Your simple, ethical holiday gift guide

Friends: welcome to the holiday season. It’s officially here. And I don’t know about you, but I’m entering it….quietly.

Honoring Advent is one of my favorite things about following the liturgical calendar, and it completely diffuses any expectation to hurry, hurry, hurry through the season. We’ll get a tree soon enough, and we’ll slowly decorate it, as well as the rest of our house. But there’s no rush.

pine cone

We’ll play Advent music in our home, and sure, we’ll still watch Christmas-themed movies, but I don’t feel the need to cram them in. After all, Christmastide is twelve days long—there’s plenty of time to savor it all.

I also love thoughtfully choosing gifts that honor both my loved ones and the company and/or maker behind the thing. Nothing tempers the panic of holiday consumerism like reflection—and this includes picking gifts.

christmas gift wrapping

I’m not big into buying a lot, but I do love surprising my kids and husband with something meaningful under the tree.

And I’m thrilled to show you this year’s 2016 holiday gift guide for AoS.

This hand-curated list is a collection gift ideas that reflect the values of putting our money where it does the least harm and the most good, and giving quality gifts that don’t add clutter.

gift tabs

We’re grateful that some of these companies and makers directly help keep the lights on for both The Art of Simple and The Simple Show, so if you’ve been blessed by our work this year, we’d love it if you supported these good businesses, too. Do good with your dollars.

Today is also Cyber Monday, which means many of these shops have deals today! Pour yourself a cup of something warm, browse our ideas, and check off part of your gift list.

More will be added soon, so check often! This week we’ll also highlight a few specific ideas here on the blog.

Happy holidays to you, friends. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.


P.S. – More thoughts on a grace-filled, real-person approach to shopping ethically.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Kate

    Thank you for the wonderful ideas! My grandpa is getting older and has left the past few years gifts unopened and unused because he likes what he has. We signed up for Story Worthy for him and hope he’s as excited as we are!

  2. Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

    Love StoryWorth! Looking forward to purchasing that for my mom!

  3. Michelle

    Thank you for some great ideas. But, um, that bean bag link goes to Land’s End, not L.L. Bean. And I’m not seeing a bean bag at L.L. Bean making me think the link is fine, but the copy is wrong.

  4. Jen

    We bought our young kids Tegu blocks. They are a classic toy that spans age and gender and are made by a great company!

  5. Katie

    Thanks for the list! I have been anticipating it for a couple weeks now. The remote control helicopter you had on a list a few years ago is still being played w at our house.

  6. Fair+Simple

    Great gift guide!

  7. Sarah

    Thank you so much for this list! It is helpful to have an easy, accessible list. And I so love that you have an Advent playlist!…I just pressed play! My husband introduced me to a new Christmas song by Matt Maher and the one line is on repeat in my mind: “Let there be peace, let it start in me.” I’d highly recommend checking it out (Glory-Let There Be Peace)!

  8. Chris

    Thanks for doing this! I got the sunglasses for my husband and I think he’s gonna love them. I want to buy from companies that do good and your list certainly makes it easier!

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