Ethical Shopping



When I first started learning about modern day slavery, I discovered that a lot of the ornaments we buy to decorate our trees are made by people living in slavery.


I had a total brain meltdown.  I’m decorating my house in honor of Jesus with products made by slaves?!?

This would not do.

Enter Ornaments4Orphans.  They partner with Ugandan artisans earning fair, living wages to create beautiful ornaments.  Then people here sign up to “host a tree.”  We sell the ornaments, send the money back to O4O, and they use the money to invest in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children.

You can host a tree, or you can just buy pretty ornaments for yourself or for teacher gifts or to tie on top of packages or to give to all the people you love.  Last year I gave one to each of my kiddos.

This is Yeko, the artist who makes the hut ornaments and the bark cloth nativities.  He and the other artisans working with Ornaments4Orphans are making good wages and living with dignity, supporting their families, and doing what they love.  The artists are able to afford the school fees for their children, purchase life-saving medical treatments, and supply food and housing for their families.

Last weekend I “hosted a tree.”  This was by far the easiest fundraiser I’ve ever thrown.  And I’ve thrown a lot.  I sent out an Evite and mentioned it on Facebook, Ornaments4Orphans gave me a big box of ornaments with a price list, I served spiced tea and pumpkin bread, and people came over and gave me money, which I’ll send to O4O.  So simple.  I didn’t have my tree up yet (Please.  It’s before Thanksgiving.), so I hung the ornaments on a wooden screen like so:

And friends came and perused the ornaments like so:

My whole job was 1. open door, 2. hug friend, 3. collect money.  You could put up a tree in your church or dentist office or vet clinic or school or living room.  The ornaments really sell themselves, because they’re gorgeous, have a great story, and have an affordable price point, ranging from $10-$15 a piece.

Now, I think I promised you guys a coupon code.  Use code UNEXPECTED to get free shipping on everything (U.S. only), and if you spend $50 or more using the code, they’ll include a free multicolored paper bead bracelet.  And if you sign up to host a tree you’ll receive a free Banana Fiber Angel Ornament as a gift in your Coordinator Box. (code expires November 12)

Now armed with your coupon code, I bid thee to SHOP HERE.

Slave-Free Christmas Challenge:

This Christmas, I’ve challenged myself to shop my entire Christmas list from organizations that are helping people, not hurting people.  Today, 27 million men, women, and children live as someone else’s property.  Slaves are making the items that I’m buying to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior.  Somehow I don’t think He’s blessed by the blood on His birthday presents.  For more information on my Slave-Free Christmas project, click here.  For featured companies from the last two years, click here.

Get slave-free gift ideas directly in your inbox and enter for the chance to win giveaways throughout the month of November!

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  • Amy Tilson

    Love the screen as a display. That’s so pretty!

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Amy! We got it in Old Town Alexandria back when we lived up there! Abaca Imports on N. Fairfax, I think.

      • Amy Tilson

        Thanks. I try to avoid crossing the beltway as much as possible. :)

  • Jennifer Wilcox Knott

    I love this fundraising idea, and I love your slave-free Christmas challenge! I am in on that! Looking forward to receiving posts from you regarding people, ministries, and socially responsible companies we can support with our Christmas dollars this year. We, too, are doing our Christmas differently. We are cutting way back on Christmas spending and trading many of the traditional Christmas gifts we usually give for the gift of our time this year. Our hope is to share more of our most precious resource with the ones we love and to free up funds to support some ministries doing fantastic work around the globe, all at the same time. But when we do spend, we are trying very hard to spend more wisely and in ways that edify and build up. We could use ideas, so thank you for sharing! (And P.S., thank you also for not putting up your Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. I adore Thanksgiving, and it gets lost in the shuffle of holiday consumerism. I think a month of focusing on thankfulness is a great way to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s birth!) Love your blog!

    • Melanie Dale

      Yes and yes and yes to all of the above, Jennifer! I love hearing about the ways you’re changing how you do Christmas, and what a great idea to “give the gift of our time.” And fist bump on the Christmas tree thing. Thanksgiving rocks, and I need it to get my heart right for the season of Christmas!

  • Laura M

    Where do we enter to win stuff? And also, I’m going to join your challenge. It’s so awesome. Love this!!

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Laura! I’ll be offering another contest giveaway soon. If you use the coupon code above on O4O’s site, you’ll get free shipping and a gift with purchase if you spend $50.





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