Only so many holiday seasons can pass before your loved ones tire of receiving the thoughtfully chosen hemp T-shirts and Putumayo CDs that were once the mainstays of the socially conscious gift arsenal. Now that the Internet connects progressive consumers to indigenous craftspeople in developing countries–and to crafty people all over our country–do-gooder gifts are just a click away.
Since most people are always hoping for a cashmere sweater, don’t be annoyed if they exhibit mild but visible disappointment when you give them a book. (Hint: Tuck a crisp $20 bill between the pages to generate more enthusiasm.) Books are often the most cherished present years down the line, none perhaps more so than classics like William Strunk and E.B. White’s Elements of Style, which has just been updated with illustrations by New Yorker contributor Maira Kalman.
Actions Speak Louder Than Bumper Stickers features ninety-six of the funniest decals currently on the road, each accompanied by sobering facts that ground the punch lines in the harsh reality from whence they spring. Young New Yorkers Aaron Rudenstine and Olivia Greer have captured the zeitgeist in a time capsule of leftist one-liners.
If humor is your preferred coping mechanism for dealing with three more years, Jon Stewart’s America (The Calendar) will make each morning a little brighter, until you read the newspaper.
When no wit is strong enough to dull the pain of W.’s foibles, drink reality away with a case of organic wine. Chartrand Imports brings in organic wines from all over Europe; founder Paul Chartrand discovered many while working on organic farms in France.
As long as it’s not a leaden fruitcake, gifts of food are always welcome. The Lower Eastside Girls Club’s bakery, Sweet Things, was created to familiarize girls ages 8 to 18, and their mothers, with the principles and day-to-day details of entrepreneurship. They’ll send a gift tin of their fabulous gingerbread or iced butter cookies to your loved ones for a $25 donation, or you can order trays of cookies for the office, a mother-daughter apron set with the secret butter cookie recipe, or individual cookies
There are a number of organic fair-trade chocolates on the market, but Art Bars from Ithaca Fine Chocolates goes an extra mile, donating 10 percent of its profits to art education.
Shopping for a vegan can be trying, but Yachana Gourmet’s "Jungle Chocolate" is pure cacao nibs with just a bit of sugar cane juice, and all profits go toward saving the rainforest and supporting sustainable development programs in the Ecuadorian Amazon.