I love gift-giving so much my friends and family call me when they have to buy gifts for others and ask me what to buy for people. Said people can be perfect strangers to me, it doesn’t matter. “Tell me a little about her,” and we get started. The best gifts are a combination of something the person wants, needs, might never buy for themselves and proves you pay attention to them. A good gift is affirming. It has nothing to do with how much you spent on it. Plenty folks give gifts around this time of year, but I-was-just-thinking-of-you gifts are always in order too. You’ll find below a knock-off (and more affordable) play on Oprah’s Favorite things—Natalie’s Favorites List. Items range in price from $1 to $200, primarily from the hands of Black and/or southern folks.
Peace Images Jewelry
When L. L. Cool J rapped “I want a girl with extensions in her hair/bamboo earrings at least two pair,” back in the day, he wasn’t rapping about these, but if he redid the song, he should. These exquisite, handmade bamboo earrings will funky up any mundane outfit. We want the funk. $39
If you can’t afford to travel to India to see one of the wonders of the world and if the people who love you aren’t trying to build a monument to you that reaches the sky, buy this Taj Mahal ring to inspire and impress yourself. $69
I dated a guy once who sent me a rum cake as a gift—his specialty. It was so rummy, I couldn’t eat it. No one could. My mama ‘nem called it a drunk cake. Can’t make promises that Cremas Absalom won’t get you drunk, but it will be smooth and is made with natural ingredients. They make ice cream too. (Caveat: the website requires a bit of clicking around to order.) $12-$25
Blk Mkt Vintage
It’s true there’s plenty to learn from the work of the Black Panther Party for present-day organizing and making political frameworks accessible for the community. They are a piece of history we should never let go. Thanks to Blk Mkt Vintge, you don’t have to. Own a copy of the Black Panther Newspaper featuring the artwork of Emory Douglas. $85. Prices range from $75 to 175, depending on the issue.
What’s better than wack baseball cards? A deck of “Yo! MTV Raps” trading cards. Duh! $6.
People know me, in as much as I’m known, for wearing heels, but you can’t do that all the time. I have to come down sometimes. When I do, I’m comfortable. Black people didn’t make these, I don’t know who does, but you want a pair. I have a linen pair of Otz, and think I’ll get a leather pair too. Depending on the color and size, get them for anywhere between $15 and $80 from Amazon (using us as your Smile charity, of course); you can also grab a leather pair, so we can be twinsies. On sale now $60.
When I tell you I didn’t start drinking coffee until I started this organization, that’s what I mean. In fact, I’m drinking a cup as I type this. Now I drink it so much I’m discerning about it. I’m particular about my roasts; I prefer Kenyan and Ethiopian beans to those from Latin American; I don’t want certain kinds of creamer. It’s bad. But I’ll tell you what’s good: the coffees they sell at the locally owned coffee shop in my hometown. Sweet potato is what we’re drinking now. $14.95
It’s virtually impossible for me to find a song to fit any occasion and good sound for that song is important. Because I travel a lot there are two things I need to go with the soundtrack to my life: a good sound system in my car and a portable speaker I can take with me. I adore this SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II. It’s so little, and its sound is so, so big. $199.99
Books, Books, Books
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, Warsan Shire
Warsan Shire writes the poetry of your soul. She whispers your aches and gives words to your joys. You may be one of those people who think they don’t even like poetry, and you may not, but you’ll like Warsan Shire. Promise. $7
Coloring is still a thing. We keep coloring sheets in our office. We say it’s for the children who come by, but it’s really for the … me. I will admit that coloring isn’t always relaxing for me because I can be a little too concerned about getting things just right but it’s one of the best distraction tools ever. $9.95
Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon
Jackson native, Kiese Laymon, has ironically (considering the way he left; see “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance”) become a Jackson darling. His most recent memoir is getting all the buzz by all the people for its vulnerability and candor. Truth-telling and the inspiration to do more personal self-reflection is required in this day and age. $13.
We’re upping our merchandise game, y’all. For real. We have logo tees, decals, buttons. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you want and we’ll ship. Look out for what’s to come in the new year too. $1-$25