Ah, good ol’ mom and dad. They’re often the people who know you best (or at least have known you the longest) and so it would seem that they’d be the easiest loved ones to check right off that sometimes-lengthy holiday gift list. Alas, the people who raised you are often the toughest to buy for. They’re the quickest to remark “Oh, honey, you don’t need to buy me anything!” (but you do) and they often flounder at giving you hints or suggestions at what they might like.
My own mom likes to think I’m a wizard, only asking me for “time, sanity and more wine” (well, at least the wine part I can do). Once you’re grown and out of the house (and perhaps across the country, like me) it becomes harder and harder to know what to pick up for them, since you aren’t around to see what they might need around the house or to catch them “oooh”-ing and “aahh”-ing over things at the mall. And while it’s often true that a simple card, a small thoughtful token or a simple gift certificate will sufice, we have some other ideas that might just strike your fancy and worm their way into their hearts. All items have been showcased on the truly awesome handmade website Uncommon Goods and are the design and work of many talented American “makers.” Even if you’re done with your holiday shopping, we’re willing to bet you’ll enjoy eyeing these fun picks. Happy Holidays!
Made in Illinois, this photo montage allows you to choose a name (or word or phrase) and have it set in pictures with personalized framed photo wall art pieces. It can have up to 12 letters, numbers, spaces or symbols. Each is made up of a black and white photograph of a piece of architecture or nature. Each piece is individually created from different images chosen by the artist and features an easy sawtooth mount for quick hanging. $150.
What is it with dads and whiskey? We can’t crack that code, but if you’re father is a fan himself, he might delight in these innovative soapstone cubes designed by Andrew Hellman. The cubes chill the spirit without diluting the taste or scratching the glass. Milled in Perkinsville, Vermont by the oldest soapstone workshop in the United States. Glasses made in Slovenia & the Czech Republic. Simply freeze the stones. Add three to your next drink, let stand for five minutes and enjoy. Sold as a set of nine. $58.
“My friend, my inspiration, my mother.” If those words touch you, and your mom is a fan of simple and handmade jewelry, we know she’ll be touched by this sweet gift. Artist Kathy Bransfield created the sterling silver leaf with a 22 kt gold-plated brass leaf overlay in California. $78.
If your mom loves white wine (or, um, your dad – we aren’t here to judge!), they might enjoy this elegant and sturdy white wine decanter. The best part? It features an open ice chamber for keeping wine cold without diluting it. Handmade in Colombia from recycled glass, each decanter has a slight green hue from the tint originally added to lessen the sun’s glare. Due to the hand-crafted process, the texture of each item will differ. Air bubbles and small “imperfections” add individual charm to each one-of-a-kind piece! $58.
Perfect for any mama bird, these recycled sterling silver necklaces are sweet, simple and handmade in North Carolina by Rhonda & Elijah Wyman. You tell them how many kids your mother has, they add the correct amount of little birdies. They will then perch happily on your momma’s collar bone and “bring springtime cheer to your wardrobe no matter what season.” $70 – $79.
Baseball fan? Beer lover? I’ve got your homerun gift. The all-star openers, handmade from authentic game-day bats swung by Major Leaguers, are gift boxed with a story card with information on its special hologram number. You can use that number here to learn which game the bat was used in. How cool is that!? Assembled in the USA. $85 – $125.
Ah, the trouble with crackers and soup. Too many, too few, they melt up too quickly, you have to go back for more – always a battle with those things! That’s why someone genius (named Brian Kunkelman) hand-sculpted the above bowls that let you “end the juggling act and concentrate on satisfying your comfort food cravings.” Your crackers have their own little spot, right there for direct contact and ease. Each bowl is coated with a food-safe glaze that emphases the concentric ripples molded into the clay. Handmade in Pennsylvania. $50.
