The holiday season is usually a time of coming together, celebration and gift-giving. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shape people’s lives, 2020’s holiday season will look different for many families. Hundreds of thousands of people are mourning the loss of loved ones, and millions are struggling financially. Some people may be celebrating alone for the first time, and probably everyone has dilemmas that loom larger than what gifts to buy.
Here at Team Lily, these realities are not lost on us, and that’s why we put extra thought into our 2020 gift guide. We always feature at least 50 percent women-owned brands, but this year, we wanted to highlight women of color, who — from housing insecurity to job losses — are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s negative effects. Given that many families are under financial strain, we have capped our gifts at a maximum of $50 and have generated ideas that cost nothing at all. We’ve also highlighted donation-based gifts if you would rather help others in need.
From the bottom of our hearts, we want to wish you health, happiness and a little brightness this holiday season. We hope this gift guide helps.
Something to help
Cost: Up to you
The pandemic has put significant economic strain on many families. If you have money to spare, consider donating to those most affected by the pandemic. Here are some nonprofits accepting donations during this time:
• Boys & Girls Clubs of America raises funds to support children participating in its more than 2,500 clubs. Donate here.
• The Center for Disaster Philanthropy Covid-19 Response Fund supports nonprofit organizations working in areas identified as having high numbers of affected individuals. Donate here.
• CERF+ focuses on safeguarding visual artists’ livelihoods. Donate here.
• Direct Relief works to equip doctors and nurses with lifesaving medical resources. Donate here.
• Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation directs money to on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community. Donate here.
For a full list of Washington Post-vetted organizations, click here.
Write letters to veterans
Cost: Less than $5
Give the gift of kindness this holiday and write a stranger a letter. Start by calling your local Veterans Affairs nursing home to see if it will accept mail, and then start sending positive messages out into the world.
Organize a trash pickup at your local park
Here’s a socially distant way to get outside and do good: Set a date, invite your neighbors and crowdsource trash bags and rakes. The plus of being the organizer is setting the whole thing up at your favorite local park or public space.
Offer to teach kids a lesson via video
Parents — especially mothers, who do the majority of caregiving — could really use a break. Encourage your friends to do something for themselves while you entertain their kids over Zoom for an hour. Maybe you teach them a lesson related to something you love (our staff writer, Caroline Kitchener, is giving her niece and nephew writing lessons), read them books or play a virtual game.
Donate canned goods to your local food bank
Cost: Up to you
Even if you can’t be in the presence of loved ones for holiday meals, you can make sure those who need food have it by donating canned and dry goods to your local food bank. Find your local food bank here, or find your local Meals on Wheels provider here.
Something to learn
Virtual yoga class
Cost: $20 per class
If you’re looking for an online yoga community led by a woman of color, we recommend classes from Tejal Patel. These meditation- and movement-focused classes, rooted in South Asian mindfulness, are empowering and fun. We’d also recommend giving Patel’s podcast, “Yoga is Dead,” a listen; it explores power, privilege, harassment and cultural appropriation in the yoga and wellness industries. Buy gift cards for yoga classes here.
Children’s book subscription
Cost: Starting at $34.99
For the little readers in your life, Jambo Book Club is a great way to make sure they have a fresh rotation of books at their doorstep. Each month, they’ll get two age-appropriate books that feature children of color, telling stories that go beyond just holidays or cultural foods, which can be hard to find. The packaging is beautiful and arrives addressed to the child, who will be excited to get mail addressed to them. Buy here.
Virtual art classes
Cost: Less than $15
If you have a budding artist in your life, get them inspired with virtual art classes from Domestika, a site that The Lily’s own art director, María Alconada Brooks, has taken classes from. You can take an introduction to illustration, create botanical watercolors, learn to make your own patterns and much more. Check out offerings and buy here.
Virtual cooking class
Cost: $50 will cover a two-hour class
Give the gift of learning to cook with 18 Reasons’ virtual classes, which vary from a fresh pasta primer to an introduction to sea vegetables. A nonprofit community cooking school based in San Francisco, 18 Reasons also offers free classes to low-income kids, teens and adults throughout the Bay Area. Buy a gift card here.
Knowledge swap with friends
Everyone’s an expert in something. Host a “PowerPoint party” and have your friends prepare a 10-minute presentation on a topic they find fascinating. This is easy to do on Zoom, where participants can share their own screens, and it’s a great way to connect friends and family who have never met.
Something to make
The best part about this do-it-yourself idea is that it’s completely customizable, and you’re supporting the U.S. Postal Service. Find a cute book of stamps, pair with a few postcards (or actual cards) and voilà. Your friend will be sending mail (hopefully to you!) in no time.
Anything can make a great framed print if you get creative with it — a card, a page from a magazine, even wrapping paper. Seriously. And if you find a frame secondhand, you can put this gift together on the cheap.
Long matches with intentions
Try writing intentions, memories or inside jokes on long box matches. Pair the matches with a candle (like this one from Lomar Farms), and your friend is bound to think of you every time they light it. The messages can be as sweet or silly as you want.
This kit comes with everything you need to make your own stamps: more than 100 templates, your own stamp block, a carving tool and an ink pad. This is a gift that’s as enjoyable for kids as it is for crafty adults. Buy here.
Artist Caitlin Phillips custom-makes each of these journals from the covers of beloved books: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Nancy Drew series and more. Extra points for suggesting that your loved ones write down their own stories in the journal. Buy here.
