Founded in 2012 as an altruistic antidote to the melee of materialism (read: deep discounts, free shipping and the occasional in-store brawl) that immediately follows Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is seen as a day to put a freeze on consumerist activities and focus on the bettering of communities both home and abroad. Of course, it's not a day to entirely give the credit card and checkbook a much-needed rest given that charitable donations to nonprofits of all stripes and sizes are an important part of the proceedings alongside volunteerism and other acts of do-goodery. Also, you might want to use them to sneak in some holiday gift shopping.
Yes, holiday gift shopping.
When you think about it, Giving Tuesday offers the best of both worlds: a chance to buy stuff and flex your (perhaps usually relaxed) magnanimous muscle.
Below, I've wrangled up a dozen unique, beautiful and useful home design gifts with a philanthropic slant. With just about everyone — the cook, the entertainer, the cozy-maker, the candle nut and the, umm, pigeon fancier — on your holiday shopping list considered, the purchase of each of these items benefit a different charitable cause: clean water, hunger, human trafficking, the conservation of natural resources, the economic development of rural communities and the list goes on.
Without further ado, 13 holiday gifts that give ....
Nepal Projects: Traditional Houses @ A+R Store ($80)
Handmade from cotton and recycled paper, these eye-catching tabletop nesting boxes with roof-shaped lids serve as a stash-worthy home to trinkets, tchotchkes and other assorted treasures. Through Nepal Projects, a do-gooding design campaign launched by Danish design brand Menu in collaboration with humanitarian development agency DANIDA, the production and sale of these multitasking storage abodes help to better the lives of young Nepali women vulnerable to trafficking. Available in red, green or grey colorways.
Walsh Firewood Carier @ Oxgut Hose. Co ($120)
Described as the "most stylish and ironic way to start a fire, ever," this handcrafted log carrier from Oxgut Hose Co. is, you guessed it, made from repurposed fire hoses (fire hoses retired from the Oakland fire department, to be exact) that have been intercepted on their way to the landfill and transformed into something new and useful. Perhaps best known for creating upcycled fire hose mats, Emeryville, California-based Oxgut Hose Co. donates a portion of all sales to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. This all said, please take utmost care when building those roaring holiday fires in the hearth.
Soma Pitcher @ Soma ($39 - $149)
Soma Pitcher, the newest addition from the San Francisco-based purveyor of "beautiful, sustainable water filters" is a crowded fridge-friendly take on the original Soma Carafe. Equipped with a white oak-handle, the same sleek good looks are incorporated into the BPA-free pitcher as is Soma's innovative coconut shell carbon filtration system. Purchasing options include a single compostable filter or prepaid filters delivered every two months. The more filters the better as with each filter purchased, Soma, which was launched in 2012 with no shortage of crowdfunded fanfare, makes a donation to charity: water.
LED lamps and light bulbs @ IKEA (various prices)
While light bulbs don’t make for the sexiest of holiday gifts, LEDs are a no-frills stocking stuffer sure to save its recipient a few bucks on electric bills down the line. Now through Dec. 19, each LED lamp and bulb purchased at IKEA will benefit Brighter Lives for Refugees, a UNHCR-headed campaign helping to bring much-needed light to displaced Syrians living in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp. More specifically, a portion of the sale of all IKEA LED products supports the construction of a solar farm that will provide refugees with nighttime illumination along with a newfound sense of safety and security.
(PRODUCT)RED Mediterraneo Fruit Bowl @ Alessi ($90 - $110)
First designed for Italian design house Alessi by jewelry designer Emma Silvestris in 2005, the playful sea creature-esque form of the Meditteraneo fruit bowl has since become a classic of modern design and staple of dining room tables everywhere ... a 21st century housewarming gift par excellence. Now, just in time for the holidays, Alessi has added an altruistic element to Mediterraneo and several other kitchen items through (Alessi)RED, a special collection benefitting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Made from laser-cut stainless steel, the bowl is available in two sizes.
Edible Schoolyard Tea Towel @ Lucky Fish ($23)
While $23 may seem steep even for a particularly lovely hand-printed-in-Brooklyn tea towel, keep in mind that 10 percent of each Edible Schoolyard Tea Towel sold is donated to a tremendously good cause: a one-acre organic garden and kitchen at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. Founded in 1995 by chef and activist Alice Waters through her Chez Panisse Foundation with the goal to "create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program," the Edible Schoolyard Project now includes several affiliate programs at schools in New Orleans, New York City and beyond.
