Christmas Gift Guide 2021

Here’s what I adore – the spirit of generosity that pervades the holidays.

Here’s what I abhor – billionaires making even more bank off the backs of overburdened warehouse employees due to my generosity.

Hence, my 2021 guide includes gifts from either local businesses here in San Diego County or ethical businesses with a larger mission and purpose behind what they do.

Practices in Art

One of the reasons that I began writing again is because I was deeply inspired by my cousin, Emily McMullan, who began actively painting again during the pandemic. Emily is a such an extraordinary human being. Life-wise, she is an all-around wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend. Professionally, she is a special education teacher. Despite having this very full life, she trusted her sense that her creative self also needed priority and nourishment. A year or so later, she has grown her business significantly and recently launched her website. Anyone can say, “Yeah, I have this really talented cousin…” In Emily’s case, I will let her Instagram page @practicesinart speak for herself. In terms of gifts, she has prints and original paintings for sale. (Use the promo code CREATE2021 for an additional 21% off art prints from now until Dec. 31.) She also offers commissioned pieces, such as the one she did below for Richard’s birthday gift last month. In additional to all that, Emily donates 10% of her art income to Chelsea’s Charity to provide art supplies and lessons to children.

Babies in Bloom

Like many new moms, I struggled with breast-feeding and spent the better part of the first days of Nicholas’ life erupting into spontaneous tears at the prospect of starving my child. Enter Rochelle and the incredible team of lactation consultants and childbirth educators at Babies in Bloom. They were a necessary lifeline during pregnancy and the early postpartum months. I highly recommend their breastfeeding support group to any new mom on that journey! Yet, if this is the part where you are wondering what any of this has to do with gifts…they have a baby boutique. Their recently reopened store is in downtown Vista and offers carefully curated items such as car seats, strollers, baby carriers, eco-friendly products, developmentally-appropriate toys and baby clothes. I actually think it is the best place to shop if you know nothing about babies because the team members are typically moms themselves and can give a lot of personalized advice and direction. @babies_in_bloom

Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries is the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world. Founded by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Greg Boyle, over 30 years ago in East Los Angeles, provides career training and social support to assist the formerly incarcerated on their journey becoming contributing members of society. If ever you find yourself in L.A. with extra time, take a tour at Homeboy Industries. The tour guides are “Homies” who are at various stages in their programs and each will graciously share his/her life story – from gang life to incarceration to a sense of hope. Homeboy Industries is founded in the power of redemption and it is such a privilege and delight to witness and accompany their mission. In terms of gifts, they offer a selection of accessories and apparel. Homeboy Foods offers a great selection of gift packages with goodies from their bakery. For the book lovers out there, Fr. Greg is a gifted writer and his works palpate with empathy and compassion. His newest, The Whole language:  The Power of Extravagant Tenderness, was recently released. @homeboyindustries


My favorite quote about Bookshop came out of a Chicago Tribune article about them a few years ago. “ hopes to play Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire.” Bookshop’s mission is to financially support local, independent book stores across the country and their website serves as an online platform for many such bookstores. There is also a searchable database of local stores if you want to find new ones in your own community. By design, Bookshop returns 75% of their profit margin to local bookstores. It really is about fostering a thriving culture surrounding authors independent publishing and booksellers. In terms of pricing, I find most that most books are comparable to Barnes & Noble. It’s been worthwhile for me to subscribe to their emails because they offer some valuable book recommendations based on my interests and prior purchases, similar to a librarian or independent bookseller. @bookshop_org

When in doubt, a wonderful gift can always be a donation to a 501(c)3 for which your loved one has a passion. Happy Gift’ng!

From @practices_in_art

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