A Roof Made of Tacky Christmas Cards

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This year, our family went the ‘tacky’ route and emailed our Christmas card.  I created a card in PhotoShop rather than purchasing it, exported it as a PDF rather than having it printed and emailed it rather than paying for postage, which resulted in a savings of several hundred dollars.  So what made us decide to buck tradition this year?  I wanted to see if we could use that money to bring the Christmas spirit to even more people this year, so we sent our Christmas card money around the world as gifts to the girls we sponsor through World Vision.  I was so excited to receive a thank you note from Burundi, Africa with a picture of three year old Alice, wearing a new dress and holding the pieces of steel that will be used to replace her thatched roof.  I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the new sound her roof makes when it rains in her village!

So, friends, thank you for accepting our tacky Christmas card this year, which in turn allowed us to shine Christ’s love all the way to Albania, Burundi, Peru and Guatemala.

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Give Twice As Nice: 25 Gifts that Give Back

You’ve heard the adage: it’s better to give than to receive.  Wouldn’t it be great to make your giving twice as nice this year by choosing gifts that give back too?  I’ve often used my busy schedule as an excuse for not shopping with more of a social conscience.  If you find yourself in this same boat, you’ll enjoy the list I’ve rounded up of 25 gift ideas that also help make the world a better place!

  1. Spread Love for a Child: Millions of children around the world need help to break the never-ending cycle of poverty. Hunger weakens them. Unsafe drinking water makes them sick. Missing out on an education keeps them from reaching their potential.  As a sponsor, you will help provide a child with sustainable access to appropriate life-changing basics like nutritious food, clean water, healthcare, and education. Child sponsorship also helps families and communities lift themselves out of poverty by providing job training, business coaching, small loans, along with training to help poverty-affected farmers learn new ways to irrigate and grow crops.
  2. Hearts4Hearts-RahelGive a Doll with a Heart: Hearts For Hearts Girls® doll is inspired by real girls from real places around the world. Each doll has her own story to tell, with ideas about how to make life better for her family, community, country, and the world around her. When you buy a doll, a dollar of the purchase price is donated to World Vision to support children in that doll’s region.
  3. Adorn Your Walls with Prints from Sevenly: Each purchase of Sevenly merchandise, whether a campaign-specific shirt or print, results in a $7 donation to the featured charity of the week.  With nearly $4 million raised and counting, Sevenly strives to inspire a generation of generosity.
  4. Chomp_Personalized__15750.1411078231.215.215Cuddle up With Gifts for Kids from Everything Happy: You must see these darling, snuggly blankets, pillows and stuffed toys, as well as clothing.  Everything Happy is determined to bring smiles to every child – both locally and worldwide. For every Happy product purchased, another one is given to a child in need.  From orphanages to hospitals, to poverty-stricken communities, Everything Happy has touched the lives of thousands of children.BRONZEARROWBRACELET-10001499-6-218x153
  5. Accessorize at TOMS Marketplace: Since 2006, TOMS has been making a difference in the lives of the needy around the globe.  For every product sold, TOMS donates shoes, eye ware or clean water to help those in need.
  6. Give a Gift – Empower Women: Experience the world’s largest online selection of fair trade artisan products produced by women.  Shop all your favorite fashion, jewelry, and home decor treasures knowing that each purchase benefits a woman and her family.
  7. Goat_Plush_D4041423Give a Goat, Get a Goat: Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Goats also give a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products to sell.  In addition to providing a goat, you’ll also receive Gertie the Plush Goat as a reminder of how you’ve helped change lives!cherry_bowery_grande
  8. Enjoy Your Favorite Tunes with Headphones or Earbuds from LSTN: For every purchase of reclaimed wood headphones are earbuds, LSTN gives to Starkey Hearing Foundation, to help restore hearing to a person in need.
  9. Wash your Hands of Inequality: Through sales of their hand soaps and sanitizers, Eve Echo makes low interest loans to women in challenged economies to start or expand businesses.  Eve Echo is on a mission to end gender inequalities and free women from oppression all over the world.
  10. Wear Love Beautifully: Connected in Hope works to empower women and families in Ethiopia to rise above poverty through sustainable income development, improved educational opportunities and increased access to basic health care.
