Small Planet's 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Worthy causes, pet socks, whiskey tours, secret lairs.

Every year our staff contributes to a Gift Guide, and every year it is resolutely, unapologetically filled with non-tech items. It's glorious. 

No sponsored product placement, nothing our partners make, no wireless earbud alternatives ... no screens! Just stuff we like, with a focus on supporting small businesses, great design, and fun ideas.

The Sill Plant Subscriptions

“A monthly surprise you’ll actually look forward to.” Agreed. We’re huge fans of The Sill around here. Why? Because sending plants as gifts to others, and yourself, is just good karma. $35 a month is a commitment, but it’s not too crazy since you can pause or cancel after 3 months.


Kiva is a leader in microloan innovation, and its low-cost lending program is a very nice family gift idea. Make an account, put some $$$ in it, then pick out who everybody would like to loan money to based on causes that resonate (like women's empowerment or the environment or small business support). The loans (mostly) get paid back, so you can add more money to it over time and make it an ongoing shared activity over the years.

Thistle Farms

Their products — bath and body, apparel and jewelry, homegoods, and more — are amazing. And the proceeds go to a just mission: offering safety, support, employment, and community for women survivors of addiction, trafficking, and prostitution.

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains

Best thing about being a supervillain? The quest for global dominance? The distinctive personal style? Arch sense of humor? Nope. The crib. Lair explores the movie history of iconic hideouts and hangouts, from active volcanoes to desert hideaways to imperial throne rooms (none are even close to passing OSHA safety inspections).

Nudo Adopt

Looking for yet another excuse to vacation in Italy? Adopt an olive tree. Nudo Adopt helps sustainable, small-scale Italian olive farmers do their thing. You get to pick out which tree you want (there are different groves to pick from) and you can even visit the grove! Bonus: you get a shipment of fancy-pants olive oil.

Kings County Distillery Tour

The perfect “Dad’s visiting from out-of-town” gift, but also the perfect gift for the Dad in all of us. Yes, you have to either live in or visit NYC, but the whiskey tasting tour of Kings County is really fun, the environment is historic and cozy, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard tasting room is a stone’s throw from one of the most Instagrammable blocks in the city.

Brondell Swash SE600 Bidet Toilet Seat

Curious about the bidet lifestyle but not sure where to start? Join us, friend, for a life-changing journey. The jauntily-named “Swash” includes a welcoming ambient nightlight, so at night it looks like you're in Tron. There’s a pretty sick remote control too (not recommended for the kids to play with).

Customizable Pet Socks

You love your pets, but sometimes that’s not enough. You have to show it and share it. Lovimals can help. Get your dog, cat, human, or preferred species printed on these comfortable socks. Beware … socks are only the gateway to personalized swag such as drinkware, pillowcases, and beach towels.

Cat Enamel Pin

You love your pets, you’ve even made socks depicting them, but sometimes that’s not enough. You need an adorable enamel pin from The “Oh No” Store depicting a cat (dog and snake-related options are available, as are mermaid and artist).

Trace Softcover Notebook

A newer release by Baron Fig, they collaborated with Kyle T. Webster (known for creating a large collection of Photoshop brushes which are now built into Adobe products) to create a notebook with fun illustrations you can trace or add to. Or ignore, of course … but wait … don’t do that!

Heatonist Hot Sauce Gift Packs

The varied and wondrous options — Chicago Jalapeno, Pineapple Habanero, Headless Horseradish, etc. — speak for themselves. But, it’s got to be so hard writing copy for Heatonist and NOT use heat-related phrases (The heat is on! Let’s get fired up! Smokin’!) to describe everything. We see you and we hear you, hot sauce content provider.

Liv Smoke Glass Carafe

Are you always dying of thirst when you wake up? Does your cat like to drink out of your open water glass? Problems solved: this smoky glass carafe (we summon thee, Merriam-Webster) looks super-nice, it’s somewhat affordable, and the glass feels sturdy but not too heavy. Things you want out of a carafe.

Night Sky Rocks Glass Set

Cognitive Surplus is one of our favorite stores, and over the years we’ve spent way too much money on their beautifully-designed wares (see Engineer Full Spectrum Notebook 12-Pack). This elegant cocktail set continues their streak of inspired glassware, perfect for flying to the moon with your favorite astronomer.

Big A Reusable Produce Bags

Let’s get back to basics. We know, you already have a LOT of bags, but it’s time to dump the plastic and bring organic order to your galaxy of vegetables. Multiple sizes of these cotton mesh bags are ideal for trips to the store or storage in the kitchen.

Custom Stained Cornhole Set with Bags

Is cornhole (sometimes referred to by nonbelievers as “bags”) a spectator sport sweeping the nation? Yes. Does Small Planet have a regulation cornhole area set up in the office at all times? Yes. Should you get personalized cornhole boards celebrating your favorite person, couple, school, or workplace? Don’t the best questions answer themselves?

Pix Backpack

Confession: we do not own the Pix Backpack, an LED pixelized backpack with a programmable screen. Plus we said we weren't going to have any screens on this list. But it’s just so darn cool, so we want one. It’s $259 … however! … you can upload all kinds of images, animations, and games. There’s also a Pix Mini for kids, which is yet another screen-based toy, but whatever old man.

Doughnut Candles

Two of humanity’s finest creations, together at last. These Italian delicacies are absolutely not for eating and absolutely not intended for children. Candles also convincingly available as cheese, fruit, and cake slices.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Brooklyn-born Van Leeuwen makes great ice cream, and even tastier vegan ice cream (it’s true). So, something for everyone, without the Lactaid. Now you can ship 6 assorted flavors anywhere in the country. Recommended: Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and the superb Salted Caramel.

Star Trek Gold Uniform Dog Shirt

There was no way we weren’t going to have a nerd/dog/sci-fi present on here. At the Small Planet office, our dogs often eat better snacks and have better toys than we do. Now they’ll dress better too. (Also available in blue and red, but trust us, don’t get red).

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