Each holiday, nearly every blogger and business crafts a curated guide of their top gifts for the season. In the past, I too have composed my fair share of gift guides. I’ve even written a post addressing whether these lists, infographics, and collages are actually helpful or hindering. Last year, I felt truly passionate about my shop small gift guide, which focused on supporting local businesses during the season of giving, but this year, I couldn’t bring myself to create another. Yes, most of us have to give a gift or two (or three or a dozen) during the holidays, but I think we could all use a reminder that the most valuable gift we can give is our time.
I’m sure your grandparents will make good use of the newfangled Keurig coffee maker you got them, but wouldn’t they love if you sat with them for an hour and worked on a puzzle? Every mom adores a new piece of jewelry for the holidays, but wouldn’t she love for you to join her in the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies from scratch? Your brother may desperately need a new wallet after he accidently washed his in the laundry, but wouldn’t he love to go out back and build a snowman like you used to as kids?
So, this holiday season, I don’t have another gift guide filled with fabulous suggestions for all the friends and family on your list. This year, I’m challenging you to think about how you can give your time to the ones you love. Take a post-Christmas dinner walk with your boyfriend, gather your cousins for a card game, or get together with your girlfriends and have a gift wrapping party. This holiday season, make a memory that will live on for holiday seasons to come.
One of my best friends from college came to visit me in NYC for my birthday last month, and while out for a little retail therapy, we stumbled upon a NYC tradition: the Union Square Holiday Market. It was one of the days where you let the city guide you, so we instantly found ourselves wandering through the market and winding in and out of the countless booths. In honor of my new home, today’s post is exclusively for my fellow New Yorkers: I’m sharing the best of the Union Square Holiday Market.
A C C E S S O R I E S :
Charm NYC was one of my top discoveries of the Union Square Holiday Market. These hats are impeccably made with high quality fabrics and superb craftsmanship. With styles for women (left and center), men (right), and kids (not pictured) there’s truly something for everyone at Charm NYC.
A L L A G E S :
Working a puzzle on Christmas day is a holiday tradition in my family. It’s the perfect way to bring everyone together, young and old. A great jigsaw is an amazing gift for anyone and everyone, even those people on your Christmas list who are most difficult to shop for.
B E A U T Y :
Don’t be deterred by Lotus Skin Care’s hands-on (pun intended) approach to beauty. There’s a reason they set up water basins at their booth to demo their products: because they want to show you how they work and how amazing they are. Our skin truly takes a beating in the winter season. I approached the Lotus Skin Care booth complaining of my incredibly dry hands, so they gave me the demo. I walked away without purchasing, and as I enjoyed the rest of the market, I noticed how hydrated my hands felt. It goes without saying I made my way back to purchase some products for myself and for gifts!
D E C O R :
When I first moved in with my man, I declared posters were the first thing that had to go. Then I discovered Pop Chart Lab, a company that makes posters for adults. My personal favorite are the alcohol-themed posters that are perfect to hang above the bar cart. These make a great gift for the men on your Christmas list!
E D I B L E S :
A gift box from Spices and Tease is another awesome gift idea for those people on your Christmas list who have everything. They have a number of gift box options to fit your budget, and each and every one is customizable for any palate with a combination of dried spices and loose teas.
H O M E :
No, this is not just another candle. As you may have guessed by its name, Dr. Softskin incorporates skincare into all its products, even this candle. Instead of being made of wax, their candles are made of oil, and once you light and start burning, you can dip a finger right in and moisturize your hands, elbows, or other dry areas with the hydrating oil. A unique gift option for a hostess gift or stocking stuffer!
J E W E L R Y :
There are so many amazing NYC-based jewelry brands, it was hard to chose just one to showcase, but I had to highlight We See Stars for their combination of beautiful quality and affordable prices. If you’re stumped for a full-proof gift for the ladies on your Christmas list, you can never go wrong with jewelry.
K I T C H E N :
NY Cruets are the ideal gift for the cooks on your Christmas list. These stunning hand-blown oil and vinegar dispensers are decorative and functional. If you need a gift for your mom, dad, or in-laws, look no further than NY Cruets.
