The Garage Gift Guide 2021

Dec 6, 2021

The Garage’s annual holiday gift guide is one of our favorite projects each year. We love supporting student-founded startups and helping them gain some extra visibility around the holidays while helping you round out your shopping list. 

This year, we’re especially excited to have so many *new* ideas and ways to shop that we think will make perfect presents for your family and friends (or even for yourself)! From gluten-free, dairy-free treats that don’t compromise on deliciousness to shoes made from plants, this list is one of our best yet. And, there’s more sustainable options than ever plus some fun ideas for our 21+ shoppers.

Here’s our top picks for our 2021 holiday gift guide, all featuring ventures, products, and startups founded by students and alumni of The Garage at Northwestern! 

1. Give the perfect gift, sustainably. 

We all know that shopping second-hand is more sustainable and less expensive, but it can also be super stressful when you have something specific in mind for that special someone. Beni, co-founded by Sarah Pinner '21, changes the game by making shopping on some of the most popular consignment and second-hand platforms easier than ever. No more sifting through thousands of items to find exactly what you want.

Their Google Chrome extension sits quietly in your browser while you shop how you normally do on websites you love (think Nordstrom, ASOS, Madewell, Aritzia, and more). When you come across an item on a Beni-supported website, the extension will automatically curate that item or similar options from websites like Poshmark or ThredUp and guide you there to make your purchase seamlessly.

Sign up for the Beni extension at

2. Leave behind the stress of planning holiday get-togethers. 

Heading back home for the holidays this year, and planning to catch up with friends? Make seeing your loved ones more fun and less stressful by leaving out the hassle of planning with Cravosity, a new app founded by Malvi Hemani ’21. Cravosity offers curated restaurant options and saves you time by coordinating schedules and preferences when making dinner plans for a group. 

Download the app here to get started.

3. Heading to a holiday party? Bring Liquid Confidence. 

As the first canned kombucha cocktail made with premium spirits like four-year aged bourbon, Liquid Confidence will be a hit at any holiday get together. This light, flavorful drink lets you party without compromise with way less sugar than other low-calorie drinks and an 8% ABV for your highest energy gatherings. The team behind the first-of-its-kind beverage includes current Kellogg MBA students, Confidence Udegbue ’22, Catherine Lamb ’22, Dennis Wong ’22, and Ashley Sherman ’22.

Their first flavor, lemon ginger, is available on shelves all over Chicago and online, here.

4. Diversify your child’s at-home library with a subscription box that has a mission.

Only 13% of children’s books on the market feature multicultural content. Furthermore, 67% of low-income families have no books at home for their children. Equal Opportunity Book Box, founded by Jacob Jordan ’21, hopes to increase representation and access to inclusive children’s books through a monthly subscription service.

With each book sold by EOBB, one is donated - which makes this gift extra special. You can sign up on a month by month basis or pre-purchase multiple months for an even better deal! Get your book box here

5. Sidestep the ordinary - and grab these shoes made of plants.

Founded by Dave Costello ’19, Kengos is making footwear a force for good with their mens and womens sneakers made of 87% plant-based materials. This means less greenhouse gases in the air and less shoes ending up in landfills.

Plus, in a range of colors and backed by a team with a love of fashion, they’re pretty stylish on top of being good for the environment! We like the limited edition green pair that was naturally dyed with matcha! Shop here

6. The shot ski just got a major upgrade.  

Founded by Audrey Melville ’23, the Tipsy Oar is a fun new take on the shot ski (here’s a little background in case you need it). This customizable oar has three magnets that secure the shot glasses for easy and fun partying with your friends.

This hand-painted keepsake is on track to become an annual tradition. Keep up with all things tipsy on Tipsy Oar’s Instagram, and customize yours here.

7. A limited edition tote to haul your holiday finds.

Founded by Yasmeena Faycurry ’22, Unfound is an app and community to discover unique, off-the-beaten-path places. On a mission to live life unfiltered, Unfound harnesses a robust online community to crowd-source and curate the coolest coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, and more. 

The Unfound team wanted to make something cool that users could take along as they explore the *unfound* around them. This limited edition tote (and stickers!) were created in collaboration with Brooklyn artist, @spencergab. Get yours here!

8. A reliable smart battery and eco-friendly energy source. 

Co-founded by Sophia Wennstedt ’22, blip energy (a semifinalist in VentureCat 2021) just launched their first product. blipOne is a smart, reliable, at-home battery that stores power when it’s cheapest and lets users access emergency power whenever they need it.

Recently recognized in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and with 80 backers on Kickstarter, this eco-friendly investment is easily installed in any home or apartment. The Kickstarter campaign is open until December 19 - and we think this is an awesome technology to be early adopters of!

9. An on-the-go smoothie packed with nutrients. 

Launched by Kathryn Bernell ’18, reHarvest Provisions gives you a quick, easy option to get some fruits and veggies in your diet among all the holiday cookies and indulgences in a portable smoothie pop.

The smoothie “shots” are small but mighty - and designed to deliver a superfood boost quickly and easily. Just freeze and go! Shop the full line up (including Detox, Chill, Recover, and more) here. 

10. Scrumptious sweets everyone can share. 

Nine Times Bakery, founded by Emily Mohr ’21 (and a semifinalist in VentureCat 2021) creates delicious gluten-free, dairy-free baked goods using simple, high quality ingredients. This means everyone at the table can enjoy them no matter the dietary restrictions.

The best part is that there is no compromise on taste. These treats aren’t meant to be healthy - they’re meant to satisfy. Browse the full selection of yummy treats you can have shipped directly to your door here

About the Author