Forgive me while I get a bit Vancouver-centric on you. Because I’m a big proponent of supporting local, this next instalment of my gift guide is all gifts that you can buy in my ‘hood – Gastown: the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver and home to heaps of adorable little boutiques. If you happen to live in Vancouver, spend a (rainy) day in Gastown this weekend. Grab an eggnog latte, take a wander, and pick up gifts for all your people.
Last year, my family started a new holiday tradition: a white elephant book exchange. We’re a family of readers, cooks, and travellers, so it works well for our clan. During our inaugural exchange, I was inclined to throw a bit of a tantrum when I lost The Kinfolk Table to my sister-in-law, but I’m hopeful that this year I’ll walk away happy.
Books (along with beautiful socks) are among my very favourite gifts to give. If I weren’t saving them all for this post, my previous gift guides would have included a great many more books.
So, friends, if the idea of Christmas shopping makes you wary, might I suggest popping into your local bookshop and getting all your shopping done in one go?
Time for a little break from the covetous and consumer-driven Christmas content I’ve been creating these last few days. It’s Giving Tuesday – our little breather in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and before the holiday madness begins; a day to think about giving back and paying forward all the good fortune in our lives. In honour of the day, I thought I would share a couple of organizations that I think are very worthy of any extra dollars you may be able to spare.
Last year, I didn’t do Christmas very well. At all. I went in with great intentions, but it was a very busy, very difficult time in my life, and I ended up doing my shopping for about two hours after work the night before I went home for the holidays…and cried pretty much the entire time. I ended up with gifts that I didn’t feel good about, that I wasn’t proud to put under the tree. This year, I’m determined to do better — in fact, it isn’t even December and most of my gifts are already bought. This year, come Christmas week, I will be relaxing with feet up and nog in hand. For the women on your list, here are my suggestions for knock-it-out-of-the-park gifts.
It’s that time again. Today, the first in a series of gift guides that will roll out over the next couple of weeks. And I’m starting with my own list.
As I’ve said before, this blog is about coveting and collecting experiences, not things. The thing about nesting, though, is that it requires stuff. Not new stuff, not fancy stuff, but stuff…and I didn’t have much of it when I moved into my new flat. I had so little, in fact, that I was able to move from my previous home to this one in one cab ride. I was a nomad, so I packed light.
So the little bit of spare cash I’ve had these past few months has gone to fun purchases like bookshelves and lamps and not-fun purchases like a mop and tea towels and ice cube trays. That means my wish list is a lot easier to come up with this year. I’m still making tea by boiling water in my one and only pot, so you understand…
This wish list, besides being fun to come up with and design, is the first instalment of this year’s gift guide. If you have any 31-year-old, newly-settled-down, cash-poor young women on your list this Christmas, she may like any of the items below. Probably. Perhaps.
Since I am at heart a traveller who has decided to put down roots for a while, and because Chelsea Tells Stories began as a travel blog, this next gift guide is probably not unexpected. If you’ve got a nomad on your list this year, I recommend that you put one (or many) of the following gifts under the tree:
1: Baggu duck bag in Sailor Stripe | 2: Jennifer Hill iPhone case in Bangkok | 3: Beats Solo headphones | 4: Fuji Instant Camera | 5: JCrew jewelry case | 6: Everyday Camera Strap from Uniforma | 7: WakaWaka Power solar charger | 8: Artifact Uprising Hardcover Photo Book | 9: Moleskine Classic Photo Notebook | 10: ONA camera bag
1. On the road, you really can’t have too many versatile canvas bags. This one is cute (nautical stripes=always classic), and can be used for picnics, beach days, and/or trips to the laundry. It is washable and can be scrunched up and stuffed in a backpack when not in use.
2. Boston-based designer Jennifer Hill designs gorgeous patterns based on trips to places she’s never been. Buy your favourite gypsy an iPhone or iPad case based on his or her favourite city. Pictured here is Bangkok; there are heaps of others to choose from.
3. As I’ve written before, noise-cancelling headphones are an essential for long-haul travellers. These ones happen to be associated with RED, so a percentage of proceeds goes to help fight HIV/AIDS. Also…they’re purportedly almost impossible to break, which is a bonus for clumsy ladies like me.
4. Help your wandering friend supplement their digital photos with tangible ones, printed right on the spot while they’re on the road.
5. This lovely little jewelry organizer from JCrew will help ensure that your travelling lady friend’s bling isn’t a tangled mess upon arrival.
6. The camera strap that comes with any SLR is neither comfortable nor cute. Rectify that with one of these colourful leather straps from Uniforma.
7. This solar charger means travellers don’t have to leave their devices back at the hotel while they’re out exploring. Bonus: for each WakaWaka charger purchased, one will be donated to help with typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines.
8. I can’t say enough good things about Artifact Uprising’s lovely photo products. Help your loved ones get their favourite travel photos off their devices and into their lives with a photo book, photo box, or set of postcards. (Or buy them a gift certificate so they can curate their own collections!). I will be compiling a couple photo books one day very soon…
9. Another way to make tangible what lately has largely been digital is a Moleskine photo notebook. Every traveller loves Moleskines (I think?), and this one is extra special because it’s fully customizable–cover and inside pages…
10. Mark my words: this gorgeous ONA Brixton camera bag will be mine one of these days…
If you need more ideas, check out my list of essentials for long-haul flights. Or…help your friend travel light by giving meaning rather than material. Scatter Joy for education in Ethiopia (’cause your nomadic friend most certainly knows how fortunate she is and would love to know that good has been done in her honour!).
(And if anyone in the world is wondering, yes, I want every one of the things on this list myself!).
Though I’ve gone on record as saying that this blog is about coveting and collecting experiences, not things, gifts are an exception. My family is going light on gifts these days, but I can’t wait to buy and wrap some little things for my people this Christmas. It’s been so long!
My first gift guide is a celebration of the local. In my case, that means products that have been made in and around Vancouver and Victoria, BC. Here are a few lovely little gifts from beautiful British Columbia:
1. For your lady friends: pretty feather necklace by Beazuness. $30 on Etsy | 2. For your bestie: hand-dyed leggings by Daub + Design (aka my high school friend Lexi). I just bought teal ones this past weekend, and I don’t want to wear anything else! $89 on Daub + Design’s website | 3. For anyone under the sun (expect maybe lactose intolerants and vegans): Cocolico Vanilla Salt Caramel with Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Crunch. Available at these locations around BC. | 4. For the lover of the lost art of letter-writing: letterpress notecards by Sunlit Letterpress. $13.11 for 4 on Etsy. Custom orders available. | 5. For the traveller or the hipster: leather camera strap by cindykuo. $45 on Etsy. | 6. For just about any chic lady you know: delicate hammered silver and gold stacking rings by Jen Ellis Designs (I’ll be buying some of these babies at Portobello West this weekend!). $38 for 3 on Jen Ellis’ website. Check out her other stuff; it’s lovely! | 7. For your sister: chunky knit infinity scarf by PikaPikaCreative. $69.95 on Etsy. | 8. For the old-school gentleman in your life: shaving kit from The Copper Hat. Around $100 on The Copper Hat’s website.
There are more where these came from! I’ll be including more local gifts in my upcoming guides.
(And of course the most meaningful local gift I can recommend this holiday season is to scatter joy for education in Ethiopia.)