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UMD Holiday Gift Guide 2021

Terp-created Custom Cheese Boxes, Anti-aging Skincare, Award-winning Books and More

By Karen Shih ’09

Collage of cheese box, anti-aging cream, Stuntboy book, macarons

Alum-created foods and beverages, health and beauty products, and books are among our gift ideas for the Terps in your life this holiday season.

Collage by Emma Howells

Your friends are already sporting Maryland flag masks from Route One Apparel’s Ali Von Paris ’12, your family’s eating funny-shaped Hungry Harvest fruits and vegetables from Evan Lutz ’14, and you’re running holiday errands in Under Armour shoes from Kevin Plank ’96.

But why stop there? Now might be the time to branch out by trying tasty treats, convenient classes or bestselling books from other University of Maryland students, alums, faculty and staff. Check out this (non-exhaustive!) guide with something for everyone on your shopping list.

Food and Beverage
Looking for a sweet treat? Caroline Ta '21 makes gluten-free French macarons—including custom characters like those from the super-popular TV series “Squid Game”—as well as cakes and other desserts through SweetsbyCaroline. Or take a trip back in time with artisanal honey gift sets from Bee America, co-owned by Chris White MBA ’07, which offers unique blends that can recreate the taste of honey at key points in U.S. history.

If it’s savory you’re after, Nyana Quashie ’15 has you covered. Along with her mom, she runs Camella’s Kitchen, a spice and seasoning company that honors her grandmother, bringing a taste of Trinidad and Tobago to Maryland. Feeling cheesy? Kara McGrath ’13 is the founder of Paste & Rind Cheese Co., which creates custom cheese boxes, displays and tastings for gatherings large and small this holiday season.

For a little liquid pick-me-up, have a sip of Krios Coffee, enriched with vitamins, herbs and roots, by Matthiew Feder ’19. Or to make the party come to you, check out Thirsty Turtle, the latest venture from Von Paris—named for the College Park bar staple of the 2000s—which delivers local craft alcohol, including Shmidt Spirits by Arthur Shmidt ’06.

Beauty and Lifestyle
For the busy bee in your life, consider a stylish, multi-purpose bag—which can fit everything from water bottles to shoes to diapers—from MinkeeBlue, founded by Sherrill Mosee ’86. Offer some pampering with Bluelene anti-aging skincare, developed by Kan Cao, associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, and led by Jasmin El Kordi ’83. Or treat a friend to a blowout for hair of all types from Hair + Space located right in College Park, founded by Regina Holbert ’06.

Subscriptions and Services
If you’ve got friends and family who prefer to stay home this winter, you’ve got options. Try a streamable fitness class from Fortë, created by Lauren Foundos ’06, a former Terps field hockey standout. Globetrot from the comfort of your own kitchen with a cooking class from Fancy & Spicy from Brin Xu Ph.D. ’22, learning everything from Cantonese stir-fried scallion and ginger crabs to Spanish paella Valenciana.

But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your mountain of subscriptions, from Hulu to Spotify and Blue Apron—or know someone who is—let TrueBill clear the clutter from your monthly bills. Founded by four (!) Terp brothers Haroon ’01, Zeki ’01, Yahya ’06 and Idris ’10 Mokhtarzada, the app makes budgeting and saving easy.

Curl up on the couch with one of these books from Terp authors, with options for kids and adults alike. UMD’s winter commencement speaker, Jeff Kinney ’93 has both a new book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot,” and a new animated movie on Disney+, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Prolific New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds ’05 is back with “Stuntboy,” aimed at middle schoolers, about a young Black superhero.

Get ahead of the next pop-culture phenomenon by reading The Broken Earth sci-fi trilogy by Hugo Award winner N.K. Jemisin M.Ed. ’97, which was recently acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment for adaptation. Or join former President Barack Obama, who put “The Things We Lost to the Water” by Eric Nguyen ’09 on his summer reading list; it tells the story of a Vietnamese refugee family and their challenges adapting to life in the United States.

Give Back
Spread some love this holiday season by supporting great causes, led by Terps. Isaac Moore, associate director of development in UMD’s Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life, created DMV Does Good to help people who struggle with food and housing insecurity in Washington, D.C. On campus, the students of Terps Raising Pups, the UMD chapter of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, train puppies while juggling classes, preparing the canines for their future work.



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