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Christmas gifts that give back

From designer clutches to handmade bangles, these luxurious gifts contribute to a greater good.

With the holiday season approaching, there’s no shame in admitting that there’s satisfaction in giving the perfect gift. But after a year that’s left many people feeling a bit underwhelmed, it’s nice to know that money you’re spending isn’t just making your recipient’s life better, it’s making the world better, too. We’ve selected some of the best luxury items for 2017 that give to good causes without scrimping on style. These gifts will deliver a “wow” moment when they’re opened – and another “wow” moment when they realize what a difference it made.

Goodbye, last-minute flannel pajamas: here are gifts you can buy online now that help make the world a better place.

For the fashionista

An eco-conscious stylish clutch
Who it supports: Created by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah,STUDIO ONE EIGHTY NINE provides a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content and brands.

With a stunning range of clothes, pick from hand-batik buttoned down shirts, long shirt dresses and cotton pants, any fashionista (male or female) will love the range. Spoil them with a large carry-all that is the perfect dimensions for a laptop and extra essentials handmade of supple vegan leather featuring a zip closure and hand-batiked/hand-painted lining. A perfect versatile piece that can be used as a large evening clutch or a portfolio. Designed, Hand-painted and Handmade in Ghana with local artisans.

For the husband who never wants anything

A classically styled throw
Who it supports: Homeless shelters; one blanket is donated for everyone one purchased to your local shelter.

If your boyfriend or husband’s favourite chair is looking a bit lived in and worn out, spruce it up with a luxury throw blanket from Sackcloth and Ashes. They keep it simple: for every blanket you buy, a blanket is donated to a homeless shelter. Made in the US but shipped worldwide, these generously sized blankets come in a variety of patterns. With an italian-made recycled wool blend, these blankets are sure to add a touch of elegance to your living space. The “Darling Grey” and “Arrow Red” design schemes use an especially masculine colour palette.

The Franklin Duffel Bag
Who it supports: Underprivileged school children.

Whether he’s on business trips every other week or just planning a camping trip with the guys, a classic and durable bag will come in handy more often than you’d think. These have generously sized inner storage area and two external zippered pockets, there’s plenty of storage space. With a separate shoe pocket and smartly contrasting colors, this is one bag that can do it all for multi-day travel.  They’re available in a variety of classic colors and exude understated style. For every STATE bag purchased, STATE hand-delivers a backpack packed with school supplies to a child in need.

For outdoor enthusiasts

A pair of shades to keep in their hiking pack
Who it supports:  Trees 4 Children; every pair makes a donation to plant trees to support economic sustainability in Africa

If there’s someone on your gift-giving list who would rather be on the trails than at the mall this holiday season, consider the gift of affordably priced shades from Wander and Co. Made of sustainable wood, these lightweight shades are perfect for keeping in a hiking pack. Plus, they’re polarized with UV 400 sun protection, idea for people who spend their weekends in the sun and out in nature.

A tent for outdoor festivals
Who it supports: Hot Planet/Cool Athletes, which connects professional athletes with schoolchildren to teach them about the impact of global warming on outdoor sports

If your recipient is more into camping at multi-day music festivals than pitching a tent in the woods, make the next show a little easier for them and give them the lightweight North Face tent, which is simple to setup and easy to pack in a car full of festival-goers. This roomy, two-person tent has oversized mesh windows, perfect for staying cool during hot summer music festivals.  

For the person who’s hosting the holiday party

An avant-garde serving set
Who it supports:  Arts education programs in New York City and beyond

If you’re shopping for someone who never misses opening night at the gallery, buy your gifts from the New York City Museum of Modern Art’s extensive online store and know that your purchase is supporting MoMA arts education programs around the world. There’s a great video online about what programs your purchase supports. We love these edgy plates based on Andy Warhol’s 1967–1976 skull series and think they’d make a great gift set for anyone who loves a good dinner party.

For luxury lovers

A Salvatore Ferragamo clutch
Who it supports: 31 days of basic necessities for children in the U.S. via Baby2Baby

If your intended recipient is a bit of a style snob, put a brand they already know and love under the tree this year. When you shop at olivela.com, each purchase provides a donation to Baby2Baby. We love that every item tells you exactly how many days of necessities that purchase supports. The festive lipstick-red leather of this clutch is perfect for holiday parties, but more economical brands are available as well, like Marc Jacobs and Clare V. If you know you’re looking for a designer gift, we recommend browsing Olivela.com before visiting the mall.

For foodies

Peace Oil
Who it supports: Peace Oil is produced in Israel by Jews, Arabs, Druze and Bedouin working together. Grown in the foothills of the Carmel Mountains, the olives are pressed within hours of picking, to produce this prize winning extra virgin olive oil. Peace Oil encourages co-operation between communities. By helping to market their produce it hopes to bring economic prosperity to such enterprises, encouraging others to follow their example.

For new parents

A set of blankets to help avoid tantrums
Who it supports:  The From Babies with Love foundation, supporting orphaned and abandoned children around the world (there’s even a map that shows where the funds are going.)

When you buy a blanket from From Babies with Love, the entire profit goes to children around the world. They partner with and donate to charities that provide homes for families, education, health care, and support to overcome trauma. Because these organic blankets are so affordable, we love the idea of buying two: one to keep at home and a second to keep in the car as a back-up blankie. We think the rubber duck reversible blankets are especially endearing.

A custom pet portrait
Who it supports: 50 percent of the proceeds go to animal rescue organisations.

If you’re giving a gift for someone whose baby is actually a fur baby, nothing is cuter or more thoughtful than a personalised portrait. These are handpainted and purchased directly from the artist, so you’re able to make any special requests to capture the essence of any featured four-legged friend. You can also add multiple pets into the frame or create custom backgrounds. It’s the perfect addition to a fireplace mantle already covered in framed doggie portraits. Gift certificates are available for those waiting until the last minute to purchase.

And finally, for someone you don’t know that well

A holiday candle
Who it supports: Rice Bowls to fight child hunger. They’ve provided more than seven million meals to date.

A scented candle is tried and true for a reason. Whether you’re gifting to a recent college grad or a rarely seen relative, bringing a holiday scent into the home will always be appreciated. Though a variety of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other winter options are available, you can also choose from more exotic options like “Aloha summer” or “tickled pink.”

A handmade teapot
Who it supports: Direct support to global artisans in developing countries; $80 million given to date

Did we save the best for last? Maybe, because Novica.com is a treasure trove of unique and artful gifts. A project of National Geographic, the site is a global marketplace for fair-trade, socially conscious products. We love the exotic and colourful look of the blue Teziutlan Talavera-style teapot, handcrafted with traditional Mexican techniques. If a teapot seems a little too obscure for your gift givee, Talavera-style flower vases and jars are also available.

When it comes to gift giving, you don’t need to sacrifice on substance or style to still make a difference. We love that consumers are wanting to do something good with their holiday shopping this year and love even more that brands and designers are realising that luxury and global good go hand in hand.

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