Most of your holiday shopping is done, right? Or maybe it isn’t. At Goric, we’ve decided to devote this week’s blog to helping you find gifts for the nature lovers in your life. Here are ten terrific gift ideas to finish off your holiday shopping. Or, for some of you, to get started.
Birdfeeder or Bee Habitat
A birdfeeder can make a wonderful holiday gift, inviting winged friends back to a home or garden after a winter sojourn. The traditional A-frame cottage and glass house remain popular, but a range of graceful architectural designs are now available at garden stores and nurseries. The Gardener’s Supply Company offers a window frame platform, an Edwardian bird feeder, and a globe cage feeder, along with habitats for other pollinators. The teardrop-shaped Mason Bee House, made of woven bamboo, is particularly attractive and will help attract bees to spring blooms. Of course, if you’d rather build your own with your child, Melissa & Doug and Toysmith, offer great options.
Shokunins Hand-made Textiles
Shokunin is Japanese term for a highly skilled artisan. A new company has adopted the word for its brand, and offers a selection of fair-trade and low-carbon products handcrafted by artisan communities around the globe. From baby rattles to hand-embroidered cotton napkins, the online store is well curated and offers colorful and distinctive toys, textiles, and baskets. Shokunin benefits from partnerships with other organizations committed to ethical labor practices and fair wages, such as All Across Africa and Living Threads Co. A nice option for those looking to align their spending with back-to-the-earth, artisanal values.
Outdoor Fire Pit
The appeal of a fire pit is primitive, an entrancing warmth and glow that awakens our basic human instincts. One company, Paloform, which has designed pieces for Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Four Seasons, makes lean, sculptural fire pits from attractive combinations of concrete, stainless steel, and Corten. Inspired by the work of pre-eminent Finnish designers Eero Saarinen and Alvar Alto, the founders are banking on the desire of urban dwellers to cozy up beside the fire pit for outdoor dinner parties or quiet contemplative nights. So go ahead and challenge your city friends to brave the outdoors, if only from their back patios.
Toys for Pretend Play
When a catalog for Lakeshore toys arrived on my doorstep a few days after Thanksgiving, I felt compelled to give it a look. Though not directly nature related, the store’s toy selection is designed to stretch the boundaries of children’s imaginations through immersive exploration. A doctor’s office kit, for example, features a working stethoscope, blood pressure monitor, and reflex hammer. Curious young minds will also find much to love at the Land of Nod. The store features wooden and fabric toys and play environments for the home. Many of these, such as muslin tee-pees and campfires made of pillows (image above), invite the outdoors inside. The store is fun just to wander around in.
I first became aware of terrariums while working as an assistant for Bottle & Basket, a small Chicago horticultural design company. That venture worked on a larger scale, to breathe life into the interiors and landscaped patios of restaurants with flower arrangements, window plantings, living walls, and terrariums. But with just a glass container, a small plant, and a sprinkling of sand and pebbles, you can create a stunning display. Requiring little care, terrariums combine the organic beauty of air plants, such as sedum and succulents, with the ship-in-a-bottle curiosity of glass enclosures. Starter kits are available online, and should your friend or family member Symbolic grow more ambitious, there is plenty of room to grow. Adding wildflowers, pine cones, bird’s eggs, and bones to a terrarium, can take it from a simple window dressing to a work of art.
Small Symbolic Piece of Threatened Land
Rarely has there been a time when natural habitat has come under such threat. Climate change, agricultural development, the spread of invasive species, pesticide use, fossil fuel combustion, and the privatization of public land, have all contributed to significant habitat loss for many animal species and plant populations. Perhaps you’re tired of buying “things” and want to give a holiday gift that is less tangible, but more impactful to the planet’s health. If so, you can do worse than a donation to the Nature Conservancy. Gift packages, such as Mountain Meadow, Appalachian Splendor, and Prairie Wildflowers, are offered at a range of levels and help support restoration of threatened habitats. Gifts come with a personalized certificate, Nature Conservancy decal, certificate holder, hummingbird tote, and gift box.
Symbolic Threatened or Endangered Animal
Bison once roamed across a vast part of North America. Aggressive hunting and loss of habitat nearly wiped them out in the 1880s, but today about 500,000 live in the United States. In partnership with tribal leaders, the National Wildlife Federation is returning them to their native homeland. It is one of several threatened or endangered species, including the gray wolf, sea turtle, mountain lions, and monarch butterflies, which can be symbolically adopted via the National Wildlife Federation Adoption program. Recipients get a stuffed animal, certificate of adoption, color poster, and calendar magnet.
Park Conservancy Donation
If you want to support parks, give a gift that helps fund one. Many conservancies sell gifts whose proceeds help pay for programming and activities at parks they steward. The Central Park Conservancy has an online store with a selection resembling that of a museum gift shop. There are books and visitor guides, botanically themed earrings and necklaces, apparel, plush animals, seed kits, decorative pillow and much more. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Conservancy offer similar online offerings.
Nature Magazine Subscription
This is a no-brainer, but a great gift to broaden the perspective and knowledge base of the nature-lover on your list. Whether it is a subscription to National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Play & Playground, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Dwell, Outside, Collective Quarterly, the gift of reading is never a bad call.
A Class at a Botanic Garden or Park
Many city park districts and botanic gardens offer a wide selection of courses and programs. These programs, typically available for a small fee, are a wonderful way to nudge a friend or family member into a new creative pursuit or a healthier lifestyle. Whether it’s a course in cooking, garden design, nature photography, birding, yoga, or botanical illustration, a nature-themed experiential gift is a nice, personalized way to show your thoughtful consideration for a friend or loved one.