December Gift Guide 2012 [Part 2]

Today's gift guide is brought to you by The Authenticity Project's Program Director: Erik. 


First off, let me just say that I am the worst when it comes to giving gifts: birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas all find me at the local 24-hour supermarket or corner convenience store around 3 in the morning hunting every isle for some type of relevant symbol of love or appreciation that I can find. So for me, compiling a list of gifts is like asking a water buffalo to paint an accurate representation of Frans Hals’ The Laughing Caviler. However, in recent years I have learned to embrace not only my gift-giving deficiency, but also use people's lack of expectations to work for me by coming up with some creative ideas for gifts.

And I’d like to share five of those with you today...

1. Dinner Invitations: I’ll start off with this one because it’s one of my favorites, and it goes into my new gift giving ethos which is: the best gift you can give is TIME. Most people that we care enough to actually give a gift too are usually people we enjoy spending time with, and most of us live such busy and calendar packed lives that actually giving someone the gift of a couple hours of “free-time” is much appreciated and more meaningful than another closet-bound scarf. Combine the gift of time with a free home-cooked meal and you can't lose. Just make sure you follow-up on this one and set a date ASAP so it doesn't fall through the cracks.

2. Personalized Art: Turn off the TV, rip the iPad out of your kid's hands and replace it with some crayons, Paints, markers etc…tell them who they are making the art for and to make it personal. Now head to the craft store, slap it in a frame, wrap it up and BAM! You've got a tear-jerking grandparent gift that actually means something and becomes a priceless work of art.

3.    Three Avocados Coffee: I am a huge fan of coffee, I say "fan" because it sounds better than addict. I drink coffee all day and I have become a bit of a coffee snob and so when a friend turned me on to Three Avocados, a Non-Profit coffee company that uses 100% of there proceeds to provide clean water and support educational efforts in Uganda, I was sold. And it turned out that their coffee is absolutely WONDERFUL! So for that coffee “fan” on your Christmas list, get them a couple bags of Uganda Bugisu coffee ($11.99 a 12oz bag) or... you can even get them a subscription ($13.94 per month) so they can drink it all year long.

4.    INKAcases: We do love our tech toys and after dishing out hundreds of dollars on the latest laptop or tablet our next step is buying something to protect it. Well, the folks at Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development have got just the thing. Made by local artisans in Peru these cases are handmade to keep your iPad or Laptop safe and sound. And by purchasing one ($35-40.00) you help support community-led development in the highlands of Peru. Don’t tell, but my Mother-in-Law is getting one of these for Christmas this year.

5.    Handwritten Letters: We live in a great age, a time in history where communication is instantaneous. We can update our Facebook page and let everyone we've ever met know what we had for lunch and where we had it, we can text, email, and call someone from our smart phones anywhere anytime. But, there's just something about going to the mailbox expecting nothing more than a pile of bills and furniture store flyers and seeing an envelope with your name HANDWRITTEN on it! This Christmas consider writing some folks a letter once a month, not a typed and formatted form letter, but an honest-to-goodness handwritten letter sharing your thoughts on life and love. Maybe consider picking up some handmade stationary from Dolma Fair Trade. 

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

Erik Ewing is the Program Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Erik at

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