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Greg Spencer

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Gifting With Purpose for the Holidays

Posted: 12/22/11 12:01 PM ET

It's the holiday season again and like all of you, I'm left wondering what to give this year that's more meaningful than another nice sweater for my dad or a pair of pajamas for my grandma. Well, I did some homework, asked around and found my top list of gifts with meaning and purpose behind them as well as just being great gifts. Whether you're looking for last-minute gifts for others or the best ways to spend your holiday gift cards, here are a few of my top picks:

Warby Parker

This company is pretty ridiculous. Warby Parker gets customer service; they allow you to order your glasses, but if they don't fit the way you want or you're just not happy, send them back for another pair at no extra charge. Warby Parker has, in my mind and based on what I know of them, a great one-for-one model that will create empowerment and economic stimulation in developing world communities. On top of that, these glasses are carbon neutral, so you don't have to worry about what kind of effect your purchase is making on the environment! Check out their sunglasses and spectacles here.

Krochet Kids

Get your high quality crocheted hats here made by a sweet lady in Uganda or Peru, and you will literally change their lives. Each hat is signed by the woman that made it giving a closer link to the "manufacturer" than you've ever had before. Stay warm, keep your family warm and get some hats from Krochet Kids.

Invisible Children

From some of the greatest storytellers and world-changers I've ever come across, you've got a brand of hand bags and totes called MEND that are made in Uganda. Similar to Krochet Kids, you can feel the love that goes into each bag from seamstresses like Evelyn or Grace. Get a tote from Invisible Children's MEND collection so that your sister, mom, wife and you gentlemen out there so you can empower a woman in Uganda and look good carrying your junk. Check out the MEND collection here.

The Paradigm Project

Wearing a cause is great, but what do you do for Grandma or your parents or uncle that may not be quite into the social cause fashion scene? How about an ornament that drastically reduces a family's need for wood, the time and money they spend collecting it and the deadly smoke that a traditional fire emits while a mother is cooking? My company, The Paradigm Project, came out with an ornament this year that can save $80 of local income for a family, give 1,300 hours of time back, save 33 trees and reduce toxic smoke in the kitchen by up to 60 percent. Give an ornament that will dramatically change a family's life, conserve the environment and simply allow them to enjoy modern cooking. Check out the ornament here.

Made for Good

Jedidiah Clothing was one of the first and best brands at developing clothing lines to benefit non-profit organizations doing great work all around the world. Jedidiah continually innovates, designs and builds great lines to benefit the likes of Stand Up for Kids, World Vision and a whole host of great organizations. In 2012, they're launching five new brands, which means they have something for everyone on your list.

Apolis Global

These guys know fashion, they know quality and they know how to do it in a sustainable way that maximizes the benefit to the community's and manufacturers that they work with. If you're willing to pay a little extra for a super high quality piece of designer clothing, get a utility jacket, a briefcase or a cashmere cardigan from the guys at Apolis Global and no doubt you won't find better quality, craftsmanship, style and sustainability all in one piece. Check out Apolis Global's shop here.

Make the most of this holiday season -- hit the slopes, tell the people that matter to you how much you love them, serve and volunteer wherever you can and shop in a way that's going to make our world a better place.