Progressive Holiday Gift Guide to Motivate Activists

By Posted in - TESA News on December 12th, 2016 0 Comments

Many of us look forward to the holidays as a time for rest and spiritual renewal each year. This holiday season, take the time to recharge your spirit and stockpile your motivation and hope for the year ahead. (With a Trump administration to start on January 20th, we don’t have to remind activists that we’ll need our strength for 2017.)

We’re the TESA Collective, a worker-owned cooperative and creators of Rise Up: The Game of People and Power, and we’ve put together this guide to holiday gifts that heal hearts, lift spirits, and expand minds for a more restorative holiday season.

From calendars to sketch out your plans of action to community-supported art baskets that will fill your walls with messages of hope, here are gift ideas to enrich your holiday season:

Board Games and Video Games

We’re big believers in the power of games for social change—there’s no better way to learn, imagine, and have conversations about issues that matter than through having fun together.

In addition to creating Rise Up, TESA also created Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives. We’ve also bundled our games together into the Play for Change Games Bundle and Social Justice for the Whole Family Bundle; save money and upgrade your board game collection by buying a bundle!

For games about civil rights and Black liberation, don’t miss Freedom: The Underground Railroad and Civio: A Civil Rights Game.

Still from Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna), the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people:

Still from Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) by Upper One Games, the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people:

HelloGiggles recently published a great article about feminist video games that would make great gifts, including Never Alone by Upper One Games, the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people.

Gifts for Kids

Every child should know the powerful women on whose shoulders we stand, so Rad American Women A–Z and its sequel Rad Women Worldwide are great gifts for kids of all genders. And for the youngest among us, Innosanto Nagara’s A Is for Activist and Counting on Community are beautiful ways to teach values while also teaching fundamentals.

Get a onesie from Philadelphia Printworks for the babies in your life and let them declare: “The revolution will not be pacified!” It’s part of their adorable Baby Printworks collection.

Otherwild, a Los Angeles and New York City design boutique, makes shirts in kids’ sizes and onesies with the messages: “The Future Is Female” and “Gender Is a Drag“. The shirts are made in the USA and 25% of proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood.

T-shirt by Otherwild:

T-shirt by Otherwild:


It’s a classic gift that keeps on giving: an awesome magazine subscription for readers and news lovers.

The Riveter is a Minneapolis-based magazine dedicated to raising up women’s voices in longform journalism, a male-dominated industry. Order or download issues on The Riveter site.

Briarpatch Magazine is an independent politics and culture magazine based in Regina, Saskatchewan and printed by union labor on environmentally friendly materials.


Dandelioness Herbals is a Vermont herbalist who creates special elixirs with the intention of supporting people doing the hard work of building justice movement. Check out herbal concoctions like Self-Care Kit for Emotional First Aid, and Calm the Rage: Elixir to Cool Hot Emotions in the Dandelioness Herbals Etsy store.

Dandelioness Herbals' Self-Care Kit for emotional first aid

Dandelioness Herbals’ Self-Care Kit for emotional first aid

Beija-Flor is an animal free organic skin and hair care line led by women of color in Oakland, CA. The acai mango lotion is our favorite for it’s lightweight moisture and unforgettable fruity scent. The shop is part of a bigger collective called Concept 47.


Haymarket Books has put together insightful reading lists for this current moment including a Stop Trump reading list for gift inspiration. To get excited for a year of organizing and resistance, pick up This Is an Uprising from Mark Engler and Paul Enger, or From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Birchbark Books in Minneapolis

Birchbark Books in Minneapolis

You can’t go wrong with anything purchased at the gorgeous Minneapolis bookstore Birchbark Books. Owned by Ojibwe novelist Louise Erdrich, Birchbark has an online store where you can buy books by Native American authors.

PM press is running a 50% off sale on all its books through December 21st. Just use the coupon code Gift at checkout. A couple of our recommendations: 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance by Gord Hill and A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice.


The Affirmations Coloring Book from Montreal artist Sarah Mangle is the coloring book your therapist would have made, packed with loads of clarifying, heartwarming self-love. You can also get holiday cards in Sarah Mangle’s Etsy store, or get an anticapitalist love note from Maine-based radicalem printing.

What art will come in the mail this month? Samples from the JustSeeds 2017 CSA

What art will come in the mail this month? Samples from the JustSeeds 2017 CSA

We’re in love with Community Supported Art—like Community Supported Agriculture or CSA baskets, only for art! JustSeeds offers a 2017 CSA, and there are versions in Minneapolis and Montreal. Crusade of Art even has a photography CSA. Support local or emerging artists and deliver something beautiful to a friend’s door each month.

Calendars and Agendas

There’s nothing like a fresh calendar to get you excited for all the potential the next year has in store. Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners is an annual calendar produced by a collective of political prisoners and outside community organizers. Proceeds are always divided among important organizations seeking justice. Their theme this year? Sustaining Movements. Other activist calendar favorites include the colorful Slingshot Calendar from worker-owned publisher AK Press and the Justseeds agenda, made in collaboration with Portland’s Eberhardt Press.

Donating and Taking Action

Cornel West has said that justice is what love looks like in public. In that spirit, show your love by donating to an organization in a friend or family member’s name.

Support Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock by donating to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund.

Donate to support the work of Black Lives Matter.

A child's drawing from We Belong Together's Wish for the Holidays:

A child’s drawing from We Belong Together’s Wish for the Holidays:

Each year, the immigrant rights campaign We Belong Together asks adults to organize letter-writing events for children to raise their voices for love and dignity, not hate. In the past, children have written letters to children locked up in immigrant detention; this year We Belong Together is collecting letters expressing children’s wishes of love and unity with immigrant and Muslim families. Join A Wish for the Holidays; they make it easy with age-appropriate tools.

We hope you enjoyed our holiday gift guide! Did we miss a great gift idea? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet at us @ToolboxForEd and happy holidays from all of us at TESA Collective!

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