  11. Raise a Glass to Ending Aids: 50% of the gross profits from the purchase of every Belvedere (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition Bottle will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.
  12. 253x253-45031Wear Fashion with a Conscience: Tea Features a beautiful collection of globally inspired, ethically sourced clothing and accessories from a company committed to advancing the dignity of children and youth around the world. Since 1997, the GFC has invested nearly $31 million in more than 575 grassroots organizations in 78 countries, helping transform the lives of 9 million of the world’s most vulnerable children.
  13. Hydrate and Save Lives: For every water bottle purchased, MiiR donates clean, safe water to one person.  The unfortunate reality of 2014 is that lack of access to clean water claims the lives of thousands every day.
  14. Adorn Yourself for Charity: You’ve seen Joan Hornig jewelry on the red carpet, but did you know that 100% of all proceeds are donated to the charity of your choice?
  15. Quinn-Plum_Flat-300x300Keep Warm with Krochet Kids: Give a gorgeous hat, scarf or sweater made by workers in Peru or Uganda who are being employed, educated, and mentored by the company’s programs.  Today, over 150 people in Uganda and Peru are working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future in creating gifts through a sustainable cycle of employment and empowerment.
  16. Break the Ongoing Orphan Crisis Cycle: Apparel, Jewelry and Accessories from 147 Million Orphans provide food, water, medicine and shelter to orphans in the name of Jesus Christ. The name of our company invokes discussion and brings awareness to the worldwide orphan crisis. Provision begins with the vulnerable child , but we also work to preserve families through sustainable income projects and community reconstruction.
  17. javanese-jewel-dishtowelsFurnish your home the Fair Trade Way: Did you know – If every American made just ONE Fair Trade purchase a year, it would lift ONE Million families out of poverty?  Seven Hopes United specializes in marketing stylish, handmade, fair trade and eco-friendly gifts from around the globe. Your purchase of fair trade products ensures that artisans are paid a living wage for their work, working conditions are safe, and no children are exploited. Seven Hopes strives to source products that use recycled and natural materials through a traditional handmade process.
  18. Show Your Genuine Care: Beautiful, genuine pearl jewelery offered by Pearls with Purpose, an organization passionate about adorning people with stylish but affordable pearl rings, bracelets, and necklaces while supporting micro-enterprise and job training for women in developing countries.
  19.  Grey-Three-QuarterSave Invisible Children with Style: All donations and purchases fund Invisible Children’s mission of civilian protection and rehabilitation of children abducted by the LRA. Protection and recovery programs focus on the futures of war-affected youth while  worldwide advocacy aims to establish long-term peace and prosperity.
  20. Stay Organized and Save Lives: Moleskin has teamed up with Project(RED) to offer you an exclusive notebook that in turn offers three days of life saving medicine to someone fighting Aids.
  21. Play Responsibly: Endeavor take the guesswork out of shopping for toys and games by only offering items that have been manufactured in countries that value human rights and civil liberties, are made with environmentally sustainable materials, are educational and are FUN!
  22. il_570xN.608756812_drwsShow Your Unique Style to Benefit Others: Many Etsy stores offer items to raise money for various charities.  You can find unique, handcrafted items at affordable price points while still making a difference in the lives of others.
  23. 6904060_1Ensure Our Cheer Doesn’t Harm Others: Millions are working under conditions of forced labor.  This holiday season, let’s stop exploiting human beings and make sure we decorate our homes with beautiful Fair Trade items created by people who have received a fair wage for their labor.
  24. Start with a Smile: Have you set your Amazon account to donate a portion of the proceeds from your spending to a charity of your choice?  Through Amazon Smile, I have mine set to reward World Vision for every purchase that shows up on my front door!
  25. Donate to Give, Donate to Receive: There are hundreds of great charities out there.  Instead of sending out your wish list this year, why not ask your loved ones to donate to your favorite charity in your name.  Or perhaps adopting a whale, or a sponsoring a child in your niece or nephews’ name would bring them more joy than the toy that will be broken by January . . .

As you can see, this list is very comprehensive and covers ideas for everyone on your list, but if you don’t see what you’re looking for on this list, don’t let that stop you from making a socially responsible choice.