Buying with Purpose this Holiday Season

Buying with Purpose this Holiday Season:
an alternative way to bring the joy back into Christmas shopping

Jenna Stevenato
Buy Social Canada
Published December 6, 2018

It’s official – the most wonderful, magical and bank-breaking time of year has arrived.

Many Canadians embrace the spirit of giving during the holiday season. Collectively, we donate about $5 billion to charities just in late November and December, making up almost 40% of donations received over the entire year (CBC News). But once we finish our Christmas shopping and the dust has settled, making a charitable donation can feel like more of a burden than a joy.

What if there was a way to give back without spending an extra dollar?

As consumers, we have the power to choose how we spend our disposable income. This gives us purchasing power, and although individuals don’t have a lot of it, we have control over how we use it. On the other hand, Government and corporations have a lot of purchasing power since they buy on a much larger scale. Either way, it can be used as a force for good.

There are social enterprises and non-profits all over Canada whose reason for existence is to support their local community members who are facing barriers to employment. Many of them do so by providing a variety of work and skills training. Every time a good or service is purchased from these organizations, money is being invested into the lives and futures of their employees.

The average Canadian will spend about $600 on their Christmas shopping (CBC News). Six-hundred. If the average employee of a social enterprise in B.C. makes minimum wage at $12.65/hour, that means that you could support almost 50 hours of work for individuals that are marginalized in society.

You’re not only making a direct investment in your local economy, but in your community and the people living in it.

If you haven’t finished (or perhaps started) your Christmas shopping yet, here are some of our top picks and recommendations:


Skwachays Gift Shop

Either in-store or online you can find beautifully crafted giftware designed by local Indigenous artists. The gift shop supports the Vancouver Native Housing Society which provides affordable housing options for the Indigenous community.

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Hives for Humanity

To support the marginalized members of the Downtown Eastside, Hives for Humanity offers meaningful employment opportunities making fresh and local honey among other products like lip balms, candles and salves.


Tradeworks Training Society

These laser-etched wooden ornaments make the perfect addition to any Christmas tree. All of the products are delicately handmade by men and women facing barriers to employment and who are transitioning into the workforce.


Nations Creations

Based out of Chilliwack, B.C., this Indigenous social enterprise has every giftware item you could think of. From wine glasses to cozy hoodies, each purchase supports their training programs while also supporting local Indigenous artists.


Megaphone Magazine

Sold by homeless and low-income vendors of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, these calendars are a stunning collection of their stories… and a must-have gift.


East Van Roasters

Their bean-to-bar chocolate and artisan coffee is not only to-die-for, but is also made and sold by at-risk women re-entering the workforce. Each purchase supports on-the-job mentorship and training programs.

This Holiday season, take an extra moment to consider shopping a bit differently. Make your lists with intention and buy with purpose this year

- From all of us at Buy Social Canada