7 Last-Minute Gifts for Kwanzaa and the Holidays

We’ve spent the time looking for those 23rd-hour gifts, so you don’t have to.

African woman opening present with her little daughter while they sitting at dining table
Photo:

SeventyFour/Getty Images

There’s more than enough to stress about this time of year. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming holiday gatherings or your littles’ infinitely-long holiday wishlist. Add two children’s birthdays smack dab in the middle of all the chaos in our home—it’s a recipe for disaster. But there’s more. 

As a Black mama, I want my children to have the best opportunities life has to offer. That comes with the pressure to find gift ideas that have value beyond the season. It’s even more challenging to ensure the gifts are practical and benefit our children’s independence and imagination.

One of the reasons many Black families are less inclined to celebrate Kwanzaa is because it’s a tall order—making handmade gifts and finding specific activities for a week can feel overwhelming. In an ideal world, we’d have time to stop and make those thoughtful handmade gifts for Kwanzaa and other holidays. But it’s not, and sometimes you need to buy something last minute. We’ve spent the time looking for those 23rd-hour gifts, so you don’t have to. 

Read on for seven last-minute Kwanzaa and holiday gifts that encourage imagination and independence during the holiday season and beyond.

01 of 07

Umoja (Unity): Maintaining unity as a family, community, and race of people

Zigglebee

Zigglebee

zigglebee

Many Black parents are looking for resources to support their children as they develop their imaginations with us and independently. At the same time, we want those resources to instill a sense of unity and connection with the family and society.

zigglebee is a beautiful example of family unity at work. An 8-year-old named Lana created this guided resource to connect with her twin sister Laila who was born with a condition called Jacobsen Syndrome. Laila’s condition includes developmental delays, which impair her ability to eat, talk, walk, and interact with other people. Lana realized she could connect with Laila using imagery and storytelling through zigglebee. Zigglebee is a storybook with blank pages so children can use their imagination to tell stories. For Black children and others who rarely see themselves from their own eyes, that’s a huge deal. To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. The family says a big part of the zigglebee movement is bringing awareness to, and being a voice for, parents/siblings of special needs children.

If you’re looking for an activity to support early learners in imagination and story development while creating opportunities for loved ones of all stages to connect, the zigglebee book is it. 

And now we can all use it to encourage imagination and connect with our littles. 

02 of 07

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): Defining, naming, creating, and speaking for ourselves

Yoto Player

Yoto

Yoto & Yoto Mini


This screen-free audio player offers limitless possibilities for fun and responsibility. Our family has found the Yoto is a multi-purpose household favorite. There are toothbrushing, chore, and homework timers that support young children in developing healthy routines. Kids can listen to books, songs, and adaptations of their favorite films using cards compatible with the player. 

Yoto has cards that teach children about many things, including the human body. Other cards educate littles on historical Black figures like inventors like Garret Morgan. But some cards offer culture lessons, like Ticket to Ghana, Songs from the Playground, or Rap Poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah.

Don’t see a card you want? You can get the family together and record songs and stories on your own. 

Pro Tip:

Call up the grandparents and have them record some family history. The possibilities are endless!

03 of 07

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): Building and maintaining our community—solving problems together.

Chore sticks

Creative QT

Creative Chore Sticks

We don’t need any more reminders of the pressure to raise responsible and self-sufficient Black kids. Raising kids who contribute to the household feels like a matter of culture, community, and collaboration. We want our littles to continue to our well-functioning home, and we want to teach them how to do so in gentle, age-appropriate ways. 

Creative Chore Sticks are a fantastic resource to facilitate collaboration and creativity in household tasks. The chore sticks include more typical chores, like cleaning the closet and loading the dishwasher. But they also offer kids unexpected prompts around exercise and giving parents some affection. 

Our house found these chore sticks helpful in making sure each child has the opportunity to do their share. And during the holiday season, when there’s stuff to be done everywhere, this is more important than ever.

04 of 07

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Legacy Cards

Legacy Card Game

Legacy! Card Game

We often hear about buying Black and Black finances. But Black communities rarely receive the investment we need to build financial literacy, which is vital for narrowing the wealth gap. The Legacy! Card Game is a tool to help Black families take the first steps toward financial literacy and wealth.

Legacy! founder Ruby L. Taylor, M.S.W., says financial uncertainty impacted her life from childhood to navigating the student loan process in college. “That’s why I’ve created LEGACY, an interactive game that teaches families how career and financial choices impact wealth, longevity, and their legacy, lessons that I wish every family had access to,” she writes, describing the purpose of the game. Its existence is a community effort born of a Kickstarter campaign. 

Legacy! is an enjoyable “choose your own adventure” game similar to The Game of Life, which teaches financial literacy. Participants will pick careers, gain and lose wealth as they pay their expenses, and even pay student loans. People of all ages will see how career choice and income influence your ability to pay bills. The biggest lesson: we’re stronger together.

05 of 07

Nia (Purpose): Work collectively to build communities that will restore the greatness of African people.

Legendary Cards

Legendary Cards

The Legendary Card Collection

Not long ago, The American Society for Microbiology released “A Call to Address Disparities in K-12 Education for Black Youth,” further highlighting disparities in access to STEAM. Still, Black parents are often left unsure of how to facilitate an interest in the sciences. The Legendary Card Collection gets bonus points for being a gift that helps us narrow the exposure gap. 

There’s a lot to love about these cards. The deck includes 41 women scientists, many of which are scientists of color. Families can use the Legendary collection to learn about figures like ophthalmologist and laser scientist Patricia E. Bath, Ghanaian software engineer Farida Bedwei and a host of others. 

They also can find inspiration as they engage with the 11 question cards that prompt pause and reflection on identity and experiences with topics like self-doubt. Not to mention the artwork on each card is breathtaking. 

06 of 07

Kuumba (Creativity): Find new, innovative ways to leave communities of African descent in more beautiful and beneficial ways than the community inherited.

Yipes Creativity Box

Yipes

Yipes! messy crafts box

Black children rarely have the freedom to make mistakes. Instead, they face consistent pressure for perfection or excellence. And often, our households unintentionally maintain these expectations through household rules, like not being able to make messes. These days, many of us are learning that big messes are often a gateway to enormous creativity and change. 

The Yipes! Messy craft box is a nice mix of chaos and cleanup. There’s a brownie (or cookie) kit so the littles can dip a toe into chemistry through cooking. There’s an activity book that helps them learn more about the elements on the periodic table. And there’s a magnifying glass, which littles love.

The Yipes box is an excellent resource on the many sick days we see this season. And the best part is that after the little humans make a mess, you already have the wipes to clean it up!

07 of 07

Imani (Faith): the belief in God, family, heritage, leaders, and others that will leave to the victory of Africans around the world.

More than Peach Project

More than Peach Project 

More than Peach Palette Packet with Premium Multicultural & Rainbow Crayons

 Bellen Woodard illustrates faith in such powerful ways that her More than Peach crayons and colored pencils secured her place as a 2021 Time Kid of the Year Honoree. Now she has an entire collection that Black children can use to reinforce their vision of themselves. 

 The More than Peach Palette Packet with premium multicultural & rainbow crayons is a great resource to make a vision board and watch our littles' dream and plan for their lives come true. 

 Bellen’s upcoming book, The Change the World: An Interactive Journal, is also available for preorder.

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