11 Thoughtful Gifts That Give Back

One World Play Project
One World Play Project

Giving feels great—so great that there’s an entire holiday season devoted to it. This year, instead of limiting yourself to conventional presents, give a gift that extends that warm and fuzzy feeling to your loved ones. Making a donation in someone else’s name or gifting an item that benefits a charity is the perfect way to brighten the holidays for those who need it most. And when your friends and family feel included in the effort, a little generosity can go a long way.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. One World Futbol; $39

For every soccer ball purchased from the One World Play Project, one ball is given to children in a disadvantaged community. The organization’s model is simple but effective: So far over 1 million balls have been distributed in the name of “the power of play.” Each ball is ultra-durable, making it a great gift for any roughhousing kid.

Give Back at One World Play Project.

2. Whole Turkey For a Big Cat; $20

Tiger carrying raw chicken.
Big Cat Rescue

More than 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, and other exotic cats call the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, Florida home. After rescuing the abused or abandoned animals, BCR provides them with shelter, healthcare, and plenty of fresh meat to eat. One of their favorite treats to enjoy around the holidays is poultry. For $20, you can make a big cat’s day with a whole turkey given in someone else’s name. The sanctuary also lists cheaper gift options: $10 for a chicken or half turkey for medium-sized cats and a $5 Cornish game hen for even smaller cats. If your donation exceeds the cost of the bird, that money will go to meeting other needs around the sanctuary.

Give Back at Big Cat Rescue.

3. The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir; $17

Whether you’re a part-time pirate, superhero, or cryptozoologist, there’s an 826 chapter out there for you. The national organization of themed tutoring centers has been inspiring kids to read and write since 2002. If you’re looking for a way to give back to the nonprofit, include The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir on your holiday shopping list. This how-to guide is full of precious nuggets of advice from accomplished writers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Nick Hornby, and Sarah Vowell. In addition to upping your memoir writing game, the proceeds of each purchase will directly benefit the student programs offered at 826 centers across the country.

Give Back at Amazon.

4. ROMA BOOTS; $69 AND UP

Roma rain boots
Roma

Roma makes giving back look good. Every purchase of a pair of their sleek boots results in a new pair donated to an underprivileged child. The shoes come in a variety of styles and designs, with the cheapest classic boot pair priced at $69.

Give Back at Roma.

5. ALPACA; $150

Boy with alpaca in a field.
Heifer International

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning an alpaca but don’t have the yard space, buying one for someone in need is a great alternative. Heifer International does more than provide livestock to families—they also empower them with the tools and knowledge they need to turn animal products like milk and wool into a source of income. Alpacas are some of the more fun items in their gift catalogue, but gifters have their pick of farm animals ranging from $20 for a flock of ducks to $500 for a heifer. After selecting the gift, donors can send a personalized card to the person who inspired it.

Give Back at Heifer International.

6. WATER PURIFIER; $35

Card showing someone bathing in water.
Oxfam

For families living without access to a safe water source, a basic water purifier can be life-changing. With a donation of $35 Oxfam can provide the gift of clean water to someone in one of the many impoverished communities it works with around the world. If you want to donate the purifier in honor of someone else, Oxfam gives you the option to send them a physical or digital card or print one out at home.

Give Back at Oxfam.

7. Narwhal Adoption Kit; $55

Narwhal plush doll.
World Wildlife Fund

Narwhals are known as the unicorns of the sea for a reason—they’re mysterious, elusive, and famous for their horn-like teeth that grow up to 8.8 feet long. For just $55, you can symbolically adopt the sea creature for yourself or someone you know. An adoption kit includes a photo, a plush toy, a gift bag, a species card, and an adoption certificate from the World Wildlife Fund. Donors looking to make an even bigger impact can choose to opt out of the gifts with more of the proceeds going towards WWF’s conservation efforts around the world. And if you don’t have any whale lovers in your life, WWF has dozens more “adoptable” species to choose from.

Give Back at World Wildlife Fund.

8. Mosquito Net; $10

Box wrapped in mosquito net.
Nothing But Nets

One of the easiest ways to save a life is by providing a mosquito net to a family that needs one. According to Nothing But Nets, a campaign from the UN foundation, bed netting reduces malaria rates by 90 percent. After donating $10, the organization will send a insecticide-treated net to a home in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is especially prevalent.

