Valentine’s Day Gift Guides
By Debi Wexler , Wednesday, February 09, 2011
To people with a strong social conscience, the entire holiday of Valentine’s Day can induce a fair amount of guilt. It seems unfair that we, living our comfortable lives, have created a holiday for the express purpose of taking a dreary February day and making it all about celebrating the love in our lives and exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts. After the excesses of December and the resolutions of January, February seems a bit soon to begin indulging in carefree spending and consumption again.
Fortunately, companies around the world have been working to develop socially-conscious gifts so we can have our Valentine’s Day gift chocolates and eat them too. Whether it is protecting endangered species, helping the victims of the blood diamond trade, or ensuring that farmers in the developing world are paid fairly for their work, these products are Valentine’s Day gifts with a conscience. When you buy one of these products for yourself or as a Valentine’s gift for someone else, you can rest assured in knowing that not only are you selecting a great product that will be loved, but that you are helping out the less-fortunate at the same time. That’s what we call sharing the love!
- Fair trade/organic chocolates. Chocolate is an intrinsic part of the Valentine’s Day festivities, and is a must-have gift on everyone’s list, male or female. When chocolate (or any other product) is certified fair-trade, it means that the farmers working to grow the ingredients are given fair working standards and a minimum commodity price on their crops. Organic means that the cocoa was grown without harmful pesticides and the ingredients used in the chocolates are all certified organic as well. It’s a great way to get a Valentine’s Day gift that tastes great and make you feel great as well. Plus, knowing that the workers who brought your chocolate truffle into being were treated with dignity and fairness just makes the chocolate taste that much sweeter. Fair trade and organic chocolates in romantic gift boxes should be available at gourmet and health shops around Valentine’s Day.
- MAC – Viva Glam makeup. Every girl wants to feel glamorous, so giving her a deluxe makeup kit from fashionable makeup boutique MAC makes a great Valentine’s Day gift. That glamorous feeling will only increase when she finds out that her favorite new Valentine’s Day presents came from the MAC Viva Glam line, which has been backed by stylish celebrities like Fergie and Lady Gaga. Every penny of the selling price of the dramatic and sexy lipsticks and lipglosses in the line are donated to the MAC AIDS fund, which supports men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.
- Dreams of Africa jewelry. Whiteflash.com, an online diamond and engagement ring boutique primarily known for their A Cut Above ® super ideal hearts and arrows branded diamonds, also offers a Valentine’s Day gift that will flatter your eyes as well as your conscience. 100% of the proceeds from their Dreams of Africa line, a stunning collection of ultra-wearable necklaces, earrings, rings and even cufflinks, goes to support victims of the illegal diamond trade in Africa. Of course, all the diamonds sold on Whiteflash.com are certified conflict-free, but unfortunately, the so-called “blood diamond” trade continues, and Whiteflash has made it part of its mission to help heal the damage caused by the illegal mining and trading of diamonds. Unfortunately, about 1.3 million children have been left orphaned and impoverished by diamond-trade-related violence; Whiteflash, together with the World Centers of Compassion for Children, is doing what it can do give these children the lives they deserve. Every girl (and guy) wants jewelry gifts on Valentine’s Day; put some social awareness behind the sparkle and you have a Valentine’s Day jewelry gift that shows your love, not only for each other, but for all people.
The white gold, diamonds and sapphires are not the most precious part of these Dreams of Africa jewelry pieces: the lingering feeling of having helped children in need is far more valuable.
- TOMS Shoes. It may not seem too romantic at first glance, but the cute canvas sneakers sold by the TOMS shoe company actually make dream Valentine’s Day gifts. First, they are fashionable, comfortable shoes that are perfect for everything from shopping to running errands. Second, they are available in a huge range of cute patterns and fabrics, from nautical stripes to glam silver glitter, so you can choose the perfect pair for your valentine. Most importantly, for every single pair of TOMS you buy, the company donates a free pair to a child in need of shoes. Every time you slip on your TOMS shoes, you will be reminded of the child somewhere who is able to do the same, thanks to you. It’s a Valentine’s Day gift for two.
- One of a Finds home decor. For the girl (or guy) who loves decorating the house and finding unusual and beautiful furniture and knickknacks, the One of a Find line of home objects available at CB2.com can be the perfect source for a socially-conscious Valentine’s Day gifts. For this line, the home goods store travels the world to find people in need whose traditional forms of craftsmanship are no longer in demand in their corner of the world. Then, CB2 commissions artworks and home decor that combine the centuries-old traditional methods of these artisans with a modern design aesthetic and sells these limited-edition products on their website, turning over the profits to the artisans themselves. Right now, the find on display is a stunning side table made by the Raiasthani artisans in the Jaipur region of southern India, which is based on the traditional painting and lacquering techniques used for their traditional bread-kneading bowls. Whether you choose this product or another from the line, these finds make Valentine’s Day gifts that display your commitment to social action to the world.
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