SMU alumni holiday gift list

Mustang-grown gift ideas and books for the holiday season

From products with purpose to fun-loving gift ideas and new book releases, the SMU alumni holiday gift list features some of the latest Mustang-grown items to hit the market as well as a few all-time favorites. Don’t see something on the list that should be there? Let us know about it.

A photo of Dallas Hall decorated with holiday lighting.
Dallas Hall

Gift ideas

Gardenuity co-founder Donna Letier ’85 makes gardening accessible, easy and successful for everyone. From a festive holiday amaryllis bulb to a cocktail herb garden kit, there’s a variety of “I grew that” experiences to keep your friends and family growing.

CURLē Beauty products embrace the uniqueness and beauty of natural hair. Founder Mona El-Gharby ’21 created science-based formulations that promote healthy hair and scalp in all contexts. Products include styling cream, deep conditioner, and hair and beard oil.

Carolynne Chancellor ’82 is co-owner and grape grower of Checkered Past, an urban winery that has roots in an East Texas vineyard and Italian winemaking tradition. Bottles ship nationwide.

Jarrey Foster ’19 launched purpose-driven apparel line One Zero Athletics with business partner Andrew Gautreaux ’05 to remove the stigma attached to mental health. The brand features unisex “empact” and dynamic tees.

Make Your Life Sweeter founder, Yasmeen Tadia ’04, transformed standard-issue carnival cotton candy and popcorn into gourmet indulgences with a line of sweet sensations in fun packaging, including artisanal mini cotton candy, gourmet popcorn, organic cotton candy and more creative treats.

Akola offers beautifully handcrafted and sustainable jewelry made in Uganda. Founder Brittany Merrill Underwood ’06 launched the purpose-driven brand in 2007 to create dignified employment and living wages for Ugandan women.

Founder Laura Leatherberry ’08 created SippingTHIS to help wine lovers express themselves. Her products feature original – and sometimes risqué – wine sayings paired with modern design. Choose from wine-themed coasters, glassware, apparel and hangover-helpers.

Sumaiya Nasir Fitzpatrick ’10 launched menswear online retailer The Button Down Store, specializing in high-quality and affordable shirts for men that can be worn for formal or informal occasions.

Inspired by her Ethiopian heritage, Lidya Winnie ’19 launched plant-based and cruelty-free beauty brand Konjo Beauty in 2020. Products include clay masks and serums designed with women of color in mind that are meant for anyone to use.

Gabrielle Garcy ’19 launched Geri Gabi, a luxury lifestyle brand focused on modernizing entertaining while keeping traditional values and design. Her products include interchangeable napkin rings with patent-pending technology and table linens.

Epoch Estate Wines owners and vintners Liz Martin Armstrong ’82 and Bill Armstrong ’82 discovered the perfect American terroir to create world-class, Rhône-style wines on California’s Central Coast. Bottles ship nationwide, or book an appointment to visit the tasting room.


Craig Lucie ’04 published the children’s book Hold You. Inspired by his young daughter who said, “Hold you!” when she really meant, “Hold me,” Hold You is Lucie’s story about the endearing phrase that was just too cute to correct. The book serves as a reminder to all to make time for each other.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is a thriller inspired in part by author Ashley Winstead’s ’16 10-year SMU reunion. Her debut novel “explores how returning to a college alma mater with something to prove can have devastating consequences,” according to Texas Lifestyle Magazine.

Sallie Stratton ’79 recently published her memoir Losing Chuck, Finding Sallie: The Thirty-Six Year Odyssey of a Wife Whose Husband Was MIA in Vietnam. David Tarrant of The Dallas Morning News, wrote, “As emotionally powerful a story ever written about the families of the missing and unaccounted-for in Vietnam, Sallie’s journey ultimately takes her on a path of her own choosing: A way forward without forgetting her past.”

Kirkus Reviews calls the novel 10 Days by Jule Selbo ’73 an entertaining, richly textured suspense yarn with a spirited hero.” Selbo has written for George Lucas, George Romero, Aaron Spelling and Geena Davis. Her plays have been performed off-off Broadway and in regional theaters.

Willy the Texas Longhorn by Alan Elliott ’76 is a Lone Star Christmas tale for young Mustangs in the making. “Willy, the Texas Longhorn, no ordinary steer/ Had a kinda crazy dream: to fly like Santa's deer...”

Poet Ayaz Pirani ’93 published an 11-poem collection, Bachelor of Art, (Anstruther Press, 2020). “There is a fierce, underlying tension to his lines, one that unfolds as a counterpoint to the ease of his thoughtful, engaged lyric,” writes Rob Mclennan in a review of the chapbook.

Elizabeth “Sissy” Jeffett ’83 published Crude Intent (Defiance Press, 2020), the sequel to Silent Partners, an Alex Sheridan thriller and the second book in the Alex Sheridan series. From the book’s description: “Is a suspicious explosion at one of Alex Sheridan’s oil wells in the Colorado national forest just an accident or part of a diabolical plan?”

Birthright: Recall is the debut novel by Dale Thomas Vaughn ’06, a rising star in science fiction and fantasy circles. Birthright: Recall is the first in a new trilogy, and is perfect for fans of TV shows such as Firefly, The Expanse and Star Trek. It’s available in hardcover and paperback and on Kindle.