5 truly unique holiday gifts for people hard to buy for

by Jennifer Alldred | December 17, 2019
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Background media: Oxfam is partnering with the Unilever laundry brand Surf, and we are working together to lighten the load for women and girls living with the injustice of poverty. The partnership aims to reduce the workload of women, unlocking opportunities and supporting women’s empowerment. Photo Credit: Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville / Oxfam
<p>Fainesi, 65, stands with freshly drawn water, stored in her bucket donated by Oxfam, in the Bangula camp, southern Malawi, on April 1, 2019. Fainesi and her family and neighbours left the village of Chikazi after their houses collapsed in the flooding caused by Cyclone Idai. Over several days, heavy rains caused the water level to rise. "The river was overflowing, and the water coming into our houses," she said. "That's when I saw part of my house falling." They ran to higher ground, and shouted for people with canoes to rescue them. "We thought we were going to die," she said. Men in canoes were picking up stranded villagers, taking them to a road above the water line, before going back to rescue more people<br />
Now, living in the camp, Fainesi says that whilst there are some distributions of food, it's not enough, and is infrequent. There are also not enough toilets for the thousands of people living here. Oxfam is distributing buckets and soap to people in the camp. "These buckets are very important," Fainesi says. "We didn't have anything to store our water in, or bathe from," she says, only being able to drink water directly at the taps in the camp, but unable to take it back to where they cooked and slept. "Now we are able to draw water and store it," she said, "it's helping us a lot.".For people like Fainesi, being thrust into a camp and relying on aid is a shock. "Before the floods we were productive," she said. "We were table to farm, we ate our own food. We lived a normal life." With crops, goats, and chickens, "food was not a big problem." But in the flooding, they lost everything. "I actually feel sorry for myself. I never imagine in my life that I would live in a camp," she said. "It really saddens me. This happened so suddenly."."Being in a camp is hard. You have no peace of mind, we are said every day."<br />
Credit: Philip Hatcher-Moore/Oxfam</p>

Gift giving isn’t only about who you value, it's also about what you value. And when you put those two things together, you get Oxfam Unwrapped! This year, we’ve created a few special gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life.

1. It’s not just another drop in the bucket

This gift saves lives! When disaster strikes, an Oxfam bucket can be a lifesaver. Thoughtfully designed, it keeps water safe and clean, and prevents deadly outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera. This gift supports our emergency response projects so we can mobilize quickly and provide immediate help to local partners when disaster strikes. For example, when Fainesi’s house collapsed as a result of Cyclone Idai tearing through area’s of Malawi in March 2019, she fled to Bangula camp with her family and neighbours. Thanks to donors who have given the gift of the Oxfam bucket and donations to our emergency response projects, we were able to respond immediately by distributing buckets and soap to people in Bangula camp.

This gift is perfect for someone who cares about people affected by disasters and appreciates something a little more tangible.

Fainesi, 65, stands with freshly drawn water, stored in her bucket donated by Oxfam, in the Bangula camp, southern Malawi, on April 1, 2019.

2. When you want to choose something “egg-cellent”

Behold, we've hatched the perfect gift idea — a chicken! Seriously though, this gift goes towards Oxfam’s Supporting Livelihoods Projects, where communities can let us know what is needed most. Whether that’s agricultural training, seeds, or a chicken to provide marketable products, these gifts are about food security and ensuring communities can lift themselves out of poverty. Some of the communities who have benefited from these gifts include small-holder farmers in rural Burundi, women farmers in suburban municipalities of Cuba, and people who have sought refuge in Nduta Refugee Camp in Tanzania. Who wouldn’t love this egg-cellent gift!

3. For someone good at sharing

This gift is a wonderful way to honor your special someone who is always helping others. This card is a symbolic gift of peace that supports Oxfam’s Investing in the Future Projects where our long-term development programs and advocacy work are helping communities rebuild after disaster, combat the effects of climate change and fight inequality to beat poverty.

