Each year, I look forward to perusing the items on Oprah's Favorite Things list and dreaming of a day when I can afford them. This year, I was inspired to do my own take on a favorite things list to feature some more affordable gift ideas that have ties to Atlanta.
I did not receive compensation to promote any of these items. I just genuinely like these products, and I think you might like them too. Plus, they are all made or sold by really cool people who call Atlanta home and love it (almost) as much as I do.
PELiAtlanta is a socially conscious company that creates stylish, sustainable handbags for all occasions. PELiAtlanta was founded by Isabel Garcia de Quevedo in 2017 when she was looking for new ways to maintain a connection with her Mexican roots and culture. She reunited with a childhood friend who was selling and promoting handbags made by three talented women, and the company has since grown to a cooperative of over 80 artisans making handwoven bags for a dignified wage in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
These handwoven bags are a unique gift because our designs aim to transmit the rich and colorful culture of Mexico, and at the same time, we aim to empower artisans, while providing job opportunities and fair pay. Our bags are adaptable and stylish. Whether you need a laptop bag for the office, a tote to go grocery shopping, a bag for the pool, or a clutch for date night, there is a PELiAtlanta bag to meet your needs. PELiAtlanta bags are also a sustainable gift because they are made from 100% recycled plastic. They are also super easy to care for; our bags are water resistant, and due to their plastic nature, you can wash them with warm water and soap.
-Isabel Garcia de Quevedo, PELiAtlanta Founder
PELiAtlanta bags can be purchased through the online store or by contacting @PELiAtlanta on Instagram or Facebook. The Atlanta Makery also carries some of the best selling designs in-store, and you can purchase PELiAtlanta bags from Isabel herself at the upcoming Grant Park Candlelight Tour of Homes Holiday Artist Market on December 14.
Chef Brulee Chocolates
Each candy at Chef Brulee Chocolates is a tiny work of art, and every piece I have sampled has been magically delicious. The Coconut Almond Bars are my absolute favorites, and I like that you can buy chocolates by the individual piece whenever you want to treat yo'self without getting too crazy.
In our store, you'll enjoy special flavors any time of the year or for any occasion. I want you to feel you have a holiday every day, not just on special occasions, and I think every piece is special just like jewelry in the jewelry shop.
- Natalya Shapiro, Chef Brulee Owner and Chocolatier
You can find the brick and mortar store at 1140 Alpharetta Street in Roswell or you can order online for nationwide shipping. Although Natalya believes you don't need a holiday to enjoy her treats, she said the current seasonal favorites are the Hot Chocolate Balls - chocolate shells filled with marshmallow, milk and dark chocolate, and hints of coffee and cinnamon - that are designed to drop into a cup of hot milk.
Links by J. Kiere
Links by J. Kiere began six years ago when CEO Jaya Johnson discovered her skill and love for creating chainmaille jewelry in a high school art course. When I found Links by J. Kiere at the Pop of Culture Pop-up event last month, I was impressed by the intricacy of the jewelry. However, I was even more intrigued by the inspiration behind each piece.
My jewelry is special because it is named after my friends and the women in my family. I am fortunate to have had relationships with generations of women in my family, and I want to represent that through the connection of chains or ”links.” The women in my family have not only been examples of success but also examples of style, so I also incorporate that. My jewelry is a great gift because it is stylish for women of all ages.
-Jaya Johnson, CEO, Links by J. Kiere
Clue Town Books
Clue Town Books are kind of a big deal in Atlanta, and I think these little books are great gift options. Each book facilitates a 30 to 90 minute scavenger hunt experience that introduces the readers to hidden gems in their favorite Atlanta neighborhoods. The experience is a gift you really can't tag with a price, but the physical books range in cost from $8 to $15.
One day I visited Piedmont Park and discovered off-path landmarks that I had never noticed before, even though I had visited the park dozens of times.
I thought it would be interesting to show others what was under their noses the whole time.
I had a history of designing puzzles for a campus newspaper (word searches and crossword puzzles), so I attempted to create a puzzle scavenger hunt that required solvers to be on-site instead of sitting indoors. And that’s how Clue Town was born.
-Jay Carlson, Creator of Clue Town Books
CNN's Good Stuff
Finally, even if you have zero dollars to spend this season, I recommend that you gift yourself (or someone else) a free subscription to CNN's The Good Stuff. Through this e-newsletter, Atlanta-based writer AJ Willingham shares uplifting headlines and stories every Saturday, providing a weekly reminder of one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite poems.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
-Max Ehrmann, Author of Desiderata
Happy Holidays, everyone.