holiday flowers

Happy Holidays and Joyful Tidings from Malena!

Wherever, whenever and however you celebrate the end-of-year holidays, you’re almost certainly inundated with offers of things to buy, sales and special offers and short-time-only deals, and that can quickly start to feel like pressure. We at Malena love the part of the holiday season that is about abundance–indulgent things to eat, bowers of greenery inside, festive clothing and twinkling lights, and yes, even piles of beautifully beribboned gifts–but we also know that the best parts of these celebrations are the ones that are not about consumption but about ritual, generosity, gratitude, and peace. In that spirit, we share with you a few ideas for gifts this season, if that’s your thing, as well as a few traditions and comforts that we think will bring joy to the time you spend with your loved ones as the year comes to a close.

If you have a bit of work ahead of you to prepare for or get through December, sometimes it’s a good idea to start off by treating yourself. Whether you’re in the mountains this winter or just braving the chill in your hometown, a scarf in a rich burgundy, woven by our Ethiopian artisan partners, is one of our favorite Malena accessories for this season. (And if you’re looking for a gift, remember that our scarves come in a range of both colors, including neutrals and rich hues, perfect for all the women and men on your list.) Don’t forget a toasty hat for your time outdoors, and a stunner of a necklace for your holiday parties.

Speaking of parties, we  hope you’re going to some good ones this season, and we love the practice of bringing a small gift to the hosts (and a little something for the kids of the household is a lovely touch). Bring a little light into the home into which you’ve been welcomed with our copper glimmer candle holder, from our Indian artisan partners; a vivid set of placemats for a holiday table; or, for your friends who have both great style and excellent taste in literature, we think our Rwandan zebra bookends would make the most unforgettable gift of the year. In the same vein, if you’re throwing a party yourself, consider a book exchange, in which each invitee brings his or her favorite read of the year (if you don’t like to give up your books for good, you can agree to share them on loan). As you have probably gathered, we at Malena think a wonderful book is the among the greatest gifts there are–and we love to make our own entertainment via an out-loud fireside group reading of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol or from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Power of Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah. Let us know your favorite 2015 books or most cherished holiday stories in the comments below!

Among the Malena team members, we’ve been known to crave sweet things once in a while (OK, daily) and a favorite holiday tradition that allows us to spend time with family and friends and also maximizes our cookie-eating options is the classic cookie party: get together, get the kitchen all floury and cinnamony, steam up the windows with heat from the oven, and make everything on this list. (We’ve been known to get into the punch and cut the cookies into some … unconventional shapes, but that’s a story for another day.)

Finally, but most important of all, we try to remember that the most precious gift we can give is that of our time. Malena encourages you to volunteer with the organization of your choice this holiday season and to consider giving only gifts that are ethically sourced and created. Many of your loved ones may even prefer a charitable contribution in their names, or a commitment on your part to offer your time volunteering in their honor. For a little inspiration, this essay from one of our musical heroes, Steve Albini, moved us deeply. We hope to follow his example.

We wish you and yours the warmest holidays full of cheer, and on behalf of our artisan partners, we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for all your support this year. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be at The Nutcracker if you need us.

By: Genevieve