by Margaret Cabaniss
I was a little torn about posting a Christmas gift guide today. On the one hand, I could rant long and hard about the commercialization of the season, the pressure to buy more and more stuff, and the inevitable creep of Black Friday gift buying (which, apparently, now starts before the Thanksgiving plates are even cleared). It’s not even December yet, for pity’s sake.
On the other hand, holiday gifts are fun! What’s more, I’ve noticed that the sooner I get my Christmas shopping done, the more I can relax, slow down, and enjoy the season — which is, ostensibly, what this site is all about.
So, in that spirit, I’ve put together a little SlowMama Holiday Gift Guide, featuring unique natural or handmade items for the men, women, and kids on your list — fun things you can feel good about giving (with a few gifts that give back). Wherever possible, I’ve linked to small, independent vendors (read: lots and lots of Etsy shops), though “locally made” will vary depending on where you are. And, of course, there’s a bit of self-selection bias here; I understand that not every gal would be thrilled to get her very own spool of baker’s twine for Christmas, but if the women on your shopping list are anything like me, you should be golden. If nothing else, I hope it inspires you in your own gift-giving this year.
On to the recommendations!
For the Ladies
CB I Hate Perfume. Guaranteed to win over any girl who has ever had a hard time finding perfume that she liked (ahem). These perfumes contain no alcohol — just oil, water, and fragrance — and the scents are light, lovely, and unique. My personal favorite is “M. Hulot’s Holiday,” though I’ve always been drawn to “In the Library”…seriously, who doesn’t want to smell like a stack of books?
Recycled Stackable Rings. I love how these bands made of recycled silver and gold manage to look delicate without being girly. Wear them separately or pile on a great whack of them; they look great both ways.
Baker’s Twine. No, I’m not kidding. Do you know how stoked I would be to find this in my stocking? There is nothing you can’t do with baker’s twine. Give me 2,300 feet of it, and stand back.
Theo Caramels. I toured this fair-trade, organic chocolate factory when I visited Seattle and wanted to take up permanent residence there. Buying women chocolate may be a cliche, but I’m all in favor of cliches that taste this good.
Punjammies. Yes, they’re cute pajama pants, but they’re also so much more: Punjammies are handmade by women living in after-care facilities in India who have survived a life of forced prostitution. The organization offers these women security, healing, and training in a marketable skill, helping return to them their sense of dignity and self-worth. How’s that for a Christmas gift?
Natural Edge Wood Cutting Board. Camille, the woman behind these beautiful cutting boards, is a mother of two living off the grid in Oregon; she salvages all the wood used for her boards and finishes them each by hand. (While you’re at it, check out her fantastic blog about her back-to-the-land lifestyle.)
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. A quick perusal of the SlowMama recipe archives should give you some idea of how obsessed we all are with Deb and her amazing recipes. Guaranteed to be a hit.
Kinfolk Magazine Subscription. A beautifully photographed lifestyle magazine centered around the pleasures of small gatherings. Lovely in every way.
Purl Soho’s Learn to Knit Kit. Purl Soho in New York has the most beautiful yarn products; this handy little package includes everything a beginner needs to start knitting, including needles, two skeins of yarn (offered in 12 different colors), and three scarf patterns.
Art Print. 20×200 strives to offer “art for everyone,” releasing limited-edition prints by emerging and established artists that won’t break the bank.
For the Menfolk
Moultrie Flag Print. If you have a Southern boy on your list, just about anything in the Old Try shop is bound to be a hit. I particularly love this print of South Carolina’s Fort Moultrie flag.
Root Liqueur. I’ve talked about Root before; it’s the perfect gift for anyone who likes his history and his booze. Truly delicious stuff.
Cast Iron Skillet. The only piece of kitchen equipment that gets better with age. If he likes to cook, this will become his new work horse. Lodge makes all their great cookware at their factory in Tennessee; I love everything I’ve ever bought from them.
Scarf. There are so many places you could get a beautiful, functional winter scarf, but this lovely Irish lambswool number from L.L. Bean is a great start.
Collapsible Camping Coffee Filter. The pour-over coffee method is nothing new, but it’s suddenly popular again in all the hippest coffee shops. He gets to be rugged and cutting edge at the same time!
Red Wing Boots. Red Wings are made to last a lifetime right here in the USA; odds are your dad (or even his dad) still has a pair kicking around his closet. They’re definitely pricey, but when you consider that he’ll likely be wearing them for the next 10-plus years, they can absolutely be worth the investment.
Walnut Wood iPad Stand. Turn that tablet into a piece of art.
Portland General Store Sampler. A selection of all-natural shave creams, shampoo and conditioner, and cologne, packaged in old pharmacy-style bottles and a cigar box. So much cooler-looking than women’s bath products.
Leatherman Multitool. Every man needs a good pocketknife.
For the Littles
Toms Shoes. They’re trendy, which the kids will like — and for every pair bought, Toms sends another to a needy child, which you will like.
Soy Wax Crayon Rocks. Perfect for little hands.
All-Natural Baby Rattle. It’s never too soon to start teaching your little one about the benefits of buying organic.
Superhero Mask. Add a bath towel for a cape, and they’ll be set for hours. (I stumbled on this item — and the cape below — via the Etsy Blog, which has tons of other gift guides to peruse…)
Woolen Cape. Etsy is a great place to look for one-of-a-kind pieces like this. How sweet is this little cape?
Wooden Steamroller. I love toys that don’t make mechanical noise. The kids add their own sound effects, and mom doesn’t have to spend the rest of her Christmas budget on batteries and aspirin.
Natural Wood Fairy Wands. Now with 100% less Disney branding.
Antique Wooden Scooter. More Etsy awesomeness.
The American Boys Handy Book. A classic of American childhood, written by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts over 130 years ago, and still as engaging as ever. Perfect for when your boys (or girls!) complain that “there’s nothing to do.”
Felt Stuffed Animal. If I were actually to buy this guy, there is a better than even chance that I’d end up keeping him for myself.
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Looking for even more ideas? Check out Zoe’s gift guide from last year (part one and part two), or my list of handmade gift items from 2011. Anything in particular you’re hoping to give or receive this year? Know of other great vendors or worthy causes that deserve a look this holiday season? Leave them in the comments!
Opening image by soultga. All others sourced from their respective links.