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10 Ways to Make ‘Home for the Holidays’ a Little Happier

Here’s Your Terp Gift Guide to Spreading Cheer in a Difficult Year

By Sala Levin ’10

Collage of chocolates, masks, Moji Masala spice pack

Images courtesy of businesses

From tasty treats to masks made of traditional textiles to savory spices, goods from Terp-owned businesses can help cross items off your holiday gift-giving to-do list this season.

Maybe you’re home alone for the holidays this winter. Maybe, despite Clarence’s promises, life hasn’t seemed all that wonderful this year. Maybe the Grinch-y spirit is overtaking your personal Whoville in 2020.

The continuing threat of COVID-19 might make this season seem unusually bleak, but one way to lift holiday spirits is to give the gift of caring to loved ones while supporting fellow Terps. We’ve scoured the offerings from many of Maryland alums’ businesses for you. From cozy clothes to handcrafted journals to a cheesecake company that donates to charity, we’ve put together a list of 10 ideas to spread coziness, cheer and comfort through the end of this trying year.

Sweets, Snacks and Spices

Burlap & Barrel products: Royal Cinnamon, New Harvest Turmeric, Pemba ClovesBurlap & Barrel
Royal cinnamon from Vietnam, cured sumac from Turkey, wild mountain cumin from Afghanistan. Burlap & Barrel, a spice company that sources its single-origin products directly from small farms and farmer cooperatives around the world, brings these global flavors straight to your kitchen. Founded by Ori Zohar ’07 and Ethan Frisch, Burlap & Barrel has garnered praise from foodie publications like The New York Times and Bon Appetit for its spices’ rich taste and a community-focused business model.

Chank's Grab 'n' Go Pizza ConesChank’s Grab-N-Go
After nearly a year of pandemic life, you may despair at the idea of washing even one more dish. That’s where Chank’s Grab-N-Go comes in. Created by Eric Ciancaglini ’14 and his family, the company takes cones far beyond the traditional ice cream. Handheld pepperoni pizza cones, Philly cheesesteak cones, and bacon, egg and cheese cones are ideal for an easy work-from-home snack—no cleanup required.


​​​​Chouquette Chocolates & ConfectionsChouquette Chocolates & Confections
If someone in your life is graduating from UMD this month, here’s the perfect treat for them: Chouquette’s University of Maryland 2020 graduation chocolates. Adorned with mortarboards and turtle shells, the candies are a happy welcome to the alumni community. (Another reason to rally behind founder and former Terp Sarah Dwyer’s local business: Many of its employees come via Cornerstone Montgomery, an organization that supports people with mental health and substance use issues.)

Honeycakes jarred dessertHoneycakes Desserts
Decadent and creamy, cheesecake is the ultimate in luxurious desserts. But even luxury needs to be reined in sometimes: That’s why Terrell Johnson M.S. ’10 started Honeycakes Desserts, offering portion-controlled, jarred servings of cheesecakes in flavors like white chocolate peppermint mousse, pumpkin spice, Bailey’s chocolate mousse and more. The company isn’t just about indulging a sweet tooth: 5% of profits go to mental health research, a cause important to Johnson, whose mother has schizophrenia.

Moji Masala spicesMoji Masala
After returning home from his mother-in-law’s house with an armful of containers full of beloved Indian dishes—rogan josh, spiced spinach and masala chicken—JD Walsh ’96 and his wife, Shireen, began discussing how they could make Indian food themselves more easily. Together, they started Moji Masala, which offers pre-measured spice blends (and recipes) to simplify Indian cuisine for the novice cook. The mixes include options for perking up chicken, fish, cabbage, cauliflower and more.

Take Note

Roxy Crochets journalsRoxy Crochets
Roxanne Galloway ’03 put her love of crocheting to work when she began selling handmade scarves, crop tops and baby accessories. Now, Roxy Crochets also offers journals in a variety of themes, from autumn notebooks to ones celebrating historically Black sororities and fraternities.


"Happy New Year!" Sprinkle Love cardSprinkle Love
During the pandemic, Nerissa Legge ’04 noticed widespread anxiety, worry and melancholy among her loved ones. She decided to bring joy to her friends—and a wider circle—by starting Sprinkle Love, a stationery company meant to encourage communication and positive feelings. Cards, notebooks, pens and more bolster reflection and de-stressing.

Get Spruced Up

Women wearing Aurora TightsAurora Tights
When figure skater Jasmine Snead ’18, synchronized skater Imani Rickerby ’17 and competitive dancer Sydney Parker ’18 got dressed for performances, they struggled to find tights that matched their skin tones. Snead even took to dyeing her own tights in the bathtub at home. Together, the sorority sisters founded Aurora Tights, offering performance apparel in a range of shades and hues.


Models wearing MagnapelsMagnapels
Want to jazz up your outfit for your Zoom holiday party but hate sticking lapel pins through your clothes? Magnapels, founded by Anthony Johnson ’10, has a range of magnetic lapel pins, from flowers to lightning bolts to anchors.


RafiNova hats, masks and socksRafiNova
Husband and wife Adam ’07 and Marissa ’07 Goldstein and their four children split their time between Boston and Vietnam. It was in Southeast Asia that the couple fell in love with the local textile traditions. Now, RafiNova sells backpacks, hats, masks and more using textiles sourced directly from Hmong artisans in Asia.




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