Since life [and therefore Christmas] is a little different this year, we’re shifting our focus for this gift guide and putting the spotlight on some wonderful independent brands that could use our support now more than ever! Whether you’re buying for the book worm in your life, the foodie, or the home bird hopefully you’ll find some inspiration here [even for those who are a little more difficult to buy for!] And if you’re away from loved ones this year – perhaps they even live abroad – well, most of these can be popped in the post, too!
Who Cares Wins by Lily Cole
[reasons for optimism in our changing world]
Many people perceive this to be a moment of despair. Global warming has reached terrifying heights of severity, human expansion has caused the extinction of countless species and neoliberalism has led to a destructive divide in wealth and a polarisation of mainstream politics. But, there are constructive ways to meet these challenges, and there are plenty of reasons for optimism.
Lily Cole has met with some of the millions of people around the world who are working on solutions to our biggest challenges and are committed to creating a more sustainable and peaceful future for humanity. Exploring issues from fast fashion to fast food and renewable energy to gender equality, and embracing debate, the book features interviews with diverse voices from entrepreneurs Stella McCartney and Elon Musk, to activists Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook and Farhana Yamin, to offer a beacon of possibility in challenging times.
This is an incredibly optimistic outlook on the future of our planet’s health. We don’t need to lose hope and we can make a difference!
Flowers on the Moon by Billy Chapata
[a book of poetry]
In his second major poetry collection, Billy Chapata presents his signature blend of experience and advice through a chaptered series of prose and poetry. Filled with the familiar themes of love, loss, resilience, and growth From Chameleon Aura but with fresh poems and new advice, his touching narrative celebrates humanity for its undeniable worth, and this collection will leave readers warm with hope for growth, rebirth, and, most prominently, self-acceptance.
I’ve shared lots of his words on Instagram over the past year and my inbox always fill with messages – a book of love and life to share with those in your life you love!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Alternate chapters of Homegoing tell the very different stories of the descendants of two fatefully sundered 18th-century west African sisters. One becomes the mistress of a British army officer, has offspring complicit in the slave trade, and her descendants over subsequent generations live in relative freedom and fully aware of their family history. The other is captured and take across the terrible Middle Passage of the Atlantic and her descendants are subjected to the anonymised horrors of the plantations, Jim Crow segregation laws and so much more.
[an opportunity to get creative]
Creativity plays a crucial role in all of our lives; how we live, eat, relax and play, and yet many of us don’t have the opportunity or confidence to allow this creativity to flourish. Through beautifully produced video courses, Create Academy allows you to learn from leading figures across home, food and garden, so you can develop both confidence and practical skills.
Course leaders include;
- interior designer – Rita Konig
- florist and stylist – Willow Crossley
- nutritional therapist – Amelia Freer
- botanist and houseplant expert – James Wong
The courses can be complete whenever and wherever you like and they also offer gifting vouchers which are redeemable across any of their courses – perfect!
[start and grow a business]
If you know someone who has always dreamed of starting their own business or kicking-off their side hustle then this is the perfect gift [and nudge of encouragement]. Founded by owner of Caro [the lifestyle store in Caro, Somerset] Natalie Jones and friend Kate Simpson, Outland is a creative platform centred around connection offering knowledge and experience in approachable online courses on how to start and grow a business.
“With the political and social horizon as it is, people feel that their voices are not being heard and life is a little out of their control, regardless of which side of the coin you’re on. Having ownership of our career and how we choose to live our lives allows for independent thinking and our true attitudes to be reflected out in the physical world. There is also far more access to possibility with social media empowering us to experiment with ideas and connecting us with an audience.”
[learn from the world’s best]
The place to learn from the people sitting at the top of their game. We’re talking famous faces and pioneers in their industry including;
- Annie Leibovitz on photography
- Martin Scoresese on filmmaking
- Anna Wintour on creativity and leadership
- Massimo Bottura on modern Italian cooking
- Simone Biles on gymnastics
To name just a few! There really is something for everyone. In their words “inspire the person who inspires you”. Plus they’re offering 2 memberships for the price of 1 for the month of December!
TO EAT [+ drink]
This one is for the colourful person in your life [they’re gluten-free and vegan-friendly too]. They make colourful and creative drink blends from some of the worlds best ingredients! Think:
- chocolate orange
Plus, they’re committed to sustainability ensuring that the ingredients they source are produced without both human and animal suffering as well as ingredients being cultivated and produced with minimum impact to the environment.
[bean to bar]
One of the most sophisticated looking chocolate bars around, right? Their packaging is sourced from inside the UK and Europe and made from recycled materials that can be recycled or composted after eating. The boxes are made from recycled coffee cups [!] and the wrappers are made from Vegware – no foil or plastic.
But more than that, their chocolate is made in small batches in their workshop in Glasgow to ensure the quality is the best it can be and the equipment they use has been engineered from scratch. Barebones is all about highlighting the delicious chocolate!
[restaurant meals – delivered]
Fully prepared meals by some of the UK’s best restaurants that are ready to go, with all the cooking and preparation done by the chefs and delivered nationwide! All you have to do is heat and enjoy. Alongside their December menu they also have a special Christmas menu, and since we’ll all be having small celebrations this year, these boxes are brilliant.
Their December menu includes;
- A west African feast
- A classic fish supper
- A brunch box
- An Italian winter supper
Their Christmas menu includes;
- The turkey dinner
- The beef banquet
- The Christmas twist
TO MAKE A HOUSE A HOME
[the homeware and lifestyle store]
For the home-bird in your life RAE sell a beautiful, curated collection of vintage interior pieces alongside beautiful objects made by independent makers as well as RAE’s own in-house label – all from their little store in Rye, East Sussex. They have;
- cosy textiles [hello chunky throws and the softest socks]
- art for the walls
- ceramics for the kitchen table
- stationary for the desk
- and candles for the bathroom
TOAST New Makers
[celebrate and support creativity and makers]
The TOAST New Makers programme supports and mentors makers of all disciplines at the beginning of their journey. From sculptural ceramics to oak nest boxes for the garden and tea pots informed by traditional Japanese teaware – all have been created by hand and will be made to order. The perfect place to start if you’re looking for something a little different to gift this Christmas.
Objects of Use
I think we can agree that we all need a little less stuff in our lives, so why not gift something that’s perhaps a little more practical? Enter Objects of Use. Based in Oxford [but also online] they sell a unique selection of everyday household tools, conscientiously sourced from around the globe. Our collection brings together centuries of tradition, passed through the hands and minds of generations, whose processes and techniques have culminated in the production of beautiful tools made with practiced skill, using low-impact methods and materials.
Still looking for inspiration? Try these places…