Nativity Scene. Location: A church in Recife, Brazil. Delft tile from Dutch colonization.
I cave. This year I am starting my shopping early. If I can do this before the rest of the world goes crazy, there will be time to rekindle hope and joy and engage further than usual in the magic of the season. Lighting the Advent candles, praying at the foot of the nativity, seven fishes at Christmas Eve and marking the doors at Epiphany. All these are a few of the interesting rituals that lay ahead all through Feb. 2nd.
This also means I get to keep it all up well past our consumer time table…until Candelmas. It sure does rock being Catholic. In addition to extra time for nights lit with sparkling fairy lights and rituals that bring a rhythm and mystical quality to each day that lies ahead.
Because most of us will be giving gifts this season for one reason or another, I offer you a few great gift options in this thoughtfully collected gift guide curated from companies who I have a particular affinity for with solid products (many of which I own, so I can attest to that) and/or really support their ethos.
Hope you find this gift guide useful! Enjoy the holiday season!
Stockering Stuffers for the Crunchy Hipster
1. Reusable Grocery Bags. Washable. Stuffable. Lightweight. Holds insane amounts of groceries and anything else. This has become my indispensable bag of choice. Stuff these in their stockings and feel eco-tastic. 😉
2. A gift of love! Homemade Vanilla or Elderberry Tincture make wonderful homemade gifts. I am eternally grateful to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse for the fabric and ribbon. Not only are these gifts practical but pretty!
3. Eco-Snack Bags. Itzy-Ritzy Snack Happens Reusable Bags are still my staple. If someone in your life is looking to cut down on their plastic Ziploc consumption, these work really well and don’t leak! Use it for trail mix, fruit, crackers, dog kibble or even bathing suits and wet clothes. These rock.
4. A great moisturizer. This one is a current fave. Thick, rich, decadent, organic and full of skin-loving ingredients, Honeyskin, is a perfect winter moisturizer that comes in 3 sizes to stuff in your stockings! It really works on that cracked, rough winter skin and pairs well if you use a retinol to keep your skin from rebelling. Gift to a friend with dry or itchy winter skin. Or everyone.
5. Lip Balm. The talented Moirin of Bridget’s Apothecary makes the most moisturizing lip balm and many other products and they are all natural to boot. Her research is thorough and she really cares educating her clients and in crafting the small batch products in her line. I also like Burt’s Bees Superfruit Lip Balm. They have a fruity smell and light tint that reminds me of the Lipsmackers that I had as a kid but without all the chemicals. Everyone can use a balm.
6. A Traveler’s Lifesaver. Do you have thighs that rub together when you walk? Well I do. Enter Body Glide, for Her. Made for athletes who experience chafing, this little tube, gifted to me by my sister, saved me so much grief while walking all day in a skirt in the hot, sweaty sun in Turkey. Stuff them in all the stockings you know! The athlete, or traveler in your life will thank you for it.
7. A Nice Herbal Tea. Tea is nice in the wintertime because it is very therapeutic and is easy to whip up. My all time favorite herbal tea brand is Yogi. A friend introduced me to their Egyptian Licorice Tea and it is a fantastic sleep aid/stress reliever. Their Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut can actually be drunk without a sweetener if you wish to have a healthy dessert tea. A great gift for the tea lover.
For the Fashionista
1. Styled-to-you Clothes Delivered to Your Doorstep. If you have someone in your life who loves fashion and is way to busy to buy it for themselves or hates shopping but needs some new clothes, try gifting Stitchfix.
You can buy a Giftcard or just fill out the Stitch Fix Style Profile and their personal stylists will handpick a “Fix” of five clothing items and accessories unique to your taste, budget and lifestyle. Why do I like this? It is in the comfort of your own home! Simply buy what you like and return the rest. The styling fee is applied to your purchase if you keep even one thing so it seems pretty worth it considering the time you save avoiding hectic holiday stores (especially with kids in tow!)
I am doing this right now because I am just too exhausted to shop and loving it! Great gift to yourself too.
2. Pretty Jewelry. The talented Shannon Gianoni creates gorgeous and unique Swarovski jewelry over at Saya Papaya. Her attention to detail is impeccable and I love that part of her proceeds go to Animal Friends in Pittsburgh. If you are in the area, she also sells her jewelry at Wear Woof, the resale boutique whose proceeds benefit animal rescue. If you know someone that loves Sabika, this jewelry will be loved with its unique twist and high quality. Her jewelry is so feminine and pretty and makes great bridesmaids gifts too.
