn’t entirely ideal. But the sculptural good looks and altruistic nature of these eye-catching pillar candles conceived by environmental and social responsibility-minded Pacific Northwest design studio Grain more than make up for it. Available in three colors (Forest, Sand, Terracotta) and sizes, purchasing the full collection — nine candles in total, one of each size and color — includes a 15 percent savings and a $10 dollar donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the invaluable Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit dedicated to combating homegrown bigotry and hate.
FEED Wood Serving Board @ West Elm ($24 - $99)
A big-hearted — and sure to be used a lot — gift for the consummate crudités-pusher, these handsome maple serving boards (choose from medium, large and oversized) are crafted from sustainably sourced wood and benefit FEED, Lauren Bush’s world hunger-conquering charity that, to date, has provided 87 million meals across the globe. Like all products in West Elm’s cookery-centric FEED collection, the sale of the serving boards results not in a monetary donation but a specific number of meals served to a family in need. In this case, FEED will donate 23 meals for each serving board sold.
John Muir Enamel Steel Mug @ United by Blue ($20)
Appropriate for both actual campfires and housebound facsimiles ‘round a roaring fireplace, this handsome, hand-dipped-in-Europe enamel mug stamped with a quote from hirsute 19th century conservationist John Muir is a perfect vessel for cold weather tippling. Similar to all of UBB's "responsible durable goods," the sale of each mug translates to one pound of trash removed from polluted waterways. Since its inception in 2010, the Philadelphia-based outdoor adventure-minded merch has removed nearly 364,000 pounds of trash from polluted beaches and waterways through 176 volunteer-lead cleanups spanning 26 states.
SAGOSKATT Soft Toy Collection @ IKEA ($3.99 - in select local stores only)
Like the other highly squeezable members of IKEA’s limited SAGOSKATT soft toy collection, this friendly fellow is based on a drawing produced by a real kid, not an adult designer. (The pictured plush toy was designed by a 6-year-old named Léonard). What’s more, now through December 24, the sale of all IKEA soft toys and other select kids’ play items will benefit the IKEA Foundation’s Let’s Play for Change Campaign. For each product sold, $1 is donated to partnering organizations working to better the lives of children in developing communities: Handicap International Federation, Room to Read, Save the Children, War Child, Special Olympics and longtime IKEA Foundation partner, UNICEF.
Grapefruit Creme de Corps Whipped Body Butter @ Kiehl's ($38)
For beauty buffs and folks — menfolk, in particular — with exceptionally well-hydrated skin, Kiehl’s beloved Creme de Corps line needs little to no introduction. All dressed up in a snazzy, limited-edition pot designed by Brooklyn-based FAILE, this grapefruit-scented body butter is an artistic statement piece all its own. (Translation: you'll want to keep this one out in a prominent spot). It’s also part of Kiehl’s Baby Give Back holiday campaign with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the good work of Feeding America. During the campaign, every single dollar generated through sales translates to 11 meals provided to families in need.
Awesome Animals of the National Parks Coloring Book @ The Parks Project ($16)
Illustrated by artist Lisa Kowieski, this coloring book showcases 20 critters you might encounter in our national park system and is an appropriate gift for both animal-loving children and marker-wielding grown-ups looking for a productive stress outlet. All of the national park-themed goods sold by the Parks Project help to fund a variety of undertakings at parks across the country in the areas of habitat restoration, youth education, wildlife conservation and visitor programs. Acadia, Olympic, Zion and Grand Teton are just a few that have benefitted from the Parks Project’s volunteerism and tireless advocacy. It goes without saying that following the recent presidential election, our beautiful and beloved national parks could use all the help they can get.
(FATBOY)(RED) Special Edition Snacklight @Fatboy ($129)
You know that party-throwing host or hostess on your list who seems to have just about every entertaining-centric gadget, gizmo and eye-catching piece of serveware known to mankind? Chances are they don't own the Snacklight, an oversized high-gloss serving tray that comes complete with a trio of dip-ready bowls and a nifty rechargeable magnetic lamp that makes distributing cocktails and small nibbles during dimly lit dinner parties and after-dark outdoor get-togethers all the more easy. Ten percent of proceeds from the sale of Fatboy's limited edition (RED) Snacklight are donated to the Global Fund's tireless work to halt the spread of AIDS/HIV in developing nations.
Shoe Pot by Wyatt Little @ American Design Club ($50 - 80)
Finally, a gift idea that appeals to both greenthumbs and sneakerheads. Indeed, it's hard not to fall head over, ahem, heels with this clever, succulent-perfect ceramic planter. While the sale of the Wyatt Little's Shoe Pots don't benefit a single specific good cause or involve any sort of humanitarian largesse, it does help support Little and his fellow members of the Brooklyn-based American Design Club, a lauded platform launched in 2008 with the goal of enabling young designers to launch new products while connecting with both one another and the broader public.