8 Outside-the-Box Gifts That Give Back

You’ll want to give them all

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Michael Saintil for ONE37pm

SunTrust helps you accomplish all of your holiday goals—including gifting—by giving you the tools, resources and motivation to find financial confidence. Take the 31-Day #bestlifegiving Challenge this season and be inspired to try new ways of giving confidently all season long.

Whether it be a birthday present, holiday gift or just a random act of appreciation, deciding on a gift for someone can be tricky. You want to make sure that what you're giving brings joy of course, and bonus points for it being useful. A loftier qualification? Giving a gift that also does some good in the world. You'll feel good and your pal can, too! Here are 8 ideas to give… and give back this season.

1. For the Outdoorsman: National Parks Pass

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Satisfy their love for nature with a national parks pass so they can explore the greatest wonders of our nation as they please. They’ll be forever grateful as they get to experience some of the largest mountain ranges and canyons IRL. Besides fulfilling your friend’s wanderlust, a gift like this gives back because the cost goes toward maintaining and managing the parks.

2. For the Sports Fanatic: Charity Game Tickets

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Many sports teams host events that support a charity or good cause. For example, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes are hosting a Military Appreciation night in January. Check out your local team's event calendar and pick a night that supports a cause your loved one cares about. They can enjoy a great game and leave with a feeling of pride. That’s a win-win.

3. For the Wellness-Minded: Holiday-Themed 5K

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OK, so this suggestion should definitely be reserved for the right recipient. But if you know your friend loves to run and is looking to up their wellness game in 2020, signing them up for a holiday-themed race where the proceeds go toward a good cause is the perfect gift that gives back. Better yet? You sign up too and run the race together.

4. For the Music Lover: Charity Concert Tickets

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‘Tis the perfect season to gift the music lover in your life tickets to their favorite show. Musicians sometimes hold charity concerts that benefit specific causes. Here you're contributing to a cause, and your loved one can enjoy the unforgettable experience of live music.


If you can't find a specific charity concert, another route is to buy tickets on a website like Tix4Cause, where they’ll donate 50 percent of earnings to a cause of your choice.

5. For the Traveler: Cover a Night on Your Pal's Next Vacation

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Usually one of the more stressful aspects of planning a trip is figuring out where to stay. If you know that your friend has a vacation coming up, why not treat them by taking care of a portion of their accommodations? Nowadays there are many options to choose from like AirBNBVRBO and others. You don't have to splurge on the entire stay if you don't want to. Consider getting them a gift card that takes care of one or a few nights of the stay.


The benefits of this are two-fold: it gives a more "at-home" immersive experience for your loved one, while also supporting the local community and economy of the destination. A lot of the home-sharing apps also have "experiences" where you can live like a local and visit places that are off the beaten path. 

6. For the Foodie: A Food Co-Op Membership

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Food co-ops are basically grocery stores that are owned by a community of people who all shop there. Treat your friend to the gift of quality fresh fruit, vegetables and other items so that they can eat sustainably and also support local businesses and farms. 


Co-ops, like the French Broad Food group in Ashville, North Carolina, offer 100 percent organic food for about $250 a year. If you wanted to contribute in full or a portion to get your loved one onto the path of healthy eating, this is a good starting point. Other Co-ops like The Farmacy in Winter Garden, Florida, provide perks like home delivery and curbside pick up making it not only sustainable but convenient, too.

7. For the Fashion-Forward: Sustainable Clothing

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The gift of sustainable clothing covers a lot of bases. It's better for the environment, your friend can use it over and over again, and there’s a lot to choose from. What exactly makes it sustainable? Companies like Everlane use ethical factories and produce goods made with recycled materials.

8. For the Pet Lover: Sponsorship of an Animal

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Zoos all around the country allow you to sponsor your favorite animal. Many non-profit organizations partner with zoos to educate people about the importance of wildlife and the environment and take part in conserving wildlife and endangered species. The next time your friend visits the local zoo, they can proudly proclaim that they're helping to preserve a species! 


If you don't live near a zoo, you can check out the World Wildlife Fund, where they let you "adopt" any species of animal you wish.