Give the Gift of Awesome This Year by Supporting Small Businesses

I've developed a reputation amongst my friends and family members for being a stellar gift-giver. 

This reputation wasn't won easily; no, it was developed over a number of years spent carefully curating Christmas gift lists for close friends and loved ones whom I knew quite well. Boyfriends, best friends, siblings, parents. You name 'em, I've shopped for them, and I've done it well. Those who know me well know that I love giving gifts more than I love receiving them, meticulously scouring shelves, online platforms, and digital markets for goods my loved ones will, well...love

But there's a catch to my Christmas shopping caveat: I only support small businesses and independent makers. 

I know what you're thinking, and yes, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift whilst striving to support small or independent brands. Not every maker will craft goods my friends or family will love, and my focus is on gifting items they'll actually use and get pleasure out of using. Whether it's a piece of jewelry, a kitchenware item or clothing, I want my loved ones to open their gifts and actually want to use them. Chances are, we've all received a gift or item that, though beautiful or unique, is absolutely of no use to us; I hang on to these items out of respect and because often, much thought goes into the gifts we receive. But that doesn't mean the flamingo charm necklace by grandmother gave me is going to make an appearance in my plaid-filled wardrobe any time soon. 

Supporting small businesses and brands is important to me, though, because I myself am an independent "brand" offering my own services; when you support small, independent and/or local brands and businesses, you're supporting someone's creativity, goals, ambitions, and dreams. And typically, you get something pretty sweet out of the deal, too. For me, it's never been a question of hitting the mall and dropping hundreds of dollars on brand-name items or fast fashion for my loved ones. It can truly make a positive impact on small business owners when you support them, and can also help encourage others to turn away from the habit of shopping fast and cheap. You know what I'm talking about: H&M gift cards, tops from Forever21, you get the picture. 

In saying all of that, if you're new to the small business scene and aren't sure where to start, I've created my own list of goods you can give as gifts this Christmas from small brands and makers; most of these brands ship internationally or may be based in your own city, making their goods easily accessible. Some of the goods mentioned in my list are ones I've actually purchased for my loved ones as gifts for this upcoming Christmas, whilst others are simply ideas that I will one day gift or keep on the "back burner" for housewarming gifts, birthday items, etc. 

Go ahead and shop this list!

Home/Living

Personal Care/Beauty 

Accessories/Jewelry

Tips for Shopping Small Businesses

When shopping for gifts from small businesses or independent makers, you may want to discover more about each brand, find a good deal or search for a local stockist of their goods. There are a few good tips I can share with you based on personal experience that may make your efforts of shopping small and independent more convenient, positive or simpler. Check them out below: 

  • Follow the brand(s) on their social media channels - like Instagram and Facebook - for deals, discounts, and giveaway opportunities. Many brands use their social media platforms to advertise special deals or discounts for followers that you can take advantage of when shopping for any occasion - especially Christmas 
  • Subscribe to the brand's (or brands') newsletters for discounts and news; signing up for newsletters is also helpful if you want to be kept in the loop about new product launches, news about local stockists carrying their items and other helpful tidbits of info
  • Ask the brand or business about shipping costs before you purchase to ensure the calculated shipping costs to your country are correct if you're ordering online; Etsy, for example, allows Sellers to list shipping costs to different countries based on rough estimates, but the numbers can sometimes be exaggerated, so check with the Seller or brand first to ensure you're not overpaying for shipping fees 
  • Request a custom order to get exactly what you want, or for something a little more unique. Many brands (especially those selling their goods on Etsy) take custom order requests and will create something unique for you if you ask. Others may not, but you could get the exact item you've been searching for from a brand you've always wanted to shop with. 
  • Take note of shipping times and fees; this is especially important if you are ordering goods from different continents. For example, if I know an item I want to purchase as a gift will be shipped from England, and I'm based in Canada, I typically order the item at least three weeks in advance to account for shipping times. Many brands make their goods to order, meaning they make your item when you order it as opposed to having the item pre-made or prepackaged, which adds on additional wait times. Ask the brand, business or maker how long they estimate your goods will take to arrive before purchasing to ensure your gifting items get to you in time for your occasion.
  • Check each brand's website for local stockists; if a boutique or shop in your own town/city sells the brand's goods, you can cut out shipping times, costs and even the possible duty/import fees by picking the items up from a local stockist as opposed to ordering it online.

Note: this list is in no way meant to denote ethical or sustainable goods; it is simply a list of gift recommendations from small businesses, brands, and makers across the globe.