If you don't know that Oprah wasn't the first to have a famous list of "favorite things," you had a sad sad childhood. . . never fear, though, Carrie Underwood will be sweeping in soon to save the day and introduce you to the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that started it all.
Here are some handmade goods I would put at the top of my giving list were I a celebrity talk show host or celebit nanny charged with ironing leiderhosen and singing lullabies to seven Austrian brats.
Though raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are all well and good, they don't hold up well inside a cardboard box under the tree for long. Warm woolen mittens? That's a different story, and I know just where to get the best ones! My friend, Carol, of Thistle n Thread, has just opened her Facebook business page featuring her wool mittens stitched from recycled sweaters and fuzzy fleece. I like to use my fingers too much for wearing mittens, but, seriously, how cute do mine look hanging from clothespins on the back door?!
Mandy, from Gib's Goods makes some really amazing natural soaps and lotions that I love, because I don't like to smell like an apple muffin or a maraschino cherry. Her fragrance blends are really unique and not sickeningly sweet or fruity. I have a bar of "love" in the shower right now; Imagine lavender and lime with oatmeal blended in for scrubbiness. My bar of lavender, cardamom patchouli stout is circulating between my product bin and closet as an air freshener. Ahhhh! Get three bars for $10 and go stuff some stockings!
Speaking of cardamom, my favorite spice, I recently went on an art research trip to The Spice Merchant in Winona Lake (more on that project later) and fell in love with everything in the shop. I took home a bag of hand-blended Cocoa Cardamom Spice tea. It has extra caffeine and little bits of chocolate mixed in. Heavenly! I plan to head back to the shop, and their sister store, The Olive Branch, for lots more Christmas gifts.
Looking for a cool handmade option for your man? Go straight to Fosterweld and get a handful of buckles. They are Mr. Flores's favorite gift to get and give. They come in a zillion different styles for men and women--including cuffs--and are very affordable. He has two, and we gave several as gifts to the teen guys on our list last year.
If you're looking for a gift for the crafter or blossoming artist, how about a jar full of supplies? I am pumped about giving this one to a special young lady who shall remain annonymous for now. I scored most of the conents in the very inconspicuous craft supply dollar bin at Meijer. Can you believe a full set of alphabet stamps for $1.00?! I put this little jar of joy together for less than $10, filling in the gap with a few unopened things I had in my stash. Think washi tape, colored pens, stamps and ink, burlap ribbon, mini clothes pins, tacky glue, glitter, paper punches, baker's twine . . . . I capped it off (literally) with some patterned paper and a jaunty ribbon. Crafting bliss!
So, here's another friendly reminder to shop local, small and/or handmade this season, if just for one or two items. The artisans and shopkeepers who serve you are invested and passionate about their products, creating and sending them with an extra dose of care--maybe even in brown paper packages tied up with string!