Valentine’s day is approaching, and whether you choose to celebrate it or not – either that be with a partner, or put a platonic twist on it and have a fun filled day to celebrate your love for your best friend, it’s always nice to ensure you have put thought and effort into the way you choose to share your love and affection. I like to think I’m a good gift giver, and I absolutely love celebratory holidays, therefore I thought it wise to share some suggestions I have for a fellow spoonie in your life, with an emphasis on independent businesses.
Of course those with chronic illness can still love lingerie, boxes of chocolates, and flowers just as much as able bodied folx, however there may have to be additional thought but into fashion, clothing, and fragranced products for those with allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, or dietary intolerances. It’s always a good idea to check with the person if there are any particular allergens they are known to react to, or if they would rather you stray away from certain types of gifts, as the individual always knows themselves better than anyone else.
Over the past few years there has been a boom in the free-from food market, with the wave of conscious consumerism and the amount of people who have a dietary restriction – this expansion in the market is wonderful as it provides variety, and heightened accessibility to product which you may have struggled to find, or afford in the past. So below I have listed a few different companies I have come across in my search, who have very limited, if any common allergens in their products.
Fetcha Chocolates is an Etsy based small business selling vegan, ethically sourced chocolate free of palm oil. Chocolates are hand-packed in plastic-free material.
SendShop is an Etsy based small business selling letterbox sweets. Their services can be tailored to include sweets you can have based on preference and allergies as long as you contact the seller, and they can even include a handwritten note for free!
Candy Kittens is a gourmet sweet company who strive to create delicious sweets in a sustainable way, with products suitable for vegans and w/o gluten. They are also available to purchase from Mighty Small, a supermarket for small businesses.
I adore flowers, but my sinuses do not – as I have hay fever, an allergic response to pollen; a condition affecting up to 1 in 5 people. Flowers which don’t release pollen can still be irritants because of their potent fragrance, however certain flowers are considered to be hay-fever friendly, such as roses, peonies, hydrangeas, snapdragons, astrantia, and gladioli (Top 6 Hay Fever Friendly Flowers – Interflora, 2021).
Although an interesting alternative to fresh flowers, is dried flowers – and dried flower bouquets last much longer, and are don’t provoke hay fever symptoms.
Horseshoe Flowers offer a selection of hand arranged bouquets, with the option to create a bespoke hand-tied bouquet for someone special.
BloomPost are a company selling letterbox gifts, a large amount of said gifts include flowers, both fresh and dried. However they aren’t simply bouquets, you have the option to include a personalisable greeting card, or even party bunting if you’re celebrating a birthday or special occasion. The letterbox delivery ensures that the gift can still be delivered if the person is unable to come to the door.
Like flowers, certain scents can be difficult to tolerate for people with scent allergies, and some chemicals such as sulphates or phthalates found in some perfume can be difficult to tolerate – but there are other alternatives – such as natural fragrances. Candles and diffusers are similar, even though we aren’t applying them to the skin, but be careful with what scents you’re purchasing as some essential oils are dangerous to animals – and should be avoided if the person has a pet.
This fragrance selection offers you the opportunity to try seven popular Ellis Brooklyn natural fragrances.
MALIN + GOETZ
This sample set allows you to try six popular MALIN + GOETZ fragrances.
VeganbunnyCo are a small business based on Etsy, selling vegan and cruelty-free candles.
Vegan Makes By Laura
Vegan Makes By Laura are a small, spoonie owned business based on Etsy, selling vegan and cruelty-free candles, wax melts and scent accessories
Intimately is an accessible underwear company which promotes disabled inclusivity at the heart of their design. Their products are both widely accessible, and fashionable; which is rarely seen in the lingerie space. They provide a range of styles for both bras and briefs, including period panties.
ModiBodi are an underwear company who specialise in period and leak proof underwear which is breathable, comfortable, and available to everyone; no matter your gender identity. You can shop their range of products based on the level of absorbency you require, and which style and colour you prefer – or simply by taking their product quiz.
It’s safe to say that a lot of people enjoy jewelry, but for some people different types of jewelry can be difficult to wear, for example some people with sensory disorders struggle with the sensation of wearing jewelry – so it’s always wise to observe if the person wears it, or ask them if they like it and what their preferred style is. But one thing is for certain, individuals with chronic illnesses and skin disorders, such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, may have to be incredibly careful when wearing certain materials, in case it triggers an allergic reaction or heightened skin sensitivity. As someone with suspected MCAS, I have to make sure I buy sterling silver, gold plated silver, or stainless steel necklaces – as nickel, copper, and brass cause a small but uncomfortable rash, as they are not hypoallergenic.
Therefore I have listed an selection of different jewelry pieces below from small businesses who provide the option for hypoallergenic pieces, or use material which would be suitable for many.
ARTISUNtis – Peach Moonstone Resin Ring
The resin material is easily cleaned, and won’t tarnish with hand sanitiser like metal rings.
Lunareya – Gold Crescent Moon Huggies
These earrings are hypoallergenic, and lightweight for delicate ears.
TheCieloStudio – Birth Flower Necklace
This necklace is hypoallergenic and personalisable.
Whether it be a book, audio book, or e-book, absorbing written works is something enjoyed by so many – however this obviously has to be in an accessible format to the person you are gifting a book to. If you know the individual consumes audio material easier than visual material, then an audio book would be a useful option, so a gift voucher and reading recommendation would be a nice place to start. Furthermore, if the individual uses a kindle or their tablet to read e-books, then I would suggest sticking to this option incase physical copies are too difficult to handle with any wrist pain, or impaired fine motor coordination.
Below I have included a few books by disabled authors which I would definitely recommend!
- Disability visibility
- The Handi Book
- University and chronic illness: a survival guide