Give Back at Nothing But Nets.

9. HOMEMADE COOKIE GIFT BOX; $29

Box surrounded by packaged cookies.
That's Caring

If you don’t have the energy to bake cookies for everyone on your gift list this season, buy them a box of pre-made baked goods instead. This package includes three cookie varieties: white chocolate macadamia, sugar caramel, and oatmeal raisin. The cause it benefits makes this sweet treat even more satisfying: For every purchase, That’s Caring will donate a weekend food bag to a child facing food insecurity.

Give Back at That’s Caring.

10. The Unexpected Pit Bull 2018 Calendar; $25

2018 calendar with pitbull model.
The Unexpected Pitbull

This 2018 wall calendar shows that pit bulls are just as deserving of love as any other breed. The calendar includes photos of the dogs jumping, snuggling, and striking handsome poses, and each month features a true story from a human owner who’s taken a pit bull into their home. All of the proceeds go to helping dog rescue and advocacy groups. For animal lovers who can’t adopt a pet of their own, hanging up this wall calendar is a simple way to show support.

Give Back at The Unexpected Pit Bull.

11. Waterproof Hiking Boots; $140

Hiking boot on white background.
Keen

A pair of tough, water-resistant boots from Keen makes for handy hiking gear year-round, but the best time to buy the shoes is around the holidays. Through December 24, the footwear company will donate $5 from every pair purchased to the Portland, Oregon-based charity organization Mercy Corps. The group works in dozens of countries around the world, including Syria, China, and Haiti, to help victims of humanitarian crises. Sandals, winter boots, and other apparel are also included in Keen's Pair With Purpose program.

Give Back at Keen.

13 Wholesome Gifts for Mister Rogers Fans

Funko / Universal Studios / Amazon
Funko / Universal Studios / Amazon

Fred Rogers didn't watch television until his senior year of college, and when he finally did, he hated it. He told Karen Herman during a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television, “I saw people throwing pies in each other’s faces. And I thought this could be a wonderful tool for education. Why is it being used this way?”

Interested in helping the medium fulfill its potential, he told his parents he would be postponing his prior plan of becoming a minister to pursue a career in television. Despite their initial protests, he forged on, eventually becoming a household name as the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which would stay on the air for nearly 30 years and help change the perception of what children's television could (and should) be.

On November 22, 2019, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood will premiere in theaters, with Tom Hanks taking on the iconic role of Mister Rogers and Matthew Rhys playing a cynical reporter named Lloyd Vogel who is tasked with writing a profile on the wholesome TV star. The film takes a look at the life of Rogers and the impact he had on viewers and the people around him.

So, in anticipation of the film, and with the holidays on the horizon, here are some unique gifts you can pick up for the Mister Rogers fan in your life.

1. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History; $25

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Book
Clarkson Potter / Amazon

Have you ever wished you could journey behind the scenes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood? Well, now you can. This book chronicles the show's timeline—from its modest start on WQED in Pittsburgh to its film debut in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs, a visual guide to the characters, and stories from those who devoted their lives to the show, this book will give readers insight into both the program and Rogers himself.

Buy it: Amazon

2.The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember; $11

The World According to Mister Rogers Book
Hachette Books / Amazon

Carry Mister Rogers’s wisdom around wherever you go. With a forward written by his wife, Joanne Rogers, this book allows readers to explore the life of Fred Rogers through his speeches, interviews, anecdotes, and some of his never-before-published writing.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mister Rogers Color-Changing Mug; $16

Mister Rogers mug
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

There’s a lot to love about Rogers, especially his never-ending wisdom and extensive sweater collection. Now you can have both on a mug. At first it appears he’s wearing a suit jacket, but fill it up with a hot beverage and watch it change to a yellow sweater. The mug is also covered in some of his classic sayings, such as "I like you just the way you are,” to help you get the morning started off right.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mister Rogers's Bath Soap; $6


The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

Rogers taught viewers a lot of things, especially the importance of washing one’s hands. Make him proud with this cocoa butter-scented soap that features his reassuring smile on the wrapper, alongside his pal, Daniel Tiger. The same company also has Bob Ross soap to add even more serenity to your bath.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Mister Rogers Magnet Set; $22

Mr Rogers magnets
Papersalt / Amazon

Coming in four vibrant colors and featuring different quotes from Rogers himself, these magnets will brighten up your day, whether you stick them on your refrigerator, locker, or wherever else you need a little positivity.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Mister Rogers Encouragemints; $5

Mister Rogers Breath mints
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

If you’re going to be taking a stroll around the neighborhood, then these will enable you to do so with peppermint-fresh breath.

