It's that time of year again -- one of the radio pre-sets on my car's stereo is now playing holiday music 24-7, there are Black Friday emails filling my inbox, the weather is getting colder, I adopted yet another turkey through Farm Sanctuary, and just this past weekend I attended a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show. Yep -- the holidays are upon us.
It's also holiday gift guide time. I both love and hate putting this together. I love sharing my favorites with people, but assembling the list of beloved things for a full year can be a bit daunting. As you can see from the lateness of the post, I procrastinated quite a bit this year.
I feel like I say this spiel every year but I seem to always get questions about this, so I'll say it again. Everything in my holiday gift guide posts are things that I personally love and enjoy. Yes, I get a lot of product pitches for inclusion but I rarely include the products unless I am personally intrigued by something. I don't receive money for recommending anything here -- this isn't advertising disguised as a blog post. This is merely me sharing my favorite things of the year with you. I have discovered so many wonderful things through friends, so I like to do the same. That said, let's get to the good stuff.
Each year I find myself remembering things I wanted to include in the post well after the fact. If I forget anything, I'll include it in a future post. Okay, here goes the 2014 list...
VibesUp: I found this very cool company through a friend and I'm so glad that I did. I love, love, love their toothpaste (I know the price is steep but I've tried a lot of different natural teeth cleaners and this is by far my ultimate favorite, so it's well worth the price tag) and their deodorant (I'd been using the same deodorant for years and recently switched to the VibesUp brand because I love it so much). The initial cost of the deodorant is a bit high, but refills only cost $7.99. I also love a lot of the other products that VibesUp carries, so check out their store. Right now they are running an amazing 53% (yes, you read that correctly -- more than half off) sale if you use the code THANKFUL53.
Hurraw Lip Balm: It's possible I mentioned this in another post, but I love these balms so much that they are worth mentioning again. I've been using the Moon Balm every night for well over a year and my lips feel fabulous (even in the dry, chilly weather). I used the SPF 15 Sun Balm this past Summer and loved it as well. Of course being a chai latte lover, I also adore their Chai Spice balm. Hurraw is your place for happy lips and stocking stuffers, for sure.
Lotus Moon Hair Care: My hair has been loving Lotus Moon's Vanilla Honey Hair Milk, Just Gel, and their shampoos and conditioners. I admit that I first balked at the price, but I've gotten over it because I just love how healthy these products are (love the pH of the shampoos and conditioners and the ingredients in the styling products) and how they make my hair look and feel.
LifeForce Yoga Chakra Clearing Meditation: I constantly have people asking me what I "do" to stay so happy, relaxed and youthful. Frankly, I do a lot of things but when it comes to yoga, I love to be able to direct a person to a short but effective practice to give them a taste of the benefits a regular practice can bring. If you're in the same boat -- or you'd like to give yourself a gift of a fabulous 30-minute home practice -- I recommend Amy Weintraub's LifeForce Yoga Chakra Clearing Meditation. This inexpensive ($7.99) download comes with fully illustrated manual so you can follow along with the MP3.
Mojo Spa: I'm pretty sure I've also mentioned Mojo before, but I've fallen in love with them all over again, so I'm including them again. Body products, makeup, skincare, natural remedies, and a whole lot more is what you'll find that this Chicago-based make-everything-by-hand store. I love the herbal makeup (so does my skin), the Body Relief Cream, Medusa Hair Oil, and just about anything else they sell. They have a men's line too, so you can bring the joy Mojo to the men in your life as well.
Affirmats: Okay, this pick is one that I think is very cool but don't actually use (I still use my memory foam mat from Vernice Vida that I included in last year's gift guide). I love the story of the founder of the company using a "will you marry me?" mat when he popped the question. Of course the answer was yes...which isn't surprising since these mats are pretty cool. I love the affirmations offered and I wouldn't hesitate to buy these for friends (or myself if I was in need of a new yoga mat). There is also a line of towels available for those hot yoga lovers out there.
Bendy Yoga Skellys: This gift idea falls under the category of novelty and stocking stuffer -- because who wouldn't smile after receiving a bendable skeleton yogi that comes with its own small yoga mat? Cute, right? I think this could also be fun to display in a yoga studio and/or home studio. You can check them out here.
