As we get closer and closer to all our winter gift-giving holidays, Black Friday looms overhead too. While the overall concept is uh, not great, and the lengths both retailers and individuals go to for personal gain is… even less great, the growth in support for small businesses over the last few years has been pretty fantastic. Whether it’s for home goods or clothing or weirdly specific office supplies, I do my best to avoid the “big-box” stores year-round (you can read about all the things I no longer buy on Amazon here), but I really go out of my way to support small businesses when it comes to gift-giving and if they’re local, even better. While I’ve been in Austin for nearly a year, it’s our first ~holiday season~ here, which means I’ve had plenty of time to source what I think are the best local spots, the coolest small businesses, and the makers who deserve your hard-earned cash. This is my gift guide for gifting local in Austin!
Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate? Especially when it’s soy-free and (mostly) dairy-free! Srsly Chocolate swept me off my soy-free feet with their Reishi* chocolate bar and have consistently impressed me with every bite since. From the packaging to the flavors, this tiny team is constantly pumping out fun new bars, exciting collabs, a monthly subscription, and they’ve got bonbons and brownies too.
Not that you can go wrong with a solid bar of chocolate (Srsly offers a variety of cacao percentages), but if you’re looking to show off a bit whether that’s for a colleague, a stocking stuffer, or a bundle of bars, don’t miss out on the fun and the unexpected: The Firecracker bar packs 70% dark chocolate with pop rocks popping candy while a collaboration with Austin restaurant Swedish Hill pairs crunchy bits of gingerbread with dark chocolate.
Other delightful offerings include the Toasted Sourdough bar and the Cranberry & Texas Pecan bar (I was not expecting to like this one, but it is genuinely amazing). Srsly are ~seriously~ knocking ’em out with a constantly rotating selection of hits along with their classic staples.
No matter who you need to shop for, it’s hard to go wrong at any price point here. Srsly also offers gift cards and, as mentioned above, a seasonal collection of incredible-looking bonbons that I have yet to treat myself to (but it’s definitely on the list!) If you’re really trying to go all out, consider their 24-piece individually-wrapped-in-succulent-shaped-origami advent calendar which is on sale now for $79.00.
*Unfortunately the Reishi chocolate bar seems to be unavailable at the moment, not sure if that’s temporary or unexpectedly permanent! I know that some businesses have struggled to source Reishi mushroom during the pandemic.
If my Under $30 Gift Guide didn’t have enough candles for you, there are plenty more to come, including these cuties from Austin-local and family-owned The Burlap Bag. TBB offer a huge selection including room sprays and wax melts, but y’all know I am here for that hot wax and that amber glass.
At $16.00, these 9oz soy candles from Lauren and Josiah are budget-friendly and there is truly something for everyone. From Clean Freak and Baked Bread to Spooky Season and King of Farts, you could probably knock out your entire list here whether your gift receiver is naughty or nice (I did in fact groan writing that).
The Burlap Bag candles are also a great option for anybody who is more sensitive to strong scents or maybe someone you don’t know as well (okay maybe don’t gift them King of Farts, but there are plenty of polite options too). I mention this because I find that these candles look great and are absolutely perfect for my office, but they don’t quite fill my open-plan living/dining space.
According to my email history, I lived in Austin for 11 days before I placed my first order for one of the absolutely flippin’ beautiful pieces from Meesha Farzaneh. It started with the black Medusa earrings, and has yet to stop. Whether it’s clay or metal, Meesha puts out some incredible work in a range of styles to satisfy all my personal needs from witchy man-eater vibes to a more elegant aesthetic (as seen on Gigi Hadid, seriously!)
Farzaneh and her team know what’s up – truly, I can’t think of any other way to explain how great these pieces are, and I imagine many others feel the same. Why did it take so long to find witchy, badass, powerful, confidence-inducing jewelry? For all your beloved fierce feminists and just about everybody else, there are snakes, chicken feet, beautiful amphoras, and Cleopatra’s jewels. Meesha gets it and she does it all exceptionally well.
