A Few of my Favorite Things: Holiday Gift Guide

holiday gift guide collageIn the photo: TOP ROW (left to right): Green Daffodil grapefruit mangosteen tea lights, Jenna Kator Collection Lexington Handbag, Fustinis Holiday gift set; MIDDLE ROW (left to right): Himalayan Salt Lamps, Dirty Girl Farm logo; Ugandan Paper Beads; BOTTOM ROW (left to right): Rouge eyeshadow selection from Eve Organics; Ida Does It book cover; Vegan necklace by Solstice LTD. 

I know the blogosphere has no shortage of holiday gift guides this time of year, so I certainly wouldn’t be publishing my own guide if I didn’t think I could provide something new and different to this realm. Why different? Well, mostly because some (not all) of my favorite places to buy organic, vegan and unique products are from local shops and artists. I love repping Michigan-made products when buying gifts for out-of-state family and friends, and I think we have some pretty amazing stuff here in “the Mitten”. The list below represents a lot of the gifts I will personally be giving this holiday season, along with several favorite local and non-local places that have become my go-to spots for gifts, and not just for the holidays (all of which have online shopping and shipping for those not in the area).

I hope this list will provide some last-minute inspiration and perhaps some unique gift ideas for my readers. Whether you’re vegan or just want to purchase more holistic, organic, natural and sustainable products, I’ve got some ideas here for everyone. And if you’re in the metro Detroit area, be sure to visit some of these local shops in person! There’s nothing like personally trying some of the many amazing flavor infusions at Fustini’s oils and vinegars in Ann Arbor, sniffing tons of amazing scents at Green Daffodil in Ferndale, or getting your makeup matched to your skin with the wonderful ladies at Rouge.

This gift guide is geared toward food, health, wellness, a vegan lifestyle and eco-sustainability. Many of these items are being included in my own holiday gifts to family and friends!

1. Green Daffodil Soy Candleworks: Anyone who knows me knows that THIS place, over any other, is my ultimate go-to for gifts. These are also the candles I exclusively use in my home, as I tend to have a problem with strong or artificial scents. Their products are sold throughout stores in metro Detroit, but their flagship store is located near my office in Ferndale, MI, making them the perfect place for me to do any last-minute shopping. My favorite candle scents are probably Blackberry Sage and Patchouli Lavender. I also use their Patchouli Lavender lotion and body spray and always get compliments on how I smell (even from people who “hate patchouli”) without overpowering everyone! They sell candles, lotions, room sprays, chapstick and soaps through their Etsy store — all of which would make perfect stocking stuffers or wonderful additions to any gift basket. All candles are soy-based, vegan, and made with Phthalate-free fragrance oils. 

2. Jenna Kator CollectionThese reasonably priced, classy and all vegan handbags are my favorite! I own four bags (one for every occasion) and get compliments on them all the time. Jenna Kator is a Michigan-based company and yes, Jenna is the designer. All of the handbags are named after Michigan cities or places. I love and appreciate a hometown girl! Jenna’s bags can be found in a few stores in the metro Detroit area, but if you’re not from around here, online ordering is a breeze. I’ve purchased these handbags for several friends and family members as gifts. My personal favorite is my Greektown shoulder bag, which is a Farmer’s Market must-have! I HIGHLY recommend these bags for any fashionistas in your life. In fact, Jenna has a huge following of fans from across the country who probably don’t even realize that they’re also helping the planet by purchasing vegan bags (you’d never know they’re not leather).

3. Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars: Not just for foodies! This gift is for anyone who loves cooking or eating good food (and who doesn’t?). I’ve gifted friends and family with Fustini’s ever since I discovered them a few years ago (oddly enough, it wasn’t when I was actually living and going to school in Ann Arbor). They have two locations in Michigan, and sell delicious oils and vinegars that are infused with flavor and NOT artificially flavored. Their Holiday Sampler is only $49 and comes in three sampler varieties. They also have a monthly oil and vinegar club for any true foodie out there. They ship across the country. My personal favorite flavor combination is the blood orange oil and chocolate balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing. Heaven!

4. Himalayan Salt Lamps: My mom got these for me for my birthday this year. I have one on my office desk and one at home. Said to be a natural air purifier, Himalayan salt lamps may prevent stuffiness and combat common allergens such as pet dander, smoke and common air pollutants. I personally just love the sense of peace and calm it brings to me when I’m working. Recommended as a gift for anyone into natural health, healing or meditation.

5. Dirty Girl Farm: I love Dirty Girl Farm for natural skin care and gift options! While I get my lotions and bar soaps from Green Daffodil, I love Dirty Girl Farm kitchen soaps (the Pumpkin Ale smells magnificent), shampoos, conditioners, scrubs and body washes. Being the hippie that I am, my favorite shampoo is their Patchouli. But since we’re talking gifts here, I’m guessing you’re not wondering about shampoos. As far as online gifts go, they have a couple of gift wrapping options for only $2 extra. They also have holiday soap designs, including these super cool Frosty The Snowman soaps. They also sell some men’s products, including this “Dirty Guy” body spray and body wash. If you’re in the area, check them out at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market on weekends.

6. Ugandan Paper Beads: I learned about the “Army of Six” when visiting a local craft fair with my mom recently. Their story is touching! Through their website, this family sells jewelry made by women in Uganda made from recycled magazine paper. It’s the coolest thing! Each purchase helps provide these Ugandan women with income for food, medical care, housing and school fees. I bought a recycled paper bead bracelet for myself recently, as well as a necklace that can be wrapped around and makes a great statement piece as a gift. These are really inexpensive, fashionable, sustainable (hello, recycled paper!), and a gift you can feel good about giving (and receiving).

7. Eve Organic Makeup, also sold at Rouge Makeup and Nail Studio: I use Eve Organic Makeup exclusively ever since I discovered them at Rouge, a very cool makeup and nail studio in Ferndale, Michigan. I buy my makeup in-person at Rouge, and it struck me while there that their makeup and skincare products would make wonderful gifts for all the girly girls in your life. Their makeup is all vegan, made from minerals and has no fillers. They have a cool selection of colors for all occasions. Their products are made from mostly organic ingredients. You can purchase their makeups directly from their website, or from the Rouge site (I gave both options). But if you’re in the Michigan area, I highly recommend Rouge if you’re looking for a gift certificate for manis or pedis that are organic and healthy. The ladies at Rouge are THE BEST and will make you (or your gift recipient) feel totally welcome and at home.

8. Isa Does It: Given that I did an entire post on how much I love this book, does it really need any explaining? This is a beautiful cookbook that is definitely money well spent for any foodie in your life. I love gifting vegan cookbooks to non-vegans as well — especially those who are looking for  new recipe ideas or who are just looking to find ways to get more vegetables (and less meat or dairy) into their diets.

9. “Vegan” Necklaces: My cousin gave me a “vegan” cursive necklace a few years ago for my birthday and I love it. For those proud vegans who want to wear their heart on their sleeve (or neck, rather). I can’t remember the name of the place my cousin bought mine (pictured below), but a quick Etsy search brought me to the pretty necklace pictured above from Solstice LTD. For those true last-minute shoppers, Amazon has a number of options as well, including this one which has the letters etched on a sterling silver heart.

I posted this picture of me sporting my "vegan" necklace on Instagram a few weeks ago. I love it!

I posted this picture of me sporting my “vegan” necklace on Instagram a few weeks ago. I love it!