Kwanzaa is a time to gather together, honor your ancestors and celebrate what makes a community strong. What better way than to exchange thoughtful presents with family and friends? Handmade gifts may be encouraged, but if you're not the crafty type, we've got plenty of shoppable gift ideas that still pay the customary homage to African and African-American traditions, whether you're shopping for your kids or their caregivers.
Kwanzaa Gifts for Kids
These sweet gifts will give your kiddos plenty to celebrate—and you an opportunity to teach them about their heritage.
Kwanzaa Africa Cookie Cutter Set
This four-piece plastic set of cutters—which create cookies that piece together to form Africa—are a smart way to kick off the weeklong holiday. Besides kitchen skills, parents can use the time together to introduce the continent to little ones and talk about the principles of Kwanzaa. What’s more, your tasty batch can be packaged up as Kwanzaa treats for loved ones. Call it the gift that keeps on giving.
Buy it: $10, Amazon.com
My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz
Books that teach kids about their heritage are especially welcome during Kwanzaa. This one, from popular children’s book author and illustrator Karen Katz, is a rousing introduction to the joys of Kwanzaa and its rituals, complete with vibrant pictures.
Buy it: $8, Amazon.com
Ankara Print Bows
This bow set—hand-stitched in 100 percent cotton African fabric—festively tops off any little girl’s holiday outfit. It comes with a clip as well as ribbon, so your little one can wear it alone or as a headband. (Frugal mom tip: Split the set up, and you’ve got two days’ worth of gifts.) It also works as a bow tie for boys.
Buy it: $50, Etsy.com
Kwanzaa Gifts for Grandparents
Kids are generally the gift recipients during Kwanzaa, but everyone appreciates a year-end treat, especially if it’s presented as a token of love from your child.
These chic beaded sandals are handmade in Tanzania, with a portion of sales benefiting The Gretta Foundation, which supports young nurses-in-training in Eastern Africa.
Buy it: $130, wazishoes.com
African Drum Print
Update any room with this cool limited-edition print of an African drum, by a graphic designer from Trinidad & Tobago. It has both modern and historical appeal, and it’s available framed or unframed and in range of sizes and colors.
Buy it: Starting at $21, Minted.com
Kwanzaa Gye Nyame
Set your holidays ablaze with this beautiful Kwanzaa set. It includes a kinara handmade by Ghanaian artisans, featuring the Gye Nyame symbol, as well as candles, a bamboo mat and unity cup, as well as an information packet teaching about Kwanzaa.
Buy it: $85, BlackArtDepot.com
Kwanzaa Gifts for Teachers
Show how thankful you are for all that your kids' teachers do with these tokens of appreciation.
Zulu Wire Shallow Plate
Here’s something your child’s favorite teacher will love setting the table with during Kwanzaa or any other time of year. Handmade by Zulu weavers, this brilliant shallow basket plate is crafted from copper and plastic-coated wire.
Buy it: $17, Basketsfromafrica.com
Kwanzaa Red Black Green Stripes Throw Pillow
Teachers (and just about anyone) hosting a Kwanzaa gathering can appreciate the decorative powers of a smartly chosen throw pillow. This colorful choice adds festive flair to any sofa.
Buy it: $30, Society6.com
The Cooking Gene, by Michael W. Twitty
Written by a renowned culinary historian, this memoir explores the author’s his ancestry—black and white—through food. Along the way, readers also discover the complicated roots of Southern food from Africa to contemporary America.
Buy it: $19, Amazon.com
Kwanzaa Gifts for Caregivers
Whether you're looking to gift something to your nanny or daycare providers, these Kwanzaa gifts are sure to be a hit.
Two Birds Apron
For recipients who’ll be hands-on in the Kwanzaa feast preparations, this handy gift will be put to immediate use. Made by Ghanaian mothers using traditional batik techniques, the festive, bold apron has a clever front pocket and is made with 100 percent machine-washable cotton.
Buy it: $20, Giftswithhumanity.com
Ugandan Organic Waxcloth Wristlet
Just right for essentials, this wallet-sized clutch is handmade by female artisans in Uganda and backed by TEXDA, a group that promotes women textile entrepreneurs. The wristlet comes in a selection of colors and patterns and is made of 100 percent organic cotton.
Buy it: $10, Globalgirlfriend.com
Dried Fruit Tray
Help your superstar caregiver celebrate the holiday with a bounty of fruit. This colorful mix of dried varieties is a crowd-pleaser and will last through the holidays
Buy it: $30, Harryanddavid.com
Published November 2018