Now that I'm thrice a great aunt, I must do a bit of shopping for the holidays (most of the rest of the family does a not-so-secret Santa; on Thanksgiving everyone puts their wish list (not to exceed $50) in a hat, and pulls a name; we also do a white elephant gift exchange, which is usually results in great hilarity).
I prefer gifts that are simple, educational, and not made of plastic. This year I bought a couple of Christmas gifts in Mexico, but did not get a chance to pick up the thing that most piqued my interest - colorful nontoxic Caribbean puzzles made of reclaimed wood. The tiny kiosk was always closed when our endless dinners of green juice and soup finally ended.
Back home I've been trying to shop as locally as possible, in order to support small businesses and people I know (and who support me!). The other day I picked up some wonderfully offbeat children's books by local author and avid ashtangi Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I bought them at the local feminist bookstore, Women & Children First. Happily, the independent store was filled with shoppers - even though we were in the middle of Tuesday's paralyzing snow storm (which is not to be confused with today's paralyzing snow storm).
Yesterday I found some sturdy and creative items at Majamas in Oak Park - a store featuring women's clothes that are designed in-house and manufactured in Chicago and Pennsylvania. It's located next to Yoga Trek Center and owned by another lovely ashtangi - who, incidentally, has designed the most comfortable and versatile yoga pants I have ever worn. She also carries a few select children's toys and clothing that her own kids have enjoyed, and steered me towards some things for the girls - who are two months, two and four.
Next on the list is candles from Wax Man, which makes everything on-site and is across from the Chicago Yoga Center.
If there's anything left,* I may also may get a thing or two at ashtangi-owned green gift store It's a Cooler Planet in Roscoe Village.
It's a long-shot, but perhaps they carry environmentally-friendly, locally-made reed diffuser sets - which are also on the list....
Where are you shopping this year?
*Another Chicago-centric item I love, but don't need to purchase at the moment is the Bra Baby - which was invented by yet another local ashtangi and Dharma Mittra yoga enthusiast (and old friend), Laura Engel. It's a little cage-within-a-cage that allows you to throw your bras in the washing machine without worrying they'll lose their shape. Each one comes with a handy breast self-exam card to hang in the shower.