This year the question of where we spend our money for Christmas gifts in feels somehow more important than in the previous years. It is mostly because we can see every day the small shops are forced to close when the bigger ones are still thriving. But there can be also another aspect; we had time to reflect this year and we don’t want to spent money on impersonal items financing other being’s suffering.
I decided to try the other way around and I have some tips if you want to try it too!
1. Local (and global) handcrafters
There is nothing like handmade product when you want to give something really special and unique to your loved ones. And we have perfect tools to support skillful handcrafters all around the world. Since the Christmas are slowly approaching, I’d suggest you find someone local, otherwise you won’t ever know if the present will arrive on time, and check some of the websites made for these small online shops.
I personally have experiences with buying via Etsy.com and Fler.cz and I got beautiful items every time from each of the individual sellers. It is of course good to properly check reviews of other buyers, but you probably already know the drill.
So, just remember – when buying from a big international company, you support their shares, when buying from a small handcrafter, you support their dreams. By buying from small local sellers, you will make people happy multiple times: yourself for supporting an idea with a soul, the giftee, and the seller him- or herself. And aren’t Christmas about making people happy?
Where to look:
Etsy.com – a worldwide platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. You can find real jewels over there.
Fler.cz – a Czech platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. The site might not be that user friendly, but you can find real treasures over there, exactly as on Etsy.
You will find thousands and thousands of cute tiny shops on these sites. And if you are from another country, maybe dig deeper to find out if you have a local version of Etsy too.
2. Non-profit organizations
There is plenty of those and we all focus on different things, different problems make us go crazy or cry. Because of my background, it is always an environmental problem that makes me sick. And based on that, I support or follow on social media those non-profit organizations that focus on planting trees, cleaning the oceans or protecting animals. For other people, it could be something else – human rights, children in Africa, projects aiming at raising the quality of education in third-world countries or maybe fonds carrying about history heritage and so on.
And those organizations need funding. Sometimes, you will get a certificate, other times you can buy some cute merchandising, sometimes you can choose. I prefer support via merch, especially when it comes to giving presents because I know some people would just not appreciate receiving a certificate about helping others. But, when you find a cute merch which helps to fund a good cause, it is a win-win-win situation for everyone, again.
My personal favorites:
Sea Shepherd – an organization that aims to protect marine wildlife.
4Ocean – an organization that aims to clean the oceans from plastic and other kinds of pollution.
Dogpoint – my favorite Czech dog shelter. By buying products from their online shop, you help them to fund the shelter. Our Bucky comes from Dogpoint and I know personally that people who run the place are kind, caring and selfless.
3. Non-profit organizations that support local handcrafting
Yup, it is a combination of the first two^^. But let’s say you will find an organization whose main aim is to help seniors to have decent lives via knitting socks or handcrafting other stuff. You can buy those later and support the seniors themselves. In Czech Republic, Elpida is one of those projects. You can choose between variety of products that are handmade with love, support a good cause and have a cute, good quality product for yourself and your loved ones (because, let’s face it, you will want one pair for yourself as well^^).
I bet there is plenty of project as these, the only thing it will take is for you to do a little digging. You might be surprised how many good-deeds organizations grew around you and the only hard part for you is to choose which one to support.
My personal favorites:
Elpida Shop – knitted socks by grandmas.
Treecelet – an organization that sells bracelets and other merchandising including water bottles, T-shirts etc. The revenue from the sale is going to other non-profit organizations that focuses on protection and renewing of rain forests. Treecelet also gives a job opportunity to locals who actually create those bracelets for you. So, in this case, we can talk about win-win-win-win situation. And I love it!
I will be definitely talking more about these organizations in the future and I hope I will encounter more of these. If your interest isn’t in the field of environmental problems, I bet you will easily find other projects that focuses on problems which you personally see as the most threating.
By supporting those organizations or small handcrafters, instead of buying a soulless item in the mall, you will give a purpose to your money, you will give means to the project you admire, and you will gift your loved ones with something that has soul and has been created mindfully with love.
Isn’t it what the Christmas are about in the first place? 🙂