Gifts That Give Back 2021

It’s the time to give and receive. Our annual holiday gift guide is here with a purpose. You can not only purchase unique products for your family, colleagues and loved ones, but make a difference by giving back to a social or environment cause. These wonderful companies are taking initiative to support local causes, whether they are related to the health and wellness, uplifting artisans, building communities, or even assisting rescue dogs. So, this year, make a decision to shop differently, and build a better world, together. You can purchase all of these products online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep.

Check out the full list below…

Jewelry That Uplift Artisans $30

This beaded cuff made with recycled Kantha textile beads suspended within a frame of gold metallic beads will add plenty of color to your holiday party. World Finds is an ethical brand that has beautiful designs with meaningful messages. Their Cause Braclets support 15 different charities such as teachers, animals, coral reefs, etc. (so you can personalize it to your receiver’s interest); Kantha Necklaces, made from discarded furniture pieces covered in sari and Kantha remnants; and Kantha Connection bracelets highlight attributes such as compassion, creativity, and unity. World Finds contemporary accessories are design in Chicago and hand made in India. They give woman artisan jobs, a source of income, and a means of preserving traditional crafts and art forms.

NOVICA gives back to artisans
NOVICA subscription boxes are filled with handmade surprises from around the world.

Fair Trade Box $59.99

NOVICA.com, the world’s largest online impact marketplace which supports indigenous artisans worldwide, just launched the first ever fully-customizable subscription called the “Undiscovered Box” which delivers handmade and fair-trade artisan treasures from around the globe – including options for gifts, jewelry, accessories, and decor from a specific nation. The seasonal, quarterly box lets you travel to a new nation by experiencing its hidden gems, and preserves disappearing arts in nations around the world by showcasing hidden craft skills passed down through generations. Unlike any other subscription box in the marketplace, each customer can select their most beloved (5) products from a highly curated selection, including gender-neutral options.  

give a greeting card that gives back
Cardalogy greeting cards support elderly care.

Pop Up Greeting Card For The Community $13

Cardalogy’s colorful and intricate 3-D hand-assembled pop up cards are super cute to send over the holidays. Made with sustainably sourced paper, 10% of profits go to charities, including Age UK, that cares for elderly in the community, and the Woodland Trust, who plant trees with the money. Another unique way they give back is through the village of Lover in the county of Wiltshire. People from all over the world come here to send a special love letter marked with a romantic cachet stamp. After losing their post office, the villagers raised money for their community to build new facilities for young children, families, professionals and retired people within the parish, by sending 8000 hand written valentine’s Day cards, including those by Cardalogy.

give to end childhood hunger
All proceeds from Bake Away cookbook go to No Kid Hungry.

Cookbook to End Child Hunger $24

Bakers will be happy to receive a copy of the new cookbook – Bake Away: Twenty Recipes Capturing the Spirit of Creativity, Experience, and Expression, filled with dessert recipes and colorful pictures. Teen philanthropist and author Sahana Vij created Bake Away, a cookbook to raise money for No Kid Hungry, with all proceeds going to end childhood hunger and poverty in America. Vij takes readers on a journey through her travels and inspirations as a baker, starting with a visit to see her cousins in Atlanta, where she decided to make a New York-style blueberry cheesecake.

give the gift of positive reminders
Custom Neon lights give back to charities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Be The Change Neon Light $250

College kids and young adults will love the fun and cool ‘signs of change’ LED Custom Neon signs with remote controlled ambient lighting. Designed as symbols for the systematic change that needs to happen in our communities and world, each sign emits positive messages such as ‘Be the change, A lover and a fighter, and Darling you’re pure gold.’

100% of the profits from ‘signs of change’ LED neon sign purchases give back to a corresponding charity. These include: Black Girls Smile to address mental health among African-American girls, teens and young women; founded with the mission of helping them with mental health issues; Blueprint for Allis that strives to create an inclusive society among young people; and Children’s Ground that works with Aboriginal communities in Australia.

wine gives back to cancer
Teneral Cellars wines donates to women’s health causes.

