It’s been a while since I went shopping. And I did– briefly– while we were in Kyoto. I’ve been looking for a loose, work-appropriate pair of pants (culottes, a fun style from Paris). I pictured myself waltzing into the department store, finding the perfect pair of burnt orange or mustard yellow knickers, and sporting the new look with not a care in the world.

That’s not what happened.

Long story short, I did find the pants, but it took a very long time. I was tired and frustrated at the end, surprised to find myself hustling for a trend. I’m glad I found them, but not nearly as excited as I thought I would be. Not even close.

You see, gifts whose desirability is intrinsic– they are new, they are popular, or they make you momentarily happy– lose that value rather quickly. Have you ever noticed that when you purchase something simply to have it (and for no other substantial reason), that initial excitement wears away? Pretty rapidly?

Unsurprisingly, the possessions that bring us the most joy are those that have meaning and impact attached to them. The ones that I find most compelling are doing good in the world. Perhaps far more good to others than they do to me.

And this holiday season, I encourage you to consider gifts with deep meaning and impact. Gifts that are worth far more than simply being shiny and new.


Gifts that help families

So of course when World Vision USA got in touch with me about sharing their gift catalog, I more than happily obliged. World Vision has been serving global communities for over 60 years, and they are well-known for “going where no one else goes”– especially to areas that are deeply under-resourced, where people subsist on less than $1.90 per day.

Providing clean water, education, job opportunity, healthcare, and much more to communities through partnerships with local leaders, World Vision is able to help populations that are otherwise unreached by international aide. The best part? Once those communities become stable in their own resourcing, World Vision leaves.

The thing I like most about the gift catalog is that you can give gifts of all kinds:

And if you’re willing to give to the place of greatest need, you can shop the handmade gift catalog. This is an amazing option if you want a small memento to place under the Christmas tree (most often made by artisans all over the world), but are most interested in contributing to the world-changing work that World Vision is doing.

Some of these “wherever most needed” gifts are intricate, hand-carved pieces of jewelry and home decor; others include bags of local coffee, spices, or kitchenware.


(Upcycled artisanal bowl)

Real impact doesn’t lose its luster

We all love shiny new things. Somehow it’s in our nature– and sometimes this leads to innovation and creativity. But the truth is, all things will lose their novelty eventually; they wear out, we tire of them, or a newer model hits the shelves. That excitement of unwrapping a gift can feel worthwhile in the moment, but we ultimately need to know whether that item helps anyone other than us.

What I love about gift catalogs like World Vision’s is that they offer gifts that aren’t just about a shiny new object. These gifts multiply throughout communities, whether they simply help a family through one day of meals, or give decades of clean water. The point is, generosity never loses its luster. It never loses its appeal. Those who receive gifts that have real impact will always look upon those gifts with affection, compassion, and joy.