There are still ways to send love from afar this holiday season, and support small businesses along the way.
Words by Jordan Currie. Art by Sam Liacos.
Long distance love on its own is tough—add a pandemic during the holiday season and you’ve got a melting pot of anxieties. If you’re in search of unique gift ideas for your long distance relationship in a time where mall shopping is limited and small businesses are in dire need, fear not. Here is ILY’s holiday gift guide to long distance love, whether you’re shopping for a faraway lover, friend, family member, or you’re looking to treat yourself—you deserve it.
With the pandemic keeping us all spread out for long periods of time, it can be difficult to maintain certain friendships or explore the dating scene, especially as the weather changes and some areas may have to store the picnic baskets away for the winter. “We’re Not Really Strangers” is a card game designed to get to know someone on a more than a “nice weather we’re having” surface level. Each round varies in questions, but turns the heat and intensity up as you move along. The game was created by LA artist and photojournalist Koreen Odiney and is sold on its own website and Urban Outfitters. These red and white cards are more than just an ice breaker game—it’s a game about connection that will make your next Zoom call a lot more interesting.
A great gift for: A new relationship just beginning to blossom in quarantine, the person you’ve been talking to on Tinder that you want to get to know a little better, or a friendship that might need some rekindling.
The Official Quarantine Cookbook
This series of cookbooks were created by Dawna Doell, a woman who had only intended to share recipes with her children on a humble Facebook page that has since grown to more than 14,000 followers. The books include 325 recipes designed to be created from inexpensive and commonly used ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Between now and Dec. 31, a portion of proceeds from the book will go to two new charities, “Empty Arms” and “Small Size Dog Rescue.”
A great gift for: Your loved one who lives in a town with not the most exciting selection of take out cuisine, or who sets off the smoke alarm when making toast.
Feelmore is an adult gallery located in the Bay Area and Berkeley as well as an online store which sells toys, lingerie, candles and more. It is a Black and LGBTQ owned business run by Nenna Joiner and is Oakland’s only Black-AFAB (assigned femal at birth) owned sex shop. A perfect gift to get creative with a long distance lover or to practice safe pleasure solo.
*For a more mainstream option if you’d like more variety, also see: Babeland, another LGBTQ friendly sex shop on the list. Babeland has been operating since the early 1990s, created by Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning. Not only does this popular website and store sell adult toys, they also have prosthetics and STP (stand-to-pee) devices most commonly used by trans customers. Babeland has also donated proceeds towards non-profits such as Come for a Cause, Sex Down South, The Transgender Law Center, and more. Retail stores are located in Seattle, Brooklyn, and two in Manhattan and host educational sex workshops and classes.
A great gift for: Your partner, or as a present to yourself.
The biggest thing we’ve all wanted to do the past year, but likely haven’t been able to prioritize is relaxing, whether we’re working overtime from home or dealing with the everyday stresses of living through a pandemic. Moon Mother Apothecary is run by Afro-Dominican herbalist Suhaly Bautista-Carolina and has an online shop that sells sprays, oils, incense, tea, and everything else sweet smelling and soothing. There’s seemingly a product for everything: “Nervous System” balm heals body aches and pains, while “Dreams” massage oil preps the body for a peaceful slumber. The ideal gift for having a romantic and unwinding evening with your partner at the end of a long day, or for your best friend who works themselves into the ground and could use some stress relief.
A great gift for: Destressing, something all of us need right now. Partners, friends, parents, relatives, anyone into herbalism or natural wellness products.
Pals Socks is an LGBTQ owned brand created in 2007 by Hannah Lavon and Ashley Connors that sells funky, colourful and cute socks and mittens, often in mismatched prints or animal themes. According to the Pals Manifesto on their website, the goal of Pals is not just to sell quirky apparel, but to teach and promote diversity, acceptance, and inclusivity to children by pairing up unlikely duos together, such as a sheep and wolf or owl and mouse. The company has also been known to donate to various charities and encourages customers to fundraise with them. Pals Socks isn’t just for children, however. They carry adult sizes as well, perfect for someone in your life who adores animals or bold, fun patterns. Who said socks have to be boring presents?
A great gift for: Everyone in the family; we’re in a global pandemic, there aren’t any rules to who wears what.
The Happy Box ships curated themed gift boxes filled to the brim with various products from small businesses, such as snacks or knitwear, with free shipping across Canada and some shipping to the United States. Buyers can choose what type of selection they desire, and several small businesses get supported in the process. The “Comfort and Essentials” box has a mix of local goodies such as coffee and skin care products, while the “Birthday Box” has everything that your Saggitarius or Capricorn friends need for a solo birthday celebration. It’s a thoughtful and larger gift option if you’re purchasing goodies for a family, friends that live together, a couple, or even just for your own significant other whom you want to spoil rotten. The Happy Box is a way to get a lot of bang for your buck and uplift the little guys who may be the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A great gift for: More than one person (unless you really want to spoil someone special). A couple, a family, or friends that live together.
Akasha Be Well is a small Black owned skin care line promoting natural and organic ingredients and 100% recycled or compostable materials, created by Tesa Edmonson Jones. The brand also has a container returning program which offers back $2 per returned container with the lid, pump, or closure. The line carries everything from body care to face masks and cleansers to lip balms, all the luxuries to have an at-home natural spa day. It’s a more sustainable and resourceful way to give or enjoy some much needed pampering.
A great gift for: A partner, friend, family member, or as another treat-yourself gift. We’ve all got skin, and we could all benefit from taking care of it.
Paint and Sips aren’t dead! They’ve simply evolved. Farmhouse Paint and Sip, based in Milwaukee, Winsconsin, hosts painting events for all ages. It has been owned and operated by Enrique and Thaime Nanez since 2015. Groups of friends and family can choose a virtual paint party through Zoom where an instructor guides the group step by step through painting an image of their choice. A customized registration link where all party members can pay is made available, and you have the option to have supplies shipped to you with additional fees. No matter what your artistic skill levels are at, an online paint and sip is a fun choice for those wanting to unleash their creativity.
A great gift for: A family or friend group get-together—perhaps even a fun way to introduce a partner to the rest of your social circle from a distance.
It’s been said that it’s the thought that counts most, and nothing screams “I’ve been thinking about you” more than a collection of songs you put together yourself for your loved one. This one requires creativity and brain power, so think: what are some of this person’s favourite tunes? What songs remind you of significant milestones you’ve had in this relationship? What song do you sing together in the car, or what was playing in the background at that party that you both danced along to? What’s a song that they might have not heard before, but that you think they’d adore based on the way it made you feel? A good song is like soul food for the brain and heart, and especially when on a budget, a playlist feels deeply special, like a little secret only the two of you share. Resources like Playlist Machinery can help pick a proper selection of songs and find a good time length, and as always, platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music are great for uploading them.
A great gift for: A partner, friend, or anyone who loves music (but who doesn’t?)