man and woman on sofa exchanging Christmas presents

Christmas gifts that keep on giving

Published: 10/12/20 | Categories:
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Author: Simon Dowling

  • Updated 15 December 2020

Simon Dowling, Marketing and Communications Officer at WCVA, has made a list and checked it twice. In this blog Simon gives some Christmas gift ideas that support organisations doing great things in Wales.

You’ve probably heard it a hundred times already, but 2020 has been a weird and difficult year. Voluntary organisations in Wales have seen their income slashed overnight while demand for their services has also sky-rocketed.

Last year I put together this list to help encourage all of us to use our buying power for good, and support those making a difference in Wales while we’re doing our Christmas shopping.

This year it feels even more important. While big businesses have seen their profits rise during the pandemic, the struggle for voluntary organisations (who are often on the front line of the coronavirus response) is plain for all to see. Below are some suggestions for different ways to shop this Christmas that will put a smile on your face while putting money in the hands of those that are helping others.

Christmas is the season of giving, so let’s give back to these amazing groups that have done so much this year in spite of everything.

SUPPORT PEOPLE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY BUYING SOCIAL THIS CHRISTMAS

The gifts and shopping suggestions below aren’t only helping the local economy, they are directly supporting charities and social enterprises in Wales tackling a range of issues.

1. ECO-FRIENDLY GIFTS FOR ALL THE FAMILY FROM THE CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.

Their online store has a MASSIVE range of products (too many to list here!) that are eco-friendly and high quality. This includes textiles (such as comfortable bamboo socks and blankets), garden gear (like bird boxes, infrared cameras, and feeders), books to support you in your endeavours to learn and be more kind to the planet, eco-friendly homeware (eg toiletries, cups, re-useables etc), outdoor adventuring tools, and kids games, puzzles and toys (including recycled soft toys – and their learning through play collection).

You can also buy someone CAT membership which includes free entry to their visitor centre (though check opening times and COVID-19 restrictions before visiting). Buying a gift from CAT helps support positive solutions to the challenge of climate change.

2. ALL YOUR BOOK NEEDS SORTED THANKS TO ARTTIC

ARTtic is a social enterprise based in Pontypridd, with a bookshop, gallery, crafts for sale and activity space. ARTtic was set up to create a safe, communal space for all kinds of artists – beginners to professionals – to come together and express their creative sides.

If you can’t visit Pontypridd you’ll find books of all sorts for sale on their online store or you can order one of the delightful ‘ARTtic Christmas Booklovers Bundles’ from the ARTtic website which include books and treats to curl up with while reading. By getting your books from ARTtic you’re not only buying local but also supporting Welsh artists too.

3. LUXURY WASH PRODUCTS MADE IN WALES 

Good Wash is a Welsh social enterprise donating their profits to local projects that improve the lives of animals and people. The Good Wash website stocks a number of high-end luxury wash products such as Siampŵ da shampoo bars, body lotion, shower products and gifts sets (and even a ‘Woof wash’ for your dog!), sourced from only the very finest natural ingredients that are cruelty free.

Profits from Good Wash support charities, groups or individuals to deliver projects that do things like; help the homeless find homes, and improve their life prospects; help those facing poverty or social exclusion find employment, training or volunteer opportunities; improve animal welfare; provide innovative health and wellbeing solutions, that are accessible to all; promote hygiene, and give access to clean water and sanitation; and protect and improve life on land and below sea.

Good Wash products are available in a number of stores throughout Wales and online.

4. GIFT SOMEONE A VISIT TO THE ‘WONDER OF WALES’ (OR SOMETHING CULTIVATED FROM WITHIN!)

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a charity dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity, to sustainability, lifelong learning and the enjoyment of visitors.

The garden is the most visited in Wales and there are lots of things to see and do beyond the beautiful gardens including a range of activities and the British Bird of Prey Centre.

You can purchase gift tickets to the gardens or gift vouchers (which can used at the cafes, restaurant or shop) or a combination of the two. You can purchase these from the online shop as well as a selection of products including things to grow, hampers, and lip balms, soaps and honey from the Garden’s own beehives.

5. ZERO WASTE SHOPPING IN BARRY

Awesome Wales is the Vale’s first zero waste shop, right in the heart of Barry. The social enterprise operates a zero waste store and coffee shop with the aim of helping shoppers to protect the environment, save money and eat more healthily, all while doing the weekly shop.

Awesome is a plastic free shopping experience, no unnecessary plastic packaging, no plastic straws or coffee cup lids, and ‘definitely no plastic carrier bags!’ The shop offers products that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced. If you’re in the vicinity, why not head to the shop for your Christmas essentials, or you can buy a variety of hampers, wooden toys, books or eco-gifts from their online shop.

Profits go back into the company to help deliver its social aims and are also invested in local community groups and activities, allowing more people to get involved and decreasing social isolation.

6. SEASONAL GIFTS FROM VISION 21

Vision 21 is a social enterprise that offers ‘realistic work based training opportunities for people with learning needs’. All Vision 21 products are made with the full involvement of trainees and all proceeds are fed directly back into the charity.

Their ‘buy social’ products include a range of garden and plant goods, pottery and crafts, and wooden furniture, available at various Vision 21 shops throughout Cardiff and Barry. Visit the Vision 21 website for more information and locations, it’s best to call ahead as some of their activities have been limited by the pandemic.

7. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS AND PRESENTS FOR YOUR CANINE FRIENDS

Hope Rescue is a small independent dog welfare charity in South Wales. Their online shop has a selection of handmade Christmas gifts (as well as pressies for your dog) including festive decorations (such as a very cute knitted chocolate orange cover!), face masks and a selection of adorable dog accessories.

You can also buy a Hope Rescue calendar with delightful photos of the dogs that have been rescued by Hope. Proceeds help Hope to rescue dogs in need in South Wales and provide canine respite schemes which support owners in crisis (such as domestic abuse, homelessness or hospitalisation) to keep their pets.

8. LUXURY TOILETRIES AND GIFTS FROM MYDDFAI TRADING CO 

Myddfai Trading Company Limited is a social enterprise with a mission to provide employment and volunteering opportunities within the local community in Carmarthenshire. Their ‘innovative, environmentally friendly and original’ products include soaps, shower gels, shampoo and conditioner, hand wash, hand and body lotion, bath bombs and diffusers and candles, also available in a range of Christmas gift sets.

Sales from the online shop and trade are used to fund their work providing volunteering opportunities for vulnerable adults from the local community. By working alongside staff the volunteers gain work experience, social interaction and confidence in a safe and comfortable working environment.

LOOKING FOR MORE IDEAS FOR #PRESENTSWITHPURPOSE?

The brilliant folks at Social Enterprise UK have once again produced a #PresentsWithPurpose Gift Guide, an entire magazine full of Christmas gift ideas from Social Enterprises in the UK. Browse this handy guide online at socialenterprise.org.uk/campaigns/christmas.

Who did we miss? Know a socially conscious Welsh gift that didn’t make the list? Let us know! Please email sdowling@wcva.cymru.

Are you involved in a social enterprise? WCVA funds Social Enterprises through our Social Investment Cymru team, please get in touch to find out more.