If you were to Google search "last minute gifts" right now you'd be hit in the face with a slew of varied options from deep down in the bargain bin. "50 Last Minute Gifts," and "Cool Last Minute Gifts for Him," sit alongside links to "chic" gifts for her and "gifts you know she'll love," which by the way, directs me to a Jared diamond necklace. Google is not known for it's subtlety.
It raised a question in my mind: What about gifts that are made here in Maine, by Mainers? Where is THAT list? There's probably one out there but I decided to make my own. And I'm going to cheat (just a smidge): I'm going to use the makers site Etsy to build it. So, if you're looking for some gift ideas that aren't cheap knockoffs made in China, will last you forever (because a Mainer made them!) and will bring a smile to your loved one this holiday season, here's a short list of possibilities that I hope is helpful.
- FOR HER: Infinity Scarf (cashmere and silk) from FoxIsland FancyWork on Vinalhaven. This scarf is something you'll spend the rest of winter being thanked for. Why waste your money at Macy's on one made in China or Guatemala when you have this thing of beauty?
- FOR KIDS: Anything from Ellen Okolita's Tree & Vine shop (Gray, Maine)will give your kids and grand kids wings. Plus, the handwork is one of a kind and not something you'll find anywhere else and are fantastic year-round gifts. If you have some grand kids to spoil, this is a good place to start.
- FOR EVERYONE: Hand-made soap and beauty products aren't easy to find. Amanda at Long Winter Soap Co. knows exactly how to keep you smelling rosy during this dark stretch of the year. As she says, "No human should have as much soap as I had." We're grateful she's helping everyone else smell a bit better. While her holiday orders are booked, take note of the amazing array of hand-made products she's creating up in Alna.
- FOR LOCAL ART LOVERS: GrayDayStudio, a creation of Portland's Abigail Gray Swartz, is just the thing to wow your loved ones who can appreciate a finely crafted portraits (and she takes requests!). My fave? Her Joni Mitchell portrait. Swartz is also currently illustrating for the NY Times online.
- FOR THE BAG LOVER: I'm not that into handbags, but even I was blown away by the handiwork of Natasha Durham, owner and chief creator behind Norway's Rough & Tumble. Gents, here's an easy way to put a smile on your wife/girlfriend/partner/mother/sister's face: snatch one of these bags up.
- FOR HIM: It's not hard to see how much effort and care Nicolas Downing puts into all of his metalwork. I met him at December's First Friday in Portland and was impressed by the unique pieces he was creating. His hand-made knife collection is a thing of beauty as are his cuffs -- most Maine men I know would be giddy to see one of these in their stockings. Contact Nicolas for pricing and availability.
This is a short list, and barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Maine-made gifts. Maine gifts are unique and support the local makers who are creating brilliant and life-lasting products you won't be able to find at BestBuy or Wal-Mart.
Have your own Maine maker to highlight? Leave a comment below. Otherwise, here's to a stocking full of Pine Tree State gifts, for Mainers and by Mainers.