Spread a little Christmas cheer

Community aid and advocacy organisations offer a fab range of Christmas gifts, cards and festive wrapping, and the money you pay gives twice: to the recipient of your present and the marginalised communities that have produced the craft items. Look at the following websites for inspiration.

Oxfam Shop: The Christmas catalogue is stuffed with good ideas. My picks: abaca-fibre Christmas angels ($9.95) for the tree or to ribbon-tie on a special present, and silk Jacquard scarves with pretty fringes and Chinese motifs (made in Vietnam, from $22.95). A pack of assorted Christmas cards ($14.95) is a bargain buy. Oxfam’s website gives details of producer partners and the provenance of all catalogue items. More: www.oxfamshop.org.au.

New Internationalist: This hardworking justice organisation’s Great Global Gifts catalogue is a year-round winner; Christmas suggestions include 2007 calendars and almanacs and Putumayo world music CDs. My picks: a set of two beautiful pen-and-ink cards with African fabric inserts ($9.95) from northern Nigeria, and Putumayo’s African Playground compilation ($33), full of joyous children’s music gathered across the continent, from Senegal to South Africa. More: www.newint.com.au.

UNICEF: Toddlers love toys with wheels, so why not enhance their collection with a logo-branded Land Rover or supply truck ($26) from one of the world’s best-known aid organisations? UNICEF’s cards are a firm favourite and this year’s selection is as diverse and colourful as ever, with designs from holly-hung Christmas doors or pop-up reindeers to festive towns in South America and religious iconography (set of 10 cards: average, $16). More: www.unicef.com.au.

Amnesty International: Good-quality black T-shirts ($35) with a Dalai Lama quote “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito” are the go from this human rights organisation. Cards with greetings in six languages have been reduced this year: a pack of 10 for $7 seems almost a giveaway for such gorgeous designs as Emblems of Peace and Stars of Hope. For Christmas, there’s $12 off the Peace Baby Gift Set (now $35), designed exclusively for Amnesty International Australia, which consists of a large bunny rug, bib, hat and romper suit, made from 100 per cent cotton and embroidered with a dove of peace (0-6 months and 6-12 months). More: www.amnesty.org.au/shop.

Charity Greeting Cards: This website has details of cards from organisations such as the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Australian Red Cross and the Fred Hollows Foundation. Customised cards are also available and there are easy-to-follow links to order direct from your preferred charity. More: www.charitygreetingcards.com.au.

Consider, too, adding a donation when you order from these organisations. As UNICEF points out, a meagre $27 buys a double-sided chalkboard, two chalkboard dusters, 100 white and 100 coloured chalk sticks: the basic tools for a village teacher to conduct a class.