The Brandeis Holiday Gift Guide

Hoping to indulge your nearest and dearest (or yourself) as a challenging year draws to a close? Check out these sure-to-please ideas from inventive, out-of-the-ordinary alumni-owned businesses.

Photo of eight of the items listed in the 2020 Holiday Gift Guide.

Still searching for the perfect holiday gift? Want to boost Brandeis alumni-owned small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic?

This Holiday Gift Guide helps you tick both boxes. From delectable desserts and spicy sips, to artisanal threads and values-driven jewelry, the items highlighted here will surprise and delight anyone on your gift list. Some of the listings include codes that give Brandeisian buyers special discounts. Visit to see even more ideas.


Photo of a cat peeking out of a paper box designed to look like a gingerbread house.

For felines who think inside the box

Cat in the Box

The Mega Milk Carton and the Monster Cheese Wedge are among the eye-catching playhouse designs Dawn LaFontaine ’86 makes for discriminating kitties. Her whimsical creations, fashioned from recycled cardboard and soy-based inks, have been featured in Parade magazine and The Boston Globe. From $24.99. Use BRANDEIS15 for 15% off.

Photo of a bedroom with a beamed ceiling and three large floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on a private porch and a sunny mountain vista.

For travelers experiencing wanderlust during lockdown


Still stuck at home? Start dreaming about a stay at Colombia’s first high-end sustainable ecolodge, co-founded by Brian Schon ’06, MBA’11, MPP’11. This hotel in the Andes has earned a 5.0 rating and “slice of heaven” endorsement on TripAdvisor. Surrounded by a forest that’s home to 90 species of birds, the lodge offers yoga and farming classes; rum, coffee and chocolate tastings; and farm-to-table dining. You can purchase a gift card to be used for future travel. From $120 a night for a Superior Double and $255 a night for a Cabaña Junior Suite.

Photo of a face mask, made from cloth woven in a black-and-white herringbone pattern.

For socially conscious accessorizers

Living Threads Co.

Shop here for one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly throws, table linens and scarves, handcrafted by women artisans from underprivileged communities. Amanda Zehner, Heller MA’11, founded the company to help women around the globe earn an independent income; each item comes with a story about — and a photo of — the artisan who made it. From $20 for a woven face mask, $45 for a clutch and $70 for a bamboo silk scarf. Use BRANDEISGIFTING for 10% off, plus free shipping and returns.

Photo of a folded cream-colored blanket

For lovers of luxe


You’ll feel like you’re living at a five-star hotel. The sumptuous line of finely crafted bedding and home goods sold at Authenticity50, co-founded by Stephanie (Fodor) MacDonald ’04, has been featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” the New York Times’ Wirecutter website and Martha Stewart Weddings. Products are made entirely — “from seed to stitch,” the company says — in the USA. From $19 for a set of washcloths, $59 for a pillow and $199 for the company’s bestselling sheets.


Photo of a mound of loose tea, a small wooded spoon and a brown bag printed with the words "Kolkata Chai Co., Awaz Kara, Top Tea in Town."

For tea connoisseurs

Kolkata Chai Co.

Enjoy a fresh cuppa from the cafe co-founded in New York City’s East Village by Ayan Sanyal ’14, who drew inspiration from his family’s South Asian roots. Each chai kit — including the signature masala blend, made from Assam black tea, green cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves — contains enough mix for up to 20 cups. From $18.

Photo of a pair of running shoes, dark blue with white and bright-green accents.

For fitness gurus and wannabes


This firm’s shoes won’t guarantee you’ll break any records at the Boston Marathon, but you’ll be training like an elite runner. Weldon Kennedy ’06 worked with Kenyan athletes to design the first high-performance athletic shoes made in Africa. The majority of the company’s shares are owned by Kenyan shareholders. From $120.

Photo of the front cover of "Such a Library," which features a colorful drawing of a small boy reading in a armchair, surrounded by a whimsical cow, seal and other animals.

