Small Businesses for Unique Gift Giving (And So You Can Avoid Holiday Shopping at Big Box Stores)

Small Businesses for Unique Gift Giving (And So You Can Avoid Holiday Shopping at Big Box Stores)

From pet lovers to skin care addicts to your friend who loves funky jewelry, we've got you covered.

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Image for article titled Small Businesses for Unique Gift Giving (And So You Can Avoid Holiday Shopping at Big Box Stores)
Screenshot: Awesome Brooklyn, Lanshin, Hot N Saucy

In the past five days, I’ve gotten roughly 300 emails from various big brands I once-upon-a-time bought something from—and also a bunch that I’ve never even considered giving money to. (Whoever put me on the marketing list for Royal Caribbean Cruises, I’m coming for you.)

The sheer volume of companies trying to entice me to hand over my sweet, sweet credit card number is truly overwhelming at this time of year, and for folks who want to buy gifts that don’t come from big box stores—or slick, venture-capital-backed, direct-to-consumer brands—it can be hard to cut through the noise.

So with that in mind, the Jezebel staff has rounded up some of our favorite small businesses, and included some gift recommendations to make your holiday shopping a little bit easier.

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Leroy’s Place

Leroy’s Place

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Screenshot: Leroy’s Place

This Brooklyn-based jewelry maker is one million percent the place to get a gift that’s delightful, unexpected, and will make your friends feel bad that they weren’t creative enough to think of something this good. Leroy makes acrylic earrings (which you can mix and match) necklaces, pins, and cufflinks of Tupac, Dolly Parton, Pizza Rat, Diana Ross, Bowie and dozens more. The shop also has cards and prints of unique and wonderfully weird monsters galavanting throughout the world. I bought a Hall & Oates acrylic necklace from here in 2012 and if compliments could be cashed in for dollars, I’d be a billionaire. —Lauren Tousignant

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Lanshin

Lanshin

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Screenshot: Lanshin

Lanshin was founded by traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Sandra Lanshin Chiu, whose gua sha tutorial videos also give great tips for facial massage beginners. The brand’s tools are not only extremely relaxing and fun to use, they’re absolutely gorgeous. I’m especially eyeing these holiday edition gua sha intro tools for a few friends on my list.

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Awesome Brooklyn & Awesome Home

Awesome Brooklyn & Awesome Home

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Screenshot: Awesome Brooklyn

Awesome Brooklyn/Awesome Home are Black family-owned boutiques in Flatbush, Brooklyn that sell home goods and crafts. While I certainly do not have the budget to wine and dine my friends with elaborate home cooked meals on a weekly basis, I love to decorate like I do. I only recently learned the word candelabra (sorry Lumiere), but now that I have, I simply refuse to shut up about how much cozier (and bougie-er) they make my dining situation, even if I am just eating takeout.

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Cheek Cases

Cheek Cases

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Screenshot: Cheek

I’d be doing my personal style a disservice if I didn’t recommend Cheek phone cases as a holiday gift this year. Designed by 20-year-old Kaylie Boutwell, Cheek is one of many small businesses keeping me on the Gen Z-leaning side of the Zillennial age bracket. If you’ve gotta carry around a little beep-boop device for the rest of your life, it better look fucking cute. The MILF case spoke to me personally, as I’m entering my ideological MILF era, but there are a ton of other Y2K and trippy designs that feel worthy of Paris Hilton’s early-2000s Blackberry. Knock yourself out. —Emily Leibert

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Hot N Saucy

Hot N Saucy

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Screenshot: Hot N Saucy

This Black-owned company (spearheaded by chef Sam Davis-Allonce) creates sauces that are as much about taste as they are heat. Collards N Ghost (now available only as part of a three-sauce set) is particularly ingenious, powered by the scary-hot ghost pepper but rounded out with the smokiness of collard greens. —Rich Juzwiak

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Ava’s Pet Palace

Ava’s Pet Palace

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Screenshot: Ava’s Pet Palace

Ava’s Pet Palace makes the best dog and cat treats I’ve ever bought. It was started by a tween who loved her animals, and watching her business grow has been truly delightful. A perfect spot for the pet lovers on your shopping list. —Caitlin Cruz

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Verameat

Verameat

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Screenshot: Verameat

A friend once told me I looked like “a witch of the woods,” because I had on four rings, two of which were from Verameat. I’ve never felt hotter. Verameat’s jewelry is spooky and cool and slightly intimidating, and therefore it is the perfect gift for anyone who’s also spooky and cool and slightly intimidating. The “witchy” rings I was wearing that day were the Mystery Hugs (two skeleton arms that embrace your finger) and Cheshire Kiss (two kitties that almost touch noses over your finger), both of which are adjustable so ring size isn’t an issue. Verameat does tons of other creepy-but-cute designs, and rings are just the beginning. —Sarah Rense

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Atrevida Beer Company

Atrevida Beer Company

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Screenshot: Atrevida Beer Co

Atrevida Beer Company is located in Colorado Springs and operated by Richard Fiero (the man who disarmed the shooter inside Club Q) and his wife, Jess. They have some really fun merch available online—or gift cards if you’re local (or buying a present for someone who is). Feeling completely powerless is inevitable in a country led by those who allow scores of innocent people to be killed by guns every day. But identifying the ordinary people willing to put their bodies on the line and contributing in some small way to their livelihoods gives me a little comfort. —Audra Heinrichs

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SustainAble Home Goods

SustainAble Home Goods

If you feel the urge to shop at Anthropologie, which is super normal and not at all embarrassing, fight it and try SustainAble Home Goods instead. You’ll feel cosmically better for spending your money on responsibly sourced home goods from this place, and you’ll be much less likely to run the risk of giving your friend the exact same twee-as-hell Anthro mug she gives you. I have two of these tin bird ornaments in my room, and they give me inordinate amounts of joy daily, so I suggest starting there. —Sarah Rense

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Studio Qila

Studio Qila

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Screenshot: Studio Qila

Studio Qila is a Native woman owned pilates-inspired online workout that I started doing during lockdown. There are live and on-demand class options, and a monthly membership is a great gift for a pilates devotee, a fitness expert who wants to try something new, and even someone who’s looking to ease back into regular exercise. (Qila’s “foundations” series is really great for pilates newbies.) The workouts range in length and are tough but super rewarding, and I love Qila’s body-neutral approach. No icky “summer bodies are made in winter” catchphrases here.

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Yea Oh Greetings

Yea Oh Greetings

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Screenshot: Yea Oh Greetings

The card selection at bigger stores has gone downhill significantly in recent years, so I prefer to visit local stationery stores and stock up on fun cards there. (The catch: you still have to remember to put them in the mail later.) For your friend who still writes letters and always has a card for everything, a curated selection of goofy and cheeky cards is a great gift (and a fun one for you to compile.) I recommend Yea Oh Greetings’ extensive Etsy shop. Their tagline? Funny greeting cards and gifts for the inappropriate. Hear hear. —Susan Rinkunas

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