Something to share
Thank-you notes to people who helped you get through this year
Cost: Less than $5
This year has not been easy, but many of us have been lifted up by others. Whether it was a co-worker who sent you a nice Slack message, a neighbor who offered to get you groceries or a friend you Zoomed with on Friday nights, put a little goodness back into the world by saying thank you.
Create a home movie theater
Cost: Less than $10
Bring the movie theater home by organizing a “watch party,” which you can do on Prime Video here or on Netflix and Disney Plus here. Rent a movie you know everyone will enjoy, and send bags of popcorn to them ahead of time.
Host a game night
Order your friend delivery and drinks
Pick a night and have a special dinner delivered to a friend. It’s a great way to support a local business, and many delivery apps now allow you to share delivery tracking information. Depending on where you live, you can also include a bottle of wine or special cocktail.
Organize a swap
What’s old can be new. If you and your friends want to try something different, set up a swap for jewelry, shoes, clothes, books or houseware. Be sure to create parameters — estimated value, condition and type of item — and a schedule for sending. This is a great option if you want to avoid buying new for environmental or financial reasons.
Something to savor
Get your friends and family out of their quarantine cooking slumps with these cookbooks by women of color: “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo; “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” by Carla Hall; and “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking” by Toni Tipton-Martin. You can also create your own by collecting your favorite recipes into a “book,” printing them out and sending them around.
If you want to wow someone with both aesthetics and taste, send them this Omsom starter sampler. They can choose from Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ, Thai larb or Filipino sisig “starters,” add their own protein and veggies, and within minutes, they’ve got a full meal. Omsom was started by Vanessa and Kim Pham, who are the daughters of Vietnamese refugees. Buy here.
Help keep the memories of summer alive with this bubbly four-pack of spritzers. Another sister pair is behind this wine: Robin and Andrea McBride were raised in California and New Zealand and found each other in 1999, then started their business. (Now, they’re focused on supporting other women in the wine industry.) Buy here.
Coffee and filter
This is the perfect compact gift for the coffee fanatic in your life. It comes with one bag of coffee and one “Phin Filter,” which uses a small, stainless-steel chamber and no paper waste to brew a cup in five minutes. You’ll also be supporting Sahra Nguyen, who works directly with a family farm in Vietnam to harvest the coffee. Buy here.
Cost: Starting at $26
Want plates that look almost better than the food you’re eating? Enter these fantastical fruit plates by ceramist Misha Zadeh. They’ll be sure to brighten up any kitchen. Buy here.
Something to wear
In the pandemic, it’s impossible to have too many masks. That’s why we’re pointing you to several women-made ones we love: these from Sophia Reyes for subtle patterns, these from Nia Thomas for something glamorous and these from Vintage Royalty for something fun. Or, if you want to sew your own using your loved ones’ favorite fabrics, use this pattern.
Add something colorful and whimsical to your toes with these socks. You can choose from three different styles, all designed by Amber Vittoria, a New York-based artist who focuses on the portrayal of women within art. Buy here.
If you’re anything like us, then your WFH outfit consists mostly of very comfy clothing. Here are a unique pair of biker shorts that are perfect for working out or lazing around in from Lukafit, a brand founded by Mbali Ndlovu that honors her South African heritage. Buy here.
Stick-on nail gels
Cost: Starting at $15
At-home manicures have never been easier with ManiMe. The nail gels are like long-lasting stickers for your hands. Wearers simply file away the excess, and they stay put for days. We love the variety of skin-tone shades, bright hues and edgy designs. Buy here.
Looking for the perfect way to go hands-free at the grocery store? El Cholo’s Kid’s easy-to-clean bags, made from recycled plastic in a rainbow of electric colors, will draw covetous looks from at least 10 feet away. Designer Daisy Romero founded the company in 2008. Buy here.
Something to relax
Spa gift set
Bring the spa home to your loved ones with Belier Handmade’s very extensive set, which smells of lavender the minute you open it. Inside, there’s a body scrub, bath salts, soap and a lip balm. The company’s founder, Adriana del Bogno, started making all-natural bath products after she got pregnant with her daughter in 2012. Buy here.
Shine meditation app
Cost: You can offer to pay per month, or give a year for $53.99
Anxiety, for many, has been at an all-time high this year. Enter Shine, a comprehensive app focused on mental well-being. Created by two young women of color, Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey, Shine offers an extensive library of guided meditations by women (for “productivity,” “sleep,” “confidence” and more), a journaling feature and a community discussion board. Buy here.
Mug and tea
Cost: $27 for mug and $12 for tea
Take a tea break with this beautiful handmade mug created by Yasemen Aydin, a woman-maker in Turkey. Add in delicious loose-leaf Alaya Tea; the company was co-founded by Smita Satiani and Esha Chhabra, and it sources directly from eco-friendly farms in India. Buy the mug here and the tea here.
One of Team Lily’s favorite quarantine pastimes is hiking. Here’s a wonderful companion: a pocket-size journal with a prompt on each page that helps you remember each hike. (“What is your greatest fear in hiking?” “If you could bring anyone along on this hike, who would it be and why?”) Buy here.
A collaborative playlist with friends
Create a positive vibe with your friends — something to dance all your stress out to, or something that will help everyone chill out — and kick off a shared playlist that everyone can contribute to. You can easily create collaborative playlists on Spotify, or create a shared document and link to YouTube videos.