For the past few years I've been assembling some of my favorite things into a holiday gift guide (click here to see the 2008 Gift Guide and click here to see the 2009 Gift Guide). Since I often get questions about this sort of thing, let me answer the million dollar question right now: no, no one paid me to get onto this list (that would be advertising and this is strictly editorial blogging).
This is simply a list of my (current) favorite things. Whenever I have a particularly pleasant buying experience or I find something that I just adore, I make a note of it and then include it this annual post. So while I appreciate all of the requests I receive to be included in this guide, I am a tough customer when it comes to inclusion in the guide. Without further ado, here are this year's favorites:
- Bag it for a good cause -- these days, I tend to buy things with an eye on impact. I like to support creativity, so my new go-to shopping site is Etsy (recommendations are coming later in this post). I also like to support causes, so if I can find an item for which a purchase helps out a good cause, I'm in. Enter Indego Africa and their Yoga Mat Bags. Helping women out of poverty by purchasing a fair trade (and quite colorful and fashionable) yoga bag? YES! This is a perfect under $50 gift for yourself or a fellow yogi. Click here to learn more.
- Homemade Bath and Beauty Products -- I love MojoSpa products so much that I need some sort of 12-step program. Amanda is the lovely beauty product alchemist behind Mojo Spa and she's been whipping up beauty products for over a decade. She currently carries over 250 products, including awesome lip glosses (my favorites are the ones infused with energy from an embedded crystal -- how cool is that?), deodorant (finally -- a natural deodorant that actually works), soaps, makeup (I can't say enough about the Illuminata Herbal Makeup, the color adjusting Twinkle Mineral Makeup, and the Beauty Mark Concealer (best concealer ever! I'm guessing that has to do with the secret ingredient -- Neem Oil.), moisturizers, bath products, and perfume oils. The shipping is super speedy and the prices are fair, if not quite inexpensive. I can't say enough good things about Mojo Spa (if you live in the Chicago area, you can actually go there in person). Click here to get your beauty mojo back.
- Surround Yourself with Beauty -- my yoga room/work space has white walls, so I like to dress up my space with colorful art. I enjoy beautifying my space and the folks over at Art Loves Yoga make it easy. I loved the designs so much that I ended up buying a yoga mat that I didn't even need (I actually leave it unfurled at all times because it looks so darned beautiful). In addition to yoga mats and towels bearing the gorgeous designs, Art Loves Yoga recently released a line of Intention Cards and prints. The prices are more than reasonable, the customer service is excellent, and the designs are breathtaking. If you'd like to take a look at the merging of art and yoga and to buy yourself or someone you love a unique gift that merges form and function, click here.
- Buy Homemade -- I was introduced to Etsy a few years back and I've been a huge fan ever since. I've met the nicest, most creative people who sell the lovliest, most unique items. I've purchased everything from clothes to jewelry to makeup on this site. Here are some of my favorite shops of the year:
Enid Harris -- a lover of Buddhism and world religions, Enid designs jewelry that is adornment for the body. They are inspired by the world's religions and spiritual traditions. Each piece is handmade and an original created from select symbols of strength, spirituality and power. Her knowledge and experience as a costume and fashion designer combined with her love of sacred symbols and interest in the world's religions make each piece one-of-a-kind. She uses amulets, talismans, semi-precious stones, rose cut diamonds, images of spiritual icons and other aesthetically complementary elements. The result is a work of art that offers the wearer not only beauty but a sense of empowerment, healing and protection. My favorites are the energy meditation bracelets. Click here to see the entire collection.
Tickle Me Pink Boutique -- I bought a friend of mine a collage necklace from this fun and funky shop and I am still getting thanked for it. This is the perfect shop to find something for that hard to buy for person on your list.
Made By Dina -- I just love the Wish Bracelets offered by this shop. They are inexpensive gifts that are fun and meaningful. Simply tie one of these be-gemmed bracelets on your wrist and make a wish. When the bracelet falls off, the wish will be granted. Hmmmm...like a genie in a bottle, only more fashionable. Click here to see the Wish Bracelet collection.
Progress in Health -- if you're looking for inexpensive all natural mineral makeup and holistic skincare, this is the place to shop. My favorites are the Ultra-Hydrating Mineral Facial Moisturizer with Argan Oil and Mineral Makeup Perfect Match foundation. The customer service is excellent (if you need help with a color match or a product suggestion), the prices are low, and the shipping is speedy.
EnerChi -- think Energy Muse without the high price tag. I love the energy enhanced intention jewelry in this store and the packaging that the items come in is the nicest I've ever seen (and environmentally-friendly too).
Every Eskimo -- this ecclectic little shop has a wide variety of off-beat and seriously cool items, but my favorites are the hand-stitched critters. I have a bunch hidden in various places in my office and they never fail to make me smile when I see them.
Eco Chic -- imagine living in Costa Rica part-time, living on a sustainable farm and riding your horse to work...That's what the life of the Eco Chic shop owner is like. Her eco fashions are stylish, functional, and downright cool. Check out the collection here.
