Can you believe that it’s time to get out the wrapping paper and bows? String the lights and stir mulled wine? Despite our best effort to slow down and savor the moment, it’s inevitable: the holidays always sneak up on us.
Let’s help you out.
We’ve decided to share two guides, this first one concentrating on more budget-savvy ideas for all those little thank yous and I see yous that you’d like to give this time of year. Later today we’ll be posting our splurges, rounding up what’s favorited at the top of our wish list.
All of the following are under $50, easily-gifted and Darling approved:
The baker in your life will thank you for these elevated caramel sauces that are nothing like you’d expect. With 10% of sales going to preserve wildlife and wild places, Hot Cakes’ passion comes through in their sauce. Try the smoky Campfire drizzled over roasted sweet potatoes or a dollup of the White Sage with some vanilla bean gelato.
Skip the popcorn that’s loaded with corn syrup and artificial flavor and give a gift that’s seriously as good as it looks. Sakara Life’s granola contains gluten-free oats, coconut oil, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, protein-providing Brazil nuts and the adaptogen ashwaghandha. Bonus: the great as-is packaging means all you have to worry about is a bow!
Ilocano Asin Sea Salt | $15
Speaking of ready-made packaging, this little bundle of mineral-rich sea salt contains hollow crystals harvested off the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Each package comes in its own eco-friendly box handwoven by women from the tiny island of Cabilao. The salt is delicate and flaky, perfect for finishing anything grilled, roasted or raw.
Palo Santo Wood Bundles | $3.95
Since fragrance can be such a personal like or dislike, candles can be difficult gifts to give. This year, go the natural route with a simple bundle of Palo Santo wood. Burning the end of a Palo Santo stick creates a clean, fresh smoke similar to incense, but with a mintier lemon-pine scent akin to frankincense. It’s typically used to cleanse or purify the air, and its essential oils have even been shown to inhibit the growth of a specific kind of breast cancer.
All the rage right now? Coloring books for adults. There’s just something about detaching from a digitally-downloaded world and picking up some colored pencils that we can completely get behind. The Art of Nature is a beautiful place to start, offering over 60 vintage scientific and botanic illustrations. Other options we like: this one by Vogue, this secret one of Paris and this one all about Frank Lloyd Wright.
Nostalgia hits heavy with this one, and we can’t think of a better nudge to nurture an artistic eye than a simple disposable camera. We love this camera because it shoots in black and white and allows the budding photographer to capture even the most basic of frames in a new way.
This collection of cards will inspire anyone to (hand)write more, and we think these wanderlust-inspired profiles are particularly perfect for sending off with someone studying abroad, moving across town, or who simply loves a thoughtful word.
Elsa the Elephant | $25
For your newest, littlest friend, Elsa the Elephant brings a smile, joy, even employment, wherever she goes. Made from scrap denim with a woven rope tail, every Elsa purchase provides for artisans in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Additionally, GlobeIn (the same artisan box that also sourced the salt) will donate $5 to New Story Charity to build a house for one family in Jeremie, Haiti. Elsa is a favorite around the office — a Darling of the very best kind.
GAIA Text Pouches | $48
We’re in. love. with these, especially the little pom which makes them an easy find in the great abyss of a bag. Made by women refugees who have resettled in Dallas, these leather-backed, woven hemp zip pouches come embroidered with a variety of simple words. Buy one for the Mama, Soul Sister or BFF in your life and keep all your Squad items collected.
IJM Catalogue | $20+
You can help our friends at International Justice Mission be a light in the darkness by sending freedom to families and kids who are trafficked and enslaved. This year, IJM is focusing on the fight to end cybersex trafficking of children, a heartbreaking and horrific crime. You can buy gifts like an aftercare kit for a child survivor, forensic tools to support an investigation, or a portion of a cybersex trafficking rescue operation in honor of a loved one and help restore the childhood of a little boy or girl.
Rule No. 1 for any traveler: quality shut-eye is a must. And while you may not be able to bump a friend up from economy to first class this holiday, you can give them some luxury sleep thanks to this eye mask with built-in sheet of Japanese Binchotan charcoal. The charcoal helps emit far infrared rays to increase blood circulation, lessen pressure on the eye nerve and reduce tension headaches, all with an added touch of soothing silk.
