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.
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.
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 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.
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 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: BAUGHaus' stunning collections are available online and through their Instagram page @baughaus. They also are available at retailers islandwide, including My Jamaica in Liguanea Plaza.
BERYL + BLOSSOM
Invite Beryl + Blossom into your home, and you won't be disappointed. A candle is the perfect thought for any new homeowners who are on the path to finding their home's signature scent. Beryl + Blossom coins their candles as earth and soul friendly- the exact energy you want to be welcoming into your home. Lighting a candle immediately makes a space cozy, warm and inviting- something you yearn for in a new space.
Their collection is an homage to Jamaican culture and consists of a variety of scents- from 'Peppa' Mint', 'Coffee + Sugar' to even 'Sorrel' (perfect for the season). Not only are their candles made in Jamaica, but their commitment to sustainability and ethical production and sourcing has me sold. Its high quality ingredients are all sourced from small, independent and sustainable Jamaican farmers, their packing is compostable and they're launching a Recycle & Save Initiative!
Call me biased but you can't blame me for wanting to big up my own family. Woodbrook is an emerging home brand created by my very own mother, Eva Miles. My mum has been painting for years but I've really seen her art flourish first-hand during the quarantine period. Recently, her colourful collection of roosters has come to life in a series of wooden trays and boxes- all of which are made with love in Jamaica. Traditionally a symbol of luck, these roosters are fun, inviting and add a pop of colour in any home.
Their trays and boxes are so functional- serving as home decor with a purpose. Their wooden trays are perfect for serving drinks to visitors or organizing knick knacks on a table or dresser. Personally, I love the wooden boxes as they have removable divider inserts making it perfect for trinkets, jewellery, tea and more! The possibilities are endless with their vibrant collection- build a complete set of your favourite rooster or mix & match their various prints.
FOR THE: Staycation (Jet) Setter
This year, many Jamaicans have embraced on 'staycations' embarking on journeys to explore their own country. The island-trotter in your life deserves a gift that will motivate and inspire them to continue falling deeper in love with all 4,244 square miles that our stunning island has to offer.
BAMBUSA Wood Travel Journal
As a Bridget Jones fangirl, journalling has become one of my go-to ways to document my favourite memories, travel experiences and more! While it may sound simple, gifting a journal is the perfect thought for the travel fiend in your life. This keepsake is a great way for them to document and reflect on their journeys and experiences across Jamaica. Luckily, Bambusa provides the quintessential Jamaican journal.
Taking up minimal space in a carry-on or backpack, this journal is the perfect gift for those who are always on-the-go. Not only is this journal sturdy, with covers made from Jamaican cedar wood, but it's so handy thanks to its tons of features! My favourite feature has to be its expandable pocket which is a great place to store any notes, ticket stubs or mementos one may collect along the way.
To round off this gift, why not customize it? Bambusa allows you to personalize and engrave their travel journals with your own photos, names or quotes thanks to their laser technology! While a journal may seem menial, it truly is a gift that will grow in worth and sentimentality throughout the years and be cherished for a lifetime.
GIFT A TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
What else would sweet a staycation lover more than a staycation itself? After all, sometimes the best gifts aren't necessarily tangible or something you can open under the Christmas tree. Gifting a stay or experience is a great way to get your travel buddy back on the road while supporting local industries. This gift not only gives them something to look forward to in the future, but is something that you can experience together and create memories of a lifetime.
As an island heavily reliant on tourism, gifting a travel experience is a way to encourage local travel and support our own economy. Something as simple as consciously staying at a Jamaican-owned hotel to eating at a family-run restaurant or buying souvenirs from a local artisan can mean the world to someone during a time of hardship. Let's continue to embrace the inner tourist in ourselves- even after this pandemic- and to strengthen and unify ourselves as a nation and people in the process.
Where to find these: Tons of stays and experiences islandwide are hosting unbeatable specials and discounts- especially for local residents. Check out your go-to or bucket list spot to see their rates. Otherwise, a great place to start your search is Gustazos.
FOR THE: Cheeseboard Connoisseur
I'm no stranger to a wine and cheese night- although, I usually come and stay for the cheese. For the hostess with the mostest or the cheese lover, these Jamaican-Made gifts make curating the perfect cheeseboard at home effortless.
