Christmas miracle: Gifts from Shanghai's inspiring entrepreneurs
Every family that celebrates Christmas has its own traditions. In ours, swapping sock-shaped bags full of little gifts is arguably the best bit of the morning. Bursting with chocolate, trinkets and – if you're lucky – a tangerine, stocking fillers can be more fun to give or receive than bigger presents combined.
But what to fill them with?
Shane and I are enjoying Shanghai's Christmas markets. Full of festive cheer and mulled wine, we're busy browsing all kinds of potential gifts. And booze aside, I'm lit up on our city's entrepreneurs. The women and men behind stalls, tirelessly working, having turned pipe dreams into products. What does it take to create a gadget, snack, or thingamajig? To launch a business or start a non-profit? I've no idea. But from my side, each and every trader is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
With that, here are a few stocking fillers under 200 yuan (US$31), made by some of Shanghai's inspiring entrepreneurs.
Assorted Luxury Desk Notes, The Shanghai Gift Company
Laetitia has lived in Shanghai for six years, and her love for the city has rubbed off! She spends every possible moment designing stylish gifts with a Chinese twist.
Assorted Luxury Desk Notes is a collection of dishy watercolors inspired by street food and printed on high-quality paper. In a sustainable bamboo box, this gorgeous little pad is perfect for note-takers or stationery geeks and doubles up to make great gift tags.
Christmas Baskets, SAN | XIA
Sandra was so inspired by Chinese bamboo steamers, she felt compelled to craft with them. Washi paper, masking tape, pompoms and a sleepless night later, her prototype was ready!
These adorable baskets come with a baozi candle or jiaozi soap. Made from bamboo, they're weaved by local artisans and decorated by Home Sweet Home, a non-profit supporting the homeless and handicapped. Sandra now works from Paris, meaning products can be shipped worldwide. Perfect if (like me) you want to send Shanghai-inspired gifts to those back home.
Christmas GLOW, GLOW Fitness & Beauty
Svetlana is a personal trainer and all-round wellness powerhouse. When she's not taking care of people's physical health, she's busy making natural scrubs that nourish the skin and nurture the soul.
Christmas GLOW is a seasonal special, bursting with carefully selected ingredients for the winter months. Brown sugar and oats gently exfoliate, while essential oils of cinnamon and orange pack a moisturizing punch. Skin is wrapped in a soft festive fragrance, leaving beautiful bodies in the Christmas spirit. Scrubs are handmade to order three days in advance.
Jellyfish, Clara Non-Profit DIY
Clara founded her non-profit organization with passion in all the right places. Turning everyday waste into delightful keepsakes, she's all about charitable causes and environmental protection. Gifts are crafted by big-hearted volunteers from disused materials and come wrapped in secondhand packaging.
These joyful jellyfish are lovely stocking fillers for big and little kids alike. Handmade with leftover yarn donated by Interface Modular Carpet (China) Co, they're sure to raise a smile along with funds for the Children's Hope Foundation.
Kacha Party Pack, KachaChips
Stephan and his wife Kelly are serious about snacking. When the determined duo couldn't find their perfect packet of crisps, they decided to handcraft their own using thick cut potatoes and sunflower oil.
Each bag comes with an expert blend of spices; pour them in, shake it up and let the "mmmm's" and "ahhh's" begin! Flavors range from classic "salt and vinegar" to modern fusions like Sichuan spicy and Xinjiang BBQ. Wish the foodie in your life a Merry Crispmas with the Party Pack, or divvy it up for multiple stocking fillers in one.
Migraine Melter, Shanghai Apothecary
Elizabeth founded her low-waste, clean beauty and wellness shop in 2021. Her premium oils soothe all manner of modern maladies – from tech-neck to one-too-many margaritas – and combine traditional remedies with new research from around the world.
Migraine Melter is a must-have for quick relief. Hand-poured, it contains five pain-melting ingredients, including pure peppermint oil, menthol and rose water. A Christmas miracle for anyone susceptible to migraines (or hangovers).
The BOOMI Forest Initiative, BOOMI
High-school buddies Emmanuel Dean and Miguel Boy are on a mission. Their online platform supports over 45 locally-driven brands, working together to make eco-friendly living easy for everyone.
The BOOMI Forest Initiative was created as an incentive to help fight climate change and deforestation. Buy the green-minded person in your life a seedling, and BOOMI will plant it. Trees live up to 700 years, and giftees receive a certificate to keep them on Santa's Nice List all year round!