Giving and Gifting 🎄
Rediscovering Joy in the Holiday Hustle
The holiday season is officially upon us, with its endless gift shopping, card sending, and merry making. The relentlessness of it always leaves me feeling a little empty by the time Christmas day rolls around. To reconnect with the true spirit of the season, I kicked it off by volunteering at the LA Promise Fund's Girls Build Day of Service. It was a day spent alongside 500 high school and corporate volunteers at a charter school in downtown LA, assembling care kits for the 50,000 individuals facing homelessness in Los Angeles.
Giving back can clearly bring us closer to the heart of what this season is truly about. But what shape that takes is often personal. Giving comes in 3 different forms - treasure, talent and time. I often give with financial contributions (treasure) and through mentoring and advising women in business (talent), because my hectic schedule is very short on time. However, last weekend I was reminded of the benefits that come from physically showing up. Standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of people from all walks of life united by a common desire to help those who need it, I felt a distinct sense of fulfillment that comes from actively participating in something bigger than myself.
Of course the act of giving your treasure, is always appreciated, as there are countless non profits and organizations who will put donations to good work. I was dismayed to read that the Salvation Army’s long standing red kettle campaign - one that is an iconic symbol of giving during the holidays, has recently experienced a decline in donations. I love the sight and sound of those bright red kettles and cheerful volunteers - they always make me smile when I’m battling the holiday crowds and leaving the grocery store totally harried.
The reason for the decline in donations is unclear- it might be after-effects from the pandemic, rising inflation or shoppers simply carrying less cash. To put the initiative back on people’s radars this year the Salvation Army partnered with Dolly Parton, who performed at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving halftime show and announced that she would personally be donating $1 million to the program. Dolly made a splash - as she always does - and I hope her visibility will lead to a resurgence of red kettles brimming with green donations this season.
Finally, let’s not forget the gift giving we reserve for family and friends - the kind that is typically tied with a bow. If you're still on the hunt for that perfect item for the last few names on your list, or seeking something special for your holiday hosts, I've handpicked a few unique options that are delightful and won’t break the bank:
Flamingo Estate - : Nestled in the Los Angeles hills, this historic estate was transformed by a creative visionary into a haven of culinary and aromatic delights. They offer a range of products like honey, soaps, and olive oils, all sourced from local farmers and beautifully packaged. My top pick is their gift box featuring olive oil and fuyu persimmon vinegar. Flamingo Estate's offerings are unique, high-quality, and a joy to give. (Even Martha Stewart, who wrote the forward to their recent cookbook, agrees.)
Pizzana Pizzas - Ever since Chef Daniele Uditi introduced the cacio e pepe pizza in 2017, the pizza landscape has never been the same. Available through Goldbelly, you can now send this iconic dish as a gift, even with a gluten-free crust option. A 4-pack of Pizzana pizzas, featuring the essential cacio e pepe and a classic pepperoni, makes the perfect present for those who'd appreciate a night off from cooking.
Gently Soap - As my first investment on Shark Tank, Gently Soap holds a special place in my portfolio. It's a botanical-infused bar soap, ideal for those with sensitive skin or eczema. The brainchild of a visionary BIPOC female entrepreneur who suffered from debilitating eczema, I was captivated by the founder’s origin story and thoughtfully crafted product. Following a surge in sales after its Shark Tank debut, Gently Soap sold out instantly. Now restocked, these soaps are available for your holiday gifting and stocking stuffing. Place your order soon to ensure delivery by Christmas.
Tower 28 Cookie Butter Lip Gloss: I've been a fan of Tower 28's products even before I came to know founder Amy Liu personally. Their beauty products, especially the lip glosses, stand out in a crowded market with their simple packaging, vibrant brand, and sensitive skin-friendly formulas. The latest must-try is their collaboration with Deux on a cookie deux flavored lip gloss – the perfect natural shade and, frankly, delicious. It’s like a grown up version of my favorite Bonne Bell lip smackers.
May this holiday inspire us all to give in ways that truly matter, whether through time, treasure or talent. Wishing you a season of joy and generosity.