Shopping advice? From me?

No one—and I mean no one—comes to me for Christmas shopping advice.

I’m not a good shopper at any time of the year. As my husband and older daughter say, “You start grumpy and just get worse.” They generally refuse to go with me—especially if they know the stores will be crowded.

Despite this, though, I’m actually going to share some shopping tips in this blog entry.

If you like the idea of giving gifts that give back, then you might be interested in some of these very cool businesses and nonprofits that allow you to do just that. Giving these items won’t help you to buy more with less money, but you’ll know that every purchase enables an organization to do more for someone who desperately needs hope.

IF YOU’RE SHOPPING FOR PRETEENS/TEENS

Check out www.mudlove.com. This company, based in Winona Lake, Indiana (home of my wonderful in-laws and my alma mater, Grace College), sells made-on-site clay bracelets and necklaces. The most popular version is stamped with a word or phrase, and you can even custom order a word or phrase that has particular meaning to you. Twenty percent of each purchase goes to provide clean water in Africa, and $5 spent provides an African with clean drinking water for a year. My girls (ages 8, 12, 13, and 15) ALL love them.

www.entertheventure.com doesn’t have a whole lot of items for sale, but I love the heart behind this small nonprofit, which was started by some young friends of ours. They have African-made bracelets and necklaces made out of rolled paper. If you haven’t seen these, don’t think, “Paper? Tacky.” They’re NOT. Plus, each one purchased helps support two children’s homes in Africa: Jerusalem Children’s ministry and Springs of Hope.

BIG-TICKET BEAUTY

www.handandcloth.com sells gorgeous, one-of-a-kind blankets made from used saris by women rescued from the slave trade in Bangladesh. I’ve featured this ministry before on my blog (https://journeytojen.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/blankets-handmade-by-women-women-handmade-by-god/).  These are perfect buys for the person who appreciates beautiful, handmade artisan items (hmm—maybe that describes you yourself!). They start at $98 dollars and go up to around $200. Check out the blankets at the website—which itself is beautiful—and read their story while you are there. “Blankets handmade by women. Women handmade by God.” Wonderful work!

TWO OTHERS FOR WOMEN AT RISK

If you want something other than blankets made by women rescued from the slave trade, visit www.warinternational.org. The acronym WAR, standing for Women at Risk, was started in 2006. You can find jewelry, accessories, home décor, and children’s items made by women in 13 countries, including the United States.

www.stoptraffickfashion.com has t-shirts, jewelry, and totes/bags made from recycled materials. Many of their t-shirts express the heart of the women who run this website. One with a barcode also has the logo “People are not products” and several sport the logo “free.loved.radiant.”

LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Need to shop for kids, men, women—want to spend a little for this one, more for that one? Go to www.tenthousandvillages.com. Gorgeous jewelry, decorative items, and woven/knitted items for women; toys and games for children; even things like chess sets, bookends, and bicycle-chain frames for men. Their website is very easy to navigate and has some very helpful tools. If you click on the “gift ideas” tab at the top of the page, you can shop for holiday items, for men, women, or children, or by type of item.  You can spend a little (items as low as $4) or a lot. They also have shops (there is one near me in Glen Ellyn, IL). You can find a shop locater on the website.

FOR THE COFFEE LOVERS

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company has “Drink Coffee. Do Good” as its motto. It started with farmers in Rwanda (the founder saw the effects of the genocide and had to do SOMETHING) and now works with farmers in Haiti and Thailand as well. They sell 100% Arabica, fairly traded, fresh roasted coffee. They sell ground, whole bean, and decaf, teas, and coffee accessories at www.landofathousandhills.com.

LOOKING FOR HANDCRAFTED CROCHETED ITEMS?

My husband just told me about this one, and I checked it out and love their website. What a great story! A group of high school guys learned to crochet simply because they wanted unique ski hats on the local slopes. Others dubbed them the Krochet Kids. Long story short (if you want to know the whole thing, visit the website), they taught these skills to women in northern Africa and then Peru, and they sell these handmade items at www.krochetkids.org. Each item carries with it the signature of the woman who crocheted it, and you can visit the website to learn her story.

AND, FINALLY, FOR THE PERSON WHO HAS EVERYTHING

Buy them a goat—bet they don’t have that. Seriously, go to  www.worldvision.org or www.compassion.com and look under “ways to give.” The gift catalog has items like school supplies, ducks, and clean-water wells. You can honor someone with your gift, and that person will receive a card telling about your gift and what it will accomplish.

ANY OTHER IDEAS???

If you have other ideas, please leave a comment and share! I’d love to hear your ideas.

Thanks for reading! I sure enjoyed pulling the list together.

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