In a 2021 world of chaotic supply lines and so-called shortages, the holidays are not "approaching" mid-December but, for all intents and purposes--already here. One thing that is apparent this year is that our gifts will likely take a little longer to arrive, and our budgets will probably be stretched alongside our holiday waistlines as transitory pandemic inflation refuses to relent. What is not so clear is what we are in "shortage" of. Trinkets and trifles from Amazon or big box stores? Perhaps. But, beyond that, there is certainly no shortage of things to buy here in the States--thoughtful things at that. It is no secret the US has an immense network of product makers, large and small, in which handmade, craft, or small-batch inventories abound. Moreover, as inflation makes each of us think pointedly about where each dollar is going, perhaps it is time for the concept and practice of something called "impact giving" to take hold.
Impact giving is the practice of gifting with purpose. Minimalistic in nature, it's about spending your dollars on a few quality items and, more importantly, spending them where it matters--where you think they will make a difference. It is not about changing the world but instead supporting causes, people, and communities through the holiday purchases you make. When you leverage your currency in this manner, you often end up helping the retailers that need your help the most--small businesses. Post-pandemic, for instance, it's hard not to notice the dramatic toll lockdowns have taken on local restaurants in all of our communities; many have permanently closed. In which case, buying a gift certificate to your favorite local eatery, still struggling to stay afloat post-Covid, is twice a gift: once to the receiver and once to the merchant. You vote with your dollar, as they say, and perhaps it's time Americans cast their hard-earned cash towards products and services that support small, responsible, often-local, and diverse businesses rather than giant corporations. After all, we already have plenty of stuff, and by virtue of that, fewer things that actually matter. We cannot predict whether or not your "impact gift" will be liked or not, but one thing is for sure--to independent makers, shops, and restaurants, your support likely matters more than you will ever know.
Finding a gift for impact giving is challenging only in sorting out which one to give. Outstanding options genuinely abound. However, the whole purpose of this type of purchasing is to be thoughtful. What do you really care about? What does the person you are buying for care about? Where do these two things intersect? This crossroads is a fantastic place to begin. True, at the end of the day, you may need to put in a little more time and maybe even a bit of money, but the cascade of benefits to the giver, receiver, merchant, and possibly even the planet is a hefty counterweight to that.
The purpose of this blog is to save you time and money with our research. Below we broke down our findings into five main business categories, then four specific receiver sub-categories: BIPOC-owned, Women-Owned, LGBTQ-Owned, Sustainable, and American Made, then gifts for him, for her, for them (gender-neutral), and kids respectively. Most of these vendors sell more than one item, making them all worth a look regardless of who you are shopping for. What's best is they are all small, independent businesses selling their goods and their dreams too. If that doesn't give you the warm and fuzzies, we don't know what will.
For Him: Fresh Seamoss Cube $17
A modern take on soap on a rope, this cube is great for the guy who shaves in the shower because it soothes skin and contains vitamins A, B, C, and D.
This porcelain pendant necklace is ubiquitous enough for any woman in your life to love. Handcrafted by Marcie McGoldrick's it is part of a series of Pompeii and Herculaneum plaster replicas.
For Them: Kaya 2-Piece Ceramic Bowl Planter $69
Gorgeous glaze finish in color options ranging from black and white stripes to lavender, these super-funky planters will be a hit for any plant person in your life.
For Kids: 'Moko Moko Peko Peko' Charm $35
With three colors and funky designs, these cute little charms are a fabulous fuzzy stocking stuffer for those sometimes hard to shop for tweens and teens.
For Him: Cloud Cotton Robe $99
Believe it or not, a good robe is hard to find, which is what makes these ones such a great gift. Soft, light, and luxurious, they are 4-ply and made from premium 100% long-staple Turkish cotton.
For Her: BIG MOOD, Bath Soak $28
When you purchase this bath soak that combats stress with bergamot scented essential oils, you give her the gift of chill--just what every lady wants.
For Them: Drink Avaline Wine Essentials Pack $72
Wine is an excellent gift during the holidays, and you know it won't go unused. Avaline wine is not only delicious but adheres to a new, clean standard of wine production, making it accessible to everyone.
There is sidewalk chalk, and then there is SIDEWALK CHALK, and these macaron-shaped cuties are definitely the latter. They are also the perfect gift to earn you the title of "cool" aunt or uncle.
For Him: Boy Smells Figurare Candle $39
Men like candles too! So give him the scents he loves: A modern take on traditional opulence with the smells of fig, black pepper, cardamom, and coriander complete with wisps of lavender, balsam, and ether too.
This beautifully bound book of love poems of direct address is a most romantic way to show her you love her. Bookmark the poem that most reminds you of her, and your holiday is sure to go code red!
For Them: Cookie of the Month Subscription $35
Anyone on your list wants gourmet cookies shipped to them each month--especially from The Broadway Baker. Three generations of family recipes make up these baked goods, and they are all small-batch and made from local and organic ingredients.
For Kids: Color Studies Notebook Set $14.95
If you are lucky enough to have an artist kid in your family, this is the perfect gift to foster their creativity and instill a deep love for artistic principles.
For Him: Recycled Copper Shaker Set $99
Beautiful, bespoke, and made from recycled copper, this copper shaker set will make an excellent addition to any home mixologist's drinkware collection.
For Her: Our Place, Always Pan $99
Made without PFOAs, PTFEs, other PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals, or nanoparticles, this gorgeous matte sage kitchen pan will fast become her go-to cookware.
These reusable storage bags are a gift that just keeps giving. Not only will they contribute to a reduction in single-use plastic usage--whoever gets this gift will save use after use on disposable bags.
We all know the best part of any toy for toddlers is usually the box, which is why these back-to-the-basics Rock Blocks are sure to grab their attention. There are no beeps or blips from technology, just the things kids love most--something to build and knockdown.
For Him: Mountain Air Beard Oil $14.95
With scents like Mountian Air, Timber, and Pine Tar, these manly, man-scented beard oils will become a morning-routine staple for that burly-bearded you love.
Jewelry can be difficult to buy for a woman, but here is a hint, every lady loves a classic hoop! If you don't think a simple hoop will do, you will surely find something simple and stunning among the handmade collections of Midnight Pacific.
Skating is now an Olympic sport, so get 'em started young and inspired by the coolness of any of these kid's decks from American skateboard company, Magneto.