Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Buy Small

When it comes to gift giving this year, I'm focusing on small for grown-ups. I’m trying to go with small companies and individual makers, AND I’m focused on actually, literally small stuff. I'm aiming for small companies and makers because big companies get plenty of cash and now that Christina and I own a small business and can see how hard it is to actually make money... I want to support others in their attempts. Amazon is doing just fine.

I'm going for small in size for two reasons. First, because I always think about attempts to ship or travel with gifts and size matters in this case. (And other cases. But that's a different post.) Second, because I live in a small apartment with my Smartner and 2 Smartlings and there isn’t room for anything else up in here. Like, I'm authentically worried about where we will put another Lego. So, in the interest of space-saving, I’m trying to give with size in mind. And cost, obviously. Because my funds are seriously limited. Everything here is $50 or less, although you can easily spend less (or SO MUCH MORE) than that at any of these sites. This is just a solid sampling of lovely items that won’t require you to sell your furniture for space or organs for money in order to purchase them. Probably. Moderation, friends.

I’ve been using Instagram to find things that catch my eye, and poring over Etsy when I can. Because right now, it somehow makes me feel better to know that people are out there stamping things on metal and roasting delicious coffee. I dunno. It reminds me that the world is still creating beauty, I guess. That said, my knowledge is limited and so is my budget, so this is only the very smallest sampling of stuff I’ve find and/or could maybe afford. You can probably find and/or afford much more stuff.

So, tell us in the comments about the makers you love! Let's share resources and spread the love! Together, we will kick ass at gift-giving AND supporting small businesses and makers. We're so awesome, Smarties.


You guys. I don’t understand why I always want to decorate myself with enormous baubles, but I do. I really, really do. (See these earrings that Christina had for a costume that I subsequently stole and now wear on the regular? TOLD YOU SO.)​

They're almost as big as my face. I love them.

Perhaps you also enjoy baubles because, as many of us know, you may be exhausted, but if you throw on a great necklace or giant earrings, people inexplicably think you look great. It’s like magic. Get your friends and loved ones some magic for the holidays. Or ask for some yourself. Here are my favorite places to purchase magic made by real live people!

While Odin Sleeps – Surprisingly somewhat affordable jewelry for the edgy/witchy/Viking/hippie in all of us. I love this stuff. Most of it is enormous. *swoon* The bold, brass shapes and big, beautiful stones she uses are stunning. This piece is particularly striking for $50:

Image Source* : While Odin Sleeps

And this one is a show stopper, also for $50:

Image Source* : While Odin Sleeps

And if you want to give back, she’ll donate all proceeds from this necklace, just $20, to which is quadruple swoon-worthy.

Image Source*: While Odin Sleeps

Wolf and Sadie – slightly less affordable, but ooooooooh so lovely. The ideal combo of simple and edgy. I’m particularly fond of this ear threader collection at $45:

Image Source*: Wolf + Sadie

These lovely stacking rings for $34 are equally simple and perfect, but never boring.

Image Source*: Wolf + Sadie

Erin Vickers Jewelry – Gorgeous locally made jewelry at fantastic prices. I own a ton of her earrings and, without fail, her earrings are the ones I get the most compliments on. I have a pair like this in pink and gray that I wear at least once a week:

Just $15! Buy 3! Image Source*: Erin Vickers Jewelry

Her photo charms are particularly awesome for grandparents or significant others and are only $15 - $20. They can also be made into key chains for non-jewelry wearers. Add one of her initial charms to further personalize. My husband got me a necklace just like this with pictures of my babies for Mother’s Day one year, and I treasure it:

Image Source*: Erin Vickers Jewelry

Hook and Matter - If you love a wee earring instead of (or along with) an enormous earring, this is the shop for you. The earrings at this shop are both bitty and chic. These bars are the very essence of simplicity at $30:

Image Source*: Hook and Matter

Meanwhile, these hexagons manage to be completely interesting, despite their reasonable $38 and diminutive size.

Image Source*: Hook and Matter

Consumable Stuff

This stuff is great stuff because you consume it and then it is ALL GONE and not taking up more space in your life! Also, it is delicious! Win-win! These are some of my local Seattle favorites. Lighthouse Roasters - The best coffee in Seattle – no contest. (Some people will try to argue, but those people are wrong.) I have been going to this shop for *mumbles* over 15 years, and their coffee is consistently, wonderfully delicious and complex and perfect. If you’re in Seattle, I highly encourage you to stop by for a giant cup of the stuff, but if you’re not, order some of their beans online here. You won’t be sorry.

Happiness in a cup. Image Source*: Lighthouse Roasters

Theo Chocolate - Dude. Chocolate. It’s good for you. Antioxidants and stuff. Also, it is goddamn delectable. Theo chocolate is not only yummy and good for you, but it’s also certified fair-trade and organic. I mean. What more do you want? Just put some in your face. Trust me. If you’re in Seattle, pop by the factory in Fremont (it’s super close to my house! Call me first and I’ll meet you there!) and stop by the shop, where you can sample the hell outta this deliciousness. OR, if you are sadly not in Seattle, order from the website. I especially recommend the holiday specials (peppermint stick and cranberry orange, specifically) and the salted vanilla caramels, which, I swear to you, will give you a teeny tiny orgasm. Trust.

Stick all of these in your mouth. I mean, separately, but just do it. Image Source*: Theo Chocolate

Other stuff

Uncommon Green – I know it sounds like a pot shop, but it's not. Swear. Instead, it's a company that designs gorgeous glass goods and other delightful things with maps, literary themes, fonts, and constellations. Nerdtastically perfect in every way. Even better, the company is Earth-friendly and donates moolah and time to charity and public service. Niiiiiiiiice. I, of course, am particularly fond of the “Smart Barware,” where you’ll find math-based, science-based, and lit-based themes imprinted beautifully on glasses and other things. Hamlet whiskey glass? Yes, please.

Image Source*: Uncommon Green

I’m also rather partial to these stunning constellation glasses and carafes. Sexy lil things, eh?

Image Source*: Uncommon Green

For folks who are proud of where they’re from, you may find the city, state, or topography map items are right up their alley.

Smarty Mommies Shop! Look. We have your feminist gear covered. You've seen it here before. Grab a tee and some stickers and go out there and yell, “Enough with the old-timey patriarchal bullshit!” Feels good, doesn’t it? Yeah, it does.

Okay! Godspeed, friends. Take that turkey hangover you're sporting and go out and get 'er done. If you’re gonna buy stuff, buy small and buy smart. Happiest of holidays to you, Smarties.

* All images featured here are the property of the stores, makers, and sites mentioned and linked.

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