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15 Cultural Kwanzaa Gifts for Seven Days of Celebrations

Follow up your festivities with a present that honors your African roots.

nelson mandela print, happy kwanzaa pillow, kwanzaa wine bottles, african print zipper pouch

If you're searching for a Kwanzaa gift — either because you regularly celebrate or because you've been invited to a Kwanzaa gathering — you're getting an opportunity to participate in one of the most unique and singular secular holidays of the season. That's because Kwanzaa isn't tied to any one particular faith. While its roots reach back to the traditions of African harvest festivals, it originated in 20th-century America.

Originally designed as a way for people of the African diaspora to reclaim and celebrate a part of their African heritage lost in (and often intentionally suppressed by) the American cultural landscape, it's now grown to become a celebration of not just historic African traditions, but African American history and achievements, and contemporary African and diasporic endeavors. At it's core, though, remain the Nguzo Saba or seven principles that are symbolized by the seven candles of the kinara: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

So, if you're in need of a gift for Kwanzaa, we've found an array of options that commemorate cultural ideals old and new, and even bring a little extra fun to the celebration.

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Homemade in the Homeland
All Across Africa Basket
All Across Africa

Handwoven by a group of female artisans in rural Rwanda, this decorative woven basket features a loop attached to the back for easy hanging. Each purchase allows these women to support themselves and their families with fair wages.

More: Cute Kwanzaa Gift Ideas for Kids

Keeping it Close to Your Heart
African Map Pendant Necklace
CB Gold Jewelry

Keep their love for their African heritage close to their heart with a cute gold-plated pendant that outlines the entire continent. It's a great way to honor their culture and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

For Celebratory Spirits
Kwanzaa Wine Bottle Label Stickers
Big Dot of Happiness

A bottle of wine is always a welcome Kwanzaa gift for the dinner host, but if you're looking to dress up for a festive occasion, turn to these sweet, sticky-backed labels for an extra spirited feel. Simply place one on top of the bottle's existing label, and it's ready to give and gulp.

Carry the Tradition With You
African Print Zipper Pouch

She'll never run out of essentials to stash in this handmade printed zipper pouch. Stuff it with some useful goodies for Kwanza gift-giving, like a face mask and some sanitizer, or choose a set of nail polishes that are as colorful as this cute pouch.

For a Festive Feast
'Flavors of Africa' by Evi Aki
Page Street Publishing
Now 18% off

There are no hard-and-fast rules on which dishes to serve at your Kwanzaa celebration, but if your host tends to lean more traditional with their edible offerings, opt for a cookbook that can educate and inspire them. 

From Nigeria to Ghana, Kenya, and Morocco, these recipes from different regions will help bring something new to their table.

More: Give These Festive Hanukkah Gifts Instead of Gelt

You're Never Too Old to Color
Kwanzaa Coloring Book: For Kids And Adults
Independently Published

Don't be afraid to go outside the lines with a festive coloring book that'll get your family's creative juices flowing. It's completely kid-friendly — with large and simple drawings that'll teach them the principles of Kwanzaa — but it makes for a great gift for artistic adults of all ages, too.

Celebrate the Seven
Kwanzaa Seven Principles T-Shirt
Kwanzaa Holiday Style Tees

This wearable symbolic gift displays each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). 

These principles are represented by the seven candles that are displayed on the kinara, which is the traditional candleholder used to celebrate the festival.

For Younger Celebrants
'My First Kwanzaa' by Karen Katz
Square Fish

This holiday is all about family and unity, so don't forget about your smallest celebrant when giving Kwanzaa gifts this season. 

This fun and educational children's book will introduce them to the principles of Kwanzaa and convey the importance of community in a simple way that little ones can easily comprehend. 

Honor a Modern Icon
Nelson Mandela Print

How epic is this colorful fabric collage, featuring a powerful black-and-white photo of Nelson Mandela at its center? It beautifully celebrates the anti-apartheid activist and his mark on the world with vivid African-inspired patterns to honor his culture and heritage.  

Sip Straight From the Source
Ajiri Tea Kenyan AA Whole Bean Coffee

Any bold coffee lover will be thrilled to receive this flavorful Kenyan-grown blend, featuring rich burgundy undertones and bright citrus notes with every sip. 

The brand goes beyond making great brews by providing employment and education opportunities for female artisans and orphans in Kisii, Kenya. Each package of coffee comes with a removable piece of women's art that's crafted with dried bark from banana trees and handmade paper.

Read the Reclaimed Folklore
‘The Annotated African American Folktales’
The Annotated Books
Now 52% off

The rich history of African American folklore had, in the 19th and 20th centuries, largely been seen in the United States via white appropriations — particularly the distorted retellings by Joel Chandler Harris.

Here, noted academics Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar endeavor to return these stories to their roots, and in doing so, restore the beloved works of folklore to the intended tellings of their ancestral authors.

Light Up the Room
Kwanza Light-Up Pillow
Cherished Traditions

Celebrate these special 7 days with this cute piece of seasonal decor. Not only does this comfy throw pillow add a splash of color to any room, but the embroidered kinara candles can actually light up at the press of a button. 

For Slumber-Time Style
babyGap Kwanzaa Print PJ Set

Hoping to bring the little ones in on the holiday fun? Introduce the values of the seven principles early with these adorable PJs, available for kids from as young as 6 months all the way up to five years. 

Along with colorful kinara and vibrant vegetables, the print on these PJs features all seven principles, as well as some wrapped gifts. After all, what kid doesn't love presents?

Discover Acclaimed African Literature
‘Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth’ by Wole Soyinka
Now 30% off

In 1986, Wole Soyinka became the first sub-Saharan author and first Black author of any origin to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Now, in 2021, the acclaimed author and playwright has released his first novel in nearly 50 years.

Named a New York Times Notable Book, Chronicles From the Land of the Happy People on Earth is both social satire and intriguing mystery. It's a new and vital work from a crucial figure in Nigeria's rich literary tradition.

For the Film Buff
Pioneers of African-American Cinema
Kino International
Now 45% off

While other holidays have an overflow of seasonal cinema, Kwanzaa-celebrating cinephiles have to rely solely on the Rugrats Kwanzaa episode and the excellent documentary The Black Candle. Indeed, it’s easy to get discouraged, and feel that the African American experience in general hadn’t been authentically told onscreen. That is, until The Learning Tree.

In fact, African Americans were some of the earliest innovators of filmmaking, with a rich industry of films by and for African Americans thriving in the silent era. This collection by Kino Lorber helps to recontextualize the role of African Americans in the history of cinematic storytelling.

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