12 Ideas for Holiday Party Gifts That Give Back

Instead of doling out trinkets that collect dust, consider gifts that provide humanitarian or environmental relief—as well as holiday cheer.

(Pictured clockwise, from top left) Gifts of LSTN headphones provide hearing aid to people in need, This Bar Saves Lives sends food to malnourished children, NatureBox proceeds benefit Feeding America, and Toms has a buy-one-give-one coffee program.
(Pictured clockwise, from top left) Gifts of LSTN headphones provide hearing aid to people in need, This Bar Saves Lives sends food to malnourished children, NatureBox proceeds benefit Feeding America, and Toms has a buy-one-give-one coffee program.
Photos: Courtesy of LSNT, This Bar Saves Lives, NatureBox, and Toms Roasting Company

There's nothing less appreciated than a useless, meaningless holiday gift that does little more than clutter up the recipient's desk and accumulate dust. Instead of the logo-covered swag or overpriced filler, opt for holiday party gift-giving with purpose. Consider one of these gifts that give back for every member of the team.

For the staffer who controls the office playlist: Every pair of cool-looking LSTN headphones sold goes to provide hearing aid to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

For the caffeine addict: As with its well-known shoes, Toms has a buy-one-give-one coffee program, too. With every bag of coffee purchased, Toms gives one week of clean water to a person in need. Similarly, sales of Laughing Man coffee, tea, and chocolate go to support entrepreneurs around the world through education and development.

Alternatively, provide the vessel: Accompany sells items that all have a fair trade or humanitarian component behind them. Among the holiday party gifts offered is a Jonathan Adler mug, fair-trade produced in Peru at the brand’s main workshop, which was founded through Aid to Artisans.

For the water-guzzler: Make the water cooler an environmentally friendlier place to catch up on office gossip by gifting a water bottle to the person who spends a lot of time there. It's a way to reduce waste, as well as to underscore and encourage sustainable corporate practices. Miir supplies clean water to one person in need for every water bottle purchased.

For the entire team: Candle gifts are crowd-pleasers across broad recipient categories. Make the giving more meaningful with Man Cans—candles made inside emptied cans of soup purchased from local grocery stores. After the soup is donated to a soup kitchen, the can becomes a candle holder.

For the nonstop tech-connected: We’ve offers handmade gift items while supporting artisans around the world, who share video diaries of the creation process. For those who are never without their devices, consider the alpaca iPad case from Bolivia, or an iPhone case from Cambodia.

For the office foodie: Membership service NatureBox sends out a variety of nutritious snacks in each shipment, with a portion of the proceeds from the membership going to hunger-relief group Feeding America.

Or, This Bar Saves Lives is a line of gourmet bars made with all natural, gluten free, non-GMO, fair trade ingredients from top U.S. farms. For each one sold, a life-saving packet of food is delivered to a child in need. A monthly bar club dispatches three boxes to the recipient's door (or desk). Or, as a gift for the whole department, there's a new program called This Workplace Saves Lives, through which businesses can stock their offices. (Google recently signed on.)

For the ones who always eat at their desks: United By Blue promises to remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold. A functional, environmentally friendly holiday party gift option is a stylish canvas lunch bag for the office.

For the far-away client: Instead of shipping a material item, Oxfam America allows the giver to select a specific gift by price, like a pair of chickens for $18, kids' books for $25, or a vegetable garden for $30 for those living in poverty.

For the whole department: To spread the giving around, and as a great way to personalize charity gifts, Good Cards are available in any amount. Recipients get to pick the charity of their choice to which to apply it.

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