S E A S O N A L :
Everyone loves hot chocolate during the winter months, particularly the holidays. No Chewing Allowed doesn’t just make delectable chocolates that literally melt in your mouth, they make a pretty kick ass hot chocolate, which is an awesome option for a gift swap or stocking stuffer.
T E C H :
Last but not least, Remodo! Remodo is known for is amazing boxed rooms, which are perfect for college students, young adults, new homeowners, kids, vacation homes, and more. BUT if you’re looking for a smaller gift from Remodo, this portable phone charger is sure to please! These battery packs hold a full charge and are compatible with any phone that uses a USB. Simply plug in your phone cord and get charging. And, of course, they’re decorated with classic and cute Remodo designs. This is the perfect gift for those who travel frequently for work or play!
So far in my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide advocating shopping small, I’ve showcased three amazing small businesses from around the country:
1. Native Bear in Atlanta, GA
2. Woodbury Lane in Milwaukee, WI
3. Must Love Sparkle in Chicago, IL
4. Jordan Grace Owens in Durham, North Carolina
I discovered Jordan Grace Owens back in college at an artist market in Athens, GA and instantly fell in love with her designs. Jordan Grace has the ability to capture the unique personality and essence of a person while keeping her signature illustration style. She has a number of items that are ready-to-buy in her Etsy shop, but she is most well known for her custom work, specifically her personalized paper dolls. Yes, I said paper dolls, but before you shrug off the possibility of purchasing something that sounds old-fashioned, take a look at Jordan Grace Owens’ designs and think again. Jordan Grace started making her illustrations into paper dolls in “an effort to make art that people would want to touch and interact with,” then they took off (Need Supply Co interview)! If you’re looking for a unique way to capture your family or friends, send Jordan Grace your photos and she’ll draw and assemble their likeness for a one-of-a-kind portrait.
J O R D A N G R A C E O W E N S
A girl can never have too many totes. This hand-screenprinted Leggy Canvas Tote is ultra feminine, fun, and functional. It’s sizable (15″ x 10.5″) enough to serve as a pseudo-purse, grocery sack, in-flight carry on, gym satchel, weekender bag – the applications are endless!
Out with the old-school concert tees and in with the cute graphic tees. This super-soft fitted tee has a lovely sentiment and sweet illustration. It’s perfect for any lady on your Christmas list, young or old!
Partners, pets, parents… spouses, siblings, even friends… the possibilities are endless when it comes to Jordan Grace Owens’ custom-made, personalized paper dolls. Unfortunately, JGO’s paper dolls are so popular there is a 3-4 month wait list. So, the best course of action for the holidays is to purchase a gift certificate.
About the Business:
Jordan Grace Owens is an artist, illustrator, and maker based in Durham, North Carolina. Her intimate and stylized designs have caught the attention of numerous publications such as Design Sponge, Need Supply Co., and Real Simple magazine. Jordan Grace’s work is also featured in the book 1000 Portrait Illustration: Contemporary Illustration from Pencil to Digital. With a fine arts background, two years working in graphic design, and plenty of artistic encouragement growing up, Jordan Grace has built a flourishing business on Etsy and made a career making drawings.
Alright men, hopefully some of you bought some sexy lingerie for a serious steal after reading my post last week, but I know some of you may still be searching for that perfect gift for special lady. And ladies, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you! Men can be hard to shop for, and let’s face it, if you’ve been in a relationship for at least a few months you already used up all your great gift ideas at Christmas. In this complete Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, I’ve got some unique ideas to get your loved one from Etsy!
GIFTS FOR YOUR GIRL
A New Twist on Flowers: Untamed Rose Glass Flowers, $35.00 each (TIP: I recommend 3 for a total of $105.00)
Ultra-Thoughtful Personalized Art: Jordan Grace Owens Custom Couple Portrait Gift Certificate, $150.00
GIFTS FOR YOUR GUY
So Fresh and So Clean Product Assortment: Regular Guy Beard Oil and Men’s Lotion, each are $10.00
Warm and Loving Mug Set: The Printed Surface Robot Mug Set, $25.00
This Gift will be Music to His Ears: Schuttenworks Acoustic Dock for iPhone, $45.00
UPDATE: If this Valentine’s Day Gift Guide isn’t luxurious enough for you, check out my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for the luxury watch retailer, Crown & Caliber!