The holidays are coming up and will be here before we know it. Before you rush out on Black Friday to purchase gifts from a big box store, I thought I would share my favorite gifts that I have either received or treated myself to (a girl's gotta have her own back sometimes) recently, all of which would make an excellent and thoughtful gift for the National Park/Outdoor lover in your life. All but one of the items on this list are from small businesses and not only will your purchase extremely thoughtful, but your purchase will go to support small businesses and not a large corporation. All of the stores I link to have many excellent products. So if you don't see exactly what you are looking for on this list, spend some time exploring each of the stores and I think you will find that perfect gift.
1. "Respect Our Parks" Camera Strap by MeggsDesign on Etsy
I am obsessed with this camera strap for obvious reasons. I love the message that in conveys and the fact that all of my favorite parks are represented. I got this as a gift about a year ago and have proudly used it ever since. I get non stop compliments on it. The strap is made extremely well and hardly shows any wear and tear even though I have put it through an awful lot in the past year. If brown isn't your color it also comes in black. Don't like this particular design? Her Etsy shop has tons of other beautiful nature-themed camera strap designs.
2. Membership to a Park's Friends Group
Price: Usually ranges between $25-40.
Purchase: At a National Park Visitor Center or online with your National Park's friend group. Glacier National Park's Friend Group Here
Almost every national park has a "friends" group, a group that handles the fundraising for the park. In Glacier it is the Glacier Conservancy; in Yellowstone, Yellowstone Forever; in Grand Teton, The Grand Teton Association and on on. Purchasing a "membership" to one of these groups by donating a set amount of money not only does good for their (or your) favorite national park, you also receive some pretty sweet gifts and discounts in return. Every year I make sure to join at least one friends group to do good, but also to receive my discount card. With a membership with a Friends Group, you get a card that gets you 10-25% at almost every National Park bookstore. If the person you are buying a gift for buys as many souvenirs (in my case christmas ornaments and puzzles) as I do, then this discount card will save them quite a bit of money. In addition, the group will make it sweeter by giving you some cool swag in return. In Grand Teton I got a cute mug and stuffed animal, in Zion it was a book that I had had my eye on for a while, in Glacier it was a coupon book with over $500 worth of coupons. What could be better gift than donating to someone;s favorite national park in their name and getting them a nice discount card and swag to give to them alongside it? Talk about thoughtful.
3. Mountain Shaped Jewelry by MMackenzieJones on Etsy
I LOVE this ring. In fact, I love it so much that I use it as my wedding band. It looks beautiful with the Morganite ring my husband picked out for me. Mackenzie Jones is from Calgary and makes the most beautiful mountain themed jewelry at an extremely affordable price. She has all kinds of rings and necklaces meant to resemble specific mountains and lakes. Spend some time poking around her Etsy Shop and I guarantee you will find something your person that loves both jewelry and the outdoors.
4. Beanie from Fiber 4 Forests on Etsy
Let's be honest. There are hundreds if not thousands of places to buy beanies on Etsy. Why should you buy from Fiber 4 Forests? Not only are their beanies adorable, but a part of their proceeds go directly to the National Park Foundation. So you get a cute beanie while also donating to National Parks? Win/win. Made by a mother/daughter duo, they have beanies for babies, children, men and women in all sorts of cute nature themed designs.
5. National Park hat from ParkHats.com
I don't know about you, but in our family, hats are a daily accessory in the summer. It's a necessary object for sun protection. I have gone through a lot of hats over the years, but let me tell you, the hats we have from Parkhats.com are by far our favorite. I have the Glacier one pictured above and my husband has a black Yosemite one. Mine has hiked almost 600 miles with me (585 miles at the moment to be specific) this year and is still holding up extremely well. The best part about them? You can customize them to reflect your (or their) favorite parks and colors. This another item that I get constant compliments on.
6. Access to Photography Classes and 24,000 other classes on Skillshare.com
Price: $15 a month or $99 Annually, two free months here
At the top of my husband's Christmas list last year was Astrophotography classes at the local community college. He loves watching the stars and northern lights at home in Glacier and wanted to learn from a professional how to capture it properly. Let me just say that while I am a photographer, Astro has never been my thing, so I was unable to help. Instead of spending a couple hundred dollars and having him drive 45 minutes each way a couple times a week to go to Flathead Community College, we got him subscription to Skillshare.com. Not only does he get his astrophotography classes from the comfort of home, but he gets access to all kinds of other classes as well in many things including writing, business, graphic design, web development and much more. All for about the price of a Hulu subscription. If someone you know is wanting to improve their photography skills before their national park vacation, I can think of no better gift. To get a free two month trial please click here or use coupon code igamb3270. Disclaimer: The link I use for this item is also an affiliate link (the only one in this article) and I will get a bit of a monetary kick back if you choose to subscribe. That being said, it is still a service that I use regularly and one that I would highly recommend.
7. National Park Scratch Off Map by MassiveWanderLust on Etsy
Price: Custom $33, Basic $26
We received one of these as a wedding gift, and let me just tell you, it was one of our favorite gifts. We love keeping track of the parks we visited (31/61) and having a tangible piece of art on the wall that reflects it. If you want to be extra thoughtful, you can pay the extra $7 to personalize it by adding their name as the title.
8. National Park Blanket by McGovern and Co
If you are like me, you need infinite comfort items. There are never too many blankets. I especially love me a National Park blanket and while I have many from many companies (embarrassing but true), I especially like the McGovern and Co blankets because of their beautiful classic design, large size, and extreme plushness. Not to mention, for what they are, they are extremely affordable. When writing this article the Arches, Mt. Rainier, Yosemite and Zion blankets were on sale for only $24! Try getting a nice plush blanket this size anywhere else (including Wal Mart) for cheaper. You can't. MvGovern and Co also does many other items like scarves and towels that are equally as beautiful.
9. "Leave It Better Than You Found It" Water Bottle from Parks Project
I love me practical items with a message, and so you best believe I LOVE this water bottle. Not only that, but Parks Project donates money back to the National Parks for cleanups, trail restorations, invasive plant removal & more. I love supporting companies that support our parks.
10. Custom Photo Item or Print from their Favorite Photographer
Price: Varies, typically less than $100
Purchase: From your favorite photographer, or from me! ( ; here
Now you knew I was going to have to add this in. But custom artwork is always a great gift and one of my personal favorites to receive. No space on the wall? Get them a calendar, journal, puzzle, coasters, trivet or any myriad of other things. Most photographers are very open to doing custom projects. I know I am. Hint hint. You can shop my stores here and here. Find out their favorite photographer or national park and get them something to keep forever.