Radical Gift Giving

I’ve been doing some online shopping for my family and a few friends. There is some really great stuff out there this year!  I will share some links and ideas with you further down the page.

In my circle of life, we try not to go overboard in the gift giving department. We do still exchange gifts, though, because we believe it helps keep our far-flung family connected more strongly.

AC upside Christmas T-shirt, via Flickr  Sweet*Shot CC license
AC upside Christmas T-shirt, via Flickr Sweet*Shot CC license

A few years ago learned about The Advent Conspiracy. Most of the ideas in this movement were not earth shattering to me because I’ve always tried to live and give simply. The main idea behind the Advent Conspiracy is that Americans spend way more than necessary on Christmas gift giving.  If we all gave even a portion of what we usually spend on Christmas gifts to projects like clean water wells for villages in developing countries, we would be much closer to solving the world’s clean water needs.

Find out more about Advent Conspiracy here.
Find their Facebook page here.
Find out about Living Water International here.

I have a pinterest board with ideas for simple giving:  http://www.pinterest.com/jill_hasker/giving-simply/

If you are going to give a few gifts — and you don’t have time, energy or patience to follow all the “do it yourself” ideas out there and even “simple” seems stressful — here are some cool ways to give meaningful gifts (many ideas that “give” more than once)!

MudLOVE bracelets and jewelry.  From their “about” page:
In an attempt to deny self, MudLOVE was built on the idea of giving back. Starting with nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and an unadvised business plan of giving 20% of all sales to clean drinking water projects in Africa, MudLOVE was born, and God-inspired creation emerged. The hope of MudLOVE is to be an inspiration to people, not just providing Africans with clean water, but also encouraging and loving broken people. What one may lack in clean water, another may lack in love. 

MudLOVE donates 20% of all sales to clean water projects in Africa through a faith-based organization, Water for Good, a company dedicated to providing, equipping, and empowering people in The Central African Republic with the essential tools and knowledge to survive and thrive in their country. Learn more at www.waterforgood.org.

The really cool thing is that MudLOVE is very near my tiny hometown in Indiana!  🙂  You can order from them online.  I have several of their bracelets and just LOVE them!

from their “about” page:
Litographs creates art from the books you’ve read and loved. Ourposters, t-shirts, and tote bags are all created entirely from the text of classic books.


Our designs were created by a team of artists from all over the world. From a distance, the artwork illustrates a theme, character, or setting from each book. Move closer and the text becomes fully legible.

Litographs is committed to promoting literacy, both at home and abroad.
We’re proud to partner with the International Book Bank to send one new, high-quality book to a community in need for each product we sell.

My daughter found this site (litographs.com), and I can not choose just one design as my favorite!  The artists have done fabulous work to capture the essence of the various novels and works.  It is a fun site to browse even if you aren’t buying.

from their “about” page:
CommonThreadz is a nonprofit helping orphans & vulnerable children in developing nations to reach their full potential through the empowerment of the children, their caretakers & the local grass-roots community organizations that support them.  

The Hearts 2 Hands T-shirts caught my eye.   The shirts feature the handprints of orphans they are working with.  EACH HAND-TO-HEART SERIES SHIRT bought FEEDS AN ORPHAN IN AFRICA FOR 1 MONTH!

hearts 2 hands t-shirt from commonthreadz.org

There are many other products on their website for sale.  All proceeds go to support worthwhile projects for children in Africa.

WHAT THE CAUSE BRACELET REPRESENTS: By wearing this adjustable reed bracelet you are expressing your commitment to helping children that have been orphaned in South Africa. commonthreadz.org

uncommongoods.com:  creative living.  mindful giving
This site has many off the beaten path items.  I found their gift finder tool unusually helpful.  For instance, there is a category for “Teen girls 15 and up” which happens to be my very specific need right now! Here is a particularly fabulous item:

Creation bracelets from uncommongoods.com

Product description from the website:  Each band has a unique combination of colors, charms, beads and decorative knot work, allowing you to find a symbolic meaning in each one. When you wear the twisting, autumn-toned band with its starburst pendant, for example, will you picture the sun and the earth, or intricate wonder of DNA? The bracelets can be mixed and matched, and worn individually or together to suit your look, your mood and your place in the world. Bracelets are made from durable, waxed cords, and have either button-and-loop or adjustable knot closures. Handmade in Guatemala.  

