Ah, December, that most wonderful, most stressful, most expensive time of the year. It’s eight days before the start of Hanukah and nine days before Christmas. Chances are, you’ve not finished (started?) your shopping yet. Perhaps you’re also moved by the post-election swell of community-mindedness, wanting to bring a little goodness into your gifts. Where to begin, you ask?
Right here, at The Citizen’s annual good-gift-giving guide.
(Also check out last year’s Gift Guide, full of ideas still relevant this year.)
PAWS Collaboration Hooded Sweatshirt from Paratodo, a local brand started by two young designers with a passion for cool looks and philanthropy. All Paratodo’s men’s clothes—they call it “functional casual wear for the modern adventurer”—are designed in Philadelphia and manufactured in the U.S. And Paratodo donates 25 percent of all profits to charity—a reflection of the company’s Spanish-influenced name, “para todo” or “for all.” This fall and winter, donations go to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society.
Oatmeal Milk Honey Soap from Home Shop, the store of ProjectHOME. The heart-shaped soap—billed as “exfoliating and moisturizing”—is made by residents at ProjectHOME, through a program that provides jobs to residents who otherwise have trouble finding employment. In addition to job training, they are paid to craft soaps, candles and cranberry sauce. Sales of the products from HOME Made go to support the employment of 70 people a year, and for arts programming for another 100 residents.
Cats Against Catcalling tank top, from Philadelphia Printworks and Pussy Division. The tank—a cartoon image of a tough lady cat shouting “Nah”—is a partnership of two groups well worth supporting. Philadelphia Printworks is a local socially conscious T-shirt company with an activist bent run by and featuring the works of (mainly) people of color. To last year’s line of black-hero-inspired School of Thought college-style sweatshirts, they’ve added pertinent mascots—like the Carver Toilers and Lorde University Radicals. For the catcalling line, Philly Printworks is donating 10 percent of profits to Pussy Division, an arts activist group that raises awareness about women’s concerns through guerrilla street art (they’re responsible for the “Rape” stickers on Stop signs), online outreach and through their support of existing campaigns, like Take Back The Night.
Mixed case, from Victory Brewing Company. Making beer, like making anything, inevitably results in waste. At Chester County’s Victory Brewing Company, that waste, well, never goes to waste. For the last 10 years, Victory has sent 100 percent of its spent grain to local farms or animal shelters—about 65 tons per week. Meanwhile, food waste from its brewpubs is composted; oil is recycled; in Downingtown, solar panels provide much of the restaurant’s energy, and in Kennett Square, the walls are lined with mushroom boards recycled from a local mushroom farm. In all, Victory claims to have recycled 94 percent of all its waste since 2011. We’ll drink to that!
Patos Primero canvas sneakers are not only cool, they also may have the coolest story behind any pair of shoes in your closet. Founder Fernando Rojo created Patos in his Penn dorm room after a visit to a craft fair in Buenos Aires, from where his parents hail. Every pair of sneakers is handmade by artisans in impoverished areas of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, using traditional techniques and textiles. Each is unique, packaged in a reusable canvas bag, and benefitting the communities where they are made. So far, the shoes are available in only a couple of stores in Michigan, but you can buy them online here.
A Jawnament from Workshop Industries, an after-school program of The Workshop School. All the products at Workshop Industries, including keychains, jewelry, and a Jawnorah (!), are designed, manufactured and sold by students, who are paid like a real business—that is, when they make a sale.
First time celebrating the holidays at a new house? Bring along a housewarming gift from Remark Glass, like a set of two champagne bottle portion bowls, made by hand, using recycled glass bottles. The woman-owned studio, based in the new Bok Building, also sells glasses and jewelry.
Set of handmade paper cards from Village Industries, a project of the People’s Paper Co-Op, which helps people expunge their records and turn their rap sheets into paper mash. The cards are made by Co-Op members from recycled paper—including criminal records—and discarded flowers from the Whole Foods on South Street. Profits from the sale go back to the People’s Paper Co-Op to continue and expand its work.
It doesn’t matter how well the Eagles are playing. Philly fans sport the gear no matter what. But there’s no reason it has to be the same old gear. Local designer Chris Fernandez (who designed The Citizen’s website) offers his own take, with an Eagles “Fly” shirt through TownieMade, a site that invites designers from all over the country to create looks for their home teams. And the best part? Fernandez is donating proceeds from the T-shirt sales to your favorite non-profit media outlet—The Philadelphia Citizen.
Donate to a good cause in their name. Pick something they feel passionate about, and spend your present money on helping others. There are more than we can possibly list, but you can find some ideas here.
This story was published with help from Gillian McGoldrick, Jane Levy and Saurav Uphadhyay.