As we head deeper into December, there’s one thing that remains true: The holidays are very different this year. Some of us are spending our very first holidays away from our families, while others are managing entirely solo. No matter how you’re spending the holiday season, many of us are trying to think of new ways to connect. After all, we’re still alive and we deserve to feel a little festive and a little celebratory. While the work holiday party might be long gone and the caroling around town is on pause until 2021, we’re thinking about how we can still maintain that sense of camaraderie with our friends, family members, and peers.
In this gift guide, you’ll find a few ideas to help you feel less lonely and more connected no matter where you are and who you’re with this holiday season.
Do you miss traveling? Or do you just miss home? Homesick candles are meant to smell like our favorite travel destinations or like our hometowns. The Atlanta candle smells like dogwood blossoms and daffodils, while a Maryland candle (my hometown!) smells like salt water and ginger. Our living spaces can have a huge effect on our moods, and while we can’t control the state of the world, we can give ourselves small boosts. These candles are the perfect nod (or sniff) to the places we’re missing this holiday but will hopefully be safely able to return to soon.
Museum stores are my favorite places to go holiday shopping. They have so many strange, funky gifts, and, while it’s admittedly much more fun to browse in person, if you’re quarantining like I am, you can still indulge via their online storefronts. I love the idea of doing a project like this one, which is a DIY insect, together with a friend or family member. You can just hop on FaceTime and get to work, catching up as your fingers work at the recycled cardboard wings of a bee or the antennas of a butterfly.
Looking for a game you can play together time and time again? Try the New York Times crossword puzzle in this nice little journal. Whether you choose to set a timer and really compete or chat on the phone while you brainstorm the answers together, this journal is 240 pages worth of tricky gaming that’ll keep your brains moving.
We’ve been in quarantine for so long that it’s becoming difficult to sustain long-distance relationships whether it’s with our partners or our best friends. This product can make it easier to keep in touch Each person gets a lamp and can use the touch of a button to communicate through the lamp. The lamps change color, so each person can tap the lamp as a small reminder that they’re thinking of the other. These work from all around the world as long as you both have a solid internet connection. Plus, you can add more and more lamps to the mix, making it a great idea for families or friend groups that miss one another.
If what you’re missing most during the holiday season is socializing with new people, we suggest Ethel’s Club, a social platform for people of color. The digital membership supports people of color, and you can join online spaces where you can make new friends, network, and get some of that cocktail hour-energy we’ve lost in quarantine.
If you’re drawn to toys like Unbound’s Bender because they let you decide how to enjoy the toy, you’ve got to check out Cute Little Fuckers, a sex-toy brand specifically designed to be trans inclusive. Long gone are the days when toys could only be used for a single purpose. Now we have a generation of sex toys, including Starsi, can provide vibrations anywhere on the body and can be palmed, humped, or otherwise loved on. It’s also cute.
I’ve become bizarrely obsessed with jam during quarantine, maybe because it feels like such a flavorful treat and pairs so well with the bread we’ve all been baking—or trying to bake. This set, which includes Trade Street Jam Co.’s three signature flavors—Strawberry Chipotle + Fig, Smoked Peach, and Blueberry Lemon Basil—is a fun way to spice things up. You could make bread with your best friend or siblings on FaceTime, and then have a taste test. As an added bonus, Trade Street Jam. Co is a Black-owned business, so you can feel good knowing your money isn’t going to our Amazon overlords.
Speaking of bread: Ever since I came across this bread kit from Dough Dealer, I’ve been thinking about getting back into the bread game. I’m very into the idea of not having to fight my way through the grocery store to get my hands on a sourdough starter (by the way, I still don’t really know what that is) and to instead have everything I need in a single paper bag. The kit promises it takes only 15 minutes of active work, and then four hours of rest, to complete this recipe, so this would be a wonderful project to take on with your roommates or partner(s) if you want to make bread for the holidays without overexerting yourself. Baking bread while just laying around the house sounds like my idea of holiday fun. I might send my mom a bag and get myself one too so that we can finally give that quarantine bread trend another shot—and bond from afar.
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