Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Gifts That Give Back

From a Doctors Without Borders watch to literary candles and canned chutzpah, unique presents that send support far and wide

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, organizing family events, wild spending, tantrums and inevitable stress, it’s easy to lose track of the real spirit of the holiday season. The glimmer of hope is the reminder that the act of giving, in itself, is remarkably satisfying—not to mention thoughtful. While donations can be made throughout the year to your charity of choice, here are some present ideas for loved ones that have a beautiful bonus: they also give back to the remarkable global community that we’re all part of. Take a look at our complete Gifts That Give Back Gift Guide in the Buy section.

Limited Edition Doctors Without Borders Watches

To recognize the charitable work of Doctors Without Borders, German watch brand NOMOS Glashütte has updated its Tangente and Tetra models—available to order with a velour beige or black cordovan leather strap—with a red “12” and small “Doctors Without Borders” inscription. With every purchase (from $1960), NOMOS will donate $100 (or euros or pounds) directly to DWB’s humanitarian efforts in crisis zones, which provides clean water, operations and medicines to those in need.

Jean Paul Gaultier Collaboration Tote Bag

Longtime amFAR supporter Jean Paul Gaultier worked in collaboration with the organization to make this bright and bold summer tote ($40), which isn’t only an inexpensive way of owning a piece by the haute couture French designer, but also a way to benefit amFAR. 100% of purchase profits goes toward raising AIDS awareness and helping to fund the search for a cure.

Palmistry Print Pillowcases

A collaboration between Melbourne-based label Per—Tim, artist Eloise Rapp and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria, these palmistry print pillowcases ($65) are more than just cute decor. Designed, printed and manufactured in Melbourne, they are super-comfy (half cotton and half polyester) and with all profits donated to the Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria, it’s more than just you who will sleep better at night.

Bang Bang Bang T-Shirt

“Wear what you care about.” Each Prinkshop piece has a purpose, from supporting Planned Parenthood to empowering those suffering from addiction. The “Ban(g) Ban(g) Ban(g)” T-shirt ($35) benefits Everytown, an organization that’s committed to ending gun violence, with 30% of profits being directed there. Spark action and discussion every day you wear it.

Literary Candles

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a Brooklyn-based feminist writer (author of queer coming-of-age novel “Bright Lines”) who also tells stories through scents via her apothecary line, Hi Wildflower Botanica. Her #GetLit candle series ($30 each) is a unique collaboration with authors to translate their words into fragrance. Lincoln Michel’s short story collection “Upright Beasts” inspired notes of black spruce, blood cedarwood, dirt; while Saeed Jones’ poetry stirs dawn’s dew, honeysuckle vine and bay rum. Part of the proceeds benefit NYC mentoring non-profit Girls Write Now.

The Bronx Hot Sauce

If you’ve ever wanted to know what the Bronx tasted like, this locally made hot sauce comes close. Made from serrano peppers grown in community gardens throughout the borough, the homegrown condiment ($9) is a result of teamwork between the students and families that tend to the plants, a Bronx-born chef, non-profit GrowNYC and social business Small Axe Peppers. Not only do hot sauce sales support the gardens and keep production local, Small Axe Peppers also is donating a majority of the profits to programs that assist low-income communities in the Bronx and throughout NYC. A spicy kick in the mouth has never felt better.

Henning Sunglasses

Ghostly and Warby Parker have collaborated on a pair of minimal and classy sunglasses: the Henning ($145). Made from premium matte acetate and Japanese titanium, the frames offer 100% UV protection and an anti-scratch coating—for those klutzes who are always dropping their shades on the sidewalk. The branding is also minimal, with just a small badge boasting the cute Ghostly logo at the end of the arms—adding a little playful edge, but ultimately staying sophisticated. For each set of Hennings sold, a pair is given to somebody in need.


Only to be used for good, Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company has plenty of superpowers in stock, from Doom and Gloom to Omnipotence and Magnificence. Our pick is Chutzpah ($8)—a little extra nerve and audacity for when you most need it. Available in half pints or full gallons, purchasing powers from BSSCo doesn’t just benefit yourself—each purchase supports 826NYC, an organization that offers creative writing and homework programs for NYC public school students.

Images courtesy of respective brands and organizations, lead image also by Hands Down Project