Moms – no two are the same. Help them express themselves with one of Danica Siegel’s homemade fragrances. Uncommon Goods tells us: “Danica combines the ancient art of aromatherapy with the new science of aromachology (the study of the influence of scents on people’s feelings and behaviors) to create the compelling concoctions in her “I AM” fragrance line. Each eau de parfum features a mélange of different fruity and floral scents, deliberately combined to evoke the essence of the individual wearer. Find your scent by clicking Danica’s name above. Made in USA. Not tested on animals. $35.
Put your family tree to work in the garden! These cute silhouettes will look adorable amongst your parents plants, and you can mix and match the figures at purchase to represent your family correctly. Each image is cut from steel by artist Judie Bomberger, and finished with a natural, oxidized patina. Handmade in Northern California. $60 – $140.
Unless your mom hates the kitchen (the horror!), chances are she needs a cute apron to help her get organized and stay clean. And if she’s anything like my mom, she makes plenty of regional favorites that she’s super proud of. Let her show off both her cooking skills and her state pride with this geographic apron. “The bright, geographic illustrations are silk-screened in 12 colors onto a 100% hand-loomed cotton apron. There are two convenient pockets in the front, and the piece is finished with cheery, striped trim and a ruffle along the bottom.” Many states to chose from. $36.
Fair warning: this one is expensive, but perfect for someone who wants to get the mother who has horded your baby clothes for over 20 years something super special. These custom quilts are each one-of-a-kind and is handmade out of your choice or 15-25 of your most memorable outfits. The pieces are cut into patches and quilted with 100% premium cotton into the finished piece. “Regardless of the original patterns and fabrics provided, every quilt is custom designed by an expert seamstress to capture the essence and excitement of the babyhood. Every cozy blanket is backed with 20/80 cotton/polyester batting, making it ideal for keeping tootsies toasty as you take in your favorite bedtime story. Handmade by Kathy Carrier and her team in Indiana. $295.
Does your dad work with his hands everyday? He might appreciate this all-natural set, created by “a mechanic who let his dirty, damaged paws drive his inspiration to design products for dudes. The manly salves, scrubs and balms included are specially made to meet the needs of the working man. From soothing sore feet, to healing cracked lips and knuckles, to buffing the dickens out of dry skin, this kit goes beyond simple cleansers to get the job done. Handmade in the USA.” We’re sold! $40.
Your momma will love getting comfy after a long day with one of these aromatherapy-infused neck wraps. The fragrant wraps, which comfortably rest on your shoulders, hold a soothing blend of “lavender, rosemary, chamomile, peppermint, and lemongrass in their detailed stitching that can be released after spinning for a minute in your microwave (wraps can also be chilled for the therapeutic comfort of a cold compress). Combined with the wraps’ two-toned, plush rosette material, these lovely, herbal healers can treat your stress-worn body to a restorative retreat whenever you desire a little TLC. Made in the USA.” $32.
I don’t know about y’all, but I get excited just looking at this DIY bath salt kit. I often feel the need to really know what goes into the things that are making me clean, and this is the perfect way to be a part of the final product. If you think this is something you mom might enjoy – read on! “This delightful kit combines the detoxing benefits of sea salt with the soothing aromatherapeutic effects of organic lavender into a fragrant, fizzing concoction. Karen Lee and Mary Kearns’ DIY kits allow you to pamper yourself with all-natural ingredients while providing valuable job-skills services for women in the Washington DC area. Assembling these lovely kits provides ladies living in transitional housing with the opportunity to build their resumes, develop basic job skills, and participate in a structured social skills program. Each kit includes everything you’ll need to make your very own comforting batch of bath salts from organic, dried lavender, pure sea salt, baking soda, and citric acid. Inside the recycled box, crafters will find a vibrant, soy-ink-dyed recipe card and valuable information about the contents of their bath salt to be. Every kit makes two jars of fizzing bath salts, making it an ideal endeavor for a rainy day or a fun task to take on with a good friend. Made and assembled by hand in Washington D.C.” $40
Ingredients and materials: sea salt, baking soda, citric acid, organic lavender buds, glass jars, compostable cellulose bags, recycled paper labels and informational cards.