Tinware Mug Candle @ Accompany ($36)
Available in a trio of scent/color combinations including Teak & Sandalwood, Sea Grass & Salt Spray and French Citrus Blossom, this handsome soy candle housed in a handled glazed stoneware pot could easily pass as a vintage enamel camping mug. The candles themselves are handpoured by the hardworking (and fairly compensated) female artisans of Prosperity Candle, a Massachusetts-based social enterprise that provides economic opportunities to Burmese refugees who have recently settled in the U.S. Boasting a 60-hour burn time, each candle is crafted with all-natural essential oils, vegetable wax and a cotton wick.
Pigeon @ Project No. 8 ($60)
Even if you’ve previously been pooped upon and/or put-off by the ubiquitous city-dweller otherwise known as the feral pigeon, it’s truly hard not to love this hand-knit member of the Columbinae family that supports the economic livelihood of traditional Bolivian artisans. Crafted from 100 percent alpaca fiber in compliance with Fair Trade standards, Mr. Pigeon is just one member of Various Projects’ Birdwatching collection. Also available are the cardinal, robin, goldfinch, mockingbird, California quail and several other fine feathered friends.
Bottle Axe @ Areaware ($17.50 - $30)
A sure-to-be-appreciated gift for both mead-swilling Throne-Heads and beard-y lumbersexual craft beer enthusiasts alike, Bottle Axe, designed by Sam Falco for Areaware, comes in two sharply clever designs: Timber or Nordic. Sold separately or as a bundle, 2 percent of proceeds from the sale of these slick stainless steel beverage openers with a punny name are donated to Extra Life, a gaming-based charitable organization that benefits Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Best when gifted with a six-pack of a particularly fierce local brew.
FEED Wood Utensil Caddy @ West Elm ($54.99)
Handmade in Lodi, California, this handsome maple wood caddy is, as advertised, a shoo-in for storing kitchen utensils. However, it could also find a welcome home in the garden shed, workshop or home office. The leather-handled caddy is just one of several West Elm offerings launched in collaboration with Lauren Bush Lauren's world hunger-combatting nonprofit, FEED. Other kitchen-minded items in the FEED collection include aprons, cutting boards and dinnerware sets. With each caddy purchase, 42 meals are donated to families in need.
Succulent Coasters @ American Design Club ($40)
While they don't give back to a specific cause, the purchase — and subsequent gifting — of these eye-catching (and highly absorbent!) ceramic coasters from San Francisco-based Coastermastic does support the young American design community in all of its inventive and ingenious glory. Hard to settle on just one digitally printed Coastermatic design since they're all pretty rad, this original botanical design by Sarah Adams is perhaps the prettiest and most grandmother-friendly of the bunch. The neoprene-backed coasters are sold four per set.
Dipped Cocktail Muddler @ Rose & Fitzgerald ($55)
Rose & Fitzgerald is a Kampala, Uganda-based (via Southern California) design-and-craft-studio that provides direct economic — and artistic — opportunities to skilled local artisans. The resulting heirloom-quality goods, much like this marvelous muddler handmade from indigenous Mugavu wood, blend traditional Ugandan craftmanship with a "modern style sensibility." Other gift-perfect offerings include jewelry, baskets and (ethically sourced) cow horn tabletop accessories aplenty. It's all truly lovely stuff. For more, also check out Rose & Fitzgerald's recent design collaboration with the Citizenry.
Wool Throw Blanket @ United By Blue ($145)
Cozy, comfy and gussied up with a classic buffalo check print, this wool blanket will no doubt see a lot of action — and get a lot of love — no matter if it stays at home or has the opportunity to travel further afield on camping expeditions, picnic excursions and road trips into the great unknown. Like with all United By Blue products, the conservation-minded Philadelphia retailer of "responsible durable goods" will pledge to remove 1 pound of trash from waterways and oceans will each blanket purchased. Thus far, UBB has removed over 250,000 pounds of trash through a total of 141 organized cleanup events spanning 23 states from Pennsylvania to Washington. The 50" x 70" blanket is made in Iowa by Amana Woolen Mills.