2017 Gift Guide: Gifts that Give Back

Hello, hello! Happy Holidays, blogfam! I’m excited to be temporarily back over the winter break now that finals have passed. Unfortunately, since life seems to be unceasingly busy I won’t be able to get to the sappy, heartfelt, “Where did I go?” post until a little later, but I promise it will eventually be up.

In the meantime, I wanted to get this time-sensitive content up, especially as we are almost a week til Christmas and already in the midst of other holidays. It’s been a year or two since I’ve done a gift guide, so I thought if I was gonna do one this year, I better do it right.

2017 has been a political nightmare in the US, to say the least; and in acknowledging such I thought that it would be a nice sentiment to not only gift to those that we personally know, but to also give back to those that we may not — double giving. The following gifts are ones that also give back to the community at large, which I figure is the proper way to offset all of the negativity that 2017 has wrought upon us.

So, whether you have that one person left on your shopping list that you can’t quite pinpoint what to get them, you need a quirky white elephant, or you’re just that last-minute, here are my suggestions to you!

1. Shop Small Business/Local


Shopping small doesn’t have to only happen on #SmallBusinessSaturday. In fact, practicing shopping small throughout the year helps contribute to your local economy, is great for the environment, and helps support a member of your immediate community. Some of the best local places that I like to shop are boutiques in your local “old town” or downtown area, craft fairs and farmers markets. Checking event pages like on Facebook or Eventbrite is a great way to find out about these types of markets.

The triangle shelf and candle pictured above are from a craft fair that my school puts on. It helps support student work and local artists. The card is from a boutique in Truckee called Altelier.

However, if you can’t make it out, small e-commerce is still an option. Try shopping Etsy or artists that you follow on social media. Instagram is a good place to find these creative folks. Small e-commerce isn’t as eco-friendly, but it still directly supports artists and crafters themselves. When I did my #SmallBusinessSaturday Instagram post, one of the Etsy artists I featured, @thehealinggem, commented, “shopping small means a family does the happy dance after every sale!!! Thank you!!!” Shopping small means the world to small business owners. It helps support their dreams and family directly, which is a gift to them in-and-of itself.

2. Go Eco-Friendly

Maybe it’s just the California-girl in me, but I am CONSTANTLY thinking about how to do something in a greener way. Giving gifts that help our environment is also giving the gift of a less-polluted world to future generations.

Bags and cups are a great place to start. They’re something that are very giftable and easy to re-use. You can even DIY your own (…if you have the time)! I personally love my Hydroflask, but there are other great tumbler options that are easy to find. Here’s one from Society6, but I was also eyeing a few from Starbucks that were cute as well!



Some other great options I found (some of which were stolen from a Buzzfeed post) were:

Socks made from 100% recycled materials


A handbag with a built in charger made from eco-friendly canvas and lined with material sourced from recycled plastic bottles.


A subscription to Imperfect Produce, which helps eliminate food waste.sub-buzz-16184-1510763627-2

3. Companies/Items with a Cause

The following companies or products are ones that have a mission and whose proceeds give back to a greater cause. These are the gifts that I originally was only going to include, but upon further research decided to broaden my perspective for the sake of this post. Nonetheless, I think it is really awesome when companies care more than just making profits.

Love is Love mug set that donates 50% of the proceeds to The Human Rights Campaign.

Sidenote: I actually purchased one of these at Pride and use it to hold lipsticks.img41c

A makeup product from the NKLA by Colourpop x Laura Lee collection. All of the net profits from this makeup collection go towards the Best Friends Animal Society®, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters.


A magical themed cruelty-free and vegan beauty and lifestyle subscription box. You can buy single boxes or the subscription from Enchantment Boxes! Bonus: A portion of the proceeds benefit Enchanted Farm Sanctuary a non-profit animal rescue.


A beanie made from recycled polyester. Bonus: the company United By Blue removes a pound of trash from the ocean for every product purchased.


A punny tote bag that donates 40% to BUST Magazine. Bonus: Feminist Apparel has 6 other apparel collections that benefit various feminist organizations. Check them all out here. Double bonus: use as a reusable shipping bag.


4. Re-Vamp the Basics

Who says that practical gifts can’t be fun? Here are a few ideas on gifts that go beyond the basic 10 pack of socks. If you need them anyway, they might as well also be good for you!

A minimalist shampoo made without parabens, sulfates, lauryl sulphate, glycols, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance, animal derivatives, T.E.A., D.E.A., synthetic colors, or silicones. It is organic, made from sustainable ingredients, and is safe for colored hair!



A holiday bundle of aluminum free deodorants in festive scents!


The Essentials bundle from Honest Co. has your everyday necessity cleaning and personal care products that are formulated without harmful chemicals.


Almost a year’s worth of sustainable and eco-friendly bamboo toilet paper in festive wrapping. You get 24 Naughty & 24 Nice rolls plus 50% of the proceeds go to building toilets in underserved areas.


A drawer of basic menswear clothing items. For those times when the guy in your life needs something better than a Hanes 5-pack, but you don’t want to awkwardly buy his underwear??? All of the products are made in factories that are WRAP Certified which ensures ethical, safe, lawful and humane manufacturing. PS: I would really love for them to disrupt the ladies’s industry next because the pink tax is REAL.


5. Make a Donation


Lastly, while this isn’t the most tangible gift, it is one that can make the biggest impact. Choose a charity that works for a cause close to their heart to make it more personal. Everyone has something that they care about! (Remember that local charities are in the greatest need. Check out the Consumer Report’s Best & Worst Charities list before you donate.) Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:

Megan’s Top 5:

Other notable causes:

Still want something semi-tangible that you can wrap? Try these:


I hope that this post finds you well and in the holiday spirit. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to give something this year that pays it forward. Maybe if we all give a little something, we can shift all of the bad karma we collectively have accumulated as a nation. Here’s to doing more good in 2018! Cheers!


All my love,


Ps: still need more ideas? Check out these posts from PopSugar and Best Products.

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header photo by:  Sarah Pflug


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