Gifts that Give Back

By Alexandra Caspero on December 11, 2016

Gifts that inspire, heal, support or nourish. Those are my guidelines for gift giving and preferably, for gift receiving. While I love the holidays season so, so much, I get quickly turned off by the excess of it. Especially after viewing The True Cost and Minimalism, I’ve begun to see gift-giving in a whole new light.

Therefore, over the past few years, I’ve set in a few guidelines for my gift giving. Books are always in fashion (especially those that push you, inspire you or that you can cook from) as are gifts that give back. I love knowing that my purchases continue to live on, in the form of monetary support for a good cause, a one for one exchange, or access to services that may not otherwise be provided. Those things really encompass what the holiday season is supposed to be about: a season of giving.

I’ve compiled my favorites from the past year and broken them down into three categories, perfect for any budget or person on your list. Gifts that support give back in some way, gifts that inspire are my favorite uplifting reads from the past year and edible gifts are well, edible. We had a rule one year that all of our gifts had to be either homemade or edible in nature and it was hands down, one of my favorite holidays. Who doesn’t love opening a tin of homemade cookies, chocolate truffles or a yummy bottle of wine? These are my favorite things.

Little Loving Hands: I plan on gifting this to all my nieces and nephew as the years go on, the mission is just so perfect, it brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. The concept is simple: the recipient receives a craft box each month (or just once); then, once the craft is assembled (a toy, doll, ect), the gift is then sent on to a child somewhere else in the world in need. Not only is this a fun gift, but the lessons of compassion, empathy and giving back will last for a lifetime. Can they make this for adults?

I gifted myself this adorable But first, Veggies tank this summer and I’ve worn non-stop ever since. Besides being super soft and the perfect thing to throw on with jeans (and now, a sweater), all proceeds support Harvest107, and their mission to help fight hunger through sustainable agriculture, education, and employment opportunities. Um, I’ll take a 100.

Aqua Gear: Since we moved to STL, I retired our old Brita pitcher for more real-estate in the fridge. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell the difference between tap and filtered water so I figured, why bother? Then, after seeing what happened in Flint, I decided to investigate other options. I stumbled across Aqua Gear (which filters out lead and mercury among other contaminants) and their mission: for every filter product you buy, they provide 6 months of clean drinking water to someone in need. I love gifts like this (maybe that’s why my shoe closet is filled with Toms): purposeful and thoughtful. Oh, and the taste! Even BL commented how much he enjoys the water from the pitcher.

100% of the proceeds from Purpose Jewelry goes to benefit young women rescued from sex trafficking, and their jewelry is handcrafted by trafficking survivors. C’mon, is there any gift more wonderful? The jewelry is beautiful and warms my heart; I plan on gifting this to my sisters and girlfriends.

Gifts that heal, inspire and support. Perfect for everyone on your list. |

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein: I love this woman. After reading May Cause Miracles, I was instantly hooked on her inspiring, joyful message. Especially in these unexpected times, I’m a big fan of sharing her message.

How to Life a Good Life by Jonathan Fields: After hearing Jonathan on Rich’s podcast, I knew I wanted to learn more about his story. His podcast is fantastic and so is this book.

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest: Any book that has a forward by Brene Brown instantly has my attention. I picked this book up a few weeks ago and read it in just a few days; it was exactly what I needed to hear and a message I think will resonate with so many of us. I plan on gifting this one to a few of my girlfriends.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I vividly remember reading her earlier work, Wild, a few years ago while on vacation. Lying in my beach chair, I wore BL’s giant oversized sunglasses in an effort to hide the crocodile tears that ran down my face. I was instantly connected with Cheryl’s story and her memoir has haunted me ever since. When a friend recommended this book, a collection of advice columns plus short stories, I knew I had to grab a copy. It’s a beautiful, inspiring read.

The Book of Joy by Desmond Tut and Dalai Lama: Um, clearly I love spiritual self-help. Something that BL teases me about on a constant basis. Well, here’s another favorite on that list. Two spiritual giants that try to answer the question, how do we find joy in the fact of life’s inevitable suffering? Giving the intensity of the past year, I needed this book and ordered it the moment it came out. Makes a fantastic gift for anyone.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton: Glennon! Girl, you speak to me. I first wrote about how much I loved her newer book, Love Warrior, in my November favorite things. Well, not soon after I finished that then I picked up her earlier work, a collection of short-stories relating to family, marriage, life and everything in between. Did I mention that I cried as much as a I laughed out loud? Glennon has a way with words and I think this is a fantastic pick for the warrior’s in your life.


Gifts that heal, inspire and support. Perfect for everyone on your list. |

Vegan Double Chocolate Caramels sound absolutely divine.

Cranberry, Walnut and Chocolate Cookies: I’ve been making these almost non-stop for the past few weeks, they are so fantastic and refined-sugar free.

I was gifted a loaf of the most incredible loaf of banana bread last week (thank you Spencer!) and have been dreaming about warm slices covered in almond butter ever since. Gift this Carrot Cake Banana Bread and I promise they will receive all the feels.

But seriously, I think a warm loaf of bread might be the most perfect thing to gift ever. If banana bread isn’t your thing, try my vegan cranberry orange ginger loaf instead.

If cooking cookies feels too intimidating, these 5-ingredient nutella truffles have you covered. Vegan, gluten-free and super simple to put together. Throw in a pretty box, add a bow and you’re done.

I gifted these Almost Raw Blondie Brownies to my teachers after yoga training and I still get comments about them years later.

Clearly, I love the idea of a bag of homemade truffles. They are the perfect size for an after-dinner treat and pretty enough to be gifted for any occasion. You can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles or Ginger Chocolate Truffles. Because, chocolate.

I can never have enough goodies in my spice cabinet. For my foodie friends, I love giving a few bottles from my favorite purveyors: SF Salt for their awesome line of gourmet sea salts , Penzey’s for just about everything else or a monthly subscription to Raw Spice Bar.


Gifts that give back! Gifts that heal, nourish, support or inspire.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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