a lovely holiday gift guide

hello, friends! hope you all found some space for gratitude this week x I felt so thankful to be able to spend it with my parents over a delicious abundance of food (especially stuffing, my favorite). now, I’m officially in gift-prepping mode!

in honor of #smallbusinesssaturday, I thought I’d share some of my absolute fave makers to hopefully encourage folks, who are able to, to shop small this season–and every season! let’s be honest, these fab artists and thoughtful shop owners will appreciate your $$ way more than Jeff Bezos will. 🙂 and because it’s been such a hard year on so many, I wanted to shine a little spotlight on a community close to my heart: all 41 of the businesses listed here are Asian or Asian-American owned (and almost all of them are womxn-owned too)!

all that said, whether you’re looking to send a token of thanks to the heroes in your life or surprise a loved one with a thoughtful trinket, or even treat yourself to making it to the end of 2020, here are a few of my favorite places to find joy (and for all kinds of budgets):

gifts | home | stationery

(from left to right, top to bottom; my favorites are pictured and all photos are credited to the shops)

1. Pink Olive – this was one of my favorite shops when I lived in the East Village; I could spend hours flipping through the boxes of cards! you’ll find lots of lovely New York-esque giftables and plenty of Rifle Paper Co. goods too. my fave: this oh-so-darling NYC alphabet print

2. Uniqlay Ceramics – because you can never have too many thoughtfully-made ceramic dishes. trust me: you’ll be swooning in no time! my fave: um, everything, but if I had to pick one thing it’d be these earthy rice bowls

3. Wing on Wo and Co. – I always want to splurge at this New York gem (also the oldest operating gift shop in Chinatown). best part: they support awesome educational programs, community building efforts, and artist workshops too. my fave: these holiday care packages are so special! I also love the Tang Lady Plate, it pretty much perks up everything I eat.

4. Chop Suey Club – recently stumbled upon this poshy-quirky fashion/home/arts store in the Lower East Side and I’m not mad about it, especially if you have a hard-to-shop-for person on your list. my fave: can’t decide between this massive White Rabbit candy filled with White Rabbit candies, these ceramic snack plates (pictured), or this Mahjong Rubiks cube

5. ILHA – so glad I learned about ILHA candles at a Join the Cosmos event because Michelle has become one of my favorite local candle makers. my fave: the pick-2-tumblers in Green Tea Lemongrass and Amber & Moss

6. Uno + Ichi – when it comes to playful pottery, Hana’s ceramics are it. eagerly awaiting the next restock on 11/30 (!!!) my fave: hands down these faceplates

7. Paper Please – so glad I found this shop (thank you Slant’d auction) run by two awesome ladies on a mission to make the analog world a beautiful one. my faves: this pin that right about sums me up…and I also love this book about stationery…and this travel watercolor kit…and stamps (pictured)!

8. Kwohtations – I’m continually amazed at how well Janine Kwoh can illustrate my feelings as beautiful art…and cards! and tote bags! my fave: a wearable reminder of the little joys in life

9. The Little Red House – if you want to honor your inner child and fill your space with playful goodies, Aggie is your gal. her prints and pillows are perfect for a little’s one room too! my fave: this adorable pouch (pictured) and the quaintest lil’ notebook

10. From Here to Sunday – one of my go-to Brooklyn shops for spunky gifts, unique home decor, and bits and bobs to make your life a little brighter. my fave: fun fruity magnets

11. A Jar of Pickles – want some cute ass shit for all your snail mail cravings? Kirstie has your back. literally, all of the cutest shit in one place. my fave: this eggy letter writing set

12. Yoseka stationary – a gorgeous Taiwanese-American owned stationary shop in Greenpoint fit for all your writing needs. lots of delightful artisan and specialty items. my fave: whimsical notepads

| food |

(from left to right, top to bottom; my favorites are pictured and all photos are credited to the shops)

1. Omsom – craving home cooked Asian flavors but don’t have access to all the ingredients? sister-run Omsom has you covered with handy aromatic starter packets–just add veggies and/or proteins! my fave: snag the East Asian line and the new Southeast Asian line with this ultimate bundle

2. FoodCraft NYC – Aimee and I worked together when I first moved to NYC and I knew she would do amazing things one day…and she is! I love her virtual class offerings and DIY food kits. my fave: DIY taro bubble tea kit

3. Nguyen Coffee Supply – all the coffee diehards in your life will love a delivery from this Brooklyn-based biz bringing sustainably harvested Vietnamese coffee beans (or grounds!) to your kitchen. my fave: the original Phin kit

4. Put A Egg On It – okay, this isn’t edible but it’s the most fab art & lit mag for food lovers orchestrated by the one and only Jenn de la Vega (who is always working on something super cool #rolemodel)

5. Three Gems Tea – not a cup o’ joe bro? get your brewing leaves from this magnificent tea co. (and snag some porcelain tea-ware while you’re at it). my fave: this perfect way to sample all the flavors

6. Mama Lam’s – spice things up with a jar of traditional Malaysian-inspired hot sauce or curry paste from this Queens-based mother-daughter run shop. I love their down-to-earth ingredients (+ vegan friendly!) and sustainable practices too. my fave: the holiday gift set

7. Diaspora Co. – need more spice? Sana Javeri Kadri is serving up the highest-quality, organic, single-origin Indian spices. working with small multi-generational farms, Sana is also dedicated to decolonizing the food industry and holding space for the queer community. my fave: pure Anamalai Cacao

