Upworthy gift guide 2021
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If you're looking for the perfect present to buy a special someone or want to treat yourself (because you deserve it), look no further, as we have carefully hand-picked our favorites from Upworthy Market! At our shop, you can feel good about your shopping because every dollar you spend directly supports artisans who create their own products. In this gift guide, you'll find products that range from jewelry to games, accessories and more—all items that we personally love at team Upworthy.


1. 3D Tic Tac Toe

Waraporn Khamsuk creates a challenging tic tac toe from Thailand. Handcrafted from rain tree wood, the game features a square board with nine standing pegs for the addition of complementary X and O shapes. Just like traditional tic tac toe, the goal is for one of two players to arrange their shapes three-in-a-row. With this game, however, the rules of the old pastime are brought into a three-dimensional space—fun for the whole family.

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2. Alpaca Scarf

Woven by hand on a traditional loom, alpaca in shades of grey form a classic herringbone pattern. Raquel and Gregor weave this distinguished scarf by hand. The ends are not hemmed but are neatly trimmed for a smooth silhouette.

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3. Puzzle Set

Keep everyone entertained with our handcrafted set of 6 or 12 wooden logic puzzle games. Games include falling star, snake cube, ball in jail and more. Thai artisan Waraporn Khamsuk handcrafts each of the puzzles that come in a handy storage box.

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4. Unique Recycled Shoulder Bag

Fiesta colors alternate with silver in a charming shoulder bag. From Maria Isabel Ramos, the purse is woven from recycled candy and cookie wrappers and lined with cotton fabric.

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5. Handmade Ceramic Tree Ornaments

Made of shaped terracotta and hand painted in bright tropical colors, these festive ornaments depict colorful Christmas trees. Jose Arriola creates a set of six, each one different. Poinsettias with distinct stylizations adorn them, and the set arrives in a pouch of hand-loomed cotton.

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6. Mindful Cat Sculpture

A serene cat sits in lotus pose as if in prayer or meditation in this charming sculpture. Hand-carved in Bali from local suar wood and signed by artist Nengah Sudarsana, who shares his love for animals through his work.

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7. Stylish Elephant Elephant Charm Anklet

Tiraphan Hasub crafts a stylish anklet, centering bright brass beads with colorful agate. A symbol of old Siam, an elephant graces this original design. Jingling bells form the clasp, and the anklet is adjustable in length.

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8. Twirling Sterling Silver Dangle Earrings

Pichaya designs modern earrings that appear to dance and twirl. The earrings are expertly crafted by hand with the luminous elegance of sterling silver.

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9. Handmade Rain Tree Wood Bottle Puzzle

Demonstrating her creativity and love for games, Thai artisan Waraporn Khamsuk creates this ingenious puzzle that is perfect for entertaining friends and guests. The goal is to figure out how to free a wine bottle using four pieces of interlocking rain tree wood, a task that will prove to be an enjoyable and motivating challenge. The puzzle is reusable and fits a 12-inch by 3-inch wine bottle.

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10. Fair Trade Men's Brown Leather and Brass Adjustable Bracelet

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step," according to Chinese poet and philosopher Lao Tzu. Show your adventurous spirit with this subtly rugged brown leather wristband bracelet. Thailand's Chaloemphon crafts the bracelet by hand, weaving a narrow belt of leather along the wider cuff. Brass snaps secure the bracelet at one of three lengths for a comfortable fit.

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11. Apple Green Jade Solitaire Ring

Evoking the ancient Maya, this beautiful and simple solitaire ring is crowned by an oval of apple green Guatemalan jade. This stunning accessory is designed by Zandra Lorena Sajbin, who crafts the ring with a band of sterling silver.

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12. All Cotton Multicolored Cosmetic Bag

Working with a traditional loom, the House of Antigua Artisans creates beautiful accessories like this cosmetic bag. The all-cotton fabric is a jaspe weave in navy, crimson and avocado. The bag is trimmed with light brown faux suede, and fully lined in polyester. It's just the right size for cosmetics or travel-sized toiletries.

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13. Happiness Mug

Painted onto the surface of this ceramic mug is a colorful and vibrant sun in the tradition of Mexican folk art with the message of "Happiness" on the reverse. Eufrosia Pantaleon creates this simple and classic mug.

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14. Cheerful Turtle Plant Pot

A cheerful little turtle comes to life in terracotta. Handcrafted by ceramists from the House of El Salvador Artisans, this versatile design is perfect to hold a potted plant. Geometric patterns in pale brown adorn the ornate shell

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15. Wood Three-Sided Domino Set

By Thai artisan Waraporn Khamsuk, this domino set offers a unique twist on the traditional tabletop game. Handmade from rain tree wood, 56 triangular dominoes or "trionimoes" come in a handy wooden box. The corners of each domino are hand-painted with colorful dots. This 2-6 player set offers fun for the whole family.

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16. Dolphin Necklace

Sleek and agile, twin dolphins leap and play on this pendant necklace made by Andi Rachmansyah in Bali. The pendant is hand- carved from smooth cow bone and centered on a black cotton cord of adjustable length.

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17. Owl Trio Statues

Three petite green ceramic owls recommend that we "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil." Believed to have originated in ancient Japan, these charming statuettes are crafted by hand and given the crackled glaze that is characteristic of celadon ceramic.

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18. Lotus Flower Sterling Silver Band Ring

Realized in darkly oxidized relief, the image of a single lotus flower is featured on this band ring from Bali. Asmara Putra designs the ring, crafted of sterling silver.

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19. Alpaca Wool Beanie

The colors of the firmament, when the sun finally bids day farewell, inspire the vibrant design of this alpaca hat. Fernando Cano creates vibrant patterns as he knits the hat in shades of plum, orange, green and brown. Alpaca has been prized in the Andean region for centuries thanks to its warm and lightweight fleece.

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20. Protective Tranquility bracelet

Rituu Agarwal honors Buddhist meditation practices with the design of this Shambhala-style bracelet. Meaning "bliss" in Sanskrit, the Shambhala-style bracelet symbolizes tranquility, peace and happiness—the oneness of all. Rituu expertly knots the cotton bracelet by hand with macramé techniques and crowns it with black and enhanced onyx, believed to protect against negativity.

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Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Family

2 photos of a woman's bedroom reveal just how powerful depression can be.

"We need to be able to talk to each other about our feelings, even the bad ones."

This article originally appeared on September 7, 2016

Jonna Roslund is a 26-year-old from Sweden who lives with depression.

Photo via Jonna Roslund, used with permission.

Living with a mental illness affects many areas of a person's life, including one annoyance most of us can relate to: the dread of household chores.

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A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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