I’m glad that so few of my relatives live in Madison because it will be harder for them to know I did all my holiday shopping at work (unless they read this, of course). I haven’t been to a mall in over a year and I aim to keep it that way. Maybe my shopping list will inspire some ideas for the folks on your list.

Nieces and Nephews
My nephew Emmet will probably be getting art supplies from Clementine, most likely the naturally pigmented paint. Or I might choose the play dough that smells like the wads of Bubbalicious gum I used to love to eat. His sister Lilia will be getting a new cookware set from Melissa & Doug (making a limited-time appearance at Willy East) and maybe the sushi set too. (Fret not, I’m not getting her the kitchen gifts because she’s the girl, but because her brother won’t share his kitchen with her.) My niece Rebecca will be getting a locally assembled Arterro art kit. The art kits come in a reusable ziplock bag so she can hopefully keep things somewhat in order.

Luis Alberto, my oldest nephew who went off to college this year, is getting either one of the backpacks or messenger bags from Chico Bags. These are two new styles brought in that I don’t think I would ever scrunch up into the small mini sack attached to itself. His sister is getting her annual journal from Acorn. I got her her first journal like this about four years ago and it is now tradition. She looks forward to getting a new design every year and says she enjoys how smooth the paper is.

Brothers and Sisters
I really would like to get her mom one of the natural latex yoga mats now available. It’s quite a commitment, but the feel (and smell) are, in my opinion, far superior to the conventional ones. I know I can’t really afford it, so she will in all likelihood get one of the new silicone sleeved glass water bottles from Lifefactory. As a mom of four, I think she will enjoy how strong it is. (I dropped mine on my concrete driveway and it didn’t break. I’m hoping she won’t test it out the way I did though; I may have just been lucky.)

Other parents are getting the MACSAC (Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition) cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini. They joined their first CSA this past year in Ohio and were at a bit of a loss of what to do with some of the unique veggies that found their way to their home. If your people haven’t ventured into the realm of old school vegetables, there are plenty of other cook and un-cook books available to peruse.

I’ll also get them couple of those fruit and veggie shaped scrubbies from Loofah Art so they can scrub to their hearts’ content. Their dad is also getting the Toilets of the World calendar, or maybe the Outhouse mini-calendar.

Friends
I couldn’t wait to give my friend Carrie her pink strawberry hat made by volunteers for Grace Episcopal Church, which helps support their Latino College Fund; she got that for Halloween instead. I’ll probably get her one of the new lavender, orange or pine scented beeswax candles from Sunbeam Candles, too. I’m so happy the solar-operated company has found a few pleasing scent combinations to go along with the already delightful honey smell of beeswax. Although not an option for my vegan friends, I feel it is a far better choice than many of the candles on the market today.

AUNTS, UNCLES AND COUSINS
Aunt Erin and her hubby are each getting a pair of striped Rock n’ Socks and a pair of the wool hiking socks from Maggie’s Organics. I won’t be seeing them for the holidays this year, so the shipping costs will be low on these lightweight sustainable socks.

My cousin D’Arcy is getting some earrings made in Madison from Imagine Jewelry and her wife Sharra is getting a Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker. I have yet to cross over to the cold brew method, but my theory of buying these low acidic brew systems as gifts is that one day, someone will do the same for me (hint, hint). If cold brew won’t be the style of anyone on your list, consider a re-usable hemp filter or a porcelain coffee cone. These cost a tad more than the more common plastic versions, but with all the evidence of plastics leaching into our foods, especially when heated, your loved ones will appreciate it for much longer.

Gift Bags
In the spirit of tradition, I’ll wrap this gift idea article up with announcing the arrival of one of the most requested products I get—gift bags. I am happy to say I found some fair trade bags made in India for Handmade Expressions. There are some larger ones made out of newspapers that can actually withstand being reused as shopping bags (interesting reads as well) and some more traditional looking ones made from recycled cotton rags. We also have the U.S.-made Green Girl Gift wrap made with 100% recycled materials.