December Gift Guide 2012 [Part 3]

“Be the Change You Wish to See” Gift Giving Guide [Part 3]

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The holidays are an amazing time to really think about ways to bless other people and have fun while doing it! So, let’s go out and bless everyone we can with the goal to “be the change we wish to see!" --Gandhi

1.       Shop Fair Trade- As our world becomes filled with more things, there is a humongous gap between those who buy the things and how the things we buy are made, where they come from, and the story behind all involved in the process of getting those things into our stores. As large corporations become more powerful, many times the workers and the poorest people get stuck in a cycle of exploitation and poverty.  Many are forced to work in horrible unsafe conditions, long working hours (usually around 18-20 hours per day), and unfair wages.  Fair trade organizations work hand-in-hand with the people around the world insuring that all are being treated with dignity, fairness, and carving their way out of poverty. When we choose to buy fair trade we are voting for the type of business practices and working conditions we support. Check out the two wonderful organizations below:

Yobel Market-  Yobel works directly with artisans all over the world to ensure fair working conditions and wages. You can get a beautiful ornament from Rwanda,  jewelry from Peru, blankets from India, super stylish clothes from Uganda, stellar leather bags from Kenya, beautiful bags from Thailand, and even wine bottle holders from Costa Rica!  Also, if you live in Colorado, you should check out their store in-person located in Colorado Springs!

Light Gives Heat (LGH)-  This is an amazing organization that provides jobs and opportunities for women and men throughout the regions of war-torn Uganda. These jobs allow the Ugandan women and men to be able to provide for their families with dignity and hope for a better future. The SUBBI (meaning Hope) women and the EPOH (Hope backwards) men and women create beautiful jewelry, bags, clothing, and many other awesome things that would be the perfect gift for any person in your life. Most of the women and men are survivors of the Ugandan civil wars and most have lost loved ones and suffered much. By buying one of their products we are helping these families to experience a better life. Check out their website and while you are at it, check out their full-length film, Moving On! This film tells the amazing story of finding beauty in risk and the inspiring stories of the Ugandan people that are LGH.

2.       Kiva-  Kiva is a microfinance organization that gives people without access to traditional banking systems opportunities to start their own small business or expand their current business. This is done by providing small loans to people through microfinance institutions located on five continents. Kiva connects people who can lend money (like you and me) to the people who really need safe, affordable access to capital in order to create better lives for themselves and their families. One hundred percent of your loan is sent to these microfinance institutions, which are called Field Partners, who administer the loans in the field. All the loans you make are of course paid back to you in full. Kiva has wonderful gift cards that you can give to people that allow whoever receives the gift card to choose the borrowers to support. When their loans are repaid, they can use those funds again and again to make even more loans on Kiva. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving!

3.       Shared experiences-  Just as Erik pointed out in Part 2, time is a precious gift that we can give to each other amidst our busy world. There are so many wonderful activities that you can do with your loved ones. Last year, I bought two tickets for a painting and wine night at a place called Splash for my mother-in-law and myself. We had a great time together! Also last year, my husband bought two concert tickets for him and his brother to go see his brother’s favorite band. As we all know, creating memories is definitely more important than just giving things. What’s even better is you get to share those experiences with whoever you give them to. Just think creatively about what the other person would really enjoy and go have fun!

4.       Handmade gifts locally made- I love finding unique gifts that are handmade and highlight the person’s creativity and skills. There are so many people out there who make a living out of making things that are way cooler than anything you could find at your local Target. Etsy is a great website that allows creators to sell their creations directly online and Etsy has a huge variety of wonderful things: Also, look out for local handmade craft fairs in your area and support those around you!!

5.       Make the gift!- You would be so surprised and impressed with yourself if you knew how many amazing things you can come up with and create yourself! It just takes some foresight, a little creativity, and time. Handmade gifts are usually much more thoughtful and special than store bought gifts. With all the amazing websites dedicated to DIY (do it yourself), you are sure to find a great project to make for everyone in your family! Some things I have made in the past to give as gifts were crocheted hats, a collage of pictures in a frame, some small acrylic paintings, and some cards. Right now, I’m working on making carved leather coasters with the Colorado Flag. (Yes, we all love Colorado!!)

**No one has asked us to feature any products - these are simply things we love and want to share!

Stephanie Zeller is the Community Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Stephanie at

Check out December Gift Guide 2012 Part 1  and Part 2 in case you missed it!