Wollemi pine, $99.95
The Wollemi pine tree is one of the world’s oldest and rarest tree species—it was believed to have been extinct for more than 2 million years. Now the survivors from the age of the dinosaurs are available for purchase. It can be kept inside or outside and is about 18 to 22 inches when shipped. A portion of the proceeds will fund ongoing conservation efforts.
These eye-catching Asian rice and feed bags were headed for the trash until a designer in Virginia realized they could be made into something more. Now they’re reconfigured into interesting, waterproof, and durable tote bags that are stitched by a collective of seamstresses in Cambodia as part of the Fair Trade Federation Project, an international organization that supports sustainable and local businesses. “My personal favorite is the Cambodian rice-bag tote,” Stephen says. “I’ve been to the workshop where they make these in Phnom Penh. It’s a great gift because you’re supporting women and their children in Cambodia and cleaning up the environment; the raw material for the bags is something that once went into landfills.”
For the aspiring National Geographic photographer, this camera allows amateurs to dabble with wildlife photography. The highly specialized camera doesn’t require any pushing of buttons: It’s triggered by heat and movement and snaps remarkable images of wildlife on its own. It can endure all weather and will run for three weeks before the batteries need to be changed.
“Adopt a species” at the National Zoo; prices vary
For $40 to $1,000, you can adopt one of 15 species at the National Zoo, such as the giant panda, Komodo dragon, and cheetah. Olear says these gifts have accomplished a great deal: “This is a really important program for the zoo,” he says. “It raises money for a variety of different things related to animal care, from medial procedures to supplies to enrichment items. A few years ago, it funded the hand rearing of a Przewalski’s horse that was rejected by its mother. It also paid for the artificial insemination of our elephant, Shanthi, to a baby, Kandula.” A $65 package gets you a cute cardboard carrier with a stuffed version of the adopted animal, a tote bag, a personalized donation certificate, a fact sheet, and an animal photo.
Shock and delight anyone from animal-loving kids to literary adults with these beautiful paper products made from panda and elephant waste. Options include journals, stationery sets, notebooks, and note cards in a variety of colors and designs. Paper is typically made from plant cellulose, but in this case the cellulose comes from fibrous animal waste rather than wood
ABC blocks, $29.95
These Uncle Goose Toy Blocks by Lindenwood are handmade in Michigan using nontoxic inks. Designed for ages two to four, options include alphabet blocks, alphabet with Braille and sign language, math blocks with Braille, and Groovie blocks—colorful and texture math blocks. Velez says that many kids get alphabet blocks, but these are really beautiful and intricate ones that parents can trust.
These bright bowls come in unique and vibrant colors such as cantaloupe, cayenne, and cornflower. They’re handmade and finished with 18 layers of natural lacquer, which makes them durable, waterproof, and food-safe. Velez says these make great gifts because they help you “skip the plastic” when at a picnic or barbecue.
Herban Lifestyle gift set, $35
Herban Lifestyle sells all-natural and handcrafted balms, salves, bath salts, and massage oils made with organic ingredients and packaged in recyclable containers. The gift set—which includes lip balm, body balm, bath oil, and more—is a good holiday-gift choice. Cohen says that owner Mary Kearns never uses chemicals, preservatives, synthetics, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, or GMOs in her products. Bonus: Five percent of gross sales is donated to the Sierra Club and Herb Research Foundation.
Made of bamboo and organic cotton, the DC-based yoga-apparel line Even Keel Yoga sells athletic wear in a variety of styles and colors. Designer Liz Matthews is the local designer behind this cute and practical yoga gear.
→ Under $30 Gift Guide
→ Christmas in Washington Restaurant Dining Guide
What to Wear
→ What to Wear to Holiday Parties