Here we are at the close of 2020 and Holiday Shopping has indeed commenced. When it comes to gifts I think it is most important to consider the intent behind it. I’ve always been struck with gifts that show how much someone pays attention. Whether it be function or a reminder to take care–gifts can have so many meanings. I’ve decided to create a guide featuring just some of the small business I adore that could use your support during this time. Some I’ve discovered, some I’ve been gifted, and others I’m affiliated with but all I love. Enjoy!

Skincare, Bodycare, and Selfcare please!

I thought it’d be best to start with a category many know and love. Skincare from head to toe. Creating rituals for taking care of one self can make more moments to breathe and tap in. In my case, skincare has become a fixation because of its ability to distract me from anxieties. My personal favorite products come from the following brands which all work so well to help you find the right product to elevate your routine.

Nolaskinsentials is an incredible brand. They are Cruelty free, Black Woman Owned, based out of Georgia and I LOVE them. I’m obsessed and keep falling more for them all the time. I’ve mentioned them before in my Cleansing Ritual post, Vitamin C Serum post as well as my post on my Favorite Masks. (Check those out for some of my personal faves) Going through their line you’ll discover fun finds and a great community. Their team really makes you feel like family and have great resources like their skin quiz. You can’t go wrong gifting someone with a face mask, soap, or pampering tools like their rose quartz roller! Also-Starting 11/27 they are releasing a bunch of new products including a Watermelon lotion, Booty Mask, and so much more!

Naturium -co founded by Susan Yara of Mixed Makeup– may have made the science of Skincare that much less intimidating for me. Their collection of serums are elegantly formulated and have yet to irritate my super sensitive skin. If you have a true Skincare nerd– they will definitely appreciate anything from this brand. Something else that makes this brand special is their price points are affordable and they make sure to educate their consumers. Don’t worry – I will be writing a serums blog soon. In the meantime, I highly suggest their sleeping cream as a gift to save a loved one from dry winter skin. Buy yours on my Amazon Beauty Faves or on their site. Their Black Friday sale has already commenced offering 20% off starting NOW so stock up!

Krave Beauty is the brand that made me a frequent sunscreen re-applier ( is that a word?) . This brand created by YouTube Creator Liah Yoo made something everyone could use: THE BEET SHIELD! An SPF 50 Antioxidant Fluid/Sunscreen that feels so lovely on the skin that acts as a dose of glowy protection and a great base for makeup. The best way to support a good skincare routine is sun protection after all! Sunscreen as stocking stuffers! Buy here.

Dieux Skin is a great company co-founded by Charlotte Palermino aka CharlotteParler who has been the Queen of Skincare Transparency on Instagram/TikTok. The first product launch from Dieux Skin is the “Forever Eye Mask” which is a reusable eye mask that helps maximize absorption of your eye gels, serums, and creams. It comes in a lovely tin and is a spa day kit must-have! Great for your skin–great for the environment–great for your wallet. Buy yours here and pair it with an eye gel of your choosing!

(Both SHEER NECESSITY and HEREME donate 20% of profits towards charity)

HEREME was founded by photographer and good friend Suzie Lee who had a run with Breast Cancer in 2019. The brand donates 20% of profits to Breast Cancer Research. This fierce lady has created a line of incredible self care items including a decadent Balm, Perfume oil, and Facial oil. I’ve been using them for months and cannot even begin to describe the elegance that these are. All items thoughtfully researched to perform regenerative experiences for their users. The balms come in two delightful “flavors”: Tangerine, Anise and Mint OR Lemon, Vanilla and Thyme. Her Facial Oil contains rejuvenating Grapeseed, frankincense, lemongrass, patchouli, and neroli to name a few standouts. And the Perfume Oil has notes of Citrus fruits, white flowers, forest air, fennel seeds, vanilla pod– forest goddess vibes much?! Beautiful products from a beautiful person for a beautiful cause worthy of gifting. Get yours here.

