Oh hello, gift giving season. Our Christmas tree is twinkling, the first ornament has been hung, and I am itching to start filling the base with treats for friends and family. I love the holidays.
Looking for the perfect thing to please the outdoorists in your life? You could just head to that “gifts for $15 and under” section of semi-worthless junk at Target–or you could fill your Christmas shopping list with thoughtful presents for people who deserve something more than a cheaply made enamel camp mug with a mustache on it.
The following list is full of my favorite products, worthy causes, and unconventional ways to give this season. Do good for the holidays.
Spoiler alert: This list goes beyond gear. Yes, I love a good sleeping bag–but I love doing good, taking care of myself, and taking care of the planet even more. And the holiday season is about more than just “stuff,” right?
Put Your Money Where Your Activism Is
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t need any more *things*–and sometimes, folks can be downright difficult to shop for (I’m pointing at my very picky, very particular boyfriend right now). The best gift you can give is putting your cash towards a good cause. Whether it’s a single-time donation, a sustaining contribution, or an annual membership, donate in your giftee’s name. Here are my top causes this season:
- The Bears Ears Education Center Kickstarter. As the area sees skyrocketing recreation visitors, it’s our job as the folks who are making it so popular to provide educational resources to make sure visitors are good stewards to the land with a proper understanding of the areas history. This project does all of that. Proud to be a small part of this. Give. Them. Your. Money.
- For the climate wonk: Protect Our Winters! Make a donation, or shop at their rad digital store. I love the work that POW is doing, and so should you.
- For climbers: Make someone a member of American Alpine Club +/or Access Fund. Or, think locally, and make them a member of their local climbing coalition.
- Because public land is native land: Folks keep asking me where the best place to send their money to support the ongoing fight for Bears Ears, and I think donating directly to the legal battle is an important cause. My dad asked where he should donate, and Len from Natives Outdoors said Native American Rights Fund is really leading the charge, so, NARF it is.
Small Acts of Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes
Outdoor advocacy is about more than just being pro-public lands. It reaches into the way we live our lives–and it begs us to be more conscious about our every day choices that can deeply affect our planet. Here are a few of the items I always have in within reach:
- Never use plastic utensils again, go bamboo. I use my To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils set religiously. This set travels easily, cleans easily, and provides a palpable sense of self-satisfaction every time you ditch single-use ware.
- Every human needs a reusable tote. I have about 20, but my favorite is the Cotopaxi Iba Tote. A) Sweet colors. B) Little pocket. C) Quality construction. D) Versatile use from groceries to road trip catch-all bag.
- Reusable drinkware is the future. And by future, I mean now. I live for my teal Hydro Flask 22 oz stainless steel tumbler (with a ‘Do Good’ sticker slapped on it, of course). And coffeeshops usually fill up the whole thing for the price of a small coffee. If you want something with a tighter close, check out the 32 oz. bottle. Bonus: the gift recipient will think of you every morning when they refill their coffee!
- For the straw lover: Simply Straws‘ non-profit collection helps you keep plastic out of our oceans, and donates a percentage of each sale to organizations like Protect Our Winters.
Self-care, My Favorite Kind of Gift
Self-care is one of the greatest gifts you can give to outdoor advocates who spend their days calling reps, organizing community rallies, and fighting to protect the places they play. In the last year, I have found myself constantly emerging from the other side of intense politically-driven work sessions feeling exhausted. Bubble baths are my bff, acupuncture is my new go-to, and small self-love moments like face masks and chocolate croissants are what keep me charging. My picks:
- Literally anything from Ursa Major. Naturally derived ingredients, all cruelty-free, smells like heaven, hip packaging, and my favorite skin care brand. These gift sets make it easy to find the perfect package. My go-to products are the face balm and 3-minute mask. Want 15% off your order? Use the code MORNINGFRESH, valid until 12/31/17.
- The Teva Ember Moc (bonus points for the velvet). Treat yo feet. Weird lookin’? Yes. Fuzzy comfy nest for your winter feet? Also yes. This gift idea doubles as a killer camp shoe + a comforting footwear for those “I’m staying up until 4 AM working on a public lands project” nights.