8. Fly by Jing – I love the story behind Fly by Jing (“Made in Sichuan province, but living in America, like me”) and guarantee all flavor-aficionados will quickly become addicted to Jing’s scrumptious selections. my fave: low key dying to dunk my dumplings in the Zhong sauce

| jewelry & accessories |

(from left to right, top to bottom; my favorites are pictured and all photos are credited to the shops)

1. Knuckle Kiss – I’m blown away when I look at Angela’s work because of how magically her pieces evoke feelings of strength through softness, something I’ve really come to embrace this year. my fave: the Iris ring

2. Chunks – two words: hair flair. I’m obsessed with never having a dull ‘do again thanks to Tiffany Ju and even more in love with how she advocates for responsible manufacturing #ProudlyMadeInChina my fave: the bold and beautiful Allie clips

3. Honey My Heart – to all my fellow Filapinxs who’ve been craving modern jewelry to rep the motherland, check out Jella’s darling shop ASAP. my fave: this lil’ Filipinx sun 

4. Covry – I’m so sad I didn’t discover Covry when I first started wearing glasses 10 years ago and settling for frames that constantly slid down my nose and poked my cheeks. thanks to Covry’s tailor-made shapes which cater to faceframes that don’t fit the industry’s traditional (aka white) standard, I now love that my glasses don’t bang up against my eyelashes when I wear mascara. 🙂 it’s a gamechanger people! I also loved my glasses so much that I finally invested in my first pair of prescription sunnies. my fave: will not stop raving about my Covry specs and sunnies (pictured)

5. Clay and Latte -if you’re a polymer-clay-earring fan, Marie makes the most charming sets, whatever your palette or aesthetic may be. I love the care and attention she puts into each piece. my fave: the Alda 

6. SiizuI love love love finding jewelry that is eco-consciously made and still feels accessible price-wise and Siizu checks the boxes (plus you can shop clothing and accessories!). my fave: can I dip my toes into cottagecore with these Bel La Fleur earrings? (yes)

7. Ada Chen – if you’ve seen me in my “Made in Chinese America” necklace or golden mooncake earrings, you have Ada to thank. I love the loud-and-proud way she empowers the community to reclaim their heritage. she also does custom orders! my fave: these bad ass text message earrings

8. Ren – if you’re look to splurge on some gorgeous stones, I would definitely recommend Ren’s stunning jade pieces and selection of vintage gems. 10% of all sales also support Apex for Youth and Asian Youth Center. my fave: the lucy necklace 

| beauty & body |

(from left to right, top to bottom; my favorites are pictured and all photos are credited to the shops)

1. Cocokind – as someone with hyper-sensitive skin, I was thrilled when my body didn’t freak out to this clean beauty brand (which is actually clean and not peppered with hidden fragrances like other brands are). plus, every purchase helps provide financial grants to female-identifying wellness entrepreneurs. my fave: the rosewater facial toner 

2. Dear Botanicals – if you’re like me aka stocking up on soap to wash away this hellfire year, you’ll love Emily’s bars which are also palm-free, all-natural, and come in a range of soothing scents. my fave: the natural soap gift set (which comes with lovely lil’ soap stand to make your bar last longer!)

3. Base Coat – pre-pandemic days, I treated myself to a fancy mani at a BC salon as a reward for not biting my nails for two months and felt like a million bucks after…and then squealed when I found out they sold (vegan, cruelty-, and 10-Free!) nail polishes online. my fave: Myth (it’s that perfect cool girl purple-gray)

4. Wato Soap – what did I say about stocking up on soaps? hit up these folks for all-natural suds, bath goodies, and gorgeous (I mean, gorgeous) bars. my fave: the minis

5. HI Wildflower – I’m heartbroken that I didn’t find Tanaïs’s shop earlier as they’re closing up soon for good. definitely advise checking our their socially-conscious fragrances and mystical beauty items stat. no restocks, folks! my fave: the chic AF Mimosa lipstick 

6. Remy & Rose – I’m head over heels for this new-to-me clean beauty brand which features all-organic, wild-harvested, palm-free, and non-toxic ingredients. my fave: a multipurpose rose salve to get me through the winter

| artists |

(from left to right, top to bottom; all photos are owned by the artists)

  1. v honored to have met Rukmini Poddar at a Creative Mornings event this fall, she has a wonderful way of illustrating complex emotions into marvelous art and also hosts awesome events
  2. pretty set on getting one of @gentleoriental aka Gabrielle Widjaja’s flash tattoos next year as I so admire the way she inspires the reclamation of my Asian identities (she also recently collab’d on this kick-ass shirt)
  3. I love Stephanie Shih’s ceramic work inspired by Asian American pantry nostalgia–oh to have a golden dumpling…!
  4. calling all plant-lovers! Samantha (@HEMLEVA) is turning all your botanical dreams into reality with enamel pins, keychains, and more!
  5. whenever I look at Felicia Chiao’s work, I get swept away in the most delightful way
  6. if you want to be mesmerized, just hang up a piece by Henn Kim whose black and white prints always hit me in the feels
  7. Justine Gilbuena’s art always make me feel warm and cozy; I especially love how she draws on her Filipina heritage, from mango pins to sampaguita patches
  8. still looking for a style that speaks to you? pop on over to Girls Club Asia, a collective celebrating Asian womxn in various creative mediums

happy shopping friends! xx

p.s. if you didn’t find something you loved here or are looking for something specific, feel free to comment or message me! I have sooooo many more faves I just couldn’t fit 🙂

p.p.s. if you’re in or near NYC, I also rounded up some of my favorite local restaurants and food businesses that might need some extra love this season. and I promise, that non-food-related p.II round-up will come…eventually!

feature image photo credit: kari shea

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