Buy it: Amazon

7. King Friday Oven Mitt; $15

King Friday oven mitt
Surreal Entertainment / Amazon

King Friday XIII was originally created to show kids that Friday the 13th should be fun, not frightening. And with this oven mitt featuring the king, you can take that same positive mindset into the kitchen next time you've got an important dinner to make.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Mister Rogers Sticky Notes Booklet; $8

Mister Rogers sticky notes
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

These sticky notes allow you to inject some wholesome Rogers charm anywhere you'd like. Let his serene smile adorn your grocery list and slap his trademark yellow sweater on your kitchen counter anytime you need to be reminded of an important errand to run. However you use the book is up to you.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Mister Rogers Funko; $11

Mister Rogers Funko
Funko / Amazon

Available for pre-order now, this figure features Rogers in that famous red sweater with Daniel Tiger right by his side. The figure will be released on November 25, 2019, right around the time the film premieres.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mister Rogers Pins; $16

Mr Rogers pins
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

If you’re looking to dress up your favorite sweater or jacket, then make sure you’re doing so in a way that says “Won't you be my neighbor?”

Buy it: Amazon

11. Mister Rogers Magnetic Dress-Up Play Set; $15

Mister Rogers magnet set
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild / Amazon

You're in control of Mister Rogers's wardrobe with this magnetic dress-up kit from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. Want him a green sweater? Go for it. Want him to be a fireman while wearing roller skates? You're more than welcome to try. You can even bestow Daniel Tiger with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, because, well, he's earned it.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Won’t you be my Neighbor? Documentary; $13

Will You be My Neighbor documentary
Universal Studios / Amazon

This award-winning documentary from director Morgan Neville—which has an incredible 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes—offers a glimpse at the legacy of the venerable TV star. It's perfect for both lifelong fans and newcomers simply looking for something to smile about.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Mister Rogers Socks; $14

Mister Rogers socks
Good Luck Sock / Amazon

Walk around with Mister Rogers and King Friday wrapped snugly around your feet. The socks have a reinforced heel and toe and are safe to machine wash. You can always buy the same socks in women's sizes for $14.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Rosetta Stone Is Offering Up to Half Off Language-Learning Software for Black Friday

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

It’s no secret that learning another language has numerous benefits. But if going back to school and memorizing lists of vocabulary isn't an option—or something you particularly want to do—you can turn to Rosetta Stone, which now offers subscriptions to their language-learning software. And through November 27, language enthusiasts can take advantage of the company's Black Friday pre-sale deals and receive up to half off Rosetta's regular prices by heading here.

These deals include a three-month subscription for $39.50, a one-year subscription for $89.50, a two-year subscription for $124.50, and a lifetime membership for $199. Over 30 languages are offered on Rosetta Stone, such as Spanish, Japanese, and French, and your online subscription to the language courses comes with numerous other perks, including:

  • Phrasebooks: These teach you quick expressions and greetings that are perfect for traveling
  • Mobile app: Get access to Rosetta Stone's iOS app, where you'll find conversation practice and short 10-minute lessons that fit your schedule.
  • An audio companion: Download and listen to lessons even while offline.
  • Stories: Written and narrated in the language you're studying, these stories include poems, tours, and narratives that expose you to new words and help you understand the culture better.
  • Games: Practice your language skills by yourself or with other users (available on all devices but mobile).

For an additional fee, you can also get live sessions. The sessions are 25 minutes long and are taught by a tutor who is a native speaker of the language you’re learning.

Rosetta Stone language program on mobile
Rosetta Stone

Mastering new languages can open up new ways to communicate with others you may have not been able to before, and over the past few years, studies have shown that being multilingual can help slow cognitive decline and strengthen neural pathways as you age.

Alongside using a program like Rosetta Stone to learn a language, it can help to have periodic conversations in the dialect you’re studying—even if they are with yourself. Check out our other tips for mastering another language.

Sign up now for the three-month ($39.50), one-year ($89.50), two-year ($124.50), or lifetime ($199) subscription.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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