Wine For Women’s Health $96

Teneral Cellars is creating a social movement by encouraging conversations and women’s empowerment through exceptional wine and thought-provoking experiences. The brand is available exclusively online. It is also the only all-woman-owned digital wine company that donates 10% of profits to women’s causes, such as the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Teneral Cellars’ Healthy Women, Healthy World Collection features a trio of wines (Bordeaux blend, dry Petit Sarah, fruity white) that bring attention to reproductive, heart, and breast health issues that affect millions of women globally. 

Raise a glass and keep the conversation going!

Satin Tea Mug For Cancer Surviors $30

This holiday season, gift your friends organic teas that support wellness, strengthen immunity, help reduce stress. Besides award-winning handcrafted loose leaf teas, The Tea Spot also sells beautiful tea infusers, tea mugs, tea tumblers, teapots with infusers, and Steepware® modern teaware. The Satin Tea Mug with a stainless steel tea filter and a saucer which doubles as a lid, has a beautifully glazed satin finish, in colors inspired by nature. And the company, a Boulder, Colorado-based woman owned and operated business, donates 10% of all profits in-kind to cancer survivors and community wellness programs.

gift earrings
Aria Design Co raises awareness and funds for mental health.

Earrings for Mental Health $32

New Zealand based Arias Design Co sells artisan earrings with eco friendly polymer clay and other materials. The lightweight, hypoallergenic and delicate hand painted earrings are inspired by Van Gogh’s famous sunflowers. But there are many other fashionable designs to choose from. The sole purpose of Arias is to support better mental health in the community under their Lend An Ear campaign. Arias donates 20% of its profits to the Mental Health Foundation and works closely with them to support their mission.

give green vodka
360 Vodka gives to environmental organizations.

Eco-Friendly Vodka $30

Skip the duty free lines and liquor stores. If you have a cocktail aficionado on your list, get them a bottle of 360 Vodka – the world’s first eco-friendly vodka that is good for the planet, as it is to drink. The American-made and American-owned premium vodka is made using locally-sourced midwestern corn and is naturally gluten-free. Six-times distilled and six-times filtered, 360 Vodka is smooth, clean, green, and delicious. It comes in unique flavors like glazed donut, BBQ, watermelon and Georgia peach. Return the bottle closures for reuse through the brand’s “Close The Loop” program. 360 Vodka also makes donations to environmental organizations and other local charities. The brand promotes several other green initiatives through recycling, paper reduction, and purchasing. 360 Vodka can be purchase online through Drizly.

give back to rescues
Pupups collars and leashes help dogs in shelters.

Collars That Help Shelter Dogs $28

Don’t forget to buy a gift for your four-legged family members too. Pupups line of eco friendly, reusable and waterproof collars and leashes are colorful, practical, and affordable for all dog lovers. They also come in unique styles you won’t find anywhere else. All products are packaged in an eco-friendly reusable case that can be used for doggy bags, treats, or anything else. Pupups is a woman-owned, Seattle-based business. The founder creates each design herself using the finest materials for exceptional durability, easy clean-up (just rinse), and colorfastness. This holiday season, Pupups is donating a collar to a rescue or shelter dog for every collar sold. Go fetch one for every dog lover in your neighborhood!

gift for hearts
Big Heart Candle Co. donate to American Heart Association.

Candles For Good Hearts $36

Give the gift of good scent, while giving back to support heart health research and education. All Big Heart Candle Company candles are chemical-free, pesticide-free, fertilizer-free, carcinogen-free. They also have wooden wicks sourced from an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified mill. Phthalate-free and candle-safe essential oils are used for formulating the scents. Moreover, 10% of all Big Heart Candle Company profits give back to the American Heart Association, that brings awareness to the importance of heart health. 

Love Travel? Get This New Conversation Starter Card Game

“Do I need a conversation starter?”

It’s not an uncommon question.

