Holiday gift ideas from my creative friends

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought this was the perfect time to see what all my creative friends have been up to. I generally don't do Christmas gifts just because shipping from/to Hungary is outrageous, plus I'm trying really hard not to accumulate a lot of stuff. (Much easier said than done, mind you.) Anyway, if I do seek out awesome gifts for friends and family, I try my best to shop local (what that means these days is a bit unclear, but wherever they are based, finding small producers is important to me) and to support my creative friends in their endeavors!

Here's a list of all the cool stuff my friends are making right now to give you some ideas for your own gift giving:

Keri Wiginton Photography
Keri is a former colleague (and current friend) of mine from the Chicago Tribune. She is a talented photojournalist and writer and recently temporarily relocated to Colorado to try out mountain living for a bit. If you're in Colorado and need holiday portraits or have any other photo-related needs, she's your gal!

Photo by  Zola Woodworks

Zola Woodworks
My friend Elin has started flexing her creative muscles through her handmade wooden products. From holiday ornaments to trivets and wall plaques, her products have everything from beautiful florals to Game of Thrones motifs. How beautiful is this handpainted floral wall plaque? Swoon.

Photo courtesy of  Preemptive Love Coalition

Photo courtesy of Preemptive Love Coalition

Preemptive Love Coalition
I don't personally know anyone behind this organization, but it was suggested to me by a family member and the holiday season should be about giving back, so it feels like a worthy inclusion to this list. The Preemptive Love Coalition sells refugee-made goods in an effort to provide emergency supplies to refugees from Syria and Iraq and to create jobs for displaced families. Their online shop sells beautiful candles, soaps, and you can even make a charitable donation to benefit a family in need. For example, $50 buys six chickens for a displaced family in need.

Photo courtesy of  Workman Publishing

Photo courtesy of Workman Publishing

Will It Waffle? and How to Instant Pot cookbooks
Another former Chicago Tribune colleague of mine is now the author of two published cookbooks. The first, Will It Waffle?, delves into the fascinating world of waffle irons and investigates, as the title suggests, the answer to the question, "Will it waffle?" Daniel Shumski has done the hard work and tested tons of dishes to bring you outside-the-box waffle iron recipes such as waffled bibimbap and waffled falafel.

His most recent publication, How to Instant Pot, delves into - you guessed it - how to use the sometimes intimidating Instant Pot. I've never personally tried my hand at an Instant Pot, but after reading some recent stories Daniel was featured in as resident Instant Pot expert, it sounds like he's single-handedly demystifying the appliance for home cooks everywhere.

Pair one or both of his cookbooks with the appropriate appliance for a really nice gift for the home cooking enthusiast. Bonus tip: Shop through to donate a portion of your qualifying Amazon purchases towards your charity of choice. I currently have mine set up to benefit the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago.

Photo courtesy of  Chip Shots

Photo courtesy of Chip Shots

Chip Shots Beer Pong Golf
If you're looking for a new party game, Chip Shots might be it. My cousin's husband developed this hybrid combining beer pong and golf. It's the beer pong you remember from college with the added refinement of golf to turn the classic party game into a backyard favorite. Just watch where you swing those clubs. 

Image courtesy of  CockBloq

Image courtesy of CockBloq

My friend Bethany has always been a talented graphic designer, but now she's putting those skills to work to fight the patriarchy. The idea behind her new venture, CockBloq, began as a response to the deluge of male-dominated art she was faced with as an art student. She has recently soft launched the first of what will become a collection of feminist products challenging the traditionally male-dominated fields of art and advertising.