Gifts that give back: Seven places to find thoughtful gifts for the holidays

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Buying gifts for the holidays can be daunting. You battle other shoppers for an unbeatable deal and stand in mile-long lines -- and sometimes the gift receiver doesn't like the present anyway. For those who would prefer to buy something thoughtful that gives back to the community, or make a handmade present that really means something, here is a list of seven options for finding gifts that give back.

See also: Black Friday 101: How to survive the biggest shopping day of the year

1. Small Business Saturday at Jolly Goods -- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. November 30

A community-friendly alternative to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday supports local businesses around the country. Handmade and vintage shop Jolly Goods will offer deals, food, drinks, raffles, meet and greets and more to celebrate the joy of shopping local. Aside from supporting the community, Jolly Goods will donate 5 percent of the sales from the day to National Mill Dog Rescue. Smart Cookie Dog Treats will be outside of the shop at 10 a.m. selling treats. From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Ellen Daehnick of Hellimae's caramels will discuss "The Perfect Holiday Caramel Pairings" and giving out samples. For more information, check out the event on Jolly Goods' Facebook page.

2. Anythink Libraries' Gifts From the Heart Program -- December 4-21

Instead of buying generic gifts in bulk, maybe you'd rather put in the time and effort to make a couple gifts on your own. For those who don't know where to start, Anythink is hosting handmade craft workshops at its various locations all month. You can support these local libraries and make ink-dyed tile coasters, pine cone owls, peppermint bark, candy bar reindeer, adorned glass plates, nutcracker dolls and more. All events are free and some include refreshments and entertainment like a performance by local group The Yesteryear Singers. For a full schedule of event dates and locations, visit Anythink's website.

Continue reading for more options to buy gifts that give back.

3. Firefly Handmade Holiday Market -- December 6-8

Firefly Handmade Holiday Market not only provides a place for local vendors to gather, but gives back to the community by choosing a charity to partner with each year. This year they partnered with OpenArts, a Boulder-based organization that promotes art education through various programs and events. A portion of the proceeds from the admission for the Firefly market will be donated to this organization. The market will be taking over Pearl Street in Boulder from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8. Admission for the whole weekend is $3 and kids 12 and under enter for free. For more information on the market and vendors, visit Firefly's website.

4. Warm Cookies of the Revolution's Gifted Handmade Market -- December 12

What makes this holiday market different is that it offers the opportunity to think and talk about the real cost of buying gifts. Civic health club Warm Cookies of the Revolution will be hosting a market with 40 local vendors and their handmade goods. Each vendor will list the cost of their products. "They might say 'my supplies actually cost this much money,' but it could be 'my costs were that it took this much time,' or 'I missed my daughter's soccer game,'" explains Evan Weissman, founder of Warm Cookies.

The vendors will also list the benefits of buying the items, whether it supports how the artist makes a living of enjoys their free time. The market will go from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. December 12 at the McNichols Building. At 6:30 p.m., Warm Cookies will lead a discussion on the true cost of gifts, prompting guests to talk about buying locally vs. buying from global corporations. Admittance to the event is free and, most importantly, cookies and hot cocoa will be provided. For more information, visit the Warm Cookies website.

5. Denver Public Library's Winter Used Book Sale -- December 12-14

For those who want to give the gift of knowledge but are on a budget, the Denver Public Library's Friends Foundation hosts one of the biggest holiday book sales in town. More than 35,000 books, CDs, and DVDs for all tastes and interests for $3 or less already makes this an event worth checking out, but that's not the only benefit. Shopping for gifts at the library's sale supports the library and the community. The sale will go from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 12 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 13 and 14 at the Central Library. For more information, visit the DPL website.

Continue reading for more options to buy gifts that give back.

6. Hope Tank

The charitable boutique Hope Tank offers a wide variety of gifts for everyone in the family, including those who are hard to shop for. And the best part is that a portion of every sale goes to a charity chosen by the artist or company. For the newlywed couple, you can purchase a cutting board or party tray from Black Hound Designs, with the proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club Cope Branch. For the mother-in-law, fair trade soaps and lotions from JustNeem. For foodies, products from Women's Bean Project. For teenagers, MaxLove hats, supporting the MaxLove Project. For Colorado natives, jewelry from Beyond Gear, which supports the Urban Climbing School. The list goes on and on.

"What we're finding is that people really want the opportunity to give back, but they don't always know how and they don't always feel comfortable just writing a check and they want to experience something a little bit more personal," says owner Erika Righter. "What this does is it empowers our customers to have a say in where their money goes and what they support." Browse for gifts at Hope Tank's new location on Broadway, and check out their website for more information.

7. Soha Clothing

The Louisville-based company Soha Clothing creates shirts and hats with a purpose. For those who enjoy a good gift as much as they enjoy making a difference, this inspirational apparel can be purchased online. Soha donates 50 percent of net proceeds to charities around the world that focus on teaching children compassion, including Compassionate School Network, Roots of Empathy, No Bully and The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. To browse for gifts with compassion, visit the Soha website.

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