For young lovers of Jewish books

Intergalactic Afikoman

A boutique enterprise launched by Carl ’94 and Brianna (Caplan) Sayres ’93, Intergalactic Afikoman publishes imaginative Jewish-themed books for children. Titles include “Such a Library! A Yiddish Folktale Re-Imagined” and “Asteroid Goldberg: Passover in Outer Space.” From $18.95. Use GOBRANDEIS through Dec. 31 for 18% off.

Photo of an opened lipstick against the background of the lipstick pigment, splashed like paint.

For clean-beauty buffs

Palladio Beauty

Botanical- and vitamin-infused cosmetics that are good for the skin, this makeup line launched by Philip Solomon ’89 is one of the leading clean-beauty brands in the U.S. All products are cruelty- and paraben-free, and are formulated from such ingredients as aloe leaf extract, ginseng, ginkgo biloba and jojoba oil. From $8 for blush, lipstick or eyeliner. Use BRANDEIS15 for 15% off.


Photo of a quilt made from T-shirts, many of which have a Brandeis connection.

For sentimentalists who like to stay warm

Project Repat

Co-founded by Ross Lohr, Heller MBA’16, Project Repat gives new life to old threads by upcycling your favorite T-shirts into a custom-made patchwork quilt. The blankets are stitched at factories in Texas or North Carolina by workers who are paid a fair living wage. Each T-shirt quilt, made with minimal carbon impact, helps bring textile jobs back to the U.S. as it wraps you in lasting memories. From $75.


Line drawing of a kitchen showing two paned doors.

For fans of HGTV

Press Interiors

These days, you’re probably spending more time than ever inside your four walls. If you’re working from home — or simply craving a mood-lifting refresh — make sure your space still works for you with the help of interior designer Jennifer Press ’09, who can offer start-to-finish ideas for a much-needed domicile transformation. $175 for an e-consultation; $300 for an in-person appointment (if you live within the Greater New York City area). Mention Brandeis for 20% off.

Photo of ravioli cut out of a sheet of pasta by a round cutter with a fluted edge.

For sociable spaghetti enthusiasts

Pasta Social Club

Make ravioli, make friends! Get cooking with Pasta Social Club founder and chef Meryl Feinstein ’12, whose online workshops on creating fresh pasta are the perfect activity for a date night at home and a must-have tutorial for comfort-food fans. (Read more about Feinstein.) Virtual classes and workshops from $35.

Photo of an open box of truffle-like candies. The cover of the box has a brightly colored abstract design.

For the chocolate adventurer


This “house of brigadeiros,” which Jesse Klee ’05 founded with his wife, Jen, sells tasty, bold versions of the truffles often found on dessert tables when Jen was growing up in Brazil. The Klees’ brigadeiros do not include gluten or nuts, and, at fewer than 100 calories apiece, you’ll be able to indulge guilt-free. $29.95 for a dozen.

Photo of two bracelets. One is gold-colored, engraved with "Black Lives Matter." The other features a large central turquoise-color stone flanked by metal and blue-stone beads.

For activists who wear their heart on their wrist

Bird + Stone

When you don an artfully and ethically made bracelet or necklace from Bird + Stone, you show the world where you stand. Founder and CEO Elana Reinholtz ’11 believes in advancing progressive social causes through business, so at least 10% of each purchase gets donated to a change-making organization. The Black Lives Matter collection, for instance, has already raised more than $50,000 for racial-justice organizations. Bracelets from $22. Use BRANDEIS20 for 20% off.

Photo of a lit candle in a delicate gold-rimmed cup and saucer.

For those who appreciate good scents

Candles by OPG

The business founded by longtime DIY crafters Bria Price, Heller MPP’19, and her mother sells their unique scented soy candles in upcycled teacups. Operating under the slogan “Handmade by Our Mom for You,” this Black-owned enterprise celebrates the impact strong women have on each generation. New scents are being rolled out for the holiday season. From $20.