The second travel must-have? Good skincare that’s even easier to use. That’s why we love this set from Vermont-based Ursa Major containing face wash, skin tonic, fortifying skin balm and essential wipes that are perfect for redeye pick-me-ups. Packed with toxin-free, natural ingredients — like aloe, witch hazel, rosemary and radish root — Ursa Major’s products feel like you’re treating your face with a (gentle) burst of clean mountain air. You’re going to get addicted to this brand.
Everyone needs a little something for their office, so why not make art practical with this minimally-designed calendar? We love the geometric letters and the contrasting of the pastel and bright tones. Come wintertime, this German-made print is sure to liven up any space. (Also available in white/black, grey/white, and blue!)
EyeBuyDirect “Blue” Lenses | $34+
You’re doing it right now — staring at a screen emitting HEV blue light. Since spending prolonged time doing so can cause headaches, eyestrain and fatigue, get that Achiever in your life a pair of these lenses. EyeBuyDirect has created these thin lenses (available with prescription and w/o) to help protect screen-prone eyes and reduce any potential damage. Did we mention they’re also super cute?
USB Tassel Keychain | $30
OK, smart. We all know the woes of a drained battery and the embarrassed ask of, “Does anyone have a charger?” Well, no more. While pocket chargers are also helpful, nothing beats one that you always have on hand because it’s attached to your keychain. Brilliant AND stylish? Sounds like your best friend.
Lest you think lip balm is an impersonal gift, we’d like to introduct you to Tatcha’s 23-karat gold lip balm. Think of this as a little pot of luxury inspired by Red Camellia, a popular wintertime bloom in Japan. It’s deeply hydrating (hi, winter wind!) thanks to the Camellia Oil and its buildable red coverage (a limited-time offering) means you can both nourish and glam up in subtle detail.
AILA Nautral Nail Color | $17
Developed by a physician to limit her family and patients’ exposure to needless toxins, AILA is an all-natural nail polish that actually works better than the other name brands out there. Vegan-formulated without parabens, gluten, formaldehyde, DBT, toluene, camphor, TPHP or sulfates, AILA’s many shades are sure to please anyone looking to stay polished. Don’t miss their natural nail polish remover or cuticle therapy cream, either.
Only have time to send a Christmas card? Pop one of these geniously-designed face mask packs in along with. Made from coconut milk powder and rose clay, when mixed with water the added organic rose hips help to create an exfoiliating scrub that softens, soothes and is majorly addicting. One pack offers several uses, so these are the perfect gift to keep on giving.
Parker Clay Zip Pouch | $42
This buttery-soft leather pouch is perfectly sized to keep all one’s essentials stylishly close at hand. The different dyes are great for gifting all the different personalities in your life, and Parker Clay is a brand we love — solely created to help give jobs to people coming out of human-trafficking in Ethiopia.
This is not a sweatshirt. It is an investment in the work of Sudara and the women empowered through their sewing programs to learn a skill, gain employment, and live a life of freedom and hope. Wear this as a simple reminder of the collective impact made when we choose to purchase ethically-sourced and produced goods.
The Giving Keys | $42+
After sharing an office with these guys way back when, we can’t help but want to continue cheering them on and supporting them now. And we love how their product actually encourages you to do that for someone else. Choose from a dainty bracelet (we love the mini one) or precious metal chain, wear, share, give! In our opinion, the Giving Keys’ philosophy should be a mantra all year ’round.
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Katie Anderson Brower | $16
We know; probably the last thing you want to talk about right now is anything that has to do with politics or the White House, but this is book is a fascinating look at an often-overlooked part of the famous residence: the service staff. Think of this read like America’s take on Downton Abbey, offering an informative view of how to care for the First Family with dignity, regardless of party line.
Covent Alarm Clock | $38
The smarties out there want to unplug, and know that one of the best ways to do that is to keep electronics far, far away from your sleeping quarters. Truth be told, we know that’s hard to do, but that’s why we love this charming clock that we’d actually prefer to keep on our bedside table instead of that — ahem — black mirror. Available in cream, blue and grey, we know you know someone who’d appreciate a “classic” wakeup call.
Because we don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a great quote every now and then, get this book for that classic hard-to-gift person on your list. It’s 336 pages of quotes by painters, photographers, sculptors and visionaries who encourage us to listen, learn, and then take in life through our own eyes. This coffee table book is beautiful inside and out.
Graphic by Cassidy Boatright