How to Give Better
This Holiday

It's the most wonderful time of the year and by that we mean: it's the time of year when we have to wrack our brains trying to effectively give gifts (and, in some cases, get gifts). This is a yearly hurdle that flares up around birthdays and anniversaries but year-end holidays deliver the biggest blow, right? Add a notoriously difficult year like 2017 into the mix and you have a truly unique headache on your hands. How can you alleviate the drama? By giving better, opting toward donations and unique gifts that hold goodness close to heart. To help you, we have a few ideas for alternative ways to give more than stuff this season.

Give goods that
pay it forward

While donations in lieu of a gift is well intentioned, sometimes people just want a physical something they can unwrap and hold onto. To gift while giving, opt for luxe one-for-one model brands. Or businesses like cannabis newcomer Bloom Farms, which donates a meal for every purchase made (but, unfortunately, only Californians can try the TOMS of weed). In addition to one-for-one brands, some companies make significant charitable donations for any purchase like Patagonia or actor Eric Wareheim's up-and-coming winery.

Warby Parker Glasses

Glasses,
from $95 by Warby Parker

Donates a pair and provides vision care
to those in need.

Bloom Farms Highlighter Vapor Pen

Highlighter vapor pen,
$45 by Bloom Farms

Donates a meal to food-insecure families and individuals in need.

Parachute Percale Bedding Set

Percale bedding set,
from $239 by Parachute

Donates mosquito nets through Nothing But Nets, a global campaign against malaria.

Las Jaras Old Vines Carignan

Old vines Carignan,
$35 by Las Jaras Wines

Gives a portion of profits to victims of the Northern California fires.

Patagonia Recycled Cashmere Sweater

Recycled cashmere sweater,
$199 by Patagonia

Donates portions of proceeds to
environmental activism.

Beats Pill+ Speaker

Beats Pill+ speaker,
$159 by Beats

Contributes 50% of profits to to fight AIDS through the Global Fund.

Give things away ...

If you're feeling the need to purge before the onslaught of new things, donate your out-of-use goods to those in need. Outside of local charities—which watchdog Charity Navigator can help you find in your area—an organization like Habitat For Humanity offers a reputable place to give goods. Goodwill is another great alternative but, despite appearances, work with nonprofits instead of actually being a nonprofit. (And, while well intentioned, Salvation Army is marred by anti-LGBT attitudes and abuse: know before you give.) If you only have one or two things to donate, consider re-gifting the item. Years ago, it wasn't all that cool to do, but etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore explained to CNN that now it's universally accepted if the item is appropriate for the gift-getter and actually of value. "Just don't re-gift a present among the same social circle ... that's where you can get yourself in trouble."

... and get used

Speaking of re-gifting, take the idea of giving something not-new to the next level by shopping vintage, a smart solution for curbing holiday consumerism. Outside of rad local stores, there are plenty of used and vintage outlets online. Besides mainstays like eBay and Etsy, TheRealReal takes luxury consignment online while What Goes Around Comes Around offers thrilling (if not pricey) vintage fare. Mister Freedom has old school wears for the heritage hound while ASOS Marketplace has more contemporary flair; One Kings Lane has vintage housewares covered while 1stdibs is the destination for fairly affordable antiquity. For the tech fiend, brands like Apple and Canon or outlets like Newegg and Amazon Renewed offer trustworthy refurbished electronics.

Give change
in America

2017 has made resisting via giving to the likes of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood a routine. While great, there are so many places to diversify your philanthropic dollar. Consider giving to a cause near to a loved one's heart in their name. The American Cancer Society is always a great choice. To defend vulnerable environments, give to the Environmental Defense Fund. To preserve the work of honest journalism, try the Committee To Protect Journalists. To combat extremism and hate, donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center. To fight for immigration, particularly immigrant youth, consider United We Dream. To protect public policy for people with disabilities, pledge to The Arc. To ensure LGBTQ+ rights, give to Lambda Legal. And, to support veterans adjusting to life back home, The Mission Continues is a worthy organization. If you're looking for a combination of specificity giving and open endedness, consider non-profit loaner Kiva.

Give without knowing you're giving

Overwhelmed by giving decision fatigue? Set up ways to give money or information without doing much of anything. Coin Up rounds up the change from debit and credit card purchases to donate to charities of choice. Tab for a Cause gives tiny donations whenever you open a tab. BOINC by University of California, Berkeley is an "open source software for volunteer computing" which uses idle computer time for scientific research. Donate Your Tab mines bitcoins through your browser to be given to a nonprofit (but note: bitcoin mining wastes a lot of energy). And, for those needing something more tangible, consider donating airline miles and credit card points to help organizations like UNICEF and the Red Cross travel and house people in need.

When all else fails ...

Sure, cash is a bit boring and plays into "Scroogenomics" but giving money affords a freedom that dodges waste or a useless bad gift. If time isn't on your side or you're feeling uninspired, grab this gift at the most reliable store in America: your local ATM.