As someone based outside the US, my holiday shopping generally goes something like this:
- Spend three hours Googling variations of the words ‘queer’, ‘feminist’ and ‘gifts’
- Finally find something absolutely perfect!
- Add it to my basket
- Realise the store doesn’t ship to my country, or international shipping costs three times the price of the thing itself
- Return to Step 1
Lucky for us European queermos, there’s been an explosion in independent, radical retailers based in this fair continent of ours over the last few years. It won’t stop you lusting over that badge set that wants $25 for postage, but all the stores featured here provide reasonably priced shipping across Europe, as well as great gifts for all your pals that live there.
For a long time, it felt like the US had some kind of copyright on good patches. Getting my beloved Stay Home Club patch onto my rucksack involved finding enough pals to make up a $200 order and get free international shipping. Do you know how many patches you have to buy to make up $200? It’s a lot. Luckily, the world’s moved on, and now you can cover every piece of fabric you own in patches without having to split postage between your closest 30 friends. That means you can all skip the hassle and go straight to celebrating Legitimate Feminist Icon, Lisa Simpson, instead.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that queers love kitchenware. So why not make all your friends’ kitchenware queer? You can get this LGBT teatowel from The Radical Tea Towel Company, a family business that specialises in socialist, feminist and radical kitchen accessories. Their Facebook adverts make up about 40% of my News Feed, and that’s just the way I like it.
You know everything I said a minute ago about patches? Double that for pins. It’s obviously a terrible idea to spend $20 shipping, plus custom charges, on a $7 pin. So why did I spend so long doing it? You can get great enamel pins in Europe now! I mean, look at this one right here – it’s Rosie the Riveter, but she’s a cat. I love it! Your friends would love it! Unless they don’t like cats. In which case, maybe they like pizza? Or intimidating people who are scared by nipples? There’s something for everyone.
Even if you’re buying locally, postage can still start racking up if you’re sending gifts around the world. Zines make great presents for faraway friends by excelling in three virtues: they’re cheap to buy, cheap to ship, and usually made by great independent creatives. For extra points, find a local distro, buy a stack, and post them yourself. Otherwise, Etsy is the best place to look for zines on everything from radical vulnerability to Bruce Springsteen’s butt.
I’m gonna take a minute to talk about my favourite jewellery shop in the world, Hannah Zakari. I used to live about ten minutes walk away from the physical Hannah Zakari store. On our first anniversary, my girlfriend and I were both broke undergrads, so we decided that she would buy me a reasonably priced gift and I would pay for dinner. Unfortunately, I then walked into Hannah Zakari and saw a ring so perfect for her, I ended up buying it and blowing past even her present budget. Luckily, I now live many hours away from the shop; unluckily, it has a great range of jewellery, accessories and other neat stuff available online.
Because what’s more queer than recording your feelings? Europe is blessed with a great amount of gorgeous stationary, like this Ideas Book. The variety of paper types means you won’t be confined to just writing, which is fantastic, because sometimes words aren’t enough to express your thoughts; send this gorgeous journal to a friend, and it can hold their rage scribbles after you make out with their best friend at their birthday party in a few months time.
Stickers are great for similar reasons that zines are – they’re about as flat as you can get. For some reason, Germany really seems to have cornered the market on rad sticker sets. Check out these feminist cats! Or this piece of body positive awesome! Or there’s Rory Midhani’s dance party sticker set. Midhani’s artwork is super fun, super diverse, and you might have seen it on this very site.
Autostraddle’s own Beth Maiden deals with importing from the U.S. so you don’t have to. She stocks a whole bunch of tarot decks – for many, she’s the only European stockist – suitable for friends who’ve been doing tarot for years and those who maybe mentioned they kind of wanted to get into it once. The Fountain is one of my favourites; it’s a beautiful, beginner-friendly deck, made up of 79 hand-painted cards and a small booklet introducing you to the deck and how to read tarot.
Who doesn’t love a tote bag? I appreciate any opportunity to broadcast my queer, cat-loving and/or feminist agenda, and a tote bag lets you do that while also carrying your groceries. Here in the UK, they’re even more useful, because shops have to charge you for a plastic bag. Everyone complained about it at first, but it’s led to an 85% reduction in plastic bag use in England alone and tons of designers making real cute totes. Send your friend a tote bag and you can celebrate their body hair, or the power of mothers, or the joy of being gal pals and help them carry stuff without you having to actually carry anything. It’s a win-win!
Everyone’s loving gemstones these days. I have no idea why. If you need to really impress someone on your Christmas gift list, asterlingidea uses recycled and ethically sourced materials to handcraft beautiful raw and organic jewellery. If you go for one of their , you even get to choose your own gemstone from a list that includes pretty much every Crystal Gem. No pearl, though. Sorry, Pearl.