MONEX LTD. Cheeseboard
At the core of all cheeseboards is the board itself. One of my favourite boards has been Monex Ltd.'s Flora Collection trivets. From breadfruit to banana and monstera leaves, these wooden boards also serve as an amazing cheeseboard. After all, the best kinds of gifts are multi-purpose and this can also be used as a decor piece, vanity tray, trivet or whatever one's heart desires! Made with sustainable Jamaican wood, ranging from Blue Mahoe to Cedar, these quality eye-catching boards are the perfect size for any cheese platter.
Monex Ltd.'s boards are ones that anyone would be proud to showcase. This non-profit's handcrafted pieces are made in Jamaica by persons overcoming physical disabilities, providing them with training, development and job opportunities. This is a perfect example of what shopping with intent means- you can truly feel the thought and purpose in the energy of each piece.
OUTLAND HURDERS Cheeses
The next step in building the perfect cheeseboard is the cheese itself! Introducing Outland Hurders. Made with local ingredients, this emerging brand is Jamaica's first range of artisan, aged cheeses based in Mandeville. An essential on any cheeseboard, so long are the days of dependence on imported cheeses. Their creative selection is uniquely Jamaican, such as 'Jamaican Jerk', and are truly unlike anything you've ever tasted before.
Food is such an important component of our culture and supporting brands like Outland Hurders is a way of strengthening brand Jamaica in this relatively untouched local market. Trust me, as a cheese lover the best gift is being able to try new cheeses! Gifting the connoisseur in your life a selection of their cheeses is not only a delicious treat but a great way of putting them onto the next best thing coming out of Jamaica.
Where to find them: Follow Outland Hurders on Instagram at @outlandhurders.ja to check out their artisan cheeses and find out their various retailers across the island.
MEL'S STICKY JAMS
A necessity on any cheese platter is the perfect complementary jam. Give the gift of sweetness with Mel's Sticky Jams' locally-made jams. They are an amazing gluten and preservative free option for any cheese board. Their jams are made fresh weekly with 100% locally-sourced ingredients and flavours, evident in their tasty product range- an undeniable ode to the richness of our country's flavours. Who wouldn't want to pair their favourite cheese with 'Mango and Scotch Bonnet' or 'Jackfruit and Rosemary' jam?
This versatile gift will become an essential in any home and find its way into a variety of recipes and meals- from sweet and savoury breakfasts to decadent desserts. Gifting an assortment of their flavours is an exciting way for a loved one to try out these unique flavours while introducing new local notes to their next platter.
Where to find them: Check out Mel's Sticky Jams' Instagram page @mels_stickyjams to discover their islandwide retailers.
FOR THE: Book Worm
We all have that one friend or family member who always has a book in their hand. While it may seem easiest to simply add another book to their ever-growing collection, why not gift these Jamaican-made accessories that will strengthen will their love for literature.
BIBLIOFANCY BOOKISH THINGS Book-sleeves
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a book's cover or pages bend or get damaged in my bag. These fun book-sleeves by Bibliofancy Bookish Things are the perfect solution! These handmade cloth book-sleeves are not only gorgeous but super useful. Their range features a variety of fun, eye-catching fabrics in varying sizes, from African prints to florals and tie-dye, that will protect your book, organize your bag and keep it in place when on-the-go.
These pouches are a must-have that any avid reader will appreciate and use daily. Make sure to check out their Christmas combos to also pair one of their book-sleeves with a bookmark. They also have a collection of holiday inspired sleeves out, which could double as a sustainable, package-free way to gift a book!
Where to find them: Check out Bibliofancy Bookish Things' amazing range of book-sleeves and accessories on their Instagram page @bibliofancy.bookish.things
WINSTON JOSEPH Bookends
Displaying your favourite books can be as rewarding and meaningful as reading the book itself! Winston Joseph is a talented local artisan whose wooden animal statues serve as the perfect bookend. His collection- including roosters, owls, angels and more- are an amazing way to keep your prized possessions upright on a shelf or dresser.
Winston is an expert at his craft which is evident in the incredible detail put into each piece. His wooden pieces, including his fabulous bowls, are truly works of art. This gift will beautifully complement and showcase the spines and covers of any book.
Where to find them: Find an assortment of Winston Joseph's quality wood pieces at My Jamaica in Liguanea Plaza.
Make sure to check out last year's Jamaican-Made Christmas Gift Guide, alongside a few up and coming local brands that I highlighted earlier this year for more shopping ideas and inspiration this holiday season! As always, make sure to share any Jamaican-made brands you've been loving in the comments and share with a loved one who may need some Christmas shopping inspiration!