This time of year, you start to feel like maybe you should give back a little. You know, stop all the navel-gazing and wish-list-making and start thinking about those in need. And no, I don't mean your boyfriend's need for a flat-screen TV.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could combine your charitable efforts and your gift-giving in one crafty punch? Oh, look: dozens of organizations have already thought of that.
CHOP IT UP
$5, reusable chopsticks, Greenpeace, 250 Dundas West, #605, 416-597-8408, www.greenpeace.ca
Any tree hugger would love a chance to get off disposable chopsticks and on to ones made with Greenpeace's sustainable seal of approval. The sticks help raise funds for an eco-forestry project in the Solomon Islands, and they make a perfect stocking stuffer.
WHAT THE BLEAT?
$58, goat, oxfam.ca
Give the gift that baas. Or bleats. Or whinnies. The point is, whether you buy a goat, a mosquito net, emergency supplies or help fund an organic coffee farm, you're helping people who need these things more than your aunt needs another shawl. Changingthepresent.com and Plancanada.ca are other great sources for extra-thoughtful prezzies.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
$29 (log bird garden), $50 (martin house spiral suet ball dispenser), Canadian Wildlife Federation, 1-800-563-WILD, www.cwf-fcf.org
These Canadian-made birdfeeders don't just feed the tweeters in your backyard; they also protect wild species and spaces, since proceeds go to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Which nature nutter in your life wouldn't want that?
HOW SWEET IT IS SWEETS BASKET
$45, St. John's Bakery, 155 Broadview, 416-850-7413, www.stjohnsbakery.com
This fab social enterprise not only bakes with organic ingredients, but it also doubles as an apprenticeship program for the disabled and disadvantaged. The basket comes loaded with banana bread, lemon loaf and lots and lots of cookies. If sugar ain't your thang, you can always order the breads basket instead.
$20, Tasting Diversity cookbook, Working Women Community Centre, 533A Gladstone, 416-532-2824
Who isn't bored with their own cooking? Let your taste buds take a trip inspired by recipes culled from newcomers to Canada, courtesy of Working Women Community Centre.
$20 (bowl), $12 (necklace), Inspirations Studio, 761 Queen West, #201 (by appointment), 416-367-2728
This pretty handcrafted bowl and pendant aren't all about good looks - they've got some serious depth, too. Everything at Inspirations Studio (which is funded by Sistering) has been sculpted by women pushed out of the traditional workforce for physical or mental health reasons and given practical pottery skills. They even do corporate gifts.