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The 23 Things Orion Staffers Are Gifting This Year

Stumped on what to give your loved ones this year? Consider some of these unique gifts.

For Writers and Creative Types

a collection of pens and notebooks on a white background
Cork Dot Journal / Marvy Uchida Le Pen / Moleskine / Writterly / Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen /Dahle 133

Marvy Uchida Le Pen fine line pens and Moleskine sketch and notebooks

The perfect useful but classy stocking stuffer duo. These slim pens come in loads of subtle and eye-popping colors, and the notebooks range from palm to journal size, with or without lines. Easy to slip into a bag or pocket so you’ll always have a place to keep your thoughts.


Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen 

There’s nothing quite like writing with a fountain pen. The line is sharp and the tip glides smoothly across a page; the pen is durable and refillable, and, to be honest, according to one staffer, it makes writing more fun! “I’ve had mine for about five years now and use it almost every day. Along with my cork dot journals, this pen has helped me cultivate both a journaling and personal organization practice that supports ease of mind and intentionality to my day.”


Dahle 133 Pencil Sharpener

Few pleasures are as great as sharpening a pencil by hand. With just a few turns, you’ve brought the smell of sawdust into the room and ground your pencil down to a long fine point. You’ve fixed something that was broken. You’ve created the means for more art! Most crank pencil sharpeners will get you where you need to go, but I particularly like the Dahle 133.


DIY Creative Prompt Jar

Sometimes the best gifts are homemade. Stoke the creativity of a loved one with a good old-fashioned prompt jar. All it takes is a few pieces of paper, a pen, and a glass jar or bowl. Think of your intended. Are they a writer? An artist? A photographer? Write down as many prompts as you can think of to stoke their creativity. Rinse. Repeat. Cut those prompts into strips, fold them up, and pop them in a glass jar or bowl. Voilà! An easy, thoughtful gift to set them on a more creative path in 2023. (Strapped for time? You can point your loved ones to a less personal but still fun prompt generator app, like Writerly.)

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For People Who Wear Clothes or Go Places

A grey Patagonia fleece

Patagonia Gear

“I have a Patagonia fleece that’s twenty years old and a down trench coat that survived two pregnancies and somehow still perfectly fits. I pretty much live in it all winter,” writes one Orion staff member. “A long-term commitment to this outdoor clothing company has been easy. From ski bibs to baby buntings, bags to beanie caps and bikinis, Patagonia has outfitted my family for just about every imaginable outdoor adventure. The stuff lasts, and so we’ve been part of a long chain of hand-me-downs with other families. When something rips or breaks (as the pocket of my down coat did), the company fixes it, and since customers are encouraged to trade in their gently worn items, you can also shop used gear.” Earlier this year, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gave away the company, renouncing his family’s status among America’s wealthiest. It is estimated that Patagonia will donate $100 million annually to sustainability and environmental initiatives. “Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” Chouinard, told the New York Times. Which might influence your decision on whether or not to buy that long-coveted micro puff hoody for your nephew. The reviews say it will keep him warm on the trail, and it might just add a little fire to the fight against climate change and transform how we do business in this country.

For Readers

A series of book covers
Stack Logo / Eat Joy / One Long River of Song / Nature Swagger / Year of Books

A Year in Books!
One of our editors recommended this ongoing gift of surprise. “Not so long ago, every other month, a little parcel arrived in our mailbox from London. Mail was definitely more exciting during the pandemic, and when those little surprises from ‘an outpost of civilisation’ landed, it was like having a birthday six times a year. We were lucky recipients of a bespoke gift subscription from Heywood Hill. Books were hand-picked for us after a consultation with our own personal bookseller. The whole process made us feel like royalty, which was perhaps the intent, since Heywood Hill was said to be the late queen’s favorite bookshop.” Options include hardbacks, paperbacks, and books for children.


Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors edited by Rue Mapp

This beautiful coffee table–style book of photographs, essays, poems, and stories retell our Black narrative in nature as strong, beautiful, and free!


One Long River of Song by Brian Doyle

This playful and poignant book collects the finest nonfiction work from one of Orion’s most beloved authors. It makes a fine gift for parents, grandparents, bird-watchers, ball players, siblings, teachers, friends, naturalists, nuns, dog lovers, your postal delivery person . . . which is to say, anyone and everyone.


Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett

From congee and jollof, to pickles and pancakes, to blueberry pie and raw brownie mix from a box, this collection of intimate, illustrated essays explores how cherished comfort foods help us cope through difficult times. The stories are personal and compassionate, and each one comes with a recipe.


Stack Independent Magazines Club

A subscription to is a long rambling trip to the world’s strangest newsstand, without ever leaving your home. Every month you get a surprise issue of a curious magazine like Aww, Little White Lies, or It’s Freezing in LA! If all goes according to plan, it’s something you’ve never heard of before but, once you’ve read it, you can’t live without it.