For the Coffee Lover
1. Vintage-Style Coffee Grinder. Do you wonder how you might make fresh ground coffee when the zombie apocalypse comes and there might not be electricity? Then you just may fall in love with this Coffee Mill. I use it almost every day for fresh ground coffee in my french press. French presses rule for the coffee lover. Forget all that “pourover” nonesense! 😉 Gift this to the coffee guru who has everything.
2. Artisan Coffee. If you need coffee with that, I have recently been enjoying a few different brands. The first is the Pittsburgh artisan roaster, Zeke’s Coffee. They roast their beans with air instead of the usual drum barrel and this reduces the acidity, which makes for a very nice cup. Check them out if you are visiting the area.
Commonplace Coffee and La Prima are classics in my book. Both are reliable and with talented baristas who can pull a silky espresso with a beautiful crema. Try the Papau New Guinea and the Rachel Carson Blend, respectively or visit if in Pittsburgh.
If you would like to gift a coffee subscription, Driftaway Coffee is a current fave. I am recieving a monthly coffee that is balanced, with deep and fruity notes that sit well on the palate. Great for when you get too lazy to go out.
3. A French Press. Having just promoted my devious consumption of coffee, there is no way better to have your coffee than with a French Press and there is no way better to have your coffee than with the Bodum Chambord. If you know a coffee newbie and want to impress them with your taste, this is the way to brew! Smooth, smooth body and with a clean but full flavor.
4. Programmable Coffee Maker, that still makes good coffee. If you just can’t bring yourself to cut the electric coffee pot cord, I have been tempted to purchase a Cuisinart DCC-3200 Perfect Temp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Stainless Steel. It gets rave reviews even from coffee critics and is programmable for when you are too tired to even boil coffee. Admit it. You know it happens. Buy it for your “family.”
For the Exhausted Foodie
1. A Dutch Oven. The Le Creuset Dutch Oven in Cherry Red (or any other stunning color) is STILL my favorite piece of cookware. It never leaves the top of my stove. It is gorgeous, can be used to cook anything and is pretty darn easy to clean. I gave away most of my other pans since you don’t need many more than this. Easy to use, easy to clean. Win. They will love it for generations to come.
2. The Lazy Persons Everything Pot. The Instapot rocks. Who knew there was something better than just a slow cooker?
Why is this my favorite electric appliance? 6 in 1 action. I use it for all my stocks now, simmering soups as well as a rice cooker. If you think that you or your giftee istoo busy to cook, this will make it, well….a thousand times easier.
3. Healthy Snacks to Your Door. I recommend trying or gifting a subscription to Love With Food if you like to have healthy snacks around but don’t know whete to start. What a great company! You can snack smart and DO GOOD. They are a monthly snack box subscription service that helps you discover the best organic or all-natural snacks delivered to your door starting at $7.99/month. They also have Gluten-Free boxes!
As if that is not helpful enough to fill the pantry, for every box sent, a meal is donated to feed hungry children in America. To date, They have donated more than 400,000 meals. Healthy and helpful. A good company.
4. Ready to Cook Fresh Meals. Do you have someone in your life who could use a break? Someone who recently had a baby? A friend at their wits end? Throwing in the towel on your health is not good at times like these but making it easier to prepare healthy meals. Hello Fresh sends perfectly portioned ingredients along with a recipe so you can throw together a delicious meal without grocery shopping or planning. We all have times this kind of gift would be cherished.
5. International Food without having to get on a plane if you send someone a box from Try the World. I am a big fan of these specially curated gourmet boxes. Each beautifully wrapped box come nestled together with a variety of snacks, desserts and meal ingredients that will make you feel you are in another country.
Along with the food comes a world playlist of songs to bring you inspiration and some culinary and historical background on the ingredients. You can eat the food right out of the box (as I do quite frequently) or use one of their carefully developed recipes to craft your own authentic travel experience. Try the World sent me their holiday box to try out and as you can see, it is quite special. A soft and chewy Pannetone from a small producer, Acai sauce great for my morning smothies, crisp and spicy ginger snaps, a smooth Israeli olive oil for salads, a wake-me-up Yerba Mate, soft and decadent dark chocolate truffles to savor and some pistachio creme for holiday cake making all came in this month’s box. Enjoy gifting a real winner here!
For the Book Nerd
1. An E-Reader. Having a dedicated e-reader like the Kindle is one gift the book nerd in your life will appreciate.
It also saves trees and backaches from carrying so many books. Oh, and it helps to prevent distraction. It is meant for reading, not surfing so you can’t get caught up as easy checking Facebook while you are trying to read like a Smartphone.
2. A Rechargeable Booklight. Could be that I am getting older or that I like to live in the dark, but a booklight has been sounding like a great idea. This one comes highly recommended for its localized bright light and that it is rechargeable. It is inexpensive, too so you can gift a few.
Buon Natale to all! I hope this helps you get started!