Anything but fruitcake.
Give and Let Live
'Tis the season to be socially responsible: Global Exchange operates an international fair-trade program, allowing consumers not only to purchase fine crafts and foods from all over the world, but also to help artisans generate income to sustain themselves and their families. Though they don't have figgy pudding, Global Exchange does offer numerous gourmet gift sets that are packed in reusable grass baskets made in Bangladesh and can include fair-trade coffee and tea, therapeutic bath crystals or organic maple candy, among other treats. By purchasing fair-trade goods, you're supporting environmental sustainability and equal opportunity employment. As if that weren't enough, approximately 70 percent of craft artisans are women and fair-trade criteria ensures there is no abuse of child labor. We'd say it's a pretty sweet deal, with or without gourmet Yachana Jungle chocolate. E-ssential
Goodwill Toward All Women
You know how you wish you could just send your leftovers to hungry Botswanans when you're eating turkey sandwiches for the sixth day in a row? Bypass the trouble of FedExing perishables but still communicate the same sentiment: Send a turkey--or sheep, buffalo, rabbit or bee, among other animals--to impoverished people through Heifer.org. By choosing to donate an animal to a struggling family, you are working to end hunger and poverty by helping small-scale farmers to become self-sufficient. Heifer not only delivers the animal, but also trains the family to care for it. Most impressive, though, is the organization's mission to "pass it on," urging the recipients of the original gift to pass on the animal's off-spring to another needy family, encouraging self-sufficiency one family at a time--and inadvertently rendering Tupperware obsolete. Surf's Way Up
Go, All Ye Faithful
Maybe you've all but pinky-sworn your partner that you wouldn't exchange gifts this year. How clever of you both--now you can pool your dollars and get yourselves something extravagant. Whether it's to leave your local geography or to escape tedious family obligations, taking a trip through Pink Ribbon Cruises makes sense on more than one level. Though the destinations are limited, Pink Ribbon Cruises gives a portion of each cruise booked through their site to support breast-cancer research, detection, prevention or services. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life, and roughly 43,000 women die from it every year. We can't guarantee your trip will be seamless (there's bound to be that one drunk, shirtless guy hanging out by the pool slurring with the vaguest hint of an Anna Nicole, Xanax-induced lisp), but it sure beats hanging around the house vacuuming up fallen pine needles for a week. Definitely Bookmark