Earlier this week, I published an essay about taking a proactive approach to the promotions tab of my inbox now that we’ve entered the start of the holiday shopping season. I wrote about unsubscribing from the emails I don’t want in order to make room for the emails I do want—especially those from the small, indie businesses I really want to see thrive.
As someone with a newsletter of my own landing in your inboxes, I wanted to check in about what you most wanted to hear about from me in this season of shopping-heavy, gift-driven pieces. My interest in writing about stuff—making stuff, buying stuff, grappling with the stuff we already have—has meant I often use this time of year to explore these themes as they relate to gift giving.
I’d love to gather reader thoughts about the subjects that you’d most like see on Tea Notes this season. Are you hoping for the kinds of gift guides that I’ve shared on my blog in the past? Are you hoping for a respite from shopping-centric emails altogether? Does a combination of the two feel right for you?
Feel free to fill out the poll below or chat about it more in the comments section.
Would love ideas for winter rituals, baking, diy gifts... my parents have said they don’t want anything for Christmas, that they have too much stuff (true), but knowing them, they will still expect something on Christmas Day. Last year we gave them a note showing we purchased chickens in their name for a family in need in South America, they seem to like it ok. I’d love more ideas!!!! Thank you.
More compostable crafts, please! I love making things with my kids. Things like your ice candle holders from Gardenista are a joy because I can just enjoy making without the mental calculation of how I’m going to get rid of it.
Not really gift related, but I was wondering if were still gonna do 'Make Believe' posts in the future. I don't know why, but I always enjoyed the picture you'd paint with them.
I will admit that what drew me to your blog and continues to draw me after so many years are the insights and inspiration into living a small life - on that intentionally chooses to do things the hard way, if it means living a little more lightly on the earth. I've always appreciated the posts on minimalist fashion, food, and kids' products that are light on the earth. I love to do handwork now and again, but with three kids, two jobs (albeit one is part-time) and a homeschooler, my time is really limited. I love my moments of seeing simplicity played out. I'm always inspired. So for gift guides, I actually do like the shopping ones because, in all honesty, I've only once made one of the no-shopping gifts. In another season of life, perhaps, but not right now.
Id love to read more about your family and friend traditions and routines throughout the holidays! Whether those include gifts and a gift guide is up to you!
I do appreciate your curation of shop-bought gifts, homemade gifts, and non-stuff celebrations. I would be open to all of those.
But I’ve also been thinking about how prepare my kids for passing toys/once-loved things along. We just had a 4 year old birthday and, while we did try to limit the stuff, our small house is just too full to think about the stuff too come. I was just remembering a post you wrote a while back about helping kids make room for new gifts/toys in their lives/homes. I’d like to introduce that to my kids in a way that encourages loving and sharing and understanding what’s still being used. That sounds so precious when I write it. I want it to be a thing we do without too much angst. Perhaps unrealistic!
I’d be curious to hear more from you about these kinds of routines or conversations in your home about gifts and things and showing we care.
I, too, am never one to turn down a gift guide, even if I’m not in need of ideas! But I would also love some ideas from you (&co) about secular holiday season traditions/general festive-ness NOT tied to Christmas. Our extended family is a big religious melting pot and as my older son finally reaches the age where he’s old enough to understand what holidays are, I am really trying hard to make sure he doesn’t think our house is boring for not celebrating Christmas, and instead finding other ways to celebrate the season.
Erin, you might not be proud of this but you have influenced my purchases quite a bit this past month. I am sitting on my coushy and my loftie alarm is in the mail. I've been following you for so long that I know I can trust you. If it is worth having in your apartment, then I have will find my life greatly improved or with more joy too.
It's probably not helpful, but I'm happy with whatever direction you go for the upcoming season. I think your authentic voice sharing how this season is landing is what I am here for. I feel like your most frequent response from us is, "same, Erin, same."
Keep up the great work!
