Good stuff: The 2016 Do-Gooder’s Guide to Christmas

Posted by | December 1, 2016 | Good stuff


I remember (or rather I get reminded of) the time I gave my sister one lolly for a Christmas present, as I ate the rest of the box (sorry Rachel!). I was very young and my world revolved around pocket money and sugar. Today, I’m no where near as frugal, but I do use Christmas to use my purchasing power positively. Turning Christmas into a non-guilty, do-gooding couple of days (except perhaps for the extra serve of pavlova and strawberries, or champagne I’ll have with breakfast…).

If you are looking to focus on doing good this Christmas, here are some of my thoughts:  

Pass on Christmas

Last year my family gathered for the first time in many years from far reaching spots around the world. I instigated gift giving with a do-good twist. We couldn’t buy anything new and each of us had to source one present from something we already owned that we no longer wanted, or that was otherwise destined for the charity shop. There was no spending $10 on a cheap secret Santa gift (possibly made under dubious conditions) that people didn’t want or need.

We circled the collection of beautifully wrapped gifts and did a white elephant selection process. The first person (chosen at random) selected their gift first. The next person could choose to either pick from the centre wrapped goodies or be cheeky and steal a gift from anyone else. This carried on until the circle was complete. It was great fun, and there were some spectacular gifts – including a murder mystery game, a power drill, a never used handbag and an outdoor garden citronella candle to fight off the mozzies over summer. It took away the stress of buying, and if people didn’t like their gifts, well, they were passed on to the charity shop in the days to come for someone else to enjoy.   We weren’t total Christmas grinches though and did do gifts for the little ones, but they enjoyed this game too.


Give Good Gifts

When you do feel the need to spend your dollars on gifts, here are a few of my top picks I’ve stumbled on this year…


#1. FRANK Stationery


Who doesn’t like beautiful stationery to kick-start the year? Frank stationery sells notebooks, journals and diaries (these are stunning!) and is set up to support communities in need by donating notebooks to children in schools. For every book you buy, they give a school book to a child in need.

Plus, we’ve also got two diaries to give away this week. Follow our Facebook page to find out more!


#2. Eat My Lunch


Another buy-one-give-one model where for every lunch purchased, Eat My Lunch also deliver another freshly made lunch to a Kiwi kid in need. Filling their bellies. A great gift to start the new work year!


#3. Good Books

An online book store that passes 100% of the e-tail profit directly to fund charitable projects in partnership with Oxfam. I love giving books as a gift, especially to my growing tribe of nieces and nephews, so why not do it from a site that supports amazing international development projects? Or buy a voucher for someone else to choose.


#4. A Pile of Poo


So, there was another Christmas a decade or two later when I upped my sisters present of a lolly to buy my brother a pile of poo. He loved it.  In Liberia, bio-fill toilets are collecting manure to supplement vegetable gardens and help keep families healthier and provide them with a better diet. That’s some innovative crap, right there. And that’s why this is the best crap gift you’ll ever buy. There are also some other great ‘giving’ gifts with an explosive impact through this website.

#5. Be a Smart Ass

smartassWhile we are in toilet humour land, here’s another one – tree free TP for people who like a wisecrack. With awesome designs, this one might be a winner.

#6. Defender Bags

Made in New Zealand from recycled billboards these bags give 100% of profits to support vulnerable children in Thailand and Burma through SpinningTop. Due to the vinyl billboards used, every design is unique.


#7. Thunderpants


These pants are insanely comfortable; you will probably forget you even have them on. This year they have partnered with Al Brown to deliver the ultimate Kiwi classic fundraiser, the sausage sizzle, with a twist. Their Sausage Sizzle Philanthropants range will donate a portion of sales to a different charity each month.


#8. Trade Aid


Most of my gifts come from a Trade Aid shop. I’ve seen first-hand the impact Trade Aid’s work has on producers lives through their high standards of fair trade, and there always seems to be something I can find to suit everyone – toys for kids, food goodies, jewellery, homeware, and excellent Christmas trinkets.


#9. Plants and Planter Boxes

Plants always give back and are a great present for any age group. Kids love getting down in the dirt and learning how to grow swan plants, vegetable seeds and fruit trees. If the person you are buying a present for has limited space or growing things scare them, buying a small planter box or container already planted can get them started. Fruit trees and flowering plants can also be super practical and useful.


#10. Up-Cycling                                      


Giving second-hand goods a new life can benefit you as much as the person you are giving it to! My Do Good Jobs helper Charlotte sanded down, fixed and painted a big wooden truck for her 2-year-old nephew. He was chuffed. It can be quite hard to find good wooden toys in the city that don’t cost the earth. Wooden toys are super indestructible and don’t mind being treated rough and left outside.


#11. Chocolate


Who doesn’t like chocolate! There are some great chocolate makers in New Zealand who make delicious and varied flavours. A great present idea for any age group. Here is a selection of our favourite NZ chocolate makers: Shoc, She Universe, Baron Hasselhoff’s, Wellington Chocolate Factory and Trade Aid.

#12. Vouchers to Local Businesses

Vouchers are great because then the receiver can get whatever they want! By buying a voucher from a local business like a cafe or restaurant you are putting money back into the community and the voucher recipient gets to wine and dine for free! Win-win.


#13. Presents for Kids


Buying sustainable presents for kids can be hard, why not buy them an ‘experience’ instead? Places like Wellington Zoo, Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo and Orana Wildlife Park all provide a fun educational atmosphere for kids. You can purchase a yearly pass from any of these places or online.

#14. Buying Online

The best thing about buying online is missing the Christmas rush, not having to leave your house and having heaps of great gifts at your fingertips!

Here are some other websites that offer a range of sustainable goods:

  • Ecowarehouse  an online shop has some fantastic sustainable gifts that are super practical and not limited to age groups or gender –
  • Eco Store. If you know someone who needs a good scrub up, you can drop a hint by buying them something nice smelling from the eco store –
  • Eco Deals. Something for everyone –
  • The Cruelty-Free Shop is perfect for all your vegan animal-loving mates who are conscious of our fluffy friends


What would you add?

Leave a comment telling us what your favourite ethical gift is from our list, OR add your own!

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