Dec. 5, 2018 3:32 pm

Philly, here’s your socially conscious holiday gift guide for 2018

Give while giving back: How to Give columnist Lansie Sylvia's annual list returns.

Tiny WPA's Build It! Snowflakes.

(Courtesy photo)

How to Give” is a monthly column by local philanthropy wizard Lansie Sylvia. In it, Lansie answers readers’ questions about millennials, philanthropy and engaging the next generation of givers. To ask her a question, tweet @FancyLansie.

Friends! We made it!

2018 has been a DOOZY of a year, but here we are: December. The time for expressing gratitude and loving one another and buying lots of gifts for friends and family (and maybe even coworkers, if you’re classy like that). As ever, for those of us lucky enough to have extra moolah to spend, I submit to you, my dearest reader, my third annual Gifts That Give Back Holiday Extravaganza!

As ever, you really don’t have to buy any physical objects to let your generosity shine, shine, shine on those you love whilst benefiting the causes that make your heart sing. Instead of sparkly packages lined up with care, you could always:

  • Donate to a favorite cause in honor of your loved ones.
  • Gift a membership or subscription to your favorite charitable organization, providing the nonprofit with sustainable revenue while providing your friend with fun experiences throughout the year.
  • Gather ye merry gentlepeople and spend time volunteering together. Cook a meal, sing a song, care for local animals who need a snuggle.
  • Shop online using Amazon Smile and select a Philly-based charity from Amazon’s list of nearly one million charitable organizations, so the tech mogul will donate a portion of your purchases to the cause.
  • Pay it forward by purchasing something that someone really needs, such as the items listed within Valley Youth House’s annual gift drive.

But for those of you who fancy yourselves a modern-day Uncle Jamie from “Love, Actually” (remember the one with all the boxes and gifts but whose nieces and nephews, for some reason, still hate him?), here are my favorite gifts for 2018. They’re produced by both nonprofit and for-profit orgs, benefit amazing Philly causes and can all be wrapped in brown paper packages, tied up with string.

From our Partners

For your posh aunt: French market bag from the Kitchen Garden Series

Your Aunt Beatrice is going to be the belle of the co-op with this uber-chic tote. Imagine it holding a tiny can of Sofia champagne and a classic feminist text, as Aunt B heads out to a picnic on the Seine. Who needs a room of one’s own when your home is the world, darling?

Formerly a costume designer, founder Heidi Barr began the Kitchen Garden Series in 2012 to “support the growth of things she loves: food, friendships, flowers, ideas, communities.” Her heirloom quality kitchen textiles support Philadelphia’s growing urban agricultural movement — 25 percent of the company’s profits are donated to Henry Got Crops and East Park Revitalization Alliance. ($69)

For your friend who does burlesque: Melopepo Boob Tassel Necklace

You know how every super-stylish design lady nibbling brunch at the Hungry Pigeon is wearing simple but stunning brass jewelry lately? They’re getting it from Anethum Jewelry, a women-owned studio creating geometric adornment that includes these brass hair picks that I’m gifting to anyone that loves me with long hair.

Melopepo is Anethum Jewelry’s line of handmade boob jewelry that gives back 20 percent of each sale — 10 percent to Planned Parenthood and 10 percent to the ACLU. The tassel necklace is unassailably fun, but if it’s too … tassel-y, these coy earrings will also go with everything. ($62 for necklace and $48 for earrings)

For the dad who has #wanderlust: Artist-made map of Fairmount Park

(Courtesy photo)

Right around the time you grow older, get some responsibilities and have a beautiful child, it’s like suddenly, BAM — your Instagram is filled with glowing pictures of canyons that are thousands of miles away and tagged #wanderlust #getoutside #liveyourlife. Banish #FOMO with this beautiful, hand-painted map print by local artist Kim Alsbrooks for Fairmount Park Conservancy. With more than 2,000 acres of rolling hills, gentle trails, relaxing waterfront and shaded woodlands, Fairmount Park is a reminder that natural beauty worthy of the ‘gram is never far away from a Philadelphian. ($14.95)

For the well-read fashionista: “Praise the Lorde” shirt

You know what feminists love? WORDPLAY. This message is subtle enough to earn the wearer a wink from that sassy barista, and the maroon shade is going to look equally good under a vintage cardi or over some rough-and-tumble jorts. Truly an item for all seasons! Philadelphia Printworks should just take all my money already, because I covet pretty much everything they’ve ever printed. Visit their Community Partners page to see all the organizations and work supported by your purchase. ($20)

For your recently retired mom: “Tiling & Grouting: The Zagar Method” pack

(Courtesy image)

Bring the world’s best selfie wall from South Philly to your own backyard with this DIY kit from Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Combining both booklets and a flash drive of tutorials, this multimodal kit would be perfect for a variety of learners, including those handy-and-looking-for-a-project types. Plus, you get a very nice sticker, perfect for school binders, guitar cases and Mom’s favorite Subaru. Proceeds benefit one of our city’s truest artistic spaces! ($25)

For the cool little person in your life: Build It! Snowflakes

(Courtesy photo)

This is the beautiful, tactile, educational gift of your dreams. I can’t think of anyone who would NOT love these interlocking, changeable laser-cut snowflakes from the fine folks at Tiny WPA. Each flatpack has seven snowflakes that you can turn into ornaments, decorations or anything your lovely brain can dream up. Plus, you get a design object created by teenage builders that benefits Tiny WPA’s programmatic activities, neighborhood revitalization efforts, design-build projects and creative placemaking initiatives. ($15 for a pack of 7)

For your goth bestie: Monster of Ravenna porcelain ornament

(Courtesy photo)

Who hears slay-bells? Wrap with care these cursed wings on the horrifying monster from everyone’s favorite medical Wunder Cabin, the Mütter Museum. This handcrafted, porcelain ornament by local artist Millie Crotty depicts the Monster of Ravenna, a famous Italian prodigy from the 16th century. Pairs perfectly with a whisper of spiderweb tinsel and the plaintive ululations of a Gregorian chant CD. May your days be merry and blighted! ($28)

For your sweetie’s cousin who neither of you know that well: Wooden Images cutting board

Be honest … you don’t know much about Kirsten. Or is it Kristen? Anyway, you don’t know what she likes. And that’s okay — you hardly see her. But you still — CHRISTINE! — want to get her something lovely. Something that says, “Hello. I see you. I welcome you to this family, and I hope the new year brings you the most fabulously sliced gouda. The kind with the crystals.” Well this sucker’s got her name(s) all over it. Give it in good health. Proceeds benefit the Center for Art in Wood, which nurtures and promotes the innovation of art in wood through collaborative residencies, exhibitions, education and documentation. ($30)


Do you have other awesome gifts that give back this holiday season? Please add them to the comments!

Wishing you health and happiness in 2019,



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