Subscription Boxes: It seems like subscription boxes are all the rage. I tried two different subscriptions this past year but wasn't all that impressed. Did I like the surprise element of it all -- yes. But getting a box of stuff that I really didn't need or want just didn't delight me. I do like these two boxes though: Conscious Box and Yogi Surprise. I have personal experience with Yogi Surprise and I've found the contents to be much more appropriate for me as opposed to some sort of fitness or style box. It's become a gift of choice for some of my yoga friends. If you don't want to commit to a monthly subscription, there are always special occasion boxes for sale (which I find are perfect for gift giving).
Infinite Love Mist: I like Lotus Wei, flower alchemists and purveyors of mists, elixirs, serums, and perfumes, and I definitely think that more love in the world is certainly a good thing. Lotus Wei's Infinite Love Mist comes in a special holiday edition that's twice the normal size for half the price. Hmmmm...looks like we all need a little extra love around the holidays, yes? I really like this mist and this is a great deal.
The Joyologist: When it comes to home items, I rarely buy anything unless it has a special use or meaning. This awesome line of goodies from The Joyologist offers function, laughs, and inspiration all in one. I don't even drink wine, but I love the stemless wine glass collection. I actually participated in the crowdfunding for the Own Your Awesome Affirmation Deck because I love the idea so much. Stocking stuffers, hostess gifts -- yes! It's all here.
Fivesse Gym Bags: Here's another item that made the list even though I don't have one. I would certainly buy one of these bags if I worked in an office because I love the convenient features of the work bags. These bags have a place for everything (keys, shoes, water bottles, laundry, phone, sunglasses, music, jewelry, toiletries) in both their regular gym bags (yes, that means they have a place for your yoga mat) and their work to gym bags. The work to gym bags offer a garment bag attachment so you can keep your work clothes pristine while traveling to the yoga studio/gym.
Toe Talk Socks: I love these adorable lowcut socks! Not only do they fit comfortably, are the perfect weight, and offer no slip bottoms (you can choose with grips or without), but the designs are awesome (they make me smile when I look down at them)! With messages like Be Mindful, Inhale/Exhale, Namaste, and Seek Balance, they are perfect for the yogis in your life. And, for each pair of socks you order, the company donates $1 to the charity of your choice (Choose from: The Nature Conservancy, Best Friends Animal Society, FINCA International, Save the Children, and Stand Up to Cancer Foundation).
Wisdom Nectar Tea: Anyone who has been to my house knows how much I love tea (it's all over the kitchen to the point where everyone who visits comments on the fact that I have so much tea). I have my usual favorites, but I also like to try new companies now and again. My new favorite is Wisdom Nectar Tea. Their blends are organic, hand blended and wild crafted. I also love the varieties they offer, my favorite being Happy Qi Energy. They also offer drinking cacao (yum!).
Inquiry Cards: Over the years, I've come to appreciate the value of a well-asked question. I know that oracle cards are popular but I like Inquiry Cards, which encourage you to become your own oracle. They are currently running a sale so you can get almost $10 offer your card set. Have I mentioned that the cards themselves are lovely (like little pieces of art)? These make the perfect gift for anyone (especially those hard-to-buy-for folks).
Gluten Free/Paraben Free Makeup: Red Apple Lipstick is a fabulous company that I found months ago through a friend. Their gluten-free, toxic-free products are amazing and their customer service is excellent. They offer lipsticks, glosses, lip pencils, lip balm, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. Their mascara is my all-time favorite and the only thing that I use since it launched a few months ago. They are full disclosure and offer up their full ingredient list. I love their products and have been recommending them to all my friends.
Nuu Muu: If you're looking for a comfy twist on yoga wear, I recommend Nuu Muu "exercise and everything else dress." Not only are Nuu Muus comfy but they look fabulous (very feminine and flattering) and go from yoga studio to real life with style and grace (huh, I sound a little like a Nuu Muu ad, eh? No, I am not working in the marketing department at Nuu Muu.). I have to warn you about these though -- it's hard to just buy one. They have so many colors and styles that you will be tempted to buy two, three, or four (yes, that's how many I have). I've packed these babies (they don't wrinkle at all) for travel, I've worn them to yoga class, I've worn them out and about, and I've worn them around the house. I love them! I get compliments everytime I wear them. They even offer children's sizes (how cute that mommy and daughter can match, right?). If you're looking to try something different in yoga wear (or just comfy active wear), I recommend Nuu Muu. Heck, if there's a holiday sale this year, I'm thinking of gifting myself another in the Chai style.