Sheer Necessity is a brand I discovered through the grapevine. Founded by big heart and Actress Kimmie Jeppson, Sheer Necessity creates the most incredible scrubs! Not only are the scrubs lovely but 20% of all proceeds go to various charities–recently going to providing meals for foster youth on Thanksgiving. I recently started using her Peppermint Coffee Body scrub which is DIVINE btw. Also currently available in Pumpkin Chai and Cinnamon Coffee, these scrubs are a fantastic gift! Kimmie creates treats that help treat others. Buy yours here.

Hanahana Beauty is smoothness in a jar. I wrote a whole post on my love for them in my SMOOTH blog post. The butters are ethically sourced and created out of some rich nourishing ingredients including Shea, Cocoa, & Mango butter. Get your gift from them on their site here.

Adorn them with jewels and accessories

Something shiny with meaning can go a long way to make someone feel special.

Noire Brand is a brand I’m lucky to partner with on an upcoming creative project (stay tuned!). They create sustainable silk classic pieces. From detailed blouses to flowy dresses–their style is sleek and minimalist. If your gift recipient wants timeless wardrobe items look no further! Shop at their site here.

Kalypso Creations has been a favorite company of mine for years for good reason. Check out my post featuring them on EMBRACING THE LITTLE LUXURIES. The pieces are beautiful vintage inspired and potential heirlooms. Get your loved one a locket, birthstone, or gorgeous statement earrings! Shop here and use ASTA20 for a discount on these gems!

Madenie is a fun accessory store on Etsy perfect for that lil extra gift. From claw clips to headbands and more– I highly recommend this adorable Brooklyn based shop. I featured them in my EMBRACING THE LITTLE LUXURIES post as well. Shop for some cute discoveries like their butterfly clips here.

The Gift of Conversation

A great gift is your time. In a time when many are isolated, having conversations – easy or tough – is a great way to be present (which is a present, get it?) In fact I believe in conversation so much I have my own show about it, CHATTING WITH ASTA, where I chat with all types about everything from social justice to creating art–check it out to listen to some inspiring folks. Anyway, back to the gift guide, I’ve included a few ways to integrate conversation here.

THE DEEP is a fun and engaging game to break the ice. With subjects from Faith to Artificial Intelligence–there’s so much to dissect. I highly recommend getting the 75 question deep dive! You can play with those in your “bubble” or through Zoom. Also bonus follow their Instagram for more engaging conversation topics. Buy yours here.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man has been a riveting series by Emmanuel Acho and now it’s a book! Each episode and mission exploring ways to dismantle systemic racism through the confrontation in open conversation. Explore the show and order the book here.

Find out what causes or projects matter to the people you love! A donation in the gift recipient’s name may mean the world to the person and open a conversation about a side of them you may not already know. If you ask me it’s always nice to consider gifts that pay-it-forward.

Cozy Home feels

Staying at home more and more has many rethinking making their place even nicer. Here are a few suggestions to help in that department.

Fennec Design is a staple for artsy comfy basics for me. Owned by Joelle and Justin Arawjo, this company specializes in unique printed wares from apparel to home decor. Their style ranges from sacred geometry to botanicals and more. Get a fun t-shirt, print, or mug! Discover them over on their site here.

A few of my favorite places to get quirky decorations include ODDSTOCK, Saturday Lane Goods, and Society6. Oddstock and Saturday Lane Goods are both great for Vintage finds which is great when you’re looking for something extra unique. Society6 provides quality decor with designs by artists which you support with each purchase. So if you’re looking for something old or new, these places offer great options.

Twelve21 Candle Studio has become my go-to for all my candle needs. Owner Reneicia has created an incredible selection of scents, all built with strong intentions. I featured some of my faves in my LIGHTING THE WAY post. Holiday scents this year include Winter Apple and Christmas Morning. There are also customization options and she recently released Fragrance Reed Diffusers which are a great flameless way to bring scent into your home. Buy here.

(An original work by my mother, Paulina Paredes.)

Paulina Gallery is the artistic home of my mother. There you can see some of her creations and inquire about commissions etc. I’ve been lucky to receive pieces by her over the years that add a flair to my home. She paints abstracts, still life, and more. Check out her site if you’re art-inclined this holiday here and mention the Duende Darling Guide to get 25% off your purchase!

Well that’s it for my suggestions this year! Hope everyone enjoys the Holiday season safely. What do you think you’ll get for your loved ones?

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