We want to get know people better, have genuine connections, and be closer to each other. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a traveler we meet, a colleague, an acquaintance, or even our friends at home.

But, sometimes we don’t know what to ask, or how to start a conversation.

To help create engaging conversations around travel and culture, I launched Travel Banter, a deck of conversation starter cards based on the popular #CultureTrav chat and blog.

I’ve been hosting my #CultureTrav Twitter chat for almost 4 years now. It’s been incredible to watch travelers connect with each other online, become friends, and have fun meetups offline.

I wanted to create the same fun chat interactions in a new way: an offline version of #CultureTrav chat called Travel Banter. Travel Banter travel-themed conversation cards feature popular questions asked by my #CultureTrav community.

The design process for Travel Banter

The concept of conversation starter cards came to me at the dinner table earlier this year. I started thinking that while it’s great to talk about travel, it’s even better to talk about it when you have a question or interesting prompt to consider.

Over the years of hosting my Twitter chat, thousands of questions have come my way. Fellow travelers, my co-hosts and I would think about engaging questions that we were curious to know the answers to. While I love hearing about people’s personal favorites, I find it even more compelling to hear about how people deal with things like language barriers or mishaps. I love hearing about people stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall cafes or having unexpected adventures, or discovering local street art.

A lot of these types of stories and conversations often come up during my Twitter chat, so I thought, “How can I translate the Twitter chat questions into in-person conversation starters?”

The concept of a conversation starter isn’t new. Companies have used conversation starters in their HR process to get to know candidates, and people have used conversation starters during events or orientations. But, I wanted to add a fun and engaging twist to travel-related conversations.

After thinking about it more, it was time to get “down to business” and start brainstorming design concepts. My boyfriend has advanced Photoshop skills (and is an entrepreneur of several product-based endeavors), so I asked him for help with the initial design of the cards. Additionally, I hired three graphic designers on Fiverr to see what they could brew up for the design. In the end, the final card design is a mix of my boyfriend’s design, elements of designs from the Fiverr designers, and feedback from family about an added visual element: a photo. Each card features two conversation starter questions on one side, and a community-featured photo on the other. I love that I’m able to highlight my traveler community’s photos as part of the game, because this game is very much a communal effort.

How to use conversation starter cards

While there is nothing “wrong” with talking about the weather, that’s not exactly exciting.

We carry around flash cards when studying Spanish or French verbs, but for some reason, it’s considered unusual to carry around a conversation starter card. And, when we have conversation starters on hand, how do we introduce them to people in a way that invites the conversation, and isn’t awkward?

It’s not that you’re bad at having conversations. But, a conversation starter can be a fun and useful guide to getting people to share stories that you may not have heard otherwise.

It’s easier than you think!

Here’s a real conversation brought to you by the Travel Banter question, “Would you try a local delicacy, even if you found something about it objectionable?”: 

“And, yeah, I ate a jellyfish!”
“….what did you do that for?”
“I know! Crazy, right?! Part of it was revenge for that time I got stung by a jellyfish.”
“Wait! What?!”
“But, really, jellyfish tastes like nothing. It’s like nothing. Which makes sense, I guess!”
“But, we were also on a trip with my students and I was trying to impress them by eating this weird thing.”
(Overheard at the Travel Banter Kickstarter launch party on Wednesday, October 17).

And, there you have it! A conversation created by Travel Banter. A story told that you may not have otherwise heard at all.

Wouldn’t it be great to have questions to ask to create a better conversation?

Travel Banter wants to make stimulating conversations happen. Travel Banter gives you a fun and easy way to bring you closer together, and share memorable moments.

Get to know your friends and family better, and also learn about strangers on the road. The next time you’re at a family gathering or party, pull out a Travel Banter card and ask a meaningful question. You’ll be pleasantly surprised about the things you can learn.

By guest blogger Nicolette Orlemans. Nicolette is the founder of #CultureTrav and CultureTrav.coTravel Banter is the byproduct of the conversations shared on the #CultureTrav Twitter chat. Follow her on Twitter.