The Roaming Naturalist’s Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

Welcome, December! Hello, holiday shopping season!

For years I was a habitual procrastinator when it came to holiday shopping, but this year I’ve finally kicked the habit. Kind of. All of my money-spending is finished for the most part, and I plan to spend December hand-making the rest of the gifts I have in mind. Getting creative and gifting the unexpected is a skill that anyone can master, and I’ve put together a little holiday shopping guide to give you wonderful folks some ideas if you’re tapped out.

Because I don’t know if you know this about me, but, well..

I. Love. To. Shop.

Which is typical for someone of my financial standing. Being low on cash doesn’t stop me though – I’m honing and mastering my thrift-store skills and drinking a lot of coffee instead of seeing a therapist for how much suffering the trial-and-error of crafting causes me. I genuinely dislike blatant consumerism and the culture of spending we’ve developed, and how “Christmas” is more about going into debt than celebrating with loved ones. I don’t do Christmas necessarily; I like to welcome in the new season, winter, which is about withdrawing to do some inner work and prepare for the renewal of spring. That being said, I also love giving presents, and have an impossible time waiting to give gifts when I already have them. (I recently had to wait FOUR MONTHS to give one of my bestest friends her birthday present and I almost had a breakdown.)

That’s why I love the holiday season. It’s an excuse to give your loved ones – all of them at once! – a little something to tell them how special you think they are because, to be honest, when the heck else do we think about it? We don’t. Or if we do, not nearly enough. The holidays are an opportunity to stop, consciously focus on someone, and present them with something as a token of our love for them. Giving gifts is as old as our species, and it doesn’t have to bankrupt the whole nation (or cause shoot-outs in parking lots or pepper-spraying in crowded lines).

Anyway, I’m done with the hypocritical ranting; I know I’m telling you not to get caught up in the hype of consumerism WHILST presenting you with a holiday shopping guide. But I hope you take this holiday to enjoy finding or making that special something for that special someone, and manage to avoid the unnecessary stress of it all. Focus on how much you love the person you’re trying to gift something to, and don’t worry about what the gift is. Do it from the heart and the rest is cake. Take the leap to see my recommendations for this year!

“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Pumpkin Caramel chocolate by Yeti Chocolates.

Yeti Chocolates will always have a special place in my heart, mostly because I lived alongside its chocolatier shortly after moving to the West Coast. Which meant she made chocolates in our kitchen and let us “test” them out (which also meant I stole a lot of them when she wasn’t looking). So I can verify for the absolute awesomeness of these chocolates – this girl is good. And yes, it’s a one-woman-wonder-show. She’s got her craft down and your chocolate-loving loved ones will not be disappointed. Here is her holiday menu – be sure to get your orders in before Dec. 12th. My favorite chocolate is the Smith n’ Wesson. Probably always will be.

Juniper Ridge has soaps, incenses, teas, room sprays, and an awesome business ethic.

I think pretty highly of Juniper Ridge; there are soaps, incense, room sprays, teas, sachets, and more, to bring the majesty of the wilderness into your home and body. Juniper Ridge makes big donations to conservation organizations and is committed to sustainability, and I heart them so much. Favorites of mine include anything White Sage, Steep Ravine soap, and Cascade Glacier room spray (or, as I like to call it, Christmas Tree in a Bottle).

Angelina Organic Skincare's Dark Chocolate Sugar Scrub. Guaranteed to make you feel like you're at a spa.

Angelina Organic Skincare is a small skincare company based out of Bend in Central Oregon. I’ve been using her products for four years and my skin has never been so happy and healthy. Angelina is serious about healthy skin and happy lifestyles and I highly recommend trying the small sizes if you don’t want to jump into a big financial commitment. My favorite product is her Mandarin Heaven Sugar Scrub because it makes me feel like I’m at the spa when I’m really just rushing through a shower because I’m late for work. It exfoliates but immediately remoisturizes your skin thanks to the fair-trade shea butter prepared by a women’s co-op in Africa. I also recommend her Ayurvedic Facial Oil line, which is flat-out magical. Each oil is prepared for a particular skin type and works to balance the skin rather than just pacify it. I use Kapha for oily skin.

La Petite Savonniere is the best soap I’ve ever used. The woman behind these soaps is a master at scenting with essential oils. I used to be a liquid-body-wash-only person before using Dawn’s soaps and I now have about ten pounds of them in my little naturalist’s restroom. If you need more convincing, these soaps are the only thing my mom (3000 miles away on the East Coast) ever asks for when the holidays roll around. The website isn’t fancy-pants, but that’s probably because she’s raising two daughters and works in an emergency room when she’s not making soap. So there’s that. Personal favs include Stocking Coal Soap, Vanilla Noir, and Magdala. My mom’s favorites are Rose Santal and Repose. (She’s also got a scent for the boys – “Earthy Man,” in blue and brown.)

Delicious Kama soap, spicey and luxurious, by La Petit Savonnerie.

Mountain Rose Herbs may not seem like the most obvious place to get holiday gifts, but they offer a wonderful selection of organic herbs, including lavender, rose petals, and chamomile. They also have natural health supplements, teas, gifts, and all the kitchen spices, salts, and more. An awesome holiday gift is as easy as metal tin or opaque glass jar (check your thrift stores) full of delicious tea like Vanilla Roiboos, or a sachet of lavender buds, wrapped in a ribbon (also available at thrift stores) with a loving note attached.

Oh, is that too much skin care stuff? I’m kind of obsessed. Here are some other of my favorite goodies:

Hilarious bird art from Mincing Mockingbird; her magnets grace my fridge and get giggled at by everyone that sees them.

Perhaps a state-shaped cutting board (or, in my case, wall-hanging) by A. Heirloom?

The most unique jewelry you might ever see, by Star of the East in Greece.

Animal goodness – jewelry, notebooks, and more – by le animale!

Printed textiles for your home by Oregon-based Moontea Artwork and South African Skinny Laminx.

And last, but certainly not least, fun, funky goods produced from vinyl bound for the dumpster at Bird vs. Bird. Love that girl.

Bird vs. Bird recycled vinyl pouch I bought in honor of the Brothers Jay.

Or, alternatively, you could make some stuff.

This white yarn wreath from Better Home & Gardens is kind of spectacular. I haven’t gotten around to making one yet, but I think they’re beautiful and definitely different than the usual holiday wreaths we’ve been seeing since the 1800s. The materials are pretty inexpensive and a stop by the local thrift shop will probably give you nearly everything you need.

Make lip balm! It’s easy and everyone needs it this time of year. Recipe courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs. Here’s another, from the craft-master at Not Martha (which is a woman after my own heart, because I don’t love how much I love Martha Stewart. SCORPION WOMAN).

How about simple homemade notebooks, like these from papernstitch? Something for the baby, kids, or moms-to-be, like these awesome tutorials from Homemade By Jill?  Handmade stationary with food, like this celery print by Maureen Cracknell Handmade?

Thanks for reading folks and happy shopping/crafting! Remember, what is given from the heart goes to the heart! :)


Posted on December 2, 2011, in The Roaming Naturalist and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Roaming Naturalist’s Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Guide.

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