I did my first ever holiday gift guide for travelers a few years ago, which was fun to compile. Readers seemed to enjoy the various items, and I was happy to share some of the products that accompanied me on the road. This year, I wanted to do something a little different.
For starters, my life is a little different – something all of you already know. As a result, my own gifts to family and friends aren’t souvenirs from far-away places, but fun things I’ve discovered online. I wanted to share some of them here, especially as many are small businesses like myself.
The items below are from artists that I have supported, some of whom I’ve actually met, and they are all products I stand behind.
Art and jewelry gifts
Some beautiful items to make your own.
BECCA JANE DESIGNS
When searching for a gift for my mum’s birthday last year, I thought I would do something a little different. I looked for an artist who could illustrate our family with a beautiful border and then send her a printed copy for her birthday.
I’ve never commissioned this kind of gift before, and Rebecca – the artist I chose – was patient and kind, and we went back and forth a few times until I was satisfied. She even agreed to make my brother as depicted, wearing his favourite martini t-shirt.
I was waiting on this gift guide until my mum received her gift, and she loved it!
Rebecca’s full shop here, and note that she will do other kinds of designs as well, like Save the Dates for weddings, holiday cards, personalized baby blankets, and more.
I’ve followed Michael Buchino’s whimsical word work for some time on Instagram, as it combines two of my favourite things: learning, and art. His Insta feed, Lexigraphique, is one of those accounts that I send to multiple friends many times a week.
Before this guide went up, I wrote him to ask if he had any holiday items I could include, and lucky for all of us he was just about to launch the hygge cards below.
You can buy his prints and these cute holiday cards in his Buchino shop, here.
These earrings are stainless steel, quirky, and a fun way to wear one of the most important parts of the body on your ears. I anticipate many, “is that a tree?” questions, to which you get to say, “nope, it’s BRAINS!”
You can buy them here.
Anne Connell’s shop is a wonder to behold, chock full of paper goods designed — as she notes on Instagram and on her website — with an “absurd attention to detail” She lists herself as a precisionist, and it’s easy to see why. Her artwork is meticulous, delicately crafted, and very unique.
I found her botanical card series first, and clapped my hands with glee. As someone trying to get out in nature during brief spurts of respite from bedrest, they were a breath of fresh air. Her constellation cards, featuring each of the zodiac signs, are a clear crowd-pleaser. I’ve put those two types of cards below but honestly it’s worth heading to see her full shop.
I realize these are listed as cards, but I think they are frame-worthy all by themselves.
Her full shop here.
I’ve written about how a menstrual cup has been one of the most useful items for a solo female traveler to bring, and this year they’ve added a fun lightweight jewellery option in wood. I bought these for myself, and absolutely love them.
They’re subtle enough to not scream VULVA to anyone you meet, and they’re in my favourite colour. Figured I’d add a second body part to this guide :)
Nicola is a long-time Legal Nomads reader, and a fellow lawyer and traveler. She has generously shared bird illustrations and other fun to keep me cheered up when I’ve been down. She’s also a very talented artist, and her cards and other items are rich in puns and joyful artistry.
Nicola’s work reminds me of the children’s’ books I loved most, with creative characters, maps, and whimsical animals. A talented hand-brush lettering artist, she also includes a lot of drawn typography in her work.
From a grumpy owl to a festive sheep, you’ll be sure to find holiday cards to your tastes. And one of my absolute faves is her wedding card below, “Of all the fish in the sea” — delightful.
Nicola’s full shop is here.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jess, the genius behind Birdstrips, in person twice. She’s currently in Montreal, and a friend introduced us just before I re-leaked last summer. Her illustrations have grown a huge following on Instagram due to its relatable messaging, and her captions that accompany the drawings are raw and vulnerable. Together, it’s powerful work that makes almost everyone feel heard.
In Jess’ words, the shop comprises “the existential distress of the flightless through the eyes of the flighted.”
You can check out her images and pick up mugs, shirts, prints and more, here.
ABSTRACT AERIAL ART
JP and Mike Andrews, two brothers from the UK are an Instagram favourite of mine. I often share their images with my community because their eye is unique, and their pictures compelling. Like me, they absolutely love to travel. Unlike me, they specialize in photographing bizarre, aerial images our planet using drone photography.
Their goal: to share perspectives of the world otherwise unseen, captured from a vantage point most of us miss. A great gift option for those who love to roam.
Here’s one I love from them: Skyline, a drone photograph of a freighter that looks like a cityscape.
And this aerial view of a beach made me smile:
Their full gallery shop here.
Jason Markow, aka TEKSTartist is an artist I found a few years ago, and was hooked immediately. His work combines both traditional and digital media, a fusion of techniques that result in elegant yet crisp products. Given that my own products are typographic representations of food, I love that his art includes quotes he’s enjoyed over the years, visually represented in unique ways.
One of my favourites: this flower, “Your Garden, Forever” available here, created by warping and twisting the words from Tennyson’s famous quote – “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”― Alfred Tennyson
Full shop here.
