What is the motivation behind a gift? Love and generosity or obligation and perhaps some resentment? (I need to get my sister-in-law a gift!) Sometimes we give with our hearts and sometimes we give with our heads – it makes perfect sense to buy all of your children and grandchildren underwear and socks!

Gift giving gets harder though – the kids grow and get fussy with their clothes and generosity can make some uncomfortable with the consumerism wreaking havoc on our planet (not to mention human rights violations of people working to produce fast fashion). So what’s a giving soul to do around this time of year? Socks and underwear are great, but at this time of year, it is also nice to lead a bit with our hearts.

Rather than call a strike on all gifts, we’ve put together a list for you that guarantees zero waste and lifelong impact. This is no joke: our gift guide is literally life-changing.

1. Tuition: $160

Learning to read and count can be the difference between poverty and a thriving community. When you pay a child’s tuition for a year, you are making way for one more child to stand on their own.

2. Total Sponsorship: $480

Take the above and multiply the impact your money can make. Ensuring that a child has nutrition, tuition, and emergency medical costs for an entire year is not just about peace of mind or life security. Total sponsorship removes obstacles to education that children would normally have to face on their own.

3. Primary Health Package: $124

Women everywhere are rising up to fight the good fight for better health and training, particularly for newborns and new mothers. Support the women who nurture their communities: a primary health package means training a midwife to bring life into the world.

4. Laying Hens: $36

Imagine your relatives’ surprise when you tell them you’ve bought them a pair of hens for Christmas. Then imagine their continued surprise when you tell them these hens aren’t for roasting; they’re a business venture. To supply livestock to families is to supply a livelihood, and that really is egg-cellent, isn’t it?

5. Pair of Goats: $100

Now to be fair, telling your relatives that you’ve purchased them a pair of goats will have greater comedic effect. But the effect that two goats will have on a family is no joke. Goats breed fast and are excellent sources of animal protein, exactly what families need to nourish their children and bring to market.

Article written by CAUSE Canada Volunteer Writer, Andrea Lai