I could list so many more, but for the sake of space, I won't. All I can say is -- check out Etsy.com!
- Inspired Jewelry -- nowadays, any piece of jewelry that I wear holds some sort of meaning. If you're looking for yoga-inspired, meaningful, energy-infused jewelry, check out Chain Reaction Jewelry and some of the new pieces from Energy Muse. Energy Muse's low-cost Freedom Beads are colorful, fun, and the perfect accessory for any outfit. Every time I wear mine, I get compliments. I also like the new Spirit pieces (click here for the bracelet and here for the necklace).
- Bring Out Your Inner Artist -- if you'd like to awaken your creative side, check out the wide selection of Touch Drawing products. It reminds me of art class when I was a kid -- only better.
- For the Kids -- looking for empowering, fun and educational gifts for kids? Check out Little Pickle Press. I became a fan after reading their children's book, What Does it Mean to Be Present? At Little Pickle Press, you'll find presents that kids and parents are sure to love.
- The Perfect Stocking Stuffer -- Raw Chocolate Bars -- if you've got a chocolate lover on your list, I can't recommend Fontina Chocolate Bars highly enough. These guilt-free yummies are made with raw cacao and and raw local wild Arizona honey. And yes, they actually taste great. They come in dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
- Get Your Bake On -- I'm not a big baker, but The Kitchen Yogi makes me want to turn into one. This site offers cookie cutter kits that are sure to bring a smile to any yoga lover's face. After all, who wouldn't want to eat a cookie shaped into Tree Pose? The kits are inexpensive and come with a cookie cutter, a cookie recipe (gluten-free, organic sugar, or gingerbread) and asana instruction. Love it! Love it! Love it! It's a welcome change to the traditional Christmas cookie cutter cookies of my past.
- The Herbal Apothocary -- during a recent trip to Cape Cod, MA, I stumbled across a wonderful store that offered herbal remedies, teas, tinctures, and all things traditional herbalism. Imagine my delight when I discovered that they have an online store! I've been sipping the herbal tea I bought there non-stop since my trip and the 4G tincture I bought has become a daily staple. Check out the Great Cape Herbs online store here.
- Yoga Every Day -- one of my favorite yogis -- Eoin Finn -- is releasing a lifestyle program that offers yoga and meditation practices for 6 days of the week (Sunday is Pranayama day) the beginning of December. Chose from DVD format or direct download. The collection is the perfect way to jumpstart a new yoga practice, recommit to a yoga practice, or infuse life into a stale yoga practice. Click here to learn about the Blissology Project. If you'd like to sample one of the meditation practices included in the program, click here for a full-length 11-minute meditation. I've already pre-ordered mine.
- Need a Little Yoga Break? -- looking for a little movement on your non-yoga days? I highly recommend Misty Tripoli and her Groove workouts. These workouts offer foot- stomping, body grooving music combined with delicious movements that feel amazing to your body. You can order DVDs or digital downloads.
- Breathe Easy -- maybe I'm a yoga geek, but I love the name of these natural yoga mat sprays -- Namaspray. The sprays are made with all natural ingredients and come in three uplifting scents: Minty Fresh, Spicy Orange, and Eucalyptus. Each 4 oz. spray bottle (which is recyclable) comes with a cloth, an inspirational quote, and a hair elastic (how convenient!). For $10 you get everything you need to stay fresh, sanitary, and inspired on your yoga mat.
- Low Impact Reading -- yes, I love the tactile pleasure of reading a book and I love browsing through bookstores. What I don't like is all of tree killing and the overstuffed bookshelves. That's why I turned to the Kindle. I absolutely love mine and I am turning some technology-resistant family members onto it this Christmas. For those of us on a budget, there's now a Kindle model that costs only $139.
- What I'm Reading -- And here is a list of the books that I'm recommending to others this holiday season: The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life: Self Expression and Spiritual Practice for Those Who Have Time for Neither, Five Good Minutes in Your Body: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Accept Yourself and Feel at Home in Your Body, Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, Myths of the Asanas: The Ancient Origins of Yoga, Food as Medicine: How to Use Diet, Vitamins, Juices, and Herbs for a Healthier, Happier, and Longer Life, Meditation As Medicine: Activate the Power of Your Natural Healing Force, The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters.
- Splurge: the way they market Fruitz Watches, you'd think it's yoga in a timepiece. The Natural Frequency Technology is said to reduce stress, increase focus, and enhance well-being for the watch wearer. I must admit that I was skeptical, but after months of wearing this colorful watch, I'm a believer. Fruitz Watches retail from $225-$295.
I also highly recommend the fabulous audio programs from Sounds True and the downloadable media from One Taste. And if you want to give someone a gift of a year's worth of yoga without having to leave the house, check out MyYogaOnline.com and their yearly subscription, which averages under $10/month.
Okay, that's it for this year. Now go forth and buy goodies for your friends and loved ones (or maybe yourself).