6 great gift ideas to support small businesses

November 30, 2021, 7:00 PM UTC

It’s easy to limit your holiday shopping to giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. You can probably find something that’s…fine. But will it be personal? That’s a bit more hit or miss.

To find that unique gift—the one that leaves the recipient gasping, “Where did you find this?!?”—your best bet is shopping at smaller storefronts. Small- and micro-businesses (with fewer than five employees, such as those found on Etsy) might be tiny on an individual basis. But collectively they employ 41 million people nationwide and have a $5 trillion economic impact, says Erin Igleheart, program director of the Start:ME Accelerator program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

Whether you’re hoping to find something special for a friend or family member’s home or bring an even bigger smile to their face, we’ve got some suggestions to get you started.

Oyster Candle Company Candles

This Charleston, S.C.-based candlemaker incorporates oyster shells from nearby Shem Creek to create distinctive options that blend well with any home. The three-piece Oyster Candle gift set ($22) is a customer favorite, available in a wide variety of scents. If you’re located in the Southeast or plan to visit the area in the coming year, though, consider the three-wick dough bowl candle ($42), which the store will refill for half price if you bring it back in person.

Yahtzee Erasable Acrylic Scorecards


Game night is sacrosanct in many homes. And with these 3D-printed scorecards ($18 each), you’ll never have to worry about running out of the paper variety. Plus they add a level of sophistication and, depending on your family’s competitive nature, intensity to the game. Not a Yahtzee player? No worries; creator Katrin Auch also makes scorecards for Uno and Scattergories, as well as an erasable acrylic answer sheet for Clue.

Personalized Cookie Stamp

Homemade cookies are already a personalized gift, since you’ve taken the time to purchase, mix, and bake the ingredients. And they often are born from an old family recipe. But this $23 stamp from StompStamps lets bakers take things a step further. Personalize any cookie, icing, or other sweet with a tailored message. The stamp includes 85 characters and lets you decide what to write, making it reusable, no matter what the occasion. And as a bonus, you’ll get a small recipe book that also includes tips and instructions.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson (from the author’s bookstore)

Courtesy of Macmillan Publishing

Sure, you could buy a copy of Broken, the latest uproariously funny and deeply personal offering from Lawson, at any major bookshop or even Amazon. But beyond being a bestselling author and popular blogger, Lawson is also owner of Nowhere Bookshop in Austin. And if you buy one of her books, she’ll personalize it for your recipient with a message of your choosing (or, if you can’t think of what to say, she’ll come up with something herself). It’s an easy way to make a great book a little bit better—and support an independent bookstore at the same time.

Marbled Glass Coasters

Coasters might not be the first thing you think of while arranging the look of a room, but they certainly are a part of the decor, especially if you entertain frequently. These $85 hand-cut, strong, marbled glass coasters add a distinctive touch to any table and help brighten up the room with their marbled yellow hue. And every one is slightly different, making it not just functional, but artistic.

Midi Ring Set

Jewelry makes a statement, and often that statement is one that expresses the wearer’s individuality. These gold- or silver-toned knuckle rings, in a set of eight ($20), are attractive and dainty enough that they don’t impede normal activity. How the owner wears them is up to them: all on one finger or split among several. And they’re unique enough that people who want to stand out from the crowd will be able to do so without being ostentatious. (They’re also especially popular with teen girls.)

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