Last Minute Christmas Gifts that Give.
In the last couple of weeks before Christmas, with the shopping frenzy at full pelt; one often hears: “Oh I don’t know what to buy him/her” or “What do I get her..she’s got everything?” Where can I find unique, original Christmas gifts?
This year, I’m really trying to buy Christmas gifts which give back; presents which have a positive effect on the people sourcing and/or making them. ‘Trade not aid’, is proven to be more effective and have longer-lasting benefits in developing countries than donations and handouts.
So here’s a selection of ideas from social enterprises which I’ve encountered which have a positive effect on the communities from which they source their products.
A pair of Toms Shoes for my sister – the Alpargatas Classic pair in Rose Gold Glimmer and perhaps a pair of pom pom slippers for my mum and/or me!
I love the TOMS’ ethos: ‘Every purchase has a purpose.’ The founder, Blake Mycoskie, created a brilliant model: ‘One for One.’ Every time you buy a pair of shoes from TOMS, they give a pair to a child in the developing world. Genius!
2. I’m giving my cousin one of our on-trend, bucket bags because she’s a huge Zulucow fan and is always interested in the ladies’ stories.
Each bag is finely crafted by our skilled craftswomen, helping to create skills development and long-term, sustainable jobs so these ladies can support their extended families (they’re often sole providers) and so they can plan for their future.
There are few economic opportunities in rural S.Africa where they live; the workshop is female owner run and 90 % of the workers are female, working in very good conditions and being paid above the average wage.
Nelly, working on the latest order of gorgeous, Zulucow Bucket Bags Thandi with the Bucket Bag she made
3. Gorgeous Christmas Gifts – I’m buying a gorge little artisan-made gold necklace from Nkuku
which is based in Devon, where I grew up. I’ve been following the couple who founded Nkuku for a few years as Zulucow’s ethos is similar: ie. they too work with artisans who create individual products, using sustainable materials and they embrace traditional skills.
4. I know my sister-in-law in the States would love a dramatic piece of wall art. So I’ve sent her one of our recycled, beaded wall hangings.
I first met Mike (see pic below) on the streets of Johannesburg, where he was selling his wire and beaded sculptures. I bought the multi-coloured beaded giraffe, elephant and Lion (in the photo) but the next time we went out to SA, I couldn’t find him.
But I did meet entrepreneurial Nyvasha, who was selling his amazing wall art, and I’ve been buying his beautiful art-work ever since (the last 4 years!)
Nyvasha had to leave his home (and my birthplace: wonderful, beautiful, Zimbabwe) when the economy fell through the floor with Mugabe’s regime. He moved to South Africa to try and find work and make some money to support his wife and two baby boys and found a niche with his dramatic wire and beaded heads.
I still don’t know how, but he crafts beaded and tin heads, and art sculptures, so they look like the real animal – just look at that bone structure! (All perfect Christmas Gifts!) On the last trip to Johannesburg (to see the Zulucow ladies) in September, he very sweetly made two fab, beaded bicycles for our two boys as presents! I was so very touched by this sweet, sweet man.
5. Another Christmas Gift which gives: I’m buying a bright, fun, recycled bit of flip-flop art from Ocean Sole
a company I first encountered, when we visited Nairobi 5 years ago. A genius social enterprise idea, ‘Ocean Sole’ pays coastal communities to collect hundreds of thousands of discarded flip- flops off Kenyan’s beaches, creating sustainable employment for local Kenyans in the process.
6. For my friend who’s ‘got it all,’ I’ve decided to give her a funky Zulucow Door-Stop for her beautiful home.
7. Finally, I’d also like to support the environment and I thought my husband would appreciate a World Land Trust Gift voucher.
For every £5 given to their ‘Plant a Tree’ programme, their partners in Brazil will plant one tree in an area which has suffered habitat loss and degradation by logging or livestock grazing. They’ll look after this tree and try and help restore the natural habitat, which is sadly being depleted by an alarming rate.
Happy shopping ‘Gifts that Give’ all!!