2016 Holiday Suggestions
If you were following me in 2015, you may have seen my last holiday list. The linked text will take you to the post.
This year, I have a few updates and new finds to share. Similar to last year, my focus is primarily on small, locally oriented vendors with passion, personal connection, and value-focus to their product lines. As you may already know, I’m a person driven by practices, so, of course, “eco-friendly” considerations are made. I also share a few practical gift ideas that can help people in living their healthiest lives.
Give the Gift of Nutrition
Selfish plug here, but I am now a representative for the JuicePlus+ and TowerGarden company. I am also a huge fan of recipe shares, food baskets, gifting a produce share, or simply sharing a significant dish. Last year, I also recommended organic, non-GMO seeds. It takes a little digging to find organic vendors (typically a “seed bank”), but many of them operate online. I have used SeedsNow a handful of times, including for additions to wedding gift baskets.
The applications for essential oils are immense; aromatherapy, medicinal, personal hygiene, and household cleaning, to name a few. Good ones don’t come cheap, however. If you are looking for a resourceful, yet indulgent gift, consider essential oils. It takes a little research into quality standards, but you won’t regret the knowledge gained from exploring this path
I’m keeping this one on the list this year, only I’m providing a new suggestion for where to purchase. I would highly recommend checking out Mountain Rose Herbs for their oils. My mom introduced them to me and I have since found them reviewed by several health and wellness blogs. They are consistently highly recommended. Another small, local oriented company I recommended last year is Town & Anchor. Their products will be finished formulas for a variety of body care needs.
***Bonus to Mountain Rose Herbs, they are also a great resource for bulk organic spices and offer a scaled shipping discount based on lbs ordered.
I still stand by this as a solid suggestion. It can be very helpful for many people on your holiday list and is also a less expensive option which is ideal for shoppers on a budget.
Mason Jars – beyond traditional canning, there are so many uses for these. They are great for storage, salad jars on the go, fermented foods, smoothies or lemon water, and personal care products. Most craft stores sell lids with pumps for lotions or liquid soaps. Even better, the price point is low. With the versatility of these jars, the value is clear. Plus, they come in a few different colors. A ribbon or holiday trim can easily be tied around the lid for a simple, festive presentation.
Stackable Kitchen Storage – there are several options for this, but I have purchased from World Market.
Other Unique Home Goods & Finds
Do you know what a certified B corporation is? I hope you do, but if not, I linked the text for further information. The notion has been slower in progress in certain states, but is catching some momentum. This year I found a cleaning product company, Meliora Cleaning Products, that is operating under this framework. Environmental sensitivities are becoming a greater burden for the healthy livelihood of many people. Therefore, having options such as this can really be helpful, especially if the recipient is under time crunches for making their own.
North Coast Organics, which I have under beauty and personal care is also a certified B-corporation. Other well-known names that are B-corps include klean kanteen (what another great gift option), patagonia, seventh generation, King Arthur Flour, and The Honey Co.
The Sweet Side
There are a ton of sugar-sweetened products on the market, but only a few earn my vote. Typically, I am looking for low sugar content (if any added sugars are used at all) and additive free, such as no gluten, dairy, or soy. The reality is that good food products, especially those of specialty nature, often don’t come cheap.
People love to give chocolate at the holidays. In my presentations, I tell patients/clients that I still eat chocolate… only the good stuff! There are two new chocolate finds in my arsenal. 1) Taza Chocolate; I highly recommend their dark, stone ground options, particularly the jalapeno offering. 2) tabal chocolate; which is small batch, organic, and fair-trade. For them, my favorite was the Bolivia 70% Coffee, but none were bad, ha!
I also found a brand new honey company, Brood Honey, (which is a subsidiary of Worker B) that has a unique product for market… honey aged in brewing barrels! Currently they offer bourbon, cabernet, & tequila. They then return the barrels to the brewers who can then use them for more interesting brews. It’s a beautiful up-cycle usage of the barrels. I would recommend the tequila.
