Often overworked and underappreciated, this year, essential workers should be at the top of our Christmas gift list. Our doctors, nurses, grocers, restaurant owners, mail carriers, bankers/tellers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, security guards, city, county, and state employees, including police officers, and firefighters venture to work every day often tested to their very core. In spite of the risks, essential workers continue to provide unselfish service to others. The service of essential workers are a vital part of our lives. This holiday season, take time to show an essential worker appreciation with a gift that says thank you for your dedication, hard work and selflessness.

Chicago Defender
This story also appeared in Chicago Defender

The Chicago Defender asked a few essential workers to share their ideal Christmas gifts. Nurses Kimberly and Keturah said that gift cards for food and coffee or hand cream, essential oils, diffusers, and foot massagers were at the top of their lists. Nurse Practitioner Starr said that scrubs, compression socks, respiratory/gas masks, candles, vitamins, hand scrubs, and inspirational daily devotionals specifically for nurses were ideal gifts. Security professional, Ashanti, said ideal gifts would be hand sanitizer, insoles for her shoes, a gloves/hat set, and a stylish facemask. Aisha, an entrepreneur in the food industry, said comfortable shoes make great gifts. Many of the essential workers asked for gifts to help them do their jobs more effectively and comfortably.

The Chicago Defender compiled a short list of Black-Owned brands and companies that offer gifts perfect for the essential worker.

Accessories by Charisse (owner – DeLanda Lloyd-Hamilton). Offers a variety of custom jewelry and other fashion items that are affordable, trendy, classic, and never boring. accessoriesbycharisse.com/ | Instagram, @accessoriesbycharisse (Etsy shop coming January 2021)

Absolutely Anything Essential (owner – Kenya Robertson). We offer essential gifts including handcrafted bath and body products, home fragrances, jewelry home decor, specialty gift baskets, and more. We open our facility to other vendors/entrepreneurs who sell essential products. absolutelyanythingessential.com/ | 3521 S King Drive, Chicago | Follow on social media, @absolutelyanythingessential

Blissful Art & Design LLC (owner – S. Te’Resa Thomas). Fine art photography and so much more. Gift cards also available. getblissful.net/shop | Facebook, @artblissful | Instagram, @art_blissful

Crown Naturals Hair & Beard Essentials (for the men). 100% natural and organic ingredients that aid in beard growth and health. Four luxurious scents that you will love. crownnaturalbeard.com | Facebook, @getcrowned911

Emerald Escape Spa Products (owner – Chan Harrell). “Specially curated products with you in mind”. Get ready to escape from it all. We have candles, bath soaps, shea butter, and more. Located inside the Absolutely Anything Essential building, 3521 S King Drive, Chicago | 708-441-4406 |Emeraldescapeproducts.com | Instagram, @emeraldescapespaproducts

Gilano by Ginger (owner – Ginger Norman). An online boutique with custom styles and the perfect “fit” for our essential workers. gilanobyginger.com/ | Facebook & Instagram, @gilanobyginger

Good Girl Glow (owner – Jhayme Lewis). Offers custom, vegan, lip gloss. Shop with this young black entrepreneur today and get the perfect gloss for your favorite essential worker. goodgirlglow.com/shop-all | Facebook & Instagram, @goodgirlglow

 J.U.S.T “Just Us Sistahs Talking” (owner – Felicia Bates Pointer). Many of the JUST products have provided women a sense of comfort while sporting one of our fashionable hoodies or cute scarfs especially during the winter. Proceeds of these purchases go to assist in providing gift baskets to women undergoing breast cancer treatment. justussistahstalking.com/ | Facebook, @JustLLC

KYI Little Treasures (owner – Nastacia Hutcherson). Has a variety of great gifts for essential workers from blinged-out reels for nurse’s ID badges to personalized cups, can koozies, masks, and more. Facebook, @kyilittletreasure | (773) 916-3613

Nails by Twist (owner, Michael Whitaker) Encounter relaxation on another level AND “the best pedicure this side of heaven”. Gift cards available. Get some today and/or book your appointment at the Relaxation Station, 10655 S Hale, Chicago | 773-677-4722 | michaelwhitaker.glossgenius.com/services | Instagram, @nailsbytwist

Nails So Fly by way of Color Street (owner – Laticha Douglas). Sells Color Street 100% Nail Polish Strips. No dry time, no smudges, do-it-yourself manicures for a fraction of the salon price without social distancing concerns. Makes great stocking stuffers. Order today at colorstreet.com/FlyGirlTish/products | Join the group on Facebook

Paparazzi (Independent Consultant – Holly Lee). Make sure your essential workers stay fly with the most essential part of their wardrobe, jewelry. Stretch your dollar with the $5 holla! paparazziaccessories.com/297735/

Rosebud Reflections (owner – Dora Muhammad). Provide face shields, masks, soap, lotions, and True Detergent for essential workers. Located 1240 E 79th Street, Chicago | 7736297726

SiaMese Crocodiles LLC (SMC, owner – Thomas Wrencher) Our NEW Queenz cards are customized poker cards honoring history-changing black women. Essential workers can play their favorite card games during downtime like spades, solitaire, and/or bid whist. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Betty Shabazz International Charter School of Chicago. siamesecrocodiles.com/store/ | Facebook, @BlackUnityMovement

Keep in mind that shipping may be delayed due to COVID-19. However, a carefully thought out gift is still great even though it may be late. Shop small and support these fantastic black-owned businesses. Each business listed offers something extraordinary for those extra special and well-deserving essential workers in your life. Happy Holidays!

Kim Durden is a food writer and owner of Divine Dine Food Tours and DivinE320, an online marketplace featuring themed and custom gift boxes.


This story is a part of the Solving for Chicago collaborative effort by newsrooms to cover the workers deemed “essential” during COVID-19 and how the pandemic is reshaping work and employment.

Essential Workers logo

It is a project of the Local Media Foundation with support from the Google News Initiative and the Solutions Journalism Network. The 19 partners span print, digital and broadcasting and include WBEZ, WTTW, the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Defender, La Raza, Shaw Media, Block Club Chicago, Borderless Magazine, the South Side Weekly, Injustice Watch, Austin Weekly News, Wednesday Journal, Forest Park Review, Riverside Brookfield Landmark, Windy City Times, the Hyde Park Herald, Inside Publications, Loop North News and Chicago Music Guide.