Small businesses have been hit extra hard this year, so now more than ever we need to #shopsmall and support the entrepreneurs around us. Here’s our list of favorite small businesses we’re loving this holiday season.
Chris has been fully self-employed for 14+ years now and I (Sara) have been self-employed for 5 ½ years. If there’s one thing we know is that running a business is hard work! Covid has hit us (and most small businesses) hard. The number of entrepreneurs we’ve talked to who are struggling this year is painful. Now more than ever it’s time to shop small and rally around those creators and doers among us who need the support more than ever before.
While I’d love to purchase one of everything from every store on this list, that obviously won’t be possible. My hope is that we’ll be able to support several of these incredible small businesses though! Writing this list has been a test for my wallet as I’ve seen so many things I want!
Looking for something specific? Jump to a section using the links below.
This is the most important thing to consider when shopping small. Small businesses aren’t Amazon. Most of the items you’ll purchase from small businesses are handmade and personalized taking way more time than normal big box stores. That being said, many small businesses have a large inventory ready to go for the holiday rush so don’t not shop small because you’re pressed for time. Just recognize that it may take a little longer to receive your special gift in the mail.
Be willing to pay shipping cost
Big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Amazon incentivize customers with things like free two day shipping. There’s a good chance you’ll pay shipping and/or have a longer shipment window. This is just the reality for small businesses owners. They don’t have their own delivery services to expedite the process. If you see a small businesses offering free shipping, know that that business owner is paying for shipping out of his/her own pocket.
Share about small businesses online
Liking, commenting, and sharing about small businesses on social media is essential. This one is so easy and makes a HUGE difference to these hard working entrepreneurs. It’s incredible how one share on social media can direct lots of traffic (aka customers) to small businesses. Take a second and introduce your own audience to some of these incredible creators on this list!
Write a positive review
Like sharing about small businesses online, writing positive (and honest) reviews for shop owners is a great way to show your appreciation. Good reviews will encourage other people to buy from that business so don’t be shy, write a review!
Get creative with gift ideas
I’ll be honest, gift giving is not my forte. I’m always struggling to find the right gift. I always want to be extra sure that whatever I get is going to be loved and appreciated by the recipient. Typically I resort to just asking “what do you want?!” Problem with this is that half the time the items they list are 1) practical, and 2) impersonal. Obviously you want to get them something they love, but maybe this year save the unoriginal gift ideas for the other relatives to gift and instead purchase them something unique.
Think seasons when picking gifts
What does life look like for the person you’re shopping for? Are they moving into a new house? Starting college? New to that WFH lifestyle? Travel enthusiasts who can’t wait to get back out there exploring? Think about what their life looks like and try to find a gift that accents their passions and needs without being clutter sitting around the house.
Beautiful paper goods are a weakness of mine. I love finding beautiful cards, calendars, and prints to send to friends. Whether you’re looking for decorations for your home walls or are looking for Christmas cards or paper, this section is for you!
Beautiful planners to help you stay organized and help you live a “authentic and fulfilling life.” Where to buy: on their website Follow and share about Passion Planner on Instagram @passionplanner (Thanks for the recommendation, @stephenandandie)
100% soy wax hand crafted candles in repurposed vintage containers. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share about Warm Cup of Candle on Instagram @warmcupofcandle (Thanks for the recommendation, @wandotales)
Home decor shop featuring creative candles, notebooks, jewelry dishes, and more! Where to shop: on Etsy Follow and share Sweet Water Decor on Instagram @sweetwaterdecor (Thanks for the recommendation, @ourdrivenlife)
High quality travel mugs/thermoses/tumblers that support humanitarian efforts around the world. Where to shop: on their website or on Amazon Follow and share Miir on Instagram @miir
Aside from supporting small businesses by purchasing gift cards, there are some foods and drinks that can be shipped nationwide (or even overseas!). A few of our favorite foods that can mailed include:
The year is 2020 and there are two things I never leave home without: 1) mask, and 2) hand sanitizer. I don’t know about you, but until I snagged one of these I was still strapping my hand sanitizer to the handle of my purse using the ugly, hot pink rubber strap that it came with at Target. On top of being unattractive, the strap didn’t keep the lid on the sanitizer shut. If you’re looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, this is it. Where to shop: On Amazon (available with Prime, too!) Follow and share Ventured Living on Instagram@venturedliving
Chris loves receiving journals. Writing is one of his favorite pastimes and when he’s buying a journal for himself he just grabs another notebook off the shelf at Target. From time to time I like to get him a special journal like this one and it’s always a hit.
Know someone who loves being outside? This is the list for you!
