It's been a hard year for everyone, but the holidays are a perfect time to support small business and charitable causes while spreading love to our family and friends.
A Pandemic Christmas is unique, but so are the gifts that you can still get in time for the holidays.
Christmas is usually an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but this year we won’t be getting together for big celebrations and gift exchanges. However, thanks to a surge in e-commerce and a huge variety of eclectic producers, we can still show our loved ones that we are thinking about them from afar.
Data indicates that online sales are set to increase by 30% during this Christmas period compared to 2019, but it was not an easy transition for every business. Many had to quickly convert to e-commerce, which meant developing tools like online customer service and a significant change to their marketing techniques, such as discount codes or other incentives. If the world was moving digital, the pandemic set it into overdrive.
There has been quite the debate around buying gifts online, particularly about the small businesses who normally rely on in-person sales for their revenue. However, there is a wide range of small businesses that have embraced e-commerce and where you can still shop for your last-minute gifts. Many of them also support great causes in Italy and even more are sustainable businesses that could use your support. Several Christmas markets have even moved online.
Trees, bees, and wine
The climate emergency was a hot topic this year — pun intended — and with it came a number of ideas for sustainable gifts that support international charities as well as small businesses and producers. Many organizations have developed adoption campaigns which help to raise awareness of sustainable causes as well as connecting people with Italian organizations. Save the wrapping paper and shipping fees, and do some good at the same time.
The Italian organization Treedom helps you adopt a tree and monitor its growth directly from your phone, computer, or with e-mail updates. You can select the kind of tree, the location, and some extra content as well for yourself or as a gift. You can also adopt a beehive through Bee My Future, a project created by Milan based LifeGate, which lets you follow its progress throughout the year with your phone and once it’s harvested, receive a jar of honey straight from ‘your’ hive. Similar initiatives have sprung up around Italy projects to adopt a cow, or to send bags of seeds that will protect and sustain local biodiversity. For those who like wine, Be a Farmer lets you adopt a vineyard and win the chance to visit it, press the grapes yourself, and sample some bottles for yourself.
Good Christmas gifts for good causes
For those looking to send a charitable gift in someone’s name, Mani Tese has operated since 1964 with projects devoted to social justice, environmental development and food safety in over 50 countries. As with Save the Children, you can make a donation in someone else’s name that will be directed to any one of their projects. If you’re looking to support local charities,Worth Wearing is a platform where organizations can sell items at no extra fee other than printing and shipping costs. They carry things like t-shirts from bon’t worry INGO, a non profit supporting victims of violence in Italy. If you want to lend a hand and can’t decide where to put it, Italia Non Profit, has an exhaustive list of certified charities from which you can purchase gifts for the cause you’d like to support.
Go on, get a little weird
If there is any year where you might want to go ahead and risk sending that slightly strange or personalized gift, this is it. Creative People in Florence has compiled a list of local vendors offering everything from one of a kind terms to custom photo shoots to other great experiences around the city. Or for the man or woman in your life who’s got everything, why not send them a ceramic lama-shaped vase that grows a plant from inside from Troppotogo? That one’s a winner.
Not everyone sells online, but you can still support them
Although many businesses have migrated to e-commerce platforms there are many who remain reliant on instore sales, but they are still willing and able to provide personalized shipping services. The Amalfi Coast is full of small, family-run shops selling handmade ceramic mugs, jewellery, and other unique items, and with a year that has seen a precipitous decline in tourism in the area, it’s a great time to support them. There are also many wonderful social media accounts of people in the area who can give you tips and contacts for buying and don’t worry, it’s never too late to get your shopping in.
It’s been a hard year for everyone, but the holidays are a perfect time to support small business and charitable causes while spreading love to our family and friends. If you haven’t bought your Christmas gifts yet, there’s still plenty of great options available and everyone will forgive you for being a little bit late this year.
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