• Sarah Miles

A Jamaican-Made Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Can you believe that Christmas is only a month away? Now more than ever, let's vow to keep the holiday spirit alive in Jamaica and support and buy Jamaican!


There's something about the Christmas season that has always captured me. It's hard to explain but there's a magic attached to the season.


The truth is that, understandably, Christmas won't be the 'same' this year. For a season that celebrates togetherness, it's hard to imagine being distant. Whether it be local craft fairs, Hallmark movie marathons, long awaited family reunions or even parties you end up forgetting the morning after, it's hard to imagine what this holiday season will look like without the traditions we know and love.


How do we share the holiday spirit in a year when many of us are in desperate need of it ourselves?


Not being able to spend the holidays together means that gift giving is one of the few traditions that we can cherish. Understandably, Christmas shopping can seem daunting. However, we need to rethink our preconceived notions of what a 'gift' is. A gift doesn't have to equate to something expensive, grandiose or complicated. After all, the best gifts are those that are thoughtful, intentional and truly show someone how much you love them.


This Christmas, let's celebrate the season of giving. I challenge everyone to shop intentionally and locally. I could ramble on about why supporting locally-made brands is important- and trust me, I have many, many times- but if there's a time to do so, it's now. From our artisans to manufacturers to farmers and more, our fellow Jamaicans need your support.


Everything you need for your Christmas shopping is right here in Jamaica. Trust me, I understand that at times it may feel easier to shop online under $50 and finesse customs (from a website named after a the largest rainforest in the world), but I'm here to make shopping locally and supporting brand 'Jamaica' easier!


Welcome to the Jamaican-Made Christmas Gift Guide...2.0. This year, I'm proud to feature fifteen amazing local brands whose items are all made and sourced in Jamaica by Jamaicans. This curated list features must-haves for any loved one in your life. Enjoy!


FOR THE: Modern Day Island Gyal

We all know them- the modern day island gyal. The one who makes island living look straight out of a catalogue and effortlessly flawless- whether running errands or simply enjoying a beach day. These Jamaican-made brands celebrate the island life, modernising it while still appreciating and preserving culture and tradition.


BEENY BUD

One of the textures and materials that immediately resonates with me when I think about the island life is straw. When in search for any quintessential Jamaican straw piece, look no further than Beenybud. At the intersection of tradition and modernity, they "rethink Jamaican straw design for the home and heart". Offering a variety of items made by Jamaican artisans- from clutches to baskets to handbags, coasters, trays and more- it's hard not to fall in love with their pieces!

Buying intentionally also means buying items that preserve and support our culture and heritage. Weaving is a very important tradition in Jamaica- one which I remember distinctly sitting in awe as a craftsman created a basket for me right before my eyes when I was a young girl. Buying a straw piece from Jamaican artisans, like Beenybud, represents this and is one of the most meaningful and significant gifts one could give.


Where to find them: See more from Beenybud on their Instagram page @beenybud. They're also available at many retailers across the island, including My Jamaica in Liguanea Plaza.


RIVER MUMMA SWIM

Living on an island, it's essential that you always have the perfect swimsuit on hand at all times incase of any impromptu river or beach trips. Introducing River Mumma Swim, a handmade slow fashion swimwear brand. Their vibrant and colourful pieces are a must-have in any island gyal's collection. Their line has found the sweet spot between prints and styles that make a statement and catch your eye, yet are also timeless and wearable.

While I understand the appeal of being able to purchase multiple swimsuits abroad for the price of one locally, think of handmade pieces as an investment. It's always bikini season in the tropics and swimsuits are essentially a uniform and for me it's always been a discussion of quality vs. quantity. Would you prefer to have many suits that are flimsy, low quality and made unethically, or proudly build a collection of swimsuits over time that were made with love, precision and care? I don't know about you, but I'll choose the latter.


Where to find them: Find and shop with River Mumma Swim on their Instagram page @rivermummaswimja.


