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Fashion, Gear, & Beauty

12 Ways to Give and Give Back with Intention This Holiday

YJ’s holiday gift guide is a little different this year, since 2020 was a year like no other.

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Doing some last-minute shopping? We’ve got you covered. As pre-holiday shopping pivoted online and shattered Cyber Monday records, it wasn’t long before a backlog of orders delayed shipping in the U.S. Now, coronavirus vaccines will likely take precedence over presents—and not a moment too soon. While some online purchases may not arrive in time for Christmas—unless Santa is an Amazon Prime member—the sentiment of the holiday spirit is still there. 

Our holiday gift guide is a little different this year, since 2020 was a year like no other. We put together a list of self-care gifts to give with intention by supporting businesses that are doing some good in this world. But we didn’t want to stop there—since gift-giving is only a part of what the holidays are all about. Here, you’ll also find some ideas for using your skills and talents to give back to your community by using your gifts. 

6 Gifts to Give this Holiday Season


Balance Daily Drops from BROWN GIRL Jane CBD

Named by Refinery29 as “Beauty Innovator of the Year,” BROWN GIRL Jane specializes in broad spectrum CBD (cannabidiol) products like serums, oils, tinctures, and body butters grown from U.S. hemp and tested by a third-party lab to ensure its products are free of pesticides and THC. The Balance Daily Drops can be used any time of day to help alleviate anxiety and reestablish equilibrium. The plant-based beauty company was founded by two sisters, Malaika Jones Kebede and Nia Jones, and wellness marketing guru Tai Beauchamp with the intention of creating products that make wellness more approachable for women of color. Every purchase from BROWN GIRL Jane supports underrepresented communities and diversifies the growing cannabis industry. The website also offers self-care tips on its blog and features notable women of color in the wellness and entertainment industries in a series of twice-weekly conversations on Instagram Live called, “The Check-in with BROWN GIRL jane: You Good, Sis?” Recent guests include yoga teacher Chelsea Jackson Roberts, author and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas, and gospel singer Kelly Price. $68.

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“Breathe” Bath Salt from Ellie Bianca

“Breathe” Bath Salt from Ellie Bianca

Born and raised in Kenya, Evelyne Nyairo says she’s witnessed gender inequality at a young age. Inspired by both the strong women in her community and her daughter, Eliana, Nyairo set out to create wellness products in alignment with her passion for natural beauty and the environment. Nyairo, who is also an environmental scientist and now based in Calgary, Alberta, founded Ellie Bianca in 2013. She developed a line of vegan and cruelty-free skin care products including face serums, oils, and lip balms, and spa products to promote relaxation like the Breathe Bath Salts. Ellie Bianca products are fair trade and sustainable, with every purchase ensuring that the women who harvested the ingredients are supported. $33.99.

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Halo Life Mask

Unity Edition Halo Life Mask

Even prior to COVID-19, HALO Life Masks were worn on the polluted and crowded streets of Bali, during the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung, and throughout the ongoing wildfires in California and Australia. As the pandemic continues for the foreseeable future, HALO masks can be used for indoor and outdoor exercise and other activities and errands. Each mask is made with antibacterial and hypoallergenic materials, and features a proprietary SETA nanofiltration technology developed in New Zealand, which filters out 98% of toxic airborne particles from smoke to dust to pathogens and pollutants. The Unity Edition mask is made from 95% moisture-wicking bamboo and features a chin wrap for a comfortable  airtight seal designed to be worn for long durations. According to the company, HALO Life is committed to supporting frontline essential workers during the pandemic and other vulnerable populations by donating masks to the Salvation Army, Hearing the Homeless, and other charities. $34.95

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Lola Activewear High-Waisted Leggings

LOLA Activewear High-Waisted Leggings for All Sizes

Alma Adrović, former head designer at Lululemon and Women’s Activewear at Nike is a veteran of the athleisure industry. Now, she’s the head of design at LOLA, a new activewear company that launched in November. “During my career, I noticed a need for leggings that not only fit women of all shapes and sizes, but also make them feel great while wearing them,” says Adrović. “Creating size inclusive designs doesn’t mean just adding more fabric. Likewise, creating leggings that offer compression and support doesn’t mean making the leggings smaller or tighter.” Adrović says she used her 20 years of experience working with fabrics to understand how real women move, and had countless fittings and conversations with thousands of women in order to design leggings that not only fit well but also boost a woman’s self-confidence. Each pair of THE BODY High-Waisted Leggings are made with 78% recycled nylon and 22% spandex, which allows the material to be resilient yet strong, comfortable yet flexible—offering support, stability, and lift, as well as the freedom to move. LOLA’s commitment to helping people feel good about themselves extends to its giveback intiative, which donates a portion of sales to the awareness and prevention of teen suicide and self-harm. The company is currently running a presale buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offer for the debut of THE BODY leggings available in sizes 0-24. $118.

