Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Compassionate Christmas Challenge

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Christmas is about giving gifts, feeling good, and sharing love and happiness with those around you. The rituals of Christmas usually involve buying and receiving gifts, with a couple of novelties like stockings, trees, and advent countdowns mixed in. We are basically required to get gifts for a certain number of people: family, friends, co-workers; and unless you have some sort of secret Santa method in place, things can get pretty expensive.

Whenever I feel I am required to spend money, on something that can't be avoided, such as morning coffee (I swear it's a requirement!),  or in this case, Christmas presents,  I try and find the best possible option- not just for me, but for the world around me. Every dollar we spend makes an impact on the world and the choice of where we spend our money is powerful and daunting one. Whether it's fair trade coffee, local organic produce, or independently designed products, we are given the ability to empower those who need it everyday when we pull out our wallets.

This year for Christmas I am challenging myself (and you too!) to have a compassionate Christmas. Whether that means making all the gifts, buying locally, donating in place of a gift, or buying gifts from companies that donate with every purchase made. I am committing to a Christmas that blesses my friends and family, and also others who need the help.  I've compiled a list of companies to turn to, to start your shopping. Check these out, and others like them, that support more than just blind consumerism, but blessings beyond borders!

1. Etsy
The first company on the list is Etsy (obviously). If you don't already know what Etsy is (where have you been?!) it's time you learned. It's an online marketplace that allows independent designers to sell their works around the world to a big audience, without the expense of a brick and mortar shop. Give a unique handcrafted gift, and bless somebody who is following their dreams!
2. Kiva
Kiva is an awesome company that provides micro loans to those in need. The first compassionate gift I ever received was from Kiva. A friend of mine got me a $25 gift card for the site and I was able to go on and browse people around the world who needed money to help them with their businesses and shops. Once you loan the money out, you wait a certain amount of time until it is paid back, and then you can re-loan the money out to somebody else who is in need. I loved the gift and I still keep active on Kiva today.

Sevenly is an company that picks a different charity each week. They carry an array of products: tshirts, accessories, prints and more, for women, men and children. $7 from each product purchased goes to the charity of the week. A lot of the items they sell are also made by independent designers so not only does $7 go to charity, the rest goes to independent designers- win/win!

4. World VisionGifts That MatterOutreach InternationalPlan Canada
Another way to gift that I've always loved is to buy a much-needed gift for somebody in a developing country in a friends name. The above sites provide a catalog of options, such as baby chicks, birth certificate, mosquito nets, doctor for safe birth delivery, etc, which you can buy in a friends name and seriously change the life of somebody in another country. Talk about a gift that keeps giving.

5. Toms ShoesRoma Boots
For the shoe lover in your life, why not some awesome and stylish shoes. Both Toms and Roma Boots are companies that match your purchase one for one. You buy a pair of shoes, they send a pair to a child in need. What a beautiful and wonderful testament to this holiday.

6. Inhabitat
For the tech savvy, why not some green gadgets. The above site provides a list of environmentally friendly and totally functional and usable gadgets for the technology lover in your life. Help your friend, help the Earth. The perfect gift.

7. Changing The PresentWorld Wildlife Foundation
These sites are geared toward the tree-huggers on your list. The first site,, plants a tree in New Orleans to help replace all the trees that were lost during Hurricane Katrina- for only $25 you can plant a tree in a friends honour. has an entire marketplace of cool tshirts and gifts which impact animals around the world who are facing extinction. This would be a great place to shop for the little animal lover in your life. They would get not only an awesome gift, but the realization that they can make a difference around the world too! Maybe they'll grow up to be compassionate Christmas gift-givers too!

8. Wear Figs
Know a nurse? is a great site that provides super soft and luxurious scrubs. For each pair you buy, they donate another set to a healthcare provider in need around the world. How great is that?!
9. Baby Teresa
For that new bundle of joy, why not some super adorable and 100% organic cotton baby gear. For each baby outfit purchased, baby-teresa donates another to a baby in need. 

10. Red Earth Trading CompanySame Sky
Jewellery lovers, look no further. Both of the above sites provide beautiful and handcrafted jewelry made by artisans in Africa. Rather then a one time donation, these artisans are able to make money for themselves and become self-sustaining through these companies, who allow them a global platform from which to sell.  
11. Warby Parker is a great website which sells prescription glasses and sunglasses. For every pair you buy, a pair is given to somebody in need. This means you can give the gift of eyesight to somebody in need around the world.

All of these sites allow you to make an amazing impact around the world, while also making an impact on a friend or family members life. They allow you to stretch your dollar and change the world, all while also blessing the person you are giving the gift too. These gifts might even change the way the gift receiver looks at gift giving, and who knows, maybe they'll try out being a compassionate gift giver next year!

I'm really excited for Christmas shopping this year, and already have some things penned in. While I know I will definitely make some of the gifts I give, I am excited to impact the world this Christmas, in the names of those I love the most.

So what do you think? Think you'll try and be a compassionate Christmas shopper this year?
Let me know if you're on board, or if you know of any other awesome sites that benefit others around the world!



  1. Love it Bitty! Is there still a way to give to our kids in Thailand?

    1. Thanks! You can definitely give money to the kids through the offering, but I'm not sure if we are going to have symbolic monetary cards this year yet. I'll talk to Greg about it!



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