- If you’re in SLC, check out The Little Wellness Place. It’s where I go for acupuncture, and has truly changed my life for the better. Gift someone an hourlong session, and they’ll thank you profusely.
- Sweat it out. I recently did a monthlong Class Pass, and I loved it. This is a great gift for someone trying to find their personal fitness groove, or for someone who just moved to a new city and needs to test out the local way to get active. Yoga, spinning, boxing, cardio, it’s all there. Bonus points if you get yourself one too, because workouts are way better with a bud.
PS: I totally qualify edible treats as acts of self-love/self-care. Bring someone a pizza. Nothing says “I value you as a human and think you’re great” like a fresh-outta-the-oven pizza. Or donuts. Or tacos. Or homemade pie.
Support Your Local Economy + Artists
I could happily receive nothing but gifts from the local SLC farmers market for the rest of eternity. The markets, shops, and artisans in your town are the best resource for close-to-home gifts. Head to the farmers market for seasonal jams, handmade jewelry, bath bombs, even fresh food if you’re giving your gift promptly. Here in SLC, we have a pop-up called Salt & Honey, where all the craftsfolk from around the county set up mini vendor booths all in one incredible space. It’s only open for a few weeks, and I could spend my entire bank account in there–and when your support your local economy, everyone wins.
Because the east coast doesn’t get enough love: check out the map + outdoor prints, puzzles, and postcards from We Are Brainstorm. They donate a percentage of sales to organizations that are relevant to each corresponding piece in their collections, like Friends of Acadia, the National Park Foundation, PCT Association, Access Fund, and the Society for Science.
And here are some of my favorite female artists (and overall humans) from around the west:
- Sarah Uhl – for your 2018 calendar, bam.
- Rachel Pohl – for anything you can put her art on. Hats, backpacks, buffs, stickers, giant beautiful canvases.
- Sam Carter of Half Light Honey – for all things ceramic. And if you want to get me a present, I’m dying for one of the Florida flora hanging planters.
Ditch the Screen for a Good ‘Ole Paperback
Yeah, I said it, go read a book. Despite having a degree in creative writing, I am admittedly terrible at putting down ‘work reads’ and picking up books. So, let’s all change that. These are a few of my favorite things I’ve been reading, and all the authors are lovely colleagues in the industry who you can feel good about supporting.
- Go West, Young Woman – if you know a woman who loves poetry, get her this book. Georgie Abel is one of the most gifted writers of our generation and her poetry is my favorite work of hers. I pretty much blew through the entire book in one sitting and now I have my favorite poems marked and I just read them over and over and over.
- Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Southern California – California folks, this one’s for you. Shawnté Salabert did a beautiful job documenting section hiking on the PCT from Campo to Tuolumne Meadows. Go for a leisurely stroll through the woods, or take off on a big backpacking trip.
- Backpacking 101: Choose the Right Gear, Plan Your Ultimate Trip, Cook Hearty and Energizing Trail Meals, Be Prepared for Emergencies, Conquer Your Backpacking Adventures – For your newly outdoorsy friend who is stoked on getting out in the backcountry. Heather Balogh-Rochfort breaks down everything you need to know about going backpacking, from setting up an environmentally-friendly campsite to what to do if you get lost in the woods.
Phew, that oughta last you for Christmas, birthdays, and all other gift-giving holidays. But if it didn’t: the folks at Cotopaxi came up with their own gift guide, here, which features a few of my favorite new items from their collection, including the Kusa Bomber Jacket. And if my guide isn’t quite cutting it, Paulina at Little Grunts also put together a gift guide for outdoor advocates.
Am I missing anything? Did you totally score as a gift-giver from reading this guide? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. +1000 if you send me a photo of someone opening their gift, I’m such a sucker for the holiday spirit.
And when all else fails, get ’em an annual national parks pass.
Note: There are a few affiliate links scattered around in here, because, why not.