Tips for buying feel-good holiday gifts

December 4, 2008 6:32:05 AM PST
A recent poll from Consumer Reports found that 59 percent of Americans plan to curb their holiday spending on gifts this year. So if you will be buying less, how can you make those few gifts count for more? ShopSmart Editor-in-Chief Lisa Lee Freeman shares tips for saving the planet and reducing poverty, all while making loved ones happy with heartwarming presents under $50.

Fair Trade Gifts:

Let your loved one know that you purchased their gift from a site that pays fair wages and ensures good working conditions for their artisans and farmers who create the products in developing nations. Look for the "Fair-Trade Certified" label on agricultural products.

Originalgood.com supports artisans around the world by selling a big selection of notebooks, jewelry, housewares and other goodies.

Theochocolate.com buys its cacao direct from farmers and grower cooperatives. The gift boxes here carry the Fair-Trade Certified label and taste testers gave them the thumbs-up.

Green Gifts:

Show that you care with a fun and eco-friendly gift. Lots of the goods are made from recycled or repurposed materials, saving resources and preventing waste.

Fao.com has an "Earthy Friendly Toys" option where you can buy classic stuffed animals and toys made from sustainable materials and natural or nontoxic paint and dyes.

Westpawdesign.com has well-designed, green gifts for your furry friends, from dog beds made out of recycled plastic bottles to organic catnip toys and reclaimed cotton sweaters.

Charitable Gifts:

Surprise and inspire the picky people on your list who have everything by giving a donation to a charity of their choice These make good last-minute gifts, since you can order online until Christmas Eve or even Christmas morning.

Networkforgood.org/goodcard lets you choose a donation amount ($10, $25, $50 or $100) and the recipient donates the money to the charity of her choice, selecting from more than 1.5 million organizations.

Kiva.org helps entrepreneurs in developing countries work themselves out of poverty. Certificates start at $25 and the recipient can browse profiles of entrepreneurs, get updates and, when the loan is repaid, lend the money to a different entrepreneur or withdraw it.

Handmade Gifts: These gifts are unique, the prices tend to be reasonable and it feels good to support mom-and-pop businesses.

Etsy.com is like the world's largest craft fair. The site lets you buy directly from artists and crafters who set up their own online shops, and you can find out how an item was made and sometimes make special requests.


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