There’s a steaming mug of spiced cider and a Christmas movie on TV calling my name, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Searching for gifts is my favorite part of the holiday season (tied with the delicious food, cozy time with my family, pretty lights everywhere and old timey music). I love finding the perfect present for someone I love, wrapping it up and placing it under the tree, then seeing their reaction when they open up a unique, heartfelt and useful gift. Every gift idea in this guide checks those requirements, and every purchase supports independent brands and the talented makers behind them.
To get you started on your shopping, these are my picks for a few of the special people in your life: the epicure, the best friend, the homebody, the gentleman and the new mama. I hope this guide makes gift shopping, and supporting small businesses, a little easier this year. Happy holidays!
For the Epicure
Nicole Novena is the talented artist behind clay + craft, a collection of simple and timeless ceramic wares for the table and home. Her pieces have a streamlined, slightly geometric look that fits in any kitchen and they’re dishwasher and microwave safe, so they’re meant to be used and loved. Her mug and plate set is a current favorite of mine; it’s the perfect size for a slice of cake or a cookie to accompany my mid-morning tea.
Bitters are, as Portland-based brand The Bitter Housewife puts it, the spice rack of cocktail making. For a long time I thought bitters was just one herbal, spiced flavor, but since finding this collection I’ve realized just how diverse bitters can be, from this bright and floral orange one, to woodsy, spiced flavors like cardamom and coriander. They heighten and enhance flavors in your favorite drinks, elevating your home cocktail game, and they’re handcrafted here in Portland from sustainably sourced ingredients.
The Bitter Housewife’s sister company, RAFT Botanicals, produces delicious syrups that add sweetness and flavor to cocktails, and can also be mixed with soda for a low sugar, real ingredient drink if you’re pregnant like me or just want to drink something tasty but light. This cranberry one is spiced with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and black pepper, and tastes like the holidays distilled into a bottle. Try the citrus rosemary, too!
This is, hands down, the best chai concentrate I’ve ever tried, and as a chai latte enthusiast, I’ve tried quite a few. Both the masala chai and turmeric are perfectly spiced, with balanced and complex flavors thanks to carefully sourced whole spices that they grind fresh for each batch. The amount of sweetness is just right, too. If that weren’t enough, they are beautifully bottled and also come in sets that are ready to gift.
A lot of kitchen wares are functional but utilitarian looking, while others are beautiful but impractical. Tiffany Lee’s handcrafted wood boards and rolling pins are meant to be used, and are also totally display worthy. She makes cutting and serving boards in her Portland home studio that range from the simple and rustic to one of a kind, complex patterned pieces – all make for gorgeous gifts. If you’re in the Portland area, be sure to check out her work in person at her holiday shows!
Bee’s Wrap is a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce. This beeswax-coated cotton food wrap is a great sustainable solution for storing leftovers, covering bowls and wrapping up sandwiches since it’s reusable and compostable once it wears out. Since adding Bee’s Wrap to my kitchen I’ve found myself reaching for plastic wrap far less – it’s perfect for wrapping up a small wedge of cheese or veggies I’ve prepped in advance.
For the Best Friend
I don’t wear much makeup but I do love indulging in skincare, and I adore Kristen Runvik’s Northwest-made, plant-based skincare line. Kristen’s background in herbalism informs her nourishing formulas, like this Goldem Om facial oil with ylang ylang, sweet orange and patchouli; it’s so soothing and smells amazing! If you place an order online, Kristen will make a donation to the Women’s Resource Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Plus, she’s offering readers 10% off orders of $50+ with OHHONEY2017 through the end of the year!
I love chunky knits, and come on, that pom pom! Forefolk Studio is a knitwear line created by Erin and Joe, a husband and wife team in Saint Paul, Minnesota, so you know they know a thing or two about staying warm and cozy in the winter. Every one of their hats, scarves and mittens are gorgeous and what could be more heartfelt than a handmade knit? They sell patterns, too, if you want to try your hand at making something. Make sure you order by December 10 for Christmas delivery!
Not only does this candle have a relaxing, herbal sage and lavender scent, it comes with a textured gold lid whose underside will light a strike anywhere match! I find some candles a little too smelly and end up with a headache when I burn them, but not this one; Kristi Head thoughtfully blends pure essential oils for subtly fragrant, clean smelling candles with an impressive burn time and a gorgeous vessel. She gives to charity with every candle purchase, too.
Give me ten minutes with this aromatherapy eye pillow filled with lavender, chamomile flowers and buckwheat and I’m a new person. It makes a lovely gift for any friend in need of a little self care, and isn’t that just about everyone? The Japanese linen pillowcase is removable for washing, and the scent is super long lasting. Bodha’s beautiful brass incense holder and calm ritual spray are worth a look, too.
I love the long length and subtle curve of this necklace from Anna Korte’s AK Studio. Anna designs and handcrafts brass jewelry, mobiles and wall hangings here in Portland, and her work is modern, delicate and bold all at once. Hers is the kind of jewelry you can wear everyday and with any outfit, making her pieces super giftable to any friend who likes to accessorize with a bit of subtle shine.
Bridget’s ceramics have a warmth and whimsical quality that you only find with handmade wares. I love the way she uses color, texture and shape to create distinctive pieces like these ring cones, and can guarantee that your gift recipient won’t have anything like them. The ring cones have a slightly asymmetrical look but are well balanced and look lovely on a nightstand. If you’re in the Boulder area, check out one of Bridget’s holiday pop ups.
