|A Chrysathemum silk scarf ($18) from serrv.com would be perfect for a woman or for a gentleman's cravat|
This season in many countries is a time of giving- no matter what religion or background you are. Whether it's a gift for a sister or brother, something handmade for a parent, or even just a few coins in a charity's bucket, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/etc. time is a great time to feel good about yourself by making someone else feel even better. Want to get some special steampunks in your life a fun (and multicultural) present? Here are some of my picks:
Food and Drink
Often times food and drink are great ways to give someone a fun and memorable present without spending too much money. Who knows? If you're nice they might share...
-Do you like tea? Of course you do. Do you like AMAZING tea? Well look no further than TeaGschwendner's selection of tea samplers. For $13-$20 you can give the gift of great quali-tea. Each sampler contains 7 or 8 different teas with enough to make 5 cups of each. Check out their selections of teaware as well, Miss Kagashi SWEARS by their tea filters (only $7.50, and very durable too).
|TeaGschwendner's Oolong sampler- $19|
-Cinnabar Foods has a great selection of sauces, spice blends, and chutneys that make good gift basket fodder for that foodie you know.
-Zingerman's is a name widely recognized by people local to Michigan, but really more people should know about this hometown (Ann Arbor) deli/restaurant/bakery/creamery/mail order business who's quest is to bring you tasty things from all over the world. Miss Kagashi's pick? The Oil and Vinegar Odyssey for $35- which includes some premium Olive Oil and 6-year barrel aged Balsamic vinegar, along with a recipe for foolproof vinaigrette. Luxurious but worth it!
Clothing and Accessories
Take a gander at some of these apparel offerings- a great option for those of you who want a smashing global steampunk ensemble but can't sew. They also make just plain great gifts.
-J. Peterman is a high-end retailer that scours the world for interesting gifts and apparel with a decidedly old-world charm. Some of their caftans and jackets have a Middle-Eastern or Asian flair.
-Armstreet is a Medieval, fantasy, and LARP outfitter whom has several stunning multicultural items that would fit right in with someone's steampunk. I'm particularly a fan of their boots, such as this Persian/Mongolian style that is discounted to just $85
|Hear their siren call...|
-Al-Hannah is a great women's Islamic clothing store with very reasonable prices. It's their selection of shoes and accessories that really gets my heart a-racing; including the sleeve extending gauntlets, punjabi shoes, and khuff- or leather indoor slipper-socks.
- I seem to recall that some of you were interested in the clothing and boots from "Mongolian Modes". Well, for your drooling pleasure, straight from the steppes is the Mongolian shop- where you can find boots and fuzzy hats for the whole family! For a mere $10 you can get this ADORABLE pair of camel-wool boots for a small child.
|Camel wool baby boots, perfect for keeping little feet warm during conventions|
Homemade (tutorials and ideas)
Sometimes a person is a mix of lucky and unlucky in that their friends outnumber the amount in their wallet. Or- sometimes you want to give something that you've made yourself. Either way, here are a few tutorials for global gifts (I've included a skill and time level for ease of browsing for the crafting-timid).
-Of course, there's Miss Kagashi's very own Fez tutorial, which makes a fantastic gift for any gentleman or Dr. Who fan. (Medium Difficulty- 3 hour project)
-How to make your own Japanese geta- difficult to be sure, but rewarding with what you can make out of scrap lumber. (Difficult- 3+ hour project)
-Did you know you can make origami out of fabric in addition to paper? This woman will show you how, which you can apply to traditional shapes such as cranes and flowers. They make fantastic little presents and wonderful Christmas tree ornaments. (Medium Difficulty- 1 hour project)
|Charming little fellow, isn't he?|
-For those who appreciate Australian aboriginal music.... or have a twisted sense of humor.. here's a guide on how to make one of those infamous didgeridoos for under $10. (Wives and girlfriends, I am NOT responsible if your significant other wakes you up at 2am with one of these next to your pillow.) (Easy! 1-2 hour project)
-If you have a culinary bent, why not box up some homemade sweets from around the world? Here are some easy recipes for Turkish Delight (called lokum in Turkey), candied ginger (a traditional asian treat), brigadeiros (chocolates from Brazil), and halvah (a sesame confection from the Middle East) (Easy! 1-2 hour project, depending on batch sizes and how many varieties you make)
-Dharma Shop sells a variety of gifts from Tibet and Nepal, including prayer flags, jewelry, and the ever-popular singing bowls They also have helpful lists with gifts under $10 and $35 for those of us under monetary restrictions. Be sure to read about their heartwarming school charity as well.
-Serrv is the storefront of an organization that sells fair trade items made by artisans and craftsmen in rural Vietnam. The hand-thrown bowl and chopsticks set for $21 would make a lovely gift for a friend (or a broke college student who can only afford to eat rice and noodles anyway).
- Birch Bark Books is a native-owned and focused bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They offer a variety of books by Native American authors, fiction and non-fiction, in addition to children's titles. One fantastic novel they offer is Four Souls by Louise Erdrich, a story about love, humor, and revenge set in the 1920s.
|"Do All Indians Live in Tipis?", an adorable book for children that gently debunks the old stereotypes- available from Birch Bark Books.|
This season Miss Kagashi will be delivering a big bag of dog food to her furry friends at the Huron Valley Humane Society- while this isn't terribly multicultural, she does love seeing all of those wagging tails. Please note that all of these charities are year-round, so if you're unable to give now, bear it in mind later; it could change a person's life. Also remember that (much like one measly bag of dog food) a little bit can make a difference!
-Native Languages of the Americas is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Native American/First Nation languages, which are endangered (and many of which are extinct) today. Your donation will go towards starting programs in schools and universities to revitalizing these ancient tongues and maintaining scholarly websites with dictionaries and grammar lessons. Mwiigech!
-Heifer International is a charity that gives livestock and farming supplies to underprivileged people around the world. Unlike a lot of charities, that shoves the Bible down peoples' throats or turns them into victims, Heifer helps people to help themselves by giving them a livelihood. A simple gift of a chicken can feed an entire family nutritious eggs, or buying a share in a llama can give wool which can be made into textiles either for the owners or for market. Needless to say, Miss Kagashi loves this organization and if you're interested in giving, stayed turned to the Steamer's Trunk for an opportunity to get involved.
- Another thing that the Steamer's Trunk is all about is art. In fact, Miss Kagashi's drawing and painting skills were fostered in a public school art program... some of which may not be around for much longer. Donate to AFTA, a foundation that helps public school districts in the United States save their art programs from extinction and inspire a new generation of artists! Remember that more or less all steampunks come together because of the art, so if you think about it- you'd be helping steampunk as well.
|Give the gift of... a camel? For $850 or a share of $85 Heifer International will give a camel to a needy family.|
No matter what gift you decide to give to your loved ones this holiday season, here's hoping you have a spectacular one!