These illustrations of birds with curse words sayings are all the rage on Instagram and Twitter, for good reason: they’re hilarious. Crafted by Aaron Reynolds, they do seem to offend some, but as the name suggests exactly what they are it’s hard for anyone to be upset. Don’t like them? Close the tab.
Personally, I find them exactly what I need, each and every day.
TOTE BAGS: TYPOGRAPHIC MAPS OF FOOD
I’m excited to share the new tote bags in the Legal Nomads shop. Previously, I offered a canvas, bull-woven tote of the maps, with the map printed on one side. These new tote bags are black and white – and if people like, I can also swap out the handles to make them red or mustard! – and the design is printed on both sides.*
The new tote has sturdy handles and holds up to 44lbs, perfect for errands and/or carrying a laptop without a laptop bag. Food maps of Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Portugal, Italy, and Mexico available.
Given my love of nature, it’s no surprise that I also love jewelry that depicts it in design. I saw these gold leaf earrings recently and ordered a pair as my holiday gift to myself. They’re lightweight — great for anyone with headaches — and they are delicate and just so pretty. I like the contrast of the gold with the emerald green stud in the ear.
If leaf earrings aren’t your thing, Mica also has necklaces, rings, and other earrings in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re lightweight and beautiful, and oh so creative. Her jewelry is hypoallergenic and nickel-free.
My friend Celeste is not only a great travel writer, but also runs an environmentally-friendly Tahitian pearl company, Kamoka, that adheres to the strictest levels of sustainable farming in the world. Their pearls are from oysters grown in the nutrient-rich lagoon of Ahe Atoll, 300 miles northeast of Tahiti, with electricity supplied by solar and wind power. And if you needed more convincing about supporting their enterprise: a National Geographic study found that their farming methods helped increase the area’s fish population in recent years.
As with my former gift guide, I wanted to include their Mana Bracelet. At $99, it is durable and beautiful. Celeste said that this bracelet was initially crafted for surfers. Now, it’s one of their best sellers for active people who want a beautiful pearl bracelet without worrying about fragility. The adjustable band is made from kangaroo leather (the strongest leather in the world), and is a great choice for the fashionable wanderer and the active fashionista alike.
For something a little more delicate (and fragile!), I love this white Tahitian keishi pearl ring, offset with a crescent to represent the sun and the moon. Keshi pearls are happy accidents, small nuggets that are created as a by-product when the pearl grows without a nucleus, or rejects the bead nucleus as it grows.
I love that Kamoka took these often-discarded items and made something beautiful out of them.
- The Mana Bracelet is available here.
- The White Tahitian Pearl Ring is here.
- Kamoka’s full shop, with pendants, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more, is here. Their holiday sale is on now, with 20% off.
Practical Gifts for Health and Home
Some additional ideas for this holiday season.
I was sceptical of these, but they really do work for me during the occasional time that I have a glass of wine. Due to an inflammatory immune condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (I’ve written about it elsewhere on the blog), wine is a rarity. But these wands make a glass something I don’t react to anymore, which has been great.
Buy them here.
SAD LAMP FOR WINTER
I use a SAD lamp in the winter months when in a colder climate. As the days shorten, it’s easy to feel the winter blues. These Verilux lamps are affordable and use LED lights, and are more and more portable over time. They only brand I’ve used for years.
Buy them here.
QUIETON 3 NOISE CANCELING EARBUDS
These tiny earbuds don’t play music or audio from the phone, but have noise cancelling technology. They’re the world’s smallest for this purpose, and are built to be comfortable for sleep—including for side sleepers. I was concerned they’d fit, but they come with an XS earbud size that is perfect for me.
Buy them here. Black Friday sale on before the 2021 holidays.
KIZIK HANDS FREE SHOES
I’ve been using these shoes for almost a year, and I can’t see myself going back to anything else. With a spinal CSF leak, I cannot easily get into a pair of shoes, or tie my own laces. Prior to finding out about these from a friend, I used an extendable shoe horn to get into my shoes with ease.
Now, the shoe itself is enough. Kizik’s patented technology in all of their shoes features a built in “spring-back” action making them easy to put on and take off. I use the Cairo women’s shoe (above) because I wanted the most robust support they had. They have a newer running style (the Atlas) or lower-profile styles like the Vegas or Prague that are also great. Really just depends on what you like to wear!
Many readers have purchased these already, and love them—I get lots of emails about it. So have friends who broke a leg, or are pregnant and can’t reach their shoes, or are disabled like me. I am not an ambassador for them, I just love the shoes because they’ve helped my quality of life and are comfortable to wear.
Using my link will get you $20 off a new pair of shoes, and you can check them out here.
These are a Quebec product, and super fun. They are concentrated flavours in a “crayon” that comes with its own sharpener. You can add the shavings to boost any meal, or cocktail, with a variety of flavours. Made by hand, they are all vegan and gluten-free, and currently offer 24 flavours.
Buy them here. They ship outside of Canada, too.
Thank you as always for all the love!