The description also includes information about the MAKER of the bracelets!  Lis believes everyone is born with creativity. Her inspiration comes from a mixture of her inner child and the mystical people of the indigenous communities she works with. There is something magical in the rural communities that connect her with her inner soul, which is where she believes her creativity comes from. She loves to combine fashion trends with ancestral techniques from the Guatemalan rural communities. Lis wants everyone to “Believe in their dreams and make them come true. The only person who can do something for you, is yourself. Never underestimate yourself.”

If you don’t need a tangible item and want to make a donation in honor or memory of someone or something, there are wonderful ideas for that, too!

Heifer International allows you to donate all or part of the cost of providing an animal(s) for families.
from their “about” page:

The core of our model is Passing on the Gift. This means families share the training they receive, and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once impoverished family to become donors and full participants in improving their communities.

The goal of every Heifer project is to help families achieve self-reliance. We do this by providing them the tools they need to sustain themselves, and it’s thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

You have the power to give a hungry family the training it takes to feed themselves and their children; to give a young girl a chance at an education; to empower a woman to have a voice in her community. Together, we can change the world, one family, one community, at a time. And it all starts with a gift.

give the gift of a goat (or a share of a goat)

On small farms, goats are often the key to a family’s survival. Give a goat to a family in need. Along with training and education in its care, each goat gift donation:

Each gift of a goat:

  • Provides milk, cheese and butter for nourishment
  • Boosts income through sales of extra milk and wool
  • Encourages better crop yields by creating fertilizer and clearing land

Goats are known for providing delicious milk, which can be used to create cheese that can be sold for income, in turn providing a family’s children the opportunity to go to school. Goat milk is more easily digestible, and one animal can produce up to four gallons a day. Goats are ideal for zero grazing, which means very little land is needed to raise them. Their natural curiosity and intelligence also makes them great pets for families with children.

Nothing But Nets:
Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria. For a family in Africa, a net can mean the difference between life and death. For just $10, you can protect a family and save a life.

There are several organizations working to end malaria: http://www.malarianomore.org/

SERRV:  SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.  For 63 years, SERRV has practiced core values that create positive change through lasting partnerships and trust. We believe in building environmental, economic, and social sustainability. We esteem culture traditions that nurture the human spirit. We aim for the highest quality of products and service, we invest in sharing information with those we serve, and we value our national network of volunteers who bring our mission to life. SERRV works to eradicate poverty through our direct connections with low-income artisans and farmers. We market their crafts and foods, find joint solutions to their challenges, and help them grow and embrace the future.

Bolgatanga Market Basket from SERRV.org

Compassion International is another possibility for giving that has the potential to change for the better the life of a child or a family.  Categories of gifts include:  disaster response, education, health, income generation, sponsoring a child on a monthly basis ($38 per month!), urgent needs, water, children at risk, and child survival program.
From their “about” page:  In response to the Great Commission, Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.

Napada:  $15 lovely handbags!!

Napada handicrafts employs women from this low-income community enabling them to better the lives of their families while forming community with Christians and learning the truths of God. Some of the women had low paying jobs and some had no work opportunities whatsoever prior to becoming a part of Napada.


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I am a pianist, musician, music teacher, choir director, mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, neighbor. I enjoy music (of course!), quilting, sewing, beading, traveling, kayaking, camping, biking, hiking, gardening, knitting, scrapbooking, cooking, reading, poetry, drinking good coffee, and having fun with family and friends. NOTE -- Creative Commons License: All work of The Tromp Queen (quirkyjazz, aka Jill) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported License.

8 thoughts on “Radical Gift Giving”

  1. Thank you so much for doing this research for me! 🙂 I’ve been buying purses and scarves from women in Thailand rescued from the sex trade, but all my women relatives have them now, and I was wondering what to do next… You’ve helped solve my problem! Love the lithograph idea! and the jewelry is perfect for my nieces.
    A big long online hug to you!!! Happy Advent. And if it isn’t too late, check out the latest post from http://handmaiden.com about the easy DIY homemade advent fireplace calendar. (She’s my niece!)

    1. I’m so glad you found the post and ideas helpful! I can hardly wait to see the t-shirt we ordered for our daughter. (She doesn’t read my blog so I think I am safe in mentioning this). I would be interested in the link to your purse and scarf/Thailand rescued women crafts. Thank you for the hug: I reciprocate enthusiastically! I will check out your niece’s work in your post, though we no longer have a fireplace. Maybe I can adapt the idea…

      1. I LOVE all the bags and the lovely fabrics! (I love bags in general, especially those with nice fabric linings.) Thank you for sharing this link and this wonderful gift idea.

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