As the Halloween decorations are returned to their spooky lairs, the shopping malls tell us it’s already time to start thinking about Christmas. For this year’s holiday gift shopping guide, the Nation offers something for everyone, even for that friend or family member who has everything.
In a cluttered world and uncertain economy, many people are moving toward do-it-yourself presents or “experience gifts” – such as theatre tickets, massage appointments or a trip to somewhere special. You could also consider making donations to worthy causes on a loved one’s behalf.
Organizations like the Canadian Red Cross and Medical Teams International provide survivor kits and other packages for those in need. Oxfam’s Unwrapped program helps people living in poverty by providing education, clean water and other life-changing essentials.
Another gift idea is to support artists by buying their music, books, paintings and other products of creative expression. Some interesting Indigenous books released this year include Brandon Mitchell’s Guju’s Gift and William Dumas’ The Gift of the Little People. Both are illustrated novels based on traditional stories.
We suggest targeting your purchasing power towards Indigenous entrepreneurs, environmentally-conscious products and meaningful causes – but we can’t resist sharing some of the latest cool gadgets and trendy toys. Keep in mind, we haven’t tried any of these ideas, so buyer beware. Now on to that list!
Gifts for Kids
Raplapa Rag Dolls
This small Montreal company is known for its cute and cuddly handmade dolls, along with its on-site “hospital” for repairing doll diseases such as detergent overdoses or big brother “accidents”. If you buy a Tutu doll, its “twin” will go to a child in a hospital with a special message from you.
Fisher-Price DJ Bouncin’ Beats
Toddlers will get a kick out of this interactive toy that plays over 75 songs and phrases, introducing kids to counting, colours and the alphabet. Parents can even record messages for it to play, so their kids can hear their voice even when they are away.
Glow in the Dark Rock Painting Kit
If you don’t mind paying 30 bucks for a box of rocks, this well-reviewed gift promises to spark your kid’s creativity while giving your garden some glow. When the included 3D glow paint runs out, keep the fun going with locally sourced paint and rocks.
Pop It! Pro Light-Up Fidget Toy
Perfect for keeping the kids busy during your next road trip, this takes the classic bubble-popping fidget toy to the next level with three modes of solo or team games. Try to pop all the bubbles when they light up, then press the button on the back before time runs out.
Children’s Fiction from Theytus Books
Theytus Books is Canada’s oldest Indigenous publishing house with a wealth of children’s titles, such as Harron Hall’s The Water Sings to Suli, Deborah Delaronde’s Louis Riel Day and Sus Yoo’s The Bear’s Medicine.
Gifts for Adults (and Bigger Kids)
Streetwear by Chippewar
Jay Soule from the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation creates provocative, colourful art and apparel highlighting the traditional warrior role in Indigenous cultures. Subversive shirts from his “built on genocide” collection are sure to generate attention and discussion.
Rukusfx Motion-Controlled Music Mixer
Musicians in your family will love this toy that lets you loop, mix and remix with four simple moves of the hand. It comes with 120 mixable music tracks and 80 sound effects. Plus, you can upload your own music or record yourself, controlling the mixes with your movements.
For simple yet superior home security at a fraction of the price, this innovative 360-degree camera screws into standard light-bulb sockets and can be accessed through your phone’s Wi-Fi. It has two-way audio, night vision, motion tracking, alarm functions and much more.
You know you should back up your important files, but the process is tedious. This tool automatically does it on any device with just one click while removing duplicates and organizing files for quick and easy retrieval.
For the next blackout, it would be handy to have this bulb, which works in any socket but automatically switches to LED lighting for up to six hours when the power goes out using advanced “Surge Switch” technology. After charging, you can take it off-grid to the bush for six hours of use or recharge it for an hour with a generator.
Raven Rising Chocolates
Chef Tammy Maki from White Bear First Nation creates unique flavours using traditional ingredients from Indigenous sources. To motivate you through the winter, you can choose a three-month “chocolate membership” featuring a curated blend of goodies.
This rechargeable lighter is waterproof and wind-resistant. There’s none of that old-fashioned butane; a long-lasting battery that gives 300 lights per USB charge will get your fires started no matter the weather you find yourself in.
SliceChum Portable Sharpener
A few draws of this portable sharpener will restore your dull knives to razor sharpness. Its suction cup and locking mechanism ensures safe and simple sharpening with separate slots for coarse or ultra-precise work. Remember a dull tool can be more dangerous than a sharp one – knife skills are life skills!
Napash Arts Apparel and Accessories
Eeyou Istchee’s Janet Napash and her daughter, both of whom now reside in Thunder Bay, have an online business featuring beautiful clothing, paintings, handmade jewelry and more. Keep cozy this winter with “storytime sweaters” such as chatty crow, midnight hunt, observant owl and gookum’s backyard.
Patrick Quinn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nation