4. When you want to celebrate the Superwoman in your life

What better way to celebrate and give thanks to the super-woman in your life than by supporting projects that help women claim their rights. When you give a gift in our Empowering Women and Girls Fund collection, you are supporting women like Shampa, who participated in skills training provided by a project partner, learned how to start her own business and earn an income for her family, and influence the acceptance of violence in her home.

Thanks to Oxfam donors, Shampa is able to support herself and her family, which has helped stop the violence in her household. Not only does Shampa feel economically empowered, she has seen a change in her family life and her husband.

5. Foodies unite!

You probably know someone who loves food – to grow it, eat it and share it. If so, then we have the perfect gift options. When you choose the gift of a garden, seeds, holiday thyme or any other gift in our Supporting Livelihoods collection, you’ll be contributing to a range of projects that help vulnerable communities lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. These projects include everything from agricultural training, climate change resiliency plans, irrigation systems and even seeds.

Hudon (40)

Hudon is part of Oxfam’s farming project, helping pastoralists who have been struggling with drought, to diversify their source of income. “I want my children to have a better future so they can learn and not suffer the way I did.” Hudon said. “It has been a vey hard life. During the hard months, there was no food and water. We would be dehydrated and malnourished. I can’t describe in words how challenging it was. We felt like we were dying.” Hudon has been part of Oxfam’s farming project for six months. “My life has changed in a good way,” said Hudon, “My children can eat better nutritious food and we have money.”

“I was a pastoralist before. I only had 14 shoats. 4 died, and I have 10 left. I came here and I found this project. I joined the farm. First we were four people, we tried to buy a generator. It was a problem because we didn’t have the money to buy it. 

It last rained 8 months ago. 

I didn’t go to school, but my children go to school. I can say pastoralism is a livelihood which depends on rain. When it is dry and there is drought, our lives are very hard. I used to live in the bush – far from a city or town. It was very hard. Sometimes there was no food, no feed for our livestock. It was really hard. When it was a good season, our livestock were fat and had lots of milk. We would sell our livestock to make money and buy food for our children. We would eat and our children would be healthy and nourished. 

But recently, the droughts have become recurrent and prolonged. Life was challenging for me. I want my children to have a better future so they can learn and not suffer the way I did. It has been a vey hard life. During the hard months, there was no food and water. We would be dehydrated and malnourished. I can’t describe in words how challenging it was. We felt like we were dying. People are still suffering. 

Now our thinking is different. In the past, we only knew how to rear livestock. I inherited this way of living. I couldn’t imagine another way of life. 

I believe if others see us, they will change too. My life has changed in a good way. My children can eat better nutritious food and we have money. My children’s life has changed in a good way. They have the opportunity to learn – some are learning how to farm. 

I am asking the organization to give us more support. We need an extra well. 

There are small ways we can help ourselves. We harvest and sell and get money. We buy food for our children. But the money we are making is not enough to invest in the farm. Sometimes we don’t have diesel. We need more knowledge and training to be more productive. We would like a tractor. We want to increase the land we can farm. 

I have seven children. My youngest is 4 years old. My oldest is 25.  

As a pastoralist, women give birth alone. I was from a poor family. After I came here I was very poor. If I had not been helped by this organization, if I didn’t benefit from this project, we would still be poor. 

I’m happy. Before we were only eating rice and pasta. Now we have nutritious food. This farm has helped my family and me a lot. I sell my vegetables. With the money I make, I support my family and give them nutritious food to eat.”


1. You choose your gift.

2. You choose the card-type (e-card, pdf, or print card) to be delivered to your recipient, and personalize the message in the card (optional).

3. You will get a confirmation email after your purchase, containing your receipt.

4. Your symbolic gift, is actually a donation - which goes to those who need it most.

Because your gifts are considered charitable donations to Oxfam Canada, your purchases are tax deductible. Once you've purchased a gift, a tax receipt will be sent to you by email. Please note that we are only able to issue a charitable tax receipt in the name of the individual who has made the donation/gift.

It might be too late to guarantee your cards will be delivered by December 25th, but we’ve got you covered! All our cards are available to print at home or send as e-cards.

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