7 Kwanzaa Gift Ideas That Are Creative and Meaningful

Each gift celebrates African-American heritage and the spirit of Kwanzaa.

Meaningful-Kwanzaa-Gift-Ideas
Photo:

Actuallycurious.com

Invented during the peak of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, Kwanzaa is an African-American-created holiday celebrated throughout the U.S. and the Pan-African world. From December 26 to January 1, many Black communities commemorate their African heritage and focus their attention on ushering in good vibes for the year ahead.

Like many other holidays around this time of year, Kwanzaa incorporates gift-giving into its week-long festivities. On the last day, New Year’s Day, people exchange Zawadi ("gifts" in Swahili). Kwanzaa prioritizes gift-giving that is meaningful, tied to African heritage, and often handmade. Gifts must align with Nguzo Saba (the seven principles): Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Year after year, Kwanzaa challenges those who celebrate to get creative about finding heritage symbols that reflect a legacy of African tradition.

From storybooks that will teach children about their ancestry to interactive experiences that will forge fun family memories, the Kwanzaa gift ideas below go beyond the basics. Leave a lasting impression on your favorite Kwanzaa celebrators with these one-of-a-kind gifts.

Diverse Storybooks for Children

Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill

Amazon.com

Much of the focus of Kwanzaa is on teaching children to take pride in their Black ancestry, but try explaining to a toddler what a Kinara (7-stick candle holder) represents and you’ll realize you’re up for a challenge. 

From school books to bedtime stories, young children benefit from seeing positive representation all around. For kids, the concept of Kwanzaa may be nebulous, but there are plenty of books to help them grasp what it all truly means. Check out Soulful Holidays: An inclusive rhyming story celebrating the joys of Christmas and Kwanzaa by Ciara L. Hill for an instructional but entertaining gift that centers children’s role in the celebration.

Dolls of All Black Complexions

Malaville Toys Dolls

Malavilletoys.com

For another Kwanzaa gift for children, Leah Freeman-Haskin, founder of the Black-owned business directory BLK  OCEANS, suggests Malaville, a doll-making company from South Africa that reinforces the beauty of a diverse shade of skin tones. From albino to deep browns, a full range of Black skin colors is awfully hard to find in children's toys. For Black girls in particular, stigma around our size, weight, and skin can shorten our childhoods and wreak havoc on our self-esteem. Reinforce positive imagery early on with these beautiful dolls that showcase all the colors of the Pan-African rainbow.

Natural Hair Tools

Afro picks

Afropick.com

Give the gift of beautifully crafted and designed afro picks, which are more than just an incredible tool to take care of natural Black hair. They are also a symbol of unity, heritage, and strength in Black culture and these ones from AfroPick have the potential to tell a powerful story through their unique custom designs.  

Handcrafted Jewelry 

aziza jewelry

Azizahandcrafted.com

Handcrafted gifts are especially appropriate for Kwanzaa but finding ones that are stylish and regal at the same time can be a major challenge. Freeman-Haskin recommends Aziza Abdullah-Nicole’s AZIZA Handcrafted jewelry. The luxurious rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and more, have an effortless beauty inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology but sealed with modern style. The unisex collection ranges from geometric finger nail rings to ruby-adorned necklaces. Made from materials like gold, silver, and mother of pearl, these sophisticated gifts are for the people who sit highest atop your list.

Books on Demand

Hurricane Summer Book Box

us.sweetreadsbox.com

Sweet Reads Box is a Canada-based subscription box for book lovers, curated by people who know and love books. Packages change every month, but many of the past boxes (which can often be purchased after the fact on the "Buy Now" page) have been perfect for Kwanzaa. The Gutter Child Book Box, Hurricane Summer Book Box, and the Black Cake Book Boxes featured books by Black authors showcasing the variations of experience among different people around the world. While not all boxes center Black experiences, each leaves a lesson around self-care, leadership, and wellness, broadly speaking.

Card Games

Meaningful-Kwanzaa-Gift-Ideas

Actuallycurious.com

Actually Curious Cards spreads inclusivity and empathy in a fun and engaging way. Rather than preach about the values we hope to see in the world, this Black-owned business uses conversation cards and science to build trust and an emotional connection between friends, family, and perfect strangers. The conversation-starters will help people get to know themselves much better, while expressing their values with other gamers. In the spirit of Kwanzaa, you can also download 18 thought-provoking cards for free that you can use to get conversations sparked around the dining room table.

Pan-African Coffee

Davila Kafe

Davilakafe.com

Some of the most revered coffee in the world comes from countries like Haiti and Ethiopia, which are bastions of Black culture. While you could pick up an imported roast from Starbucks, it’s better to go small batch. The husband-and-wife duo behind the family-owned coffee company Dávila Kafe believe that you can’t truly love coffee without also showing some love to the Black and Brown coffee growers who till the soil. For a gift idea, check out the company's Haitian roast Xavi, which is perfect for the espresso lover, and Jacmel, a single-origin bag of beans straight from the mountains of Thiotte, which is great for someone who loves a classic brew.

african coffee club

africancoffeeclub.com

Or, if you have a next-level coffee fanatic on your gifting list, you can sign them up for a coffee subscription service from African Coffee Club, which will supply them with a roaster’s choice bag of coffee from a new region each shipment. The company behind the subscription service also prioritizes ethical business practices, sourcing its premium coffee from fair-wage cooperatives throughout Africa. Mukurima Muriuki, the founder of African Coffee Club, is a second-generation Kenyan coffee farmer who now lives in Los Angeles, and is committed to not only paying it forward, but "paying it Black" by supporting communities of coffee farmers in African countries. Hailing from six regions of Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Zambia, these coffee will make sure you stay “woke.” 

Cooking Experiences

Cooking Class

thechefandthedish.com

Kwanzaa gifts are meant to bring people together, usually around food. Yet, with Africa’s rich culinary legacy dispersed all around the world, it may be hard to decide whether to make macaroni and cheese or fufu. With a gift from The Chef & The Dish you don’t have to compromise. This service lets you video-call an award-winning chef, who will cook alongside you and teach you about the traditions that made the dish possible.

Of the amazing 18 global chefs currently on offer, there are a few in particular who tap into the Pan-African experience, making their classes a perfect gift for Kwanzaa. For example, Chef Bonga brings you to South Africa, Chef Badr will teach you to make Moroccan couscous, and Chef Gason of New Orleans will teach families to make his favorite dish, a big pot of gumbo, smothered okra, and a plate of fried catfish. This gift will fill both the belly and the soul.

"It would take longer than a lifetime to understand African history and how it impacts the rest of the world,” Gason says. “So, starting with the food is a good place to start.”

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