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Mala Collective Necklace

“I Am Safe” Mala Collective Necklace 

Each handcrafted mala bracelet and necklace by the Mala Collective is designed by female artisans from Bali, Nepal, or India with the intention of bringing traditional meditation practices to the West. From malas to meditation cushions to crystals, the Mala Collective stays true to this commitment by offering curated mindfulness content including online courses and free guided meditations on its website, and regular live meditations on IGTV. The Mala Collective’s Karmic Upcycle program takes worn materials that are returned to the company and donates them to women’s shelters where they are given a second life in mindfulness meditation workshops. For example, beads are restrung for another woman to wear and set new intentions as she learns about the healing benefits of japa meditation. According to the company, its first partner in this initiative is Vancouver Women’s Health Collective, a non-profit organization helping those who identify as female foster health, well-being, and equity through feminist education and ideals. “The mantra “I Am Safe” resonates right now because we all want to feel a sense of ease—a sense of grounding with things being so uncertain,” says Mala Collective founder and CEO  Ashley Wray. “Feeling safe is allowing ourselves to be held by the universe—what a beautiful thing to embrace at this moment in time.” Use the code YOGAJOURNAL20 to receive 20% off from now through March 31, 2021. $138.

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Yoga Design Lab Yoga Wheel

Yoga Design Lab Yoga Wheel – “Mandala” $65.00

Yoga Design Lab’s growing repertoire of eco-friendly yoga products designed in Bali now includes a yoga wheel featuring sustainable Portuguese cork and recyclable plastic. Beginners and advanced practitioners alike can enhance their home practice with the wheel to safely open their back, chest, shoulders, and hip flexors. The Mandala Yoga Wheel includes a guidebook for different poses to try for assisting in backbends and releasing tension. Yoga Design Lab remains committed to giving back, with $1 from every yoga mat purchase supporting Urban Youth Yoga Programs in need like the Earthchild Project, which offers free weekly yoga classes to 3,500 children in the under-resourced townships in South Africa, 500 children of whom were sponsored by YDL. (So be sure to check out YDL’s catalog of stylish yoga mats, too). Don’t miss your opportunity to participate in the final days of YDL’s Instagram yoga challenge in partnership with Yoga Journal Germany, which runs until December 21. The top winner of the challenge will be rewarded a free yoga teacher training at the Akasha Yoga Academy in Bali, along with yoga products from YDL.
From December 20–28, get 15% off YDL products while supplies last with the discount code YOGAJOURNAL. From December 29–January 8, use the code YOGAJOURNAL20 for 20% off purchases.

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6 Ways to Use Your Gifts to Give Back

There is no shortage of ways to give this holiday season and beyond. You could donate to organizations like the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, or Mental Health America, which provides mental health services for communities affected by COVID-19. Or, you might choose to donate your time and volunteer as a digital crisis counselor with The Trevor Project to help provide life-saving support to LGBTQ+ youth, or volunteer at your Local Food Bank. But there are other ways to give the gift of your presence by using the unique skills you possess. Here are a few pandemic-friendly ideas to inspire you to get into the spirit of selfless service (Seva) this season.

  • If you’re a yoga teacher, host free online classes on Zoom, IG Live, or Facebook Live for your friends, family, and virtual community. You could also ask participants to make a donation for the class that will go toward a charity of your choice. If you’re gathering with your family over the holidays, diffuse any holiday stress by organizing a group yoga class outside if it’s warm, or safely indoors if there’s space.

  • If you’re a good cook or baker, share a favorite recipe like your grandmother’s ziti or your aunt’s peppermint bark with a neighbor whom you think could use a dose of holiday cheer. Or, if you’re an out-of-work chef, it’s now legal for home cooks to sell meals in California and other states might soon catch on. You could also put together meals in large batches like tamales and sell them to friends and family.

  • If you’re good at sewing, dust off your sewing machine and craft DIY masks, pillowcases, or blankets and drop them off at a children’s hospital in your area. (For more ideas on items to sew for charitable organizations, we love these suggestions from Elizabeth Made This, a popular sewing blog.)

  • If you can teach English or math, volunteer to be an online tutor or English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor, or get in touch with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) chapter at your kids’ school to find out if there’s a need for online tutors when classes resumes in January.

  • If you’re a skilled reader, apply to volunteer at Read Aloud to read to children or the elderly online. Or, if you have a family member in the hospital or a nursing home, find out how you can reach them—either by phone or Zoom—to share the gift of storytelling with them.

  • If you have the gift of downtime, contact your local hospital to find out how you can drop off meals or other easy-to-prepare food items for medical staff, nurses, doctors, and paramedics how much you appreciate their service. If that’s not possible at this time, put a big thank-you sign in your window and ask your local hospital if you could make a donation to another cause in its name. You might also join the #colorforourheroes initiative by printing out these blank coloring pages for some artistic fun with the family and then sending them as thank you notes to essential workers in your area.

For more ideas, check out VolunteerMatch for virtual volunteer opportunities broken down by skill set.