The 2022 Holiday Gift Guide
This holiday season, how can we work together to create a more equitable society? How can the gifts we give and actions we take build a stronger future for our own generations and generations to come?
[Dear readers: This month’s issue includes discussions of white supremacy.]
With the holiday season officially here in the U.S., many of us (ourselves included) are thinking about how to show appreciation for the loved ones in our lives, whether through actions or gifts. Depicted as a time for giving and togetherness, holiday season messaging often overlooks or ignores structural and systemic issues at hand, such as the climate emergency, capitalism, and lack of basic necessities such as access to warm housing, food, and more. And, as we enter the third holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot ignore the likelihood that cases will continue to rise.
Thankfully, there are countless ways for us to reshape the holiday season and use it as a genuine source of constructive good, growth, and love. To start, we can educate ourselves on the real history behind various holidays, including Thanksgiving. Acknowledging the unceded Native land on which we reside, understanding and advocating for the Land Back movement, supporting Indigenous publishers and authors, and donating to critical organizations such as those fighting MMIWG2S+ are all important actions to take.
We also can use gifting as an opportunity to better society. We’ve pulled together a list of gift ideas that range from reading recommendations to donations to community projects. Keep reading on for more, and let us know in the comments what resources you would add to this list.
A Deeper Look
We love the holiday season—from warm drinks to cozy days spent reading under heavy blankets, winter creates the perfect reading aesthetic. Plus, we can’t deny our love for the seasonal books and movies following some of our favorite romance tropes. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t without anxiety. Turns out we’re not alone: A 2021 survey found that 37% of respondents worried about holiday expenses and 26% about mental health. And, in the States, we generate 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, totaling 25 million tons of garbage.
How can our actions this season help create change?
Organizations to support
There are numerous organizations working towards change. Here are a few that we love to support, and visit this page for even more recommendations.
WriteGirl: This LA-based organization is expanding internationally and promotes creativity and self-expression in teen writers.
HarperCollins Union: In case you missed it, the HarperCollins Union is on strike. They’re asking for starting salaries to be raised from $45-50,000 a year, stronger DEI commitments, and union security. Donating to their strike fund is a great way to support your publishing friends and fellow book lovers.
National Network of Abortion Funds: With reproductive justice stripped from many, abortion networks are in dire need of support to continue operating and providing critical care. Donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds, to individual clinics in your state, or to those in areas directly impacted.
Raphael Warnock’s Runoff: While Democrats are retaining control of the Senate in 2023, expanding the majority is critical so votes don’t depend upon politicians like Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. Donate in a loved one’s name to Warnock’s runoff race to help expand their majority!
Trans Women of Color Collective: “Uplifting the narratives, leadership, and lived experiences of trans people of color, while building towards the collective liberation of all oppressed people.”
Diverstories: Founded during the pandemic, Diverstories establishes Little Free Libraries stocked with a diverse range of books across the country.
Cut Fruit Collective: A Bay Area grassroots group creating art for AAPI community care, driven by a shared love of food.
Bookish gifts to give
We love gifting books, and we also love gifting book-adjacent presents. Here are some suggestions, and check out last year’s gift guide for additional ideas.
Bookstore Magic Puzzle: This puzzle from Libro.fm was designed by artist Ann Shen. All proceeds go to We Need Diverse Books.
The Margins Bookstore Journal: This journal outlines BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and neurodivergent-owned stores from around the U.S. A portion of the proceeds go toward a fund that is redistributed to partaking bookstores.
Indie bookstore gift cards: A great way to shop local!
Check out these other ways to support indie bookstores.
Libro.fm credit bundles and/or Bookshop gift cards: If you know they love to read but aren’t sure which books to grab or what independent bookstores they like to support, consider giving them a gift card that directly supports indies.
Banned Books: Whether gifting to a loved one or stocking local Little Free Libraries, supporting the authors and stories that have been banned across the country is always critical.
Books they’ll love
Check out all these recommendations and more on our Bookshop page (note: if you purchase any titles through this page, we will make a small commission).
For the ones who love to build emotional resonance and/or escape, here are fiction reads:
Two Wrongs Make a Right: “Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare's beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.”
Heartbroke: “United by the stark and sprawling landscapes of California's Central Valley, the characters of Heartbroke boil with reckless desire.”