For the Homebody
If you’ve never thought of gifting cleaning accoutrements, think again! These thick, absorbent and beautifully sewn towels will be used as napkins and handy mess cleaner uppers day after day by whoever receives them. They’re handmade in a variety of colors by Jennifer (who adorably named her company after her grandparents), and she makes them durable enough to withstand regular use. They’re the epitome of a thoughtful, functional and beautifully made gift.
Unlike disposable, chemical-laden dryer sheets, these hand felted dryer balls are toxin-free, durably made and beautiful to look at, too. Brooke Perry makes each set by hand in a range of beautiful colors; each comes ready to gift in a muslin bag. They do a great job of keep laundry soft and static-free, and if you add a little essential oil to them your laundry comes out smelling like flowers. What gift is dreamier than warm, soft, lavender scented and static-free sheets on the bed? That’s right, there isn’t one.
Pistils is one of my favorite shops in Portland for their selection of hard to find houseplants and beautiful solarium, and thanks to their online shop you can enjoy them wherever you live. This kit, which can ship anywhere in the US, contains everything you need to make your own kokedama, from a plant of your choice to moss and twine. I put mine together in about 15 minutes and it was so much fun to create and hang up; it’s a perfect gift for anyone who loves greenery in their home.
This mug has quickly become one of my favorites; it’s tall, holds lots of tea, and I love its imperfect lines. It comes it several color options, too. Read more about Bridget’s work above.
For the Gentleman
Portland-based distillery Wild Roots crafts what is easily the most delicious vodka I’ve ever tasted. Really, you can drink it straight and it’s a complete, flavorful and satisfying drink. Each bottle of their vodka is naturally infused with over a pound of local fruit and filtered through Cascade Range lava rocks. This apple and cinnamon one is perfect for the holidays, though I think the Marionberry is my all time favorite. If you’re in Portland you can swing by their taproom, or find them online if you’re outside the Northwest.
FOLK is a Portland company that crafts furniture, lighting and home wares using traditional woodworking methods and a belief in sustainable practices, fair wages and impeccable quality. Those principles shine through in this meticulously made bronze bottle opener, which is hand ground, sanded and polished. It’s perfectly smooth, weighty in your hand and endlessly functional. Whoever receives it will have it forever.
Ponny introduced me to Arcadian, a Knoxville, TN-based grooming brand that started out in a home kitchen just a few years ago and now sells their goods around the world, thanks to the popularity of their water- and clay-based hair pomades and beard treatments. They still make everything by hand, and their clay pomade in particular smells really, really amazing. If you need a gift for a guy with hair and/or a beard, they’ve got you covered.
If you just read “natural deodorant” and made a skeptical face, I get it. But I’m guessing you haven’t tried Schmidt’s yet? It goes on as smoothly as a conventional stick (some we’ve tried are crumbly), smells amazing thanks to a range of natural fragrances and works really, really well. It’s completely plant- and mineral-based, and they make a scent for everyone, from earthy to spicy to floral options (oh, and some amazing holiday ones!). An essential stocking stuffer.
If you’ve spent any time on my blog or scrolling through my Instagram feed, you know how we worship Bisou. So obviously we had a regal portrait of her commissioned, and I’m sure you know someone who needs one of these portraits of their pet, too. Artist Jordan Gaunce has an amazing knack for capturing pets through his historic digital paintings; he bases them on pictures of your pet, plus your pet’s personality, and lets you choose from a few outfit mock ups before delivering a stunning, lifelike canvas that ships to you ready to hang. You stay in contact with Jordan every step of the way to ensure the final image looks just the way you want it, and he can even place multiple pets in one painting. I can’t think of a more meaningful gift for someone who thinks of their pet as royalty.
For the New Mama
This super soft, stretchy, garment dyed blanket is so much more than a swaddle. It can be used as a nursing cover, a nap blanket, an on-the-go burp cloth – the possibilities are endless, and I know it will get tons of use once our little one is here. Max + Moose is run by a mother and daughter team, Brenda and Alyssa, and their combined mama experience is apparent in their simple, functional and beautifully made blankets. Be sure to look at all their new colors!
London-based mama and talented seamstress Kayleigh makes this precious line of baby bonnets using a mix of organic and vintage fabrics, with modeling help from her sweet daughter, Frances. I’m obsessed with her animal ear designs, and she’ll even custom make you a bonnet with the fabric and weather-appropriate lining of your choosing so the babe in your life stays warm while looking adorable. I’m very pleased to share she’s offering my readers 10% off her shop through the end of the year with the code OHHONEY10! Be sure to place your orders by December 7 for Christmas delivery to the US and Canada.
There’s no shortage of cute baby clothes on the market, but baby clothes that are made from responsibly sourced fabrics, by a family company and come in lots of gender neutral color options at reasonable prices? That is much harder to find. Nature Baby clothes are made from chemical-free, organic fabrics and have thoughtful features like little foldover mittens that protect baby from scratching. Not to mention they’re all heart achingly adorable. I can’t wait to dress my babe in these outfits!
Oregon mama Sierra Gealon started sewing baby clothes while pregnant with her daughter, Hadley, and her line of precious clothes and accessories was born. She makes adorable and stylish rompers (like this camel one!), suspender skirts and overalls, plus teethers, bonnets and bandanas in a range of classic and super hip fabrics – thanks to her, my baby is going to be better dressed than I am. This romper is a great layering piece for all seasons so my little one is going to be wearing it all the time, as long as it fits!
I’m so glad that these toys, created by Danish designer and illustrator, Dorthe Maili, are available in the US. Her toys have a charming storybook quality and amazing attention to detail, like this super soft rhino who has a sweet floral pattern in his ears. Maileg also makes a line of adorable plush rabbits and mice complete with changeable outfits and retro style furniture that I really hope my little one takes to so I can collect them all!