Let’s start with this cute selling-point story from the Uncommon site. “Transporting a mismatched six-pack of your favorites is easier said than done. You can only carry so many bottles with your two hands before one slips, your cooler is buried deep in storage with the rest of your beach stuff, and those brews in your messenger bag risk a total carbonation catastrophe. Finally, there’s smarter and more stylish way to save our suds en route to the party, park, or pool.”
HA! Handcrafted by David and Christopher Steinrueck out of redwood beams reclaimed from salvage yards in the San Francisco area, this mix-and-match crate features smooth, stained wood slats that hug your drinks snuggly – keeping clinks to a minimum. Handmade in San Francisco, California. $32.
I’ll admit it: I had no idea what this thing was when I first clicked on it. But now that I’ve read up, it seems to me that a growler would make the perfect purchase for a beer-loving dad. This refillable half-gallon jug allows beer enthusiasts to fill up on their homemade brews or just look really fancy with their store bought stuff. Apparently, even when poured days later, the suds taste just as crisp. Hand-crafted in Portland, one of the world’s biggest craft beer hubs (who knew?), this growler is designed specifically for beer. “The hand slip-cast stoneware is coated with food-safe glazes, and since the container is opaque, a sunlit room won’t threaten to skunk its tapped contents. The wide-mouth ceramic flip-top locks in flavor and fizz with an airtight rubber seal, and the sprocket-shaped handle offers a bold and practical way to get a grip on the good stuff . Growler handmade in Portland, Oregon. Tops handmade in Germany.” $65.
Man candle? You just can’t make this stuff up. Hart’s current lineup includes scents like dirt, fresh cut grass, sawdust, campfire, pizza, and coffee. Each comes individually packed in a gift box. Handmade in Ohio. The wax is a 100% renewable resource, a soy and vegetable wax blend. $15 each.
Did you know that its a botanical fact that humans are unable to feel crappy while gazing upon smiley face flowers? I’m not sure I’m buying it either – but Uncommon Goods swears its true! Either way, these felt birdhouses do make me feel awful happy. Fine inside or outside (where they can be actual birdhouses), they feature a 1.25″ opening that can be enlarged if larger species hang out at your abode. “Felted wool is naturally water repellent, and if it becomes soaked by rain, it will dry if left in open air and partial sun. Colors may begin to fade if left in direct sunlight for more than two months. Created by skilled, fair trade artisans in Kathmandu, Nepal, from hand-felted wool and hand-dyed woolen yarns.” $25.
The name says it all – “salts of the world test tube set” – and we’re sold. We think any spice loving mom or dad will be too. “This set of exotic salts is a treat for both the eyes and the taste buds. Six varieties are held in corked test tubes, showing off their unique variations even when not in use. The set includes finely textured red salt from Hawaii, coarse smoked salt from Denmark, delicate pink salts from Pakistan and Australia, white salt formed from the ocean in El Salvador, and black, flakey salt from the island of Cyprus. Each tube is labeled with the salt’s name and usage, whether for cooking, finishing or table use. The tubes come displayed in a stylish, contemporary rack hand-cut from reclaimed cedar by Brett Cramer in the USA. Test tubes also made in the USA, salts from around the world.” $35.
Pick your line-up from the available selection of man, woman, children and pets so that everyone at the table has their own specialized glass to drink from this year! Printing is done using organic inks that are 100% free of heavy metals. Glassware made in New Jersey, decorated in Minnesota. From mother and daughter team Mary and Shelly Klein. $12 each.
Give your parents a place to keep their valuables displayed and in close range while also supporting a cause. This sculptural jewelry holder is hand-carved out of sustainable sheesham wood (native to the Indian subcontinent) and “created under the supervision of HSSS, an Indian non-profit that supports underprivileged artisans in the community. This one-of-a-kind group helps skilled but economically challenged craftsmen catch a break by marketing their handiwork in the West.” Karma does a life good. $34.