If you are looking for wine, I have just started collecting a list of those that are eco- and sustainable in their practices. I learned from a wine vendor that producers can do everything organic until the final step, which I think is adding the tannins, yet still cannot carry the USDA organic label. Although I’m still learning, it’s good to know that there is a spectrum of options. I like the Boisset Collection because it embodies the eco-friendly practices, but also helps support people with financial reward through a distributor model. Here is the link for one of the reps I know; https://my.boissetcollection.com/21vintage.
Finally, I came across an artisan tea company from the Southern U.S., Piper & Leaf Artisan Tea Co. Why is this relevant??? They have figured out how to combine certain herbs and flowering plants, without additives, into combinations that taste very sweet. Genius! I cringe at the amount of refined white sugar that goes into southern sweet tea. Now there is a solution. Many of the brews I sampled were too sweet for me so I think for the southern sweet tea lover on your list, this is a health conscious option not to be ignored. I did find the Chocola-tea and Summertime Chai, were o.k. for my liking. They also offer limited time seasonal options.
Beauty, Personal Care, & Eco-friendly
The list of chemicals in traditional cosmetics is alarming and even more concerning is how “toxic” we are in industrialized countries. Therefore, I keep these suggestions as staple suggestions as well!
Oxalis Apothecary – a new find for this year’s list. Their underlying mission is to focus on “plant to body”. Similar to “farm to table” in eating, they feel this brings the same notion to beauty care products. I am also somewhat biased because the creator, Erin Wexstten, is from Southern Illinois.
Worker B – another new find who manages their own beehives and rely on organic practices. Also, check out their Brood Honey line (under sweet side).
North Coast Organics – check them out of products such as deodorant and lip balms. Promo code (which is hopefully still relevant) is 15OFF.
Beautycounter – sold through independent consultants, the products are developed to avoid approximately 1,500 chemicals that have either unsafe or inconclusive evidence of safety. The company also takes a proactive approach educate consumers on cosmetic ingredients, not just sell product. I was specifically touched by the back side of their business cards in which a “never list” of ingredients to avoid is printed.
Biba Lips – founded with a focus on glamour without less preferred ingredients, such as parabens, synthetics, or artificial fragrances. “Biba” translates to a beautiful woman both inside and out. The lip color line is beautifully crafted with botanicals centered on nourishing qualities and packaged in a gold-toned mirrored compact.
Bonnie – handcrafted in Chicago, Bonnie equals more than just lip balm. The line includes facial masks, lotions & body serums, and natural perfumes. Even better, the labeling is artistic and fully designed by the owner. Hello stocking stuffer!
I still love PoCampo as an option and they have a few patterns this year. These tactfully made bags are not just attractive and eye-catching, they are incredibly resourceful. Tailored to incorporate our mobile device driven world with an on-the-go lifestyle, their designs are weather-proof and perfect for all commuter types; bike, transit, or car.
Spirits, Botanicals, Brews, & Accessories
Again, I caught up with the Strongwater folks this year. I still love this as a viable option, especially if you want something a little nicer and crafty. Certainly keep craft brewers and distilleries, preferably organic, on the list. Another option I came across this year is The Bitter Housewife from Portland, Oregon.
This final entry is also a repeat from last year, but she is worth a duplicate plug! Melissa, the mastermind behind Sew Like My Mom, offers a unique option especially for those on your list with young children. From what started as a hobby making colorful patterned handbags, and synergistic to her life as a mother, she has grown her business from crafty, homemade designs to the development of her own line of children’s clothing patterns.
***Watch for her four adorable children in her images and product marketing.
Ashley L Arnold, MBA, MPH is a lifestyle health educator and coach who supports clients to channel authority over their health, well-being, and overall vitality. Offering health education approaches and 1-on-1 coaching modules, she gets them out of excess weeds of information and inconsistent practices that don’t get desired results. Through helping people focus on the right applications paired with appropriate consideration for bio-individual facets, they become stronger, more confident self-advocates for their health. Bottom line, they will surpass challenges, embrace healthful living with ease, and, best of all, feel a greater sense of empowerment and more energy!