For Hot Beverage Connoisseurs 

A bag of coffee underneath the Hibiki-an tea logo
Hibiki-an Logo / Awesome Coffee Club

Hibiki-an Green Tea

If you need a gift for a Japanese green tea–loving friend or you are out to encourage someone to explore the world of Japanese green tea, a good place to start is Hibiki-an, a family tea farm in Uji in Kyoto. Their website features a range of teas. They also have tea accessories like matcha bowls, whisks, and teapots, as well as unique seasonal snacks. You’ll grow particularly fond of their detailed and thoughtfully crafted documentation on the background, agricultural methods, grades, seasons, and flavors of tea. And they have a concierge service, so even if walking past a puddle on a windy fall day was the last time you considered leaves steeping in water, you can probably still manage to find a gift to satisfy the most discerning of your fanatical tea friends.


Awesome Coffee Club

If your intended recipient is a do-gooding coffee drinker, think about hooking them up with a monthly subscription to the Awesome Coffee Club. By working directly with small farmers’ scollectives, they ensure that your coffee is “not only good for the growers but also farmed with a focus on regenerative agriculture.” The best part? One hundred percent of the profit from the Awesome Coffee Club is donated to charity to radically reduce maternal and infant mortality in Sierra Leone.

For Homesteader Types

Mushrooms, plant starters, and mushroom grow kits
Phoenix Han (unsplash) / Back to the Roots / Markus Spiske (unsplash)

Anything from Back to the Roots

This company sells small kits for growing mushrooms, tomatoes, sunflowers, herbs, peppers, and more. They also have kid-specific kits, and posting a successful kit to social media results in Back to the Roots donating a kit to someone else.


Native Plants and Seeds

Speaking of growing things, think about a gift certificate, seed packets, or starts from your local native plant nursery.


Mushroom Lessons

Sponsor a membership to your local mycological society. The New York Mycological Society, for example, offers a $20 annual membership that includes mushroom-identifying walks in the city parks (and cemeteries!) and special events throughout the year.

For Hygge Enthusiasts

Candles and incense
Volant (unsplash) /Prosperity Candles

Prosperity Candles

If you are looking for a holiday gift that matches your ethics and values, consider purchasing a candle or two from Prosperity Candle. The certified B Corp provides employment opportunities for refugees with a particular focus on gender equality, respect for the environment, and living wages. One Orion staffer says, “My family has found the Pioneer Valley gift set to be a good option to share with friends and other loved ones since it includes chocolate-covered java drops from our favorite coffee roaster Dean’s Beans.” Depending on which candle or gift set you choose, the empty container can be repurposed into an elegant pot for a plant. You won’t go wrong.


Gift for the Senses

Almost as good as the smell of coffee beans, a gift of aromatherapy is an ancient offering of well-being, bestowing nature’s healing essences. Warming, calming, and restorative oils are particularly good ways to bring the previous season’s bounty inside when the windows are shuttered and snow’s piling up. Or a good way to untangle nerves and muscles after all the holiday hubbub, a day on the slopes, or a morning shoveling.

For Kids

a collection of children's books and puzzle boxes
OuiSi Nature / Nature’s Treasures/ WWF Logo / Ocean Bingo / Little Tree Terrarium Kit (etsy)

Ocean Bingo

Looking for a gorgeous family-friendly game where everyone can get familiar with giant squid, dugongs, and sea cucumbers? Try Ocean Bingo. And if your child is more inclined to trees, birds, bugs, dogs, or . . . poop, don’t worry, Laurence King Publishing has your back.


Adopt an Endangered Species, Recieve a Plush Toy

Make a donation in your child’s name to the WWF for Nature’s global conservation efforts and receive a personalized certificate of symbolic adoption and matching stuffed animal. Choose between 135 species from familiar favorites like tigers, wolves, and elephants, to more obscure and delightful blue-footed boobies, pangolins, and okapis. The National Wildlife Federation offers a similar program.



How is a prickly pear like a footprint? Or a fiddlehead like a chameleon’s tail? This intuitive, noncompetitive game asks players to use shapes, colors, or patterns to find connections in visual images in nature. If your child often says, “This reminds me of that,” this creative game will delight and can be played alone or in company.


Little Tree Terrarium Kit

Adorable. Build a little world in a glass bottle and daydream away.


Nature’s Treasures: Tales of More Than 100 Extraordinary Objects from Nature by Ben Hoare, illustrated by Kaley McKean

This gorgeously illustrated encyclopedia-style book encourages wonder in curious elementary school children (and their adults). Other equally awe-inspiring titles in the series include: The Wonders of Nature, The Secret World of Plants, An Anthology of Intriguing Animals, and Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life.


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This is a collection of Orion Staff contributions.