I enjoyed your book recommendations on the blog (lists of holiday/winter books and others) for children and adults. Something similar here would be wonderful.
Shopping with traditions and cultures like the different holiday food gifts. Ginger bread cookies how to make them and package to gift. How to gifts rather than where to shop gifts.
One thing I'd love to see discussed is how you change traditions from lots of presents - way too much $$ spent--soooo much food, etc. to a more sustainable/thoughtful/simplified approach.
Every year we drive to a Christmas tree farm in Boone, North Carolina that has amazing Fraser Firs that cost amazing money and drag it back home on the top of the car and struggle with the lights and I'm just tired of it. I want something much much more simple and can't seem to get there.
I like gift guides, and non gift guides, but I’d also like to hear more about how you just manage all of it. How you think about who to get gifts for, how to keep track, how to decide who you need to consider for gift giving, and what is even the point of gifts. Like your philosophy and logistics around gift giving, not just the gifts themselves.
Hi Erin - I've been a fan of yours for a long time now and always enjoy your gift - and non-gift- guides, and general comments about the festive season. I'm quite old and don't have grandchildren, but still like the idea of small, useful token gifts eg small comestibles for friends and maybe book vouchers for family. Christmas without any gifts seems to me a bit grim, though overall the whole Christmas thing is just a huge commercial exercise. Years ago I read about the idea of giving 'something you want, something to read, something to wear, something to read' - for children, I think - and find this very appealing. I'm in Australia, where Christmas is usally pretty hot because it's summer.
I would love to read your recommendations for the kid gifts worth investing in. What are the wood toys/beautiful objects that my family will own for years to come and pass down to my own kids! (And that may mean shopping secondhand or from small stores).
Yes I love to window shop your non-gift ideas and crafts! But as someone that doesn't have the patience or desire for DIY, your thoughtful small-shopping posts are also very welcome!!
I love everything you write, but I really miss your simple and tasty recipes!
no-shopping gift guide and winter crafts and rituals
Always love your DIY holiday posts - for gift and especially for decorating!
Similar to Ally, I'd love to hear about holiday traditions from your family and friend circles (and Tea Notes reader's as well!) that don't focus on consumerism or require a lot of cash or logistics. I have a 2 year old and 6 year old and want to bring in a few traditions that bring a mix of magic and cozy to the season.
Also, any recommendations for families that travel! We spend every other Christmas with my side of the family which adds an angle to gifts and maintaining a few of our family traditions even when across the country.
Thank you for your writing and books! I've been a fan forever, your work is always a space I love going to.
I think perhaps you’ve written about this on the blog, but if not: finding ways to have conversations with family (like grandparents) who are eager to give and give, but only objects that are “fun.” (So no experiences, just stuff that can be opened in front of the giver). Conversations about this are so loaded and tough but feel increasingly important to me as I think about my kids future on a cooking planet. A lot of advice I’ve found is too anodyne for the reality of family relationships and value conflicts. Ack! Help!
I am always a fan of both shopping and non-shopping gift guides, but I also love to read simple ways to bring some festivity and warmth into the cold dark early days of winter. So much of this season feels like a race to "do everything" - and so I often feel like I'm trying to find ways to feel festive and warm but still kind of low-key, if that makes sense. Like, I want my kids to look back someday and have a defined, happy sense of what the winter holidays felt like in our household, but I don't want that feeling to be "the Elf moved every single day and we did the Polar Express and saw the Nutcracker every year plus the Radio City Christmas Show, and we always attended the four holiday parties of our closest friends and then drove 3 hours to attend the holiday party of our distant relatives, and we always did Santa at the mall and breakfast with Santa and then started also doing Breakfast with the Grinch" etc. We do one or two of these kind of big things each year but it's more that "bake cookies, read beloved December-only picture books" etc kind of vibe, that I want to make the focus. I think one year you did an advent calendar of such activities or directives, and I liked it a lot.