I hope that the Christmas season will bring a bit of sparkle and a lot of joy into our lives; after all, we need it. Undoubtedly, it’ll be a quieter affair than normal for most, not least because there’ll be fewer parties, (if any), and smaller get-togethers. Family, friends and our collective good health has always been most important, but it’s easy to take all of the above for granted. Being unable to see my loved ones when I want to has been the hardest thing about the pandemic. I’ve missed family occasions and girls’ nights in so so much. I’m sad that December will be so much quieter than usual; no back-to-back excuses to wear sequins.
It feels more important than ever therefore, to select meaningful Christmas gifts. As always, my recommendations are personal ones; everything below is something I wear or use. I believe each is a little bit different and will spark joy and gratitude for the recipient and bring the feelgood factor to the gift-giver. While I’ll get some gifts online, I will be shopping locally and buying cards, gift wrap and as many gifts as I can to support Skipton high street and the surrounding areas; assuming of course that retail outlets reopen on 2nd December.
Handmade Non-Profit Jewellery
Sustainable Reusable Essentials
Poppy treated me to a set of bamboo reusable makeup remover pads as part of my birthday present. They’re super-soft and they’re larger than the standard cotton wool pads so they feel really luxurious. They come with a little laundry bag too, to keep them safe in the wash. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t use to think twice about using disposable ones, nor did I give the fact they they come in a plastic wrapper any consideration at all. I wish I’d have got these years ago.
Poppy also bought some stainless steel straws for me a few Christmases ago, and they’re brilliant. (Well done Poppy). They’re a great alternative to paper straws. Bamboo is another sustainable option. I’ve bought these for two of the ladies in my life. I’ll wrap them with a bottle of locally-made artisan gin for Christmas. (I bought both sets of straws at TKMaxx).
Coffee (Without The BS)
Their words, not mine. But true nonetheless.
Black Bag Coffee Co usually supply their coffee in bulk, but as a result of COVID they decided to sell straight to the public. “All that posh logo, fancy packaging, cool dudes in bespoke aprons, beards and tattoos, just isn’t us. What is us though, is producing good coffee.” I love their humour and the slick black packaging, but most of all, they do produce really good coffee. I also love the fact they’re based in Sheffield. For Christmas they are offering a personalisation service and a make your own hamper service as well as their usual excellent range of coffees and accessories.
They sent me a selection to try along with their V60 coffee maker. This works in the same way as a tea strainer and is a whole lot easier to wash than a cafetiere is.
Use code LIZZY20 to get 20% off at The Black Bag Coffee Company
Free From Skincare
Ark Skincare is an award winning, British skincare brand,which uses bioactive natural ingredients, containing antioxidants, lipids and vitamins. The formulations are free from parabens, SLS, mineral oil, S.D. alcohol, formaldehyde and artificial colours and fragrances. The range consists of three key age-specific product lines, Protect for teens & 20s, Defend for 30s & 40s, & Defy for those over 50. Each range is supported by skinperfectors, a collection of highly effective targeted treatment products to treat any specific skin concerns; and skinessential, a family of every-day products for all ages and lifestyles. The combination of selected products from each group provides bespoke skincare programme.
Award-winning beauty blogger Hayley Hall introduced me to Ark just over a year ago. Through her, they have sent me a whole host of their products to try and I can honestly say that they are all brilliant. I think my absolute favourites are the Age Defend Conditioning Cleanser and the Advanced Action Plumping Lip Cream. If you’re not comfortable buying skincare as a gift, Ark do gorgeous hand and body products as well as the most divinely scented candles.
SLYK Gadget Stands
Slyk is a family-run business that has come up with smart, aesthetically pleasing solutions for charging and using smartphones and tablets. The Slyk pillow stand is adjustable and fits around pillows and cushions of every size. It’s excellent when using Zoom, Facetime etc and for those early nights watching a film in bed.
The Table & Wall stand holds the device with a rotating ‘head’ at the top of a smooth flexible arm so it’s easy to position the device at the perfect angle either portrait to landscape. The stand uses a revolutionary ‘nano-suction’ material that contains miniaturised air-pockets that grip the device, meaning that any device with a smooth surface can be held firmly in place. I was genuinely amazed when I first tried mine- it’s almost like a magnet. The good thing too is that you needn’t take the phone out of its case. I use mine most when I’m cooking and using a recipe on my phone, but it makes an excellent alternative to a tripod when shooting videos or taking selfies.
All Slyk products work with both phones and tablets.
Support The Arts
Since 2001, Fox & Chave has been creating beautifully unique, hand-finished, silk ties, scarves and accessories, inspired by the arts, history and nature. The designs reflect centuries of fine art, decorative pattern, literature and music. Some of the most popular designs are inspired by the work of William Morris, Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh and all are hand-finished. Designs licensed from museums, art collections and artist estates raise vital royalty income to support those institutions and artists.
The Arts has suffered quite considerably during the pandemic, so this is a lovely way to lend a hand. They sent me a “Poshmina” earlier in the year, inspired by one of Klimt’s works. It’s absolutely beautiful; beautifully made and exceptional quality.
Support Mind, The Mental Health Charity
After the year we’ve had, I believe mental and emotional health are more important than ever. Pickle London donate £5 from every HAPPY sweatshirt and £2.50 from every HAPPY Tee sold gto Mind Charity to help continue the amazing work they do for Mental Health Awareness.
They sent me one of their sweatshirts almost three years ago. Since then, I’ve bought three more, including this navy rainbow They’re lovely and thick and they wash beautifully and they’ve become part of my working-from-home-uniform.
Charity Lottery Subscription
I would never have thought about a charity subscription, had two lovely ladies from Sue Ryder knocked on my door last month. They said that they have never done any door-to-door “selling” before, but because of Covid, they have lost £1.5 million in fundraising, so wanted to know if I’d subscribe to their monthly lottery.
Every hospice in every town does a wonderful job in providing specialist end-of-life care and I know just how important the hospice movement is, so it took no time for me to say yes. My dear friend Annemarie’s father spent his last few days in Manorlands, our local Sue Ryder hospice and I know how much comfort the family got from knowing he was so comfortable and peaceful.
This is the link to the Sue Ryder Organisation so you can find your local hospice.
I do hope this has been inspirational and that it might provide a few ideas to enable you to choose meaningful Christmas gifts that support smaller/independent brands or causes. It must be incredibly difficult to keep up with the “Big Boys” who have huge marketing budgets, especially with Black Friday just around the corner. I am very fortunate to get sent a lot of lovely gifts. This is my way of saying thank you to those small businesses that are kind enough to trust me with their products. In the name of transparency, I have declared whether or not the item is gifted within the paragraph about it.