Image: A recipe box from your favourite restaurant is the perfect present for a special evening in, Credit: Hoste / Restaurant Kits
This year’s seasonal shopping offers the perfect opportunity to show your support for small businesses and self-employed sellers when they most need it. Beatrice Murray-Nag’s creative Christmas gifting ideas are designed to do just that.
At Eco-Age, we have always been advocates of using your purchase power to make a difference. And as markets, shops and studios stay shuttered down for the next few weeks, it’s even more important to put our money behind the businesses we believe in to see them through these uncertain times.
As often happens in the face of challenge and adversity, a beautiful community spirit has been emerging this year in the form of initiatives reminding us to use our pocket with purpose. Small Business Saturday falls on the 28th November, and the next Black Pound Day takes place on the 5th December, calling us to support black-owned businesses. It’s a simple but positive show of togetherness, showing us just how our shopping habits really can make a difference.
So, with the festive season offering a little glimmer of hope for many small shops and creatives, this year is all about gifts that really do give back. Think twice whenever you make a purchase and ask yourself if you know directly who your money is headed towards. From artisan-made interior décor to small brand beauty buys, and our favourite freelancers to subscribe to on Patreon, discover all our suggestions for presents that support independent businesses and creatives. And as November rolls on, beginning your browsing early might be a valuable lifeline for many independent sellers after a difficult few months.
Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, our festivities will certainly look a little different this year. But let’s make it a positive change; reminding ourself that these celebrations are all about showing our love and support to others. We can all be economic activists, using our pound to vote for the kind of world we want on the other side
A Patreon subscription to someone they will love
Support one of your favourite freelancers by gifting a Patreon subscription this Christmas. Not only will you be giving them access to a whole new platform of in-depth articles and information, but it ensures that those creating the content are being properly compensated for their work. We’d recommend subscriptions to Aja Barber for conversations around sustainable fashion and race, Clare Press for mini-episodes of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast, and Remember Who Made Them – a non-profit where the money from your subscription will go directly towards helping garment workers.
A little luxury from an artisan-run enterprise
While the pandemic has put many artisans in difficulty, designers and non-profits have shown true solidarity in the face of adversity by working together to ensure the world’s makers have a continued source of income. By gifting a beautiful face covering from Nest’s Masks by Makers selection, your money will go directly to one of the chosen artisan enterprises. Or, if you’re looking for a little luxury, perhaps opt for one of these cushion covers from Ray The Collection, designed to give the women of the Saheli Women’s Collective the opportunity to work from home and create these beautiful embroideries during lockdown. Last on the gifting list are these dream-worthy pouches from Mumbai-based natural dying duo Akane Studio, who have now back in the studio again after lockdown.
Something for their winter reading list
Recently launched in the UK, Bookshop is aiming to re-empower the independent bookstores of the Amazon era. The platform provides a socially conscious alternative for readers looking to buy their literature online, allowing them to do so while supporting their local retailer. Bookshop allows small businesses to sell through its platform and receive the full profit margin, all while taking care of all the shipping and logistics, and even offering small discounts so they can compete with larger corporations. As for the books we’re reading right now, just browse through the Eco-Age book recommendations for all our recent picks.
An at-home recipe box for a special night in
While restaurants might be closed for now, adjusting to a new reality has seen those working in the business come up with a wonderfully creative solution. Recipe boxes allow you to create your favourite plates at home, bringing the fine dining experience to your door while providing restaurants with an alternative income during lockdown. Some involve cooking the meal from scratch, others require simply finishing off the last details. The Restaurant Kits website offers a whole host of exciting options, or try zero-waste chef Adam Handling’s ‘Hame’ (the Scottish word for home) range if you’re feeling a little fancy.
A piece from their favourite local artist or illustrator
Life would surely be very dull without the brilliant community of self-employed artists and illustrators whose work brings joy and delight to our everyday. Whether there is someone out there whose work you have been lusting over on Instagram, or you’ve simply been admiring your friend’s collection of quirky ceramic tableware, there has never been a better time to shop from independent makers. We adore these hand-painted coasters by Kathy Allnutt, these embroidered coral-inspired artworks by Imogen Melissa, and pretty much everything from the Studio Pottery London shop.
A small-brand self-care box
Get a little creative and curate a box of luxuries from different independent beauty brands. The best holistic and natural skincare products you can buy are often those that have been handcrafted by individuals and small businesses, as opposed to being mass produced. Help see them through this period of uncertainty by investing in some self-care essentials for a loved one. A Wild Source Apothecary facial oil and some Liha Beauty shea butter make the perfect starting set; make sure to consult our list of brilliant black-owned skincare brands to put your purchase power behind this Christmas too.
A made-to-order piece of clothing
For brands and designers, a second lockdown means more uncertainty in the supply chain. Earlier this year as we saw the financial burden all too often being pushed onto the garment workers with cancelled orders and unpaid wage, truly ethical brands pledged to support their makers through these tricky times, A shining example of this is Birdsong, whose made-to-order model encouraged shoppers to slow down, paying in advance for their garments which would be made after lockdown when it was safe to work again. With a brand-new collection just launched, pre-ordering a garment as a gift means not only supporting a small business, but a whole family of makers too. Our pick? This recycled denim crochet cardi in turmeric yellow.
An at-home activity kit
Long winter evenings at home are the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. The lighter side of lockdown has seen a whole new genre of at-home activity kits emerge online, giving small businesses the opportunity to adapt their offering by tapping into the trend. La Baskery’s twine basket kit makes the perfect present for anyone who loves getting creative, passing on the craft that founder Tabara N’Diaye learned directly from the female artisans in her hometown in Senegal. Meanwhile, an Earl of East candle making kit adds a fun new dimension to the classic (but ever appreciated) gift of a scented candle, promising a little at-home hygge for the rest of winter. Or, for those that love a little extra guidance, treat a friend to an online course like this brilliant make your own make-up workshop by Bottega Zero Waste.