Endorfin Chocolate: The name says it all...The chocolate bars are to die for. The company also offers subscription boxes (Dear Loved Ones: hint, hint) and bulk Cacao and Superfoods products. Not sure what else to say other than yum! I tend to love exotic flavors in regards to chocolate and Endorfin fits the bill. If you've got a chocolate lover and/or a sweets lover on your list, you might want to check them out.
Shoppe: If you're looking for quality, original gifts I have to give a shout out to Shoppe. Their tagline is "inspired goods by independent makers," so I guess it's no surprise I fell in love with them. I love the variety of items and the prices are pretty darned great too. It's right up there with Etsy for me.
Wristwrap with a Message: Story People offers a lovely line of wristwraps with inspirational sayings. You even have the option of creating a custom wristwrap. I personally have the eco-friendly cork version (they offer both leather and cork) and I've worn it constantly -- even in the shower -- and it still looks good. Yes, everyone does try to read what's on my wristwrap, but look at it this way -- it's a great conversation starter.
Something Like Magic: This gem of a book is also from Story People. It's a short book (80 pages) but it's packed with inspiration and fabulous drawings. I like to pull mine out when I need a little boost and open to a random place in the book for a little happiness injection.
Alyssa's Cookies: Okay, Mark Cuban beat me to the punch on this one. He recommended Alyssa's Bakery and the company was flooded with orders. I'm not surpised because the cookies are fabulous! My favorites are the Healthy Vegan Bites and the Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies. I used to love their protein cookies too, but I notice that they are no longer offered in the store. Still, you can't go wrong with treats from Alyssa's (check out the ingredients list -- it doesn't get any better than that). They are the perfect amount of yum and healthy!
Buddha Doodles: This was another great find from a friend. Buddha Doodles are these inspirational doodles that arrive in your inbox if you sign up online. Buuuut...there's also a store that offers everything from blankets to pillows to calendars to gratitude journals. All of the items features the artist's (the super talented Mollycules) fabulous doodles. I loved the doodles so much that I bought a pillow for myself (and one for my friend) and pre-ordered a 2015 calendar. I love the art, I love the message, I love supporting a fabulous person who's following her dreams.
Daily Kundalini Yoga: If you're a Kundalini fan, Golden Bridge Yoga recently launched an online global village that offers unlimited monthly access to Kundalini Yoga practices, meditations, lifestyle tips and lectures, and training. A subscription to the Global Village costs $15/month and you can cancel at any time. When I lived in NY, I would go to classes at Golden Bridge NYC, but it sure is nice to have online access.
Compassion Key: I initially recommended the book Impossible Compassion well over a year ago, but it makes the gift guide again this year because the practice in the book is so very simple yet incredibly effective. It's amazing what a little self-directed compassion can do. You can learn more about that here. If you'd like a free preview of this fabulous tool, you can download it for free here. This gem of a book (and the practice) is perfect for anyone and everyone.
The Art of Stillness: I already reviewed this little gem of a book so I'll just say this -- it's my favorite book for buying in a hardcover format (which says a lot since I purchase about 99% of my books on Kindle). I love the photos but I love the message even more. It's one that we all need to hear, which makes this book the perfect gift.
Reorganize Yourself: Feeling cluttered in both your physical space and your mind? I recently discovered this nifty little kit -- Jomour's Reorganize Yourself Kit -- to help you organize your house, your things, your projects, and your office. Clutter freedom is the gift that keeps on giving.
Radha Krishna Dolls of Love: Barbie who? Wouldn't it be more fun to give spiritual dolls rather than vacuous Barbie? Buddha, Laksmi, Ganesh, Sita, Rama, Kali -- oh yes, Radha Krishna Dolls of Love has them all...and a whole lot more. I speak from experience when I say that the Kali doll is a great gift...and not just for the children in your life.
And finally, here are my favorite Amazon picks:
Whew! That's all for this year's gift guide. Go forth and give generously!