This photo is my personal collection as it currently stands (black Medusas, oxblood Mini Medusas, asymmetric Baba Yagas, silver Magick Amphora pendant), but I know silver charms for the Medusas are coming, and you can absolutely bet I will be stocking up. Not only are these pieces beautiful, but they’re also comfortable to wear – I am especially in love with the Mini Medusas. Still not sure what to get? While the Mini Medusas are a must for me (available in multiple colors), I’ve got my eye on the La Luna necklace and the mask chain too (neither shown here).
Make sure you follow on Instagram to see all the new goodies the team is constantly cooking up, and so you don’t miss any sales or giveaways!
Did you get the memo about me and books yet? They’re always going to be on the list!
I generally find gifting fiction books to be a tricky endeavor, but cookbooks, art books, and non-fiction can be great conversation pieces (and make for great dinner parties in the future). Regardless of what’s right for your gifting list, maybe it’s just a notebook, let’s support our local independent bookstores for all of those things. In Austin, there are a few fantastic options and I’d be hard-pressed to choose my favorite.
For more traditional bookstore vibes, it’s always going to be BookPeople. I tend to make a beeline to the cookbooks, but their selection is truly enormous and staff can order anything not on-site too. The second floor has a great section for YA and children’s books too, don’t think I forgot about the little ones!
For all your feminist wiles and small business curiosities, don’t sleep on BookWoman (no relation to the previous). It’s a super cute shop with a great selection and a fun one for browsing so a gift card is great too. Finally, after hundreds of orders were placed in June amidst the [completely justified, this is not up for discussion] protests and uprising following the murder of George Floyd, local pop-up Black Pearl Books is now in the process of opening their storefront on Burnet Rd. As much as we strive to support small businesses, this is a general reminder to, whenever possible, support the smallest businesses coming out of marginalized communities. Support your local independent bookstores. Support Black-owned bookstores. Read more books.
I really debated putting anything alive on a gifting list, but plants have been getting a lot of love this year while we’re all stuck at home and honestly, I bought in too. The best part of all this popularity is that there are a lot of really cool businesses out there doing the work to make getting into plants easier and more accessible even for those of us with the blackest of thumbs.
I am guessing this is partly because of all the beautiful sunshine here, but there are actually several great shops in the Austin area for all your plant gifting (and #treatyoself) needs. First and foremost, I’ve got to recommend Desk Plants – they’ve been online and now have a brick & mortar location in the Domain as well. Desk Plants specialize in hard-to-kill plants that look great in the office or in the living room. If you’re ready to branch out, I absolutely love East Austin Succulents and Tillery St. Plant Co. which share a parking lot and a serious vibe.
Not sure what to get, or what to gift? Well, in true Texas fashion it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a small cactus! I find aloe and other gel-like plants pretty tricky, but a little bunny ear cactus or even a snake plant, which basically thrives on being ignored, is a great low-commitment investment. If you have a hair more experience than that, I am currently obsessed with my two pothos plants and my parallel peperomia.
The Baked Goods
I had the good fortune of “meeting” Ryn, the brains and the baking behind Scull House Sweets, first via Instagram, and then for real at one of her pop-ups at Batch. It is my immense pleasure to report that both Ryn and her scratch-made goodies are as unreasonably delightful as you might guess.
From cookies to pop-tarts to pies, everything that I have put in my face thus far has been unbelievably delicious. I even enjoyed a few bites of Nick’s brown sugar cinnamon pop-tart and as a staunch hater of cinnamon, I can tell you that it was fantastic.
While Scull House Sweets will be out of the kitchen from 11/18 through 11/30, I was able to order myself a bourbon chocolate chip pecan pie which I will freeze to enjoy over Thanksgiving. Truly can’t wait to see what Ryn has in the works for December pop-ups and wintery treats!
Okay I realize baked goods are probably not a “box it up and mail it” gift, but they are an excellent one for your local friends! Make sure you follow on Instagram so you can keep tabs on all of the Scull House adventures and creations.
Happy Everything, y’all.
Thanksgiving: Thurs 11/26/20
Black Friday: Fri 11/27/20
First Night of Hanukkah: Thurs 12/10/20
Christmas Eve: Thurs 12/24/20
First Night of Kwanzaa: Sat 12/26/20
New Year’s Eve: Thurs 12/31/20
Some links are referral links in which I earn store credit in exchange for sharing a coupon with you. A few items in this post were sent to me gratis. This post is not sponsored.