by Annie O'Brien '21, a Creative Writing and English major at George Washington University
Knowing the truth about Santa does not make teenage girls immune to the joys of presents under the tree! Despite the academic demands of finals, Merion Mercy manages to create holiday magic through traditions such as Advent Angels and Red, Green, and Jingle Day. These celebrations invoke holiday cheer through gift-giving and surprises, and there is no reason the magic has to stop at Winter Break.
Though your Merion student may have a Christmas list at the ready (I favored a Pinterest board back in my day), this gifting guide holds 10 gift ideas that will definitely add a welcome surprise to Christmas morning.
1. Away’s “The Medium” Suitcase
During my sophomore year at Merion, I had the opportunity to travel to England with several of my classmates. My duffel bag would not do for my first solo international trip. For Christmas, I asked for the epitome of luxury: a hard-shell suitcase, complete with a nametag and a built-in lock. When I opened my Away Suitcase on Christmas morning, I felt ready to take off and begin my travels! The suitcase served me well on its maiden voyage to London, and I use it every college trip home and on other adventures. Away’s “The Medium” suitcase is an investment gift that prepares a teenage girl for her future travels.
2. Golde’s “Clean Greens Face Mask
While high-school me thought luxury lay in high-quality travel products alone, college me knows real luxury lies in pampering yourself after a long journey. The “Clean Greens Face Mask” feels like satin sheets for your face, creamy and soft as it purifies your pores. Golde only uses edible ingredients in this product, though the company does not recommend a taste test. With Chlorella, spirulina, and marshmallow root, this naturally-based treatment works well on sensitive skin. Furthermore, Golde is a women-owned and black-owned company so not only are you supporting your skin, you are shopping ethically. Golde’s “Clean Greens Face Mask” is the definition of both inside and outside beauty.
3. “Wawa Jawn” T-Shirt from South Fellini
There is never a bad time to show Philadelphia pride! Featuring two emblems of Philadelphia, this t-shirt will bring a smile to any Philly fanatic’s face. Furthermore, South Fellini has local roots. Tony Trov and Johnny Zito started the business as students at Temple University to fund their creative, passions
for short films and rock operas. They opened a brick-and-mortar on East Passyunk Avenue in 2016. Trov and Zito have collaborated with other local creators such as Kid Hazo, Group X, and Mural Arts. Support local artisans and make a Merion student laugh with this purchase.
Sometimes, a girl just has to focus on school (or writing her Timothee Chalamet fanfiction). These noise-canceling headphones are just what she needs to tune out external distractions, with the headband acting as a physical “do not disturb” sign to discourage others from approaching and comfortable, cushioned ear cups to put you in your own world. As they have a foldable design, they work for travel, whether between study spaces or over much longer distances. These particular Beats have 40 hours of battery life per charge and easily connect to devices via Bluetooth. I use them to knock out essays in the library and to watch trash reality television shows without my roommates knowing. As these headphones last several years and never lose their purpose, they are an investment gift!
Three beauty projects changed my life–Arm and Hammer baking soda toothpaste, shaving cream, and, the most exciting of these, the Laneige lip balm. This trendy product saved my dry, chapped lips last winter. When I came home from my first semester of college with raw lips, my younger sister shared her Laneige lip balm with me. Made with shea butter, vitamin C, and coconut oil, Laniege’s formula ensures hydration. While advertised as a mask for your lips, you can use it like a regular lip balm. The “Sweet Dreams” trio comes with a full-sized berry container and two miniature holiday balms. This tasty platter of lip balms makes a fabulous stocking stuffer.
6. Anything from Ritual Shoppe
Self-described as a haven of “spirituality and shadow, wellness and beauty, integrity and pain,” the Ritual Shoppe in Rittenhouse Square has a plethora of unique gifts. Founded by Boss-Taurus-Dreamer Angela MonacoIf, Ritual Shoppe features one-of-a-kind items from artists local to Philadelphia. Merion Alumna Olivia Hawley ’19, who studies at Temple University’s Tyler College of Art and Design, has sold several of her rings at this location. As most of their jewelry is handcrafted, there is usually only one of each item, making a gift from here extra special and worth the price.
7. Grant BLVD’s "Really Philly" Fanny Pack
Not just for festivals, fanny packs are a must-have accessory for any busy and stylish person. This popular accessory is available at many places, but Grant BLVD’s provides a unique option that combines timeless style with superb utility.Adorned with the words “Really Philly,” this fanny pack is made of 100 percent recycled polyester. Additionally, Grant BLVD is a locally-owned and black-owned business. Though its storefront is on Lancaster Avenue, founder Kimberly McGlonn named the business after her childhood home on 2677 Grant Boulevard. The company employs many incarcerated peoples, providing customers with the opportunity to purchase a fun gift and support businesses with inclusive employment opportunities.
8. Sol de Janeiro's “Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 62 Perfume Mist”
When my roommate and I moved into our dorm, the first thing I noticed was not the furniture or the lights, or the bathroom, but the vanilla scent radiating from my roommate. I had to have what she was wearing. With hints of salted caramel, jasmine, and vanilla, this perfume and body spray is a grown-up girl’s version of the shimmer mists from Bath and Body Works (does anyone remembers “Pink Chiffon?”). The scent molds to any season; the jasmine matches the freshness of spring and summer while the salted caramel and vanilla aspects provide roots for the colder months. With an accessible price point, Sol de Janeiro’s “Brazilian Crush” is a gateway perfume for young people looking to find a signature scent.
9. Printfresh’s “Unicorn's Garden” Short Sleep Pajamas
Printfresh’s pajamas combine nostalgic patterns with artisan skill to create comfortable yet glamorous pajama sets. These pajamas are as cozy and as indulgent as a slice of chocolate cake. I have one pair of these, and they have held up well for the past three years, so I can attest that they are well worth the
price. As an introverted person who prefers a night spent watching movies, these pajamas make every night in a party in my room. Better yet, Printfresh is a majority woman-owned business founded in Philadelphia. Printfresh’s local and female roots are the cherry on top of their ornate designs.
10. Impala’s “Marawa Rose Gold” Roller Skates
If you have seen the images for Greta Gerwig’s 2023 “Barbie” movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, then you know that roller skating has skated back into style! This retro hobby returns to entertain a new generation once again. Philadelphia has several roller rinks, such as one at Dilworth Park and one at Penn’s Landing. These vegan-friendly roller skates from Impala will make you the coolest person on the rink, and they come in many vibrant colors.