I'd like to think I am a pretty good source to discuss what to get the vegan/animal rights/environmentalist (aka the pain in the ass) in your life, being on the receiving end for a number of years. I've almost gotten to the point of telling certain people to not get me anything at all. Most of us don't need more "stuff". Stop shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop or the Dollar Store for presents. It's all made in sweatshops, will break in a week, and is most likely highly toxic and flammable. Gift buying shouldn't be about quantity, but about choosing the right gift for someone. It shows that you care about them. Even if you don't agree with what they believe in, buying a compassionate and conscious gift means that you think enough about them to put thought and effort into what you are giving them for the holidays.
The other reason I tell certain people not to buy me a gift for the holidays is that it's just too hard for them to come up with an idea and I honestly don't want gift shopping to be a nightmare for them. I know my lifestyle choice is a challenge for those around me. There's no reason to put undue pressure on someone who really isn't up for the challenge during the holidays. Instead I will suggest we go out for coffee or lunch to celebrate.
So let's start the way you do on Christmas morning—with the stocking. In my humble opinion, stockings should be chock-a-block full of sweets and small gifts.
My friend Sandy never fails to give me the best birthday presents. This year she gave me Lagusta's Luscious chocolates. She found them online when specifically searching for vegan chocolates for me. Their Heathan Toffee is, well, heathenistic. It is addictive. And it is not for sharing; don't even ask. And their caramels are unique and amazing. Remember, caramels normally have milk in them, so to get to eat caramels again is a real treat. Below is a picture of the outside of a shipping box that is currently sitting in my husbands home office, waiting for my stocking to go up. He's not even bothering to hide it from me, which is just plain mean.
What other treats should you put in their stocking? Justin's Dark Peanut Butter Cups are a must. Starbucks and my local grocery store carry them (be careful, only the dark chocolate version is vegan). And certainly feel free to put a few Liz Lovely cookies or truffles in there as well. Most health or natural food stores will have a variety of vegan and/or gluten-free treats. A bag of loose organic tea or local coffee beans are great gift as well.
Small stocking stuffers can consist of a special piece of small jewelry, cruelty-free beauty products, and gift cards. A few of my favorite jewelry companies are Satya, Ananda Soul Creations, and Sundance Catalog. These companies have environmental and charitable missions, and a few support small artists. They are all quality items, which are sure to last many years.
Small beauty products make great stocking stuffer. Items from The Body Shop and Aveda are cruelty-free and sure to please. Both companies offer products for men as well. E.L.F. and Urban Decay are cosmetic companies that are vegan and cruelty-free.
Lastly, let's talk gift cards. Some people love them, some people think they are just a cop-out. I have mixed feelings on them. I do love getting a small Starbucks or Dave's Coffee gift card in my stocking. Consider gift cards to their favorite local bookstore, museum or theater, restaurant, or a massage gift certificate. If you are going to give a gift card, make it count.
Gifts should be appropriate for the type of compassionate person you are shopping for. If they are vegan or vegetarian, they will not want anything that is made from shearling, wool, leather, fur, feathers or has bees wax or any other animal byproducts in it. Read the product labels and stay away from sheepskin slippers, from cashmere, wool or angora sweaters, socks and hats, and from leather details on clothing, bags or shoes. If they are simply environmentally conscious or sustainably minded, they will probably be fine with everything above but would prefer it came from sustainable and traceable sources, or from recycled products. I can appreciate someone who is not vegan, but chooses to only buy wool from recycled products or if they are going to buy down, they only buy from traceable down that is never live-plucked—the idea still breaks my heart, but it is a more compassionate choice.
Another thoughtful gift idea is a donation to a cause near to their heart. If you want to donate to smaller organizations, look to websites like the Farm Sanctuary for sponsoring an animal on their behalf, charity:water to provide clean and safe drinking water to communities without, or The Turtle Hospital which rehabilitates injured sea turtles. These donations or gift memberships will probably mean more to the person receiving the gift than any tangible item. And they provide you with the opportunity to have a tax deduction (sorry, I am an accountant).
I hope this has provided you with a few good gift ideas this holiday season. Really think about what is important to the person you are buying for and have fun shopping for someone unusual. Keep it simple and remember, quality over quantity.