Forbidden City: “A teenage girl living in 1960s China becomes Mao Zedong's protégée and lover—and a heroine of the Cultural Revolution.”
Like a Bird: “Taylia's story is about survival, coming to terms with her past and looking forward to a future she never felt she was allowed to claim.”
Bitter Orange Tree: “A mosaic portrait of one young woman's attempt to understand the roots she has grown from, and to envisage an adulthood in which her own power and happiness might find the freedom necessary to bear fruit and flourish.”
Sorrowland: “A genre-bending work of gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren't just individuals but entire nations.”
Kaikeyi: “Reimagines the life of the infamous queen from the ancient epic the Ramayana, giving voice to an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come.”
Bad Fruit: “Over a sweltering London summer, all semblance of civility and propriety is lost, as Lily begins to unravel the harrowing history that has always cast a shadow on her mother. The horrifying secrets she uncovers will shake her family to its core, culminating in a shattering revelation that will finally set Lily free.”
For those who enjoy reading and reflection, check out these nonfiction and memoir recommendations:
The Sex Lives of African Women: “An empowering, subversive book that celebrates the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women's multifaceted sexuality.”
The Man Who Could Move Clouds: “Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance.”
How the Word Is Passed: “A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country's most essential stories are hidden in plain view.”
Becoming Abolitionists: “Becoming Abolitionists shows that abolition is not solely about getting rid of police, but a commitment to create and support different answers to the problem of harm in society, and, most excitingly, an opportunity to reduce and eliminate harm in the first place.”
Against White Feminism: “Zakaria champions a reconstruction of feminism, centering women of color in this transformative overview and counter-manifesto to white feminism's global, long-standing affinity with colonial, patriarchal, and white supremacist ideals.”
In the Dream House: “Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.”
Red Paint: “An Indigenous artist blends the aesthetics of punk rock with the traditional spiritual practices of the women in her lineage in this bold, contemporary journey to reclaim her heritage and unleash her power and voice while searching for a permanent home.”
Want more recommendations? Check out these reading lists!
Experiences to share
Along those lines, see if your city offers literary tours or plan your own by researching famous landmarks or cultural sites. Even better, if the recipient you have in mind has a beloved book that takes place in your hometown, see if you can visit places mentioned in the story!
Spend the “perfect reading day” together. Visit bookstores, libraries, coffee shops, parks, and spend plenty of time reading.
Check out local bookstores and/or author events. See if signings or speaker series are taking place.
In Collected Words, we publish your stories. We’re ever so grateful for the folks who’ve entrusted us to provide feedback on and share their pieces with the world.
We are looking for short (~150 words) writing submissions on any topic that are rooted in and/or guided by an intersectional feminist lens.
Each published writer will receive their choice of one of the following:
$25.00 gift card to bookstore of choice
$25.00 donation to organization of choice
Feel free to reach out with any questions and submit your pieces either at the link above or via email, with the subject line Collected Words.
Need another gift idea? Try tea, bookmarks, and other items to help your friend create the perfect reading space.
You can also send them a sweet message on Instagram using our holiday-inspired Story templates or mail them a note card using our bookmail art, both of which can be found here.
The holiday season can be overwhelming for many reasons, especially if the critical issues we are facing are dismissed. But by collectively acknowledging these issues and integrating that knowledge into our holiday practices, we can continue to make the world more equitable.
And we can go beyond how we gift and incorporate practices into our own celebratory traditions:
Volunteer and donate to shelters, kitchens, etc.
Use newspaper, blankets, or bandanas to wrap gifts instead of wrapping paper—or use gift bags that you keep from year to year just for this purpose.
Learn about, recognize, and appreciate all holidays taking place this season, even if they aren’t ones you celebrate yourself.
Make a tree out of books instead of purchasing a real tree. Real trees, even when composted, will create at least 8 lbs of CO2. So put all those books you have sitting around in your TBR pile to good use!
What additional gift ideas or suggestions for how we can better celebrate the holiday season do you have?
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this month’s issue. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email, in the comments below, or through Instagram DM. We’re taking a break from our mid-month newsletter this December, but we will be back at the end of the year with our final issue for 2022.
We’re grateful for all of you.
Olivia and Fiona