12 Gifts That Give to More People than Just the Recipient

Day 23 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: Give a gift that gives back in unexpected ways.

My mom always says she doesn’t want any gifts, no matter the holiday. I never listen to this.

One year, though, she mentioned she had to go to a Christmas cookie exchange party. Here was the problem: My mother doesn’t bake. She doesn’t even like eating (!) cookies. So, for her present that year, in lieu of something tangible, I surprised her by making her cookies for the party, so she wouldn’t have to. I’ve never seen her happier to not have to do something in her life—and, moreover, everyone at the party reportedly enjoyed the cookies, with several requesting the recipe.

Photo by James Ransom

There are gifts that keep on giving, for years, to the recipient, and there are gift purchases that donate to good causes. But in addition, there are gifts that benefit way more people than just the one you sent the present to: Those cookies delighted many more people than just my mom. These 12 gifts have the same kind of good effect on more people than just the recipient.

Women’s Bean Project

This organization gives impoverished women with sorted backgrounds (ranging from histories of incarceration to addiction) a second chance: Teaching them gourmet food production. They make and sell everything from gluten-free soups and chili to snickerdoodle mix (and gift baskets and bundles). The program has about a 70 percent graduation rate and, of those that graduate, 100 percent are placed into entry-level jobs.

Linda & Harriet Collaborative Calendar

This calendar features messages and reminders in the form of words and artwork from 14 mothers (with our very own Merrill Stubbs), with proceeds benefiting Room to Grow, “an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of babes born into poverty, throughout their first three years of development,” Linda & Harriet’s website says.

A window planter

If you have a friend who’s a teacher, give them a window planter. That way, as the flowers bloom, their students can learn about flora and fauna, too.

Love Your Melon Hats
The Starling Project's Candles

Love Your Melon hats

Half of the net proceeds from each Love Your Melon beanie goes to pediatric cancer organizations. They're dedicated to "giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America."

The Starling Project’s candles

Outside of production and operating costs, the company donates all of its profits to organizations like UNICEF to fund solar energy work in developing countries (so that people in countries like Chad can have access to clean drinking water and washrooms). The hand-poured candles come in vanilla and hemlock, juniper and saffron, orange flower and amber, and currant and rosewood scents.

LifeStraw Go water bottle

The water bottle has a built-in filtration system, reducing any chlorine, bad taste, and odor wherever you fill up your water from for up to 26 gallons (which is about 3 months of continuous use). For every LifeStraw purchased, one child in a developing country receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.

Lush’s Charity Pot Body Lotion
OneHope Foundation’s wines

Dinner, for a night

Deliver a friend, neighbor, or family member with a few mouths to feed dinner for the night (a roast chicken and vegetables, and a nice loaf of bread would not be remiss) with a card explaining the gift and ideas for any leftovers.

Lush’s Charity Pot Body Lotion

The cruelty-free beauty company donates 100 percent of each purchase to small organizations working for environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights.

OneHope Foundation’s wines

Every bottle of OneHope Foundation’s wine is dedicated to a different cause, like ending childhood bullying, providing ABA therapy to children with autism, and ovarian cancer education.

1Face Watches

A portion of the proceeds from each watch benefit charities, like the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The watches come in colors that are associated with each cause.

Give to a charity

And donate the money in the name of your giftee. Write a card, explaining what charity you chose and maybe why. That’s it.

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What gift do you give (or have you given) that spreads the love? Let us know in the comments!

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