Dehydrated food for backpacking and other adventures that’s plant based and actually tastes good! Where to buy: on their website Follow and share about Fernweh Food Co. on Instagram @fernwehfoodco (Thanks for the recommendation, @encompass.adventure)
These adventure inspired pennants are a wonderful addition to the wall of a home (or van) to remind the adventurer in your life of their favorite places. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their workon Instagram @yoho_co
This company is one that we hadn’t heard of until an Instagram follower (thanks @isakandmaria !) recommended them. Their products are 1) beautiful, and 2) impactful. These guys are donating 50% of profits to nonprofits aimed at protecting public lands. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is a great brand to get behind. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their work on Instagram @seekmorewilderness
This PNW inspired art is the perfect gift for those who are always dreaming of returning to the mountains and want to be surrounded by the memory of those places even while working from home. Where to shop:Etsy Follow and share their work on Instagram@timplusapril
Art inspired by the outdoors crafted from reclaimed wood. This husband and wife duo create these beautiful pieces of wall art (and Christmas tree ornaments!) in North Carolina. Where to shop: On their website or on Etsy. Follow and share their work on Instagram @forestedway (Thanks for the recommendation, @eheft)
AYJ Paper Trails has been an Instagram friend for a while now and somehow we didn’t know about her Etsy shop until a couple of months back. Inspired by her love for the outdoors she’s crafting beautiful, minimalist art prints perfect for anyone who wants to bring a bit of the outdoors home with them. Where to shop:Etsy Follow and share their work on Instagram @ayj_adventures
Jewelry and apparel
Jewelry and apparel are always popular gifts (as long as you know the recipient’s style that is lol). These companies are making unique and beautiful products and many of the companies listed here give back a portion of their proceeds and/or on a mission to empower women around the world.
Handmade jewelry by women for women. Dreamer & Co. “is a social impact jewelry brand that helps artisan entrepreneurs flourish through business and inspired conscious consumption.” Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their work on Instagram @dreamerandco_
These beautiful bags and purses are handmade in India using remnant leather and sustainable materials. Their mission is to “connect and empower marginalized communities with new markets” by providing jobs and using materials that otherwise may have gone to waste. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their work on Instagram @joynbags (Thanks for the recommendation, @carmenwashamphotography)
Beautiful, handmade colorful earrings are the perfect fun accessory. They’re not just gorgeous, they’re probably the happiest looking earrings I’ve ever seen! Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their work on Instagram @shopclayandbloom
Jewelry, apparel, letter boards, and keychains with inspirational messages with purpose and a mission. Dear Heart Co. is on a mission to inspire others to share their story and encourage all to find hope in the story/life they are leading. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share their work on Instagram @dearheartco (Thanks for the recommendation, @mrs_patton_est2016)
Custom hand stamped rings, keychains, ornaments, and more. Give a gift that has meaning and is 100% unique to the recipient. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share about Local Cuff on Instagram @localcuff (Thanks for the recommendation, @megangraffam)
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, FashionABLE is both an online store and brick and mortar selling beautiful, responsibly sourced clothes, leather bags, shoes, jewelry, and more. FashionABLE exists to empower women and provide jobs both in the USA and abroad. Where to shop: on their website or in person in Nashville, TN Follow and share their work on Instagram @livefashionable
Toys and games
True South Puzzle
Puzzles inspired by location with puzzles featuring places like the Appalachian Trail, cities, states, holidays, and more. Where to shop: on their website Follow and share about True South Puzzles on Instagram @truesouthpuzzle
I already listed Between Two Pines under art, but this mobile for babies is so cute I had to include it here, too. Where to buy: on Etsy Follow and share about Between Two Pines on Instagram @lisaotcreates
I don’t have kids, but this shop makes such beautiful toys that I’m tempted to buy some anyway just to have them sitting around the house as decoration! ROSTOKtoys sells a variety of toys from building blocks to play kitchen items to rattles and farm sets. Where to shop: Etsy
*NOTE: These are handmade in Russia. Items ship in 3-5 days but plan for a little longer for the items to arrive in hand.
This Scandinavian inspired shop features play gyms for babies. Made of natural wood it’s organic and also beautiful enough that you don’t mind leaving it out all the time. It’s so pretty it’s practically art!
Restaurants need support now more than ever! Even if dining rooms aren’t open, to go is still a great option and perfect for couples to have at home date nights.
Like restaurants, the photography industry has taken a huge hit this year. Gifting a couple or an entire family a session with a professional photographer is a great gift to capture memories with loved ones. This is what my family is giving my grandparents this year and we think they’re going to love it!
More gift suggestions
Looking for something specific for the outdoor enthusiast or minimalist in your life? We have lists for that, too! We know that not all gifts can be purchased from small businesses so we’re helping out with other quality products in our other blog posts.
Throughout our website you’ll find affiliate links for various products and services. Affiliate links are a way for us to earn a small commission when you purchase through our links at no additional cost to you. For more information about what affiliate links are or want to know why we use affiliate links, you can read more over at our affiliate page HERE.
We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!