CHRISSY'S COILS

Chrissy's Coils is a handcrafted jewellery brand that's at the top of my wish list! Their dainty and minimalistic pieces are so gorgeous, lightweight, and wearable that they'll transform into a second skin- the jewellery pieces you can't leave your house without. At the same time, within their brand's simplicity, they still manage to capture the vibrancy and loudness of the island life that we know so well. They make making a statement simple.

What I love about Jamaican handmade jewellery brands is that you can truly see and appreciate the detail put into each item. From their rings to necklaces to earrings, their coils and finishing touches are intricate and immaculate. On top of that, you can see the thought, care and passion put into each design- a clear homage to home. Any piece from their selection is a must-have in an island gyal's personal collection.


Where to find them: Check out Chrissy's Coils and their stunning selection on their Instagram page @chrissys_coils.

FOR THE ONE: Working from Home

For many, the home has shifted. No longer a space to escape to after a long day of work- but the workplace itself- it's necessary to find the perfect balance between productivity and homeliness and gifts that make this possible.


NETTY'S FARM Likkle Bits

Working from home, I've realised how often I rummage through my cabinets in search of the perfect snack. Snacking isn't a crime- but how often and what you snack on is key. Thankfully, Netty's Farm is changing the game with their Likkle Bits Granola Bites. Personally, I haven't been able to stop nyammin their 'Cranberry, Almond & Oats' and 'Cocoa & Coconut' flavours.


These gluten-free balls of deliciousness are the perfect remedy for those midday cravings. Full of tons of nutrients and plant protein, they are the epitome of guilt-free snacking. With each resealable pack of 8 bites, they're the perfect pick-me-up treat for anyone working from home- including students!

While this gift won't last a lifetime- especially since they're so good that you'll basically inhale them in a second- these protein snacks are a great way to motivate your loved one through the work day while promoting healthy habits. Trust me, one pack won't be enough and they'll want to order more.


Where to find them: Netty's Farm's Likkle Bits, alongside their range of awesome pepper honeys and teas, are available through their online order form on their Instagram page @nettysfarm.


BRIDGETTE'S EXOTIC GARDEN House Plant

As we all know, the home has become hijacked- beds, dining tables and couches have become office or school desks. Wherever one's workstation may be, it's important to brighten up this space where we spend most of our days with some life. A house plant from Bridgette's Exotic Garden is the perfect way to increase productivity and reduce stress when WFH! When I visited their beautiful booth at Kingston Night Market last year, I had to contain myself to not go home with hundreds of plants.

Their range of house plants will make any makeshift workspace look more attractive and approachable while functionally pumping some oxygen. There's something so therapeutic about taking a break from a screen to simply care for a plant. From succulents and cacti that are easy to care for to anthuriums which require a bit more attention, having these desk buddies builds a healthy work environment while encouraging a sense of accountability and responsibility.


Where to find them: Bridgette's Exotic Garden is available on their Instagram page @bridgettexoticgarden and at the weekly Ujima Farmer's Market at 22 Barbican Road.


FOR THE: New Homeowner

I get it, housewarming gifts can be daunting- and sometimes it feels easier to simply bring a bottle of champagne. These timeless and functional Jamaican-made pieces are ones that any new homeowner will appreciate and truly cherish.


BAUGHAUS

BAUGHaus Design Studio's handcrafted ceramic pieces, 'infused with roots and culture', are an essential that belongs in any Jamaican home. While their works of art may look too pretty to even touch, they're all intentionally functional pieces that you'll want to use. Infusing local wood, clay and other materials, their diverse product range- from plates to planters, coasters and even Christmas ornaments- fuse tradition and modern with a Caribbean touch and seal.

The perfect gift is one that will grow with a home and BAUGHaus' breathtaking pieces are just that. Their highly refined quality ceramics are the centrepiece of memories. This gift is one that the new homeowner will not only use frequently but treasure, and is the perfect start for them to build their very own collection!


Where to find them: BAUGHa