Like a lot of people, I love giving presents almost as much as receiving them. And the best gifts of all are ones that come with a clear understanding of the recipient in mind — ones that involve thought and care. Maybe a weird record with cover art only your best friend would love, or a necklace that goes perfectly with your mom’s favorite dress.
But spending that much effort on gifts for every single person on your list can be exhausting. Handmade gifts sometimes take weeks to plan and make in advance, and you don’t always have the time (or gas money, for that matter) to spend an entire day driving all over town searching for the perfect present, as romantic as that sounds.
Buying a great gift doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to cause migraines, or lead to grabbing a discount something-or-other from a bargain bin on Christmas Eve. The answer to finding thoughtful, responsibly made gifts can be as close as your computer monitor: shopping online for fair trade and upcycled products.
There are a plethora of businesses actively working to improve the world. Their profits directly benefit artists, farmers, and communities, and their products (like the folks they benefit) come in more forms than you can imagine. Bags made from billboards and coffee sacks. Bracelets that help victims of human trafficking build new lives. Coffee and chocolate that provide living wages for the farmers who grow them. And that’s just the start! Not to mention that the quickness and ease of shopping online — and avoiding the senseless rush of the Black Friday crowd—can’t be overestimated.
Luckily, there are plenty of great resources out there to provide you with excellent gifts that give back. You can find some of them listed in Sojourners’ Just Giving Guide, which offers options ranging from clothes and jewelry to coffee and pecans (yes, pecans!). And if you just can’t find that special something, there are also plenty of choices for giving a donation in honor of a friend or loved one.
So as Cyber Monday passes and you continue to consider all the possibilities for your gift list and budget, remember this: Finding a truly unique gift doesn’t have to involve an epic journey, long lines, or the guilt that comes from buying items from big corporations. This year, consider looking online for gifts that will not only be cherished, but will help make a difference, too.
Abby Olcese is the Advertising Assistant for Sojourners.