The annual plight of coming up with Christmas presents for family. Always an anxiety-driven, pressure-filled, and expensive exercise in translating familial love into tangible items. I even anxiously googled “Seattle Holiday Gift Guide” and “Pacific Northwest Gift Ideas” and various combinations of the two. And the result were underwhelming, to say the least.
We generally try to avoid shopping at malls and big box stores whenever possible, especially when it comes to gifts. So this year, I relied pretty heavily on local craft markets around Seattle to find local, unique and affordable items, like Urban Craft Uprising and Renegade Craft Fair and some others.
After all my disgruntled googling — and now that we’re mostly done and ready for our family trip to NC — I decided to put together my own gift guide based on what I found from local Seattle and Pacific Northwest makers and companies for our family and friends who live both here and elsewhere.
So here you go: Great Gifts From The Pacific Northwest And Seattle. Especially for you last-minute shoppers, since it’s like T-minus 3 days until Christmas already!
I like candles. Like, a lot more than I really would even expect of myself. We found these rustic scents at the Urban Craft Uprising winter market at Seattle Center (and saw them again at the Renegade Craft Fair this past weekend). Great for the outdoors-loving people in your life, they have some really earthy smells that cue sensory memories of last weekend’s hike in the forest. And they are made in Seattle! We picked up the Sitka Spruce, Hearth and the Woodsmoke (which was my favorite, and I very sadly parted with it to give to my brother) as gifts for family in North Carolina.
From their site:
Our small batch soy candles are made from 100% renewable soy wax, clean burning, USA-grown balsa wood wicks, and pure essential oils + perfume grade absolute oil blends. All of our products are 100% vegan. 100% eco-friendly. 100% recyclable. Ethically sourced + produced. Never tested on animals. Petroleum free. GMO free. Lead free. Phthalate free. Made in Seattle, WA.
Ceramics and pottery. I’m uncontrollably drawn to them, especially stuff I can actually afford. I came across these creations by Nicole Pepper, a rustic-modern potter based in Seattle, at the Urban Craft Uprising fall market held in an Amazon building in South Lake Union. Her pieces are very affordable and range from utilitarian to decorative, and she often uses a carving technique to create really great textures in her designs. I think they have a distinctly Northwest feel to them, making them perfect gifts for people who live elsewhere.
I picked up this little corked tea jar ($18) for my friend in DC (paired with a tea towel) and a small rustic vase ($30) for my brother and his girlfriend in LA. I also really loved her ceramic cat pin cushions and it required all my willpower not to just buy it all.
I spoke briefly to Nicole about learning to make ceramics and she said the Jefferson Community Center has a great and accessible studio for learning to make pottery. Now she has her own studio where she makes these pieces. Dream status.
Our friends said their two-year-old wanted coloring books for Christmas.
Great for the children of the environmentally conscious friends in your life. It’s never too early to reveal the stark truth of our Earth’s impending doom, and what better way to do it than through a fun coloring book!
We met this local company Quw’ustun’ Made at the Native Art Market hosted at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle’s Discovery Park. Arianna Johnny-Wadsworth is from the Quw’utsun’/Cowichan People of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Unceded Coast Salish Territory. Speaking with her briefly at the market, she said that she forages for the materials and traditional medicines herself to make her salves, candles, lotions and infused oils.
The salve is infused with Devil’s Club extract, scented with Camphor, Eucalyptus & Peppermint essential oils (so probably don’t use on your kids under 2 years old!), and can help soothe sore muscles & other pains with it’s tingle-inducing medicinal properties.
We see Devil’s Club plants all over the trails here in Washington, especially during the winter when their spiky spindles are sticking out of the otherwise snow-covered terrain, so this is a great gift idea from the region. I’ll probably make it a stocking stuffer for my dad to use after fishing trips.
We also picked up a Cedar scented candle as well, because I’m obsessed with candles I guess.
This jewelry maker describes themselves as “a minimalist style with a hint of light hearted fun” and I am having a hard time describing their work in any other way.
I’ve visited their booth at the Urban Craft Uprising market and Renegade Craft Fair, and they often have really great little sale boxes with discounted or closeout jewelry. I picked up these little letter necklaces for $20 each, which is a steal (I also got this necklace for myself on sale too). My friend bought a bunch of cute, little necklaces for all her cousins.
It’s helpful that we have a few different ladies in our family with names that start with these letters, so when we inevitably swapped around who was getting what as we found more gifts for folks, they were versatile despite their specificity.
I first came across this design studio through its sister brand Make It Good Apparel at the Renegade Craft Fair last year in Seattle’s Magnuson Park. They also run a shop in Portland called North of West, which I haven’t been to yet, but seems really great for finding locally made, thoughtful, enviro-conscious items that have a distinctly Pacific Northwest feel to them.
I picked up these tea towels at the Urban Craft Uprising fall market — the “Oceanic” print in blue and the “Oyster” print in pink. I think they were having a sale at that market and they were $16 each instead of $20.
Simple, one-off gifts for people who like reusable napkins and towels in their home or combined with other small items (I’m bundling one towel with a small, handmade ((not by me)) needlepoint hoop and the other with the MODHome ceramic jar).
Okay, I didn’t get this as a gift. I got it for myself, but I totally WOULD get it as a gift for someone if I needed to.
This small company is based in Spokane, Washington, and we found them at the Renegade Craft Fair in Seattle. They said they guarantee their knits if anything goes wrong or they don’t live up to your expectations of quality. I got the Autumn Red Beanie made from acrylic/wool blend yarns. It’s super soft, fits really nicely even on my tiny head, and their little leather “local” tag makes it feel especially unique and cool.
They also had a “woolie” beanie that was real nice, but to me, the blend is more versatile for Seattle weather.
They also have a bunch of other handmade hats and hoodies and stuff and seem like a cool brand in general. My dude was bummed afterward that he didn’t get a hat for himself. Totally jealous of mine.
Yes, I realize this is a gift idea that you can get at the grocery store. I typically try to avoid getting my parents non-useful stuff (aka: clutter) for Christmas, so I often end up getting them some sort of food item: Fran’s Chocolates, Guglhupf Stollen, Theo Chocolate. But as they get older, I feel really bad giving them more junk food for the holidays.
Here’s my solution: Smoked Salmon ($15-30) from SeaBear in Anacortes, Washington. It fits all the parameters. It’s unique to this region, my parents love seafood (it’s all they ate when they came to visit last summer), it travels well because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated, and while it’s really common everywhere here, it’s not available anywhere in North Carolina.
And, if you’re a real slacker, you can apparently pick it up at Sea-Tac Airport on your way out of town (for a considerable mark-up).
And speaking of junk food, we usually pick up a bunch of bars of Theo Chocolate (based in Seattle!) and tuck them into people’s gifts. It adds a little something to an otherwise simple item. And we stock up on a bunch ourselves.
Okay, Pendleton is not really a “small or handmade maker of things,” but they are local to the Pacific Northwest region! And there’s an outlet store in North Bend that we occasionally stop by on our way back from hiking trails along I-90, which is great because Pendleton stuff is expensive. Around the holidays, we tend to pick up a few interesting items for gifts there.
We’re in that time of our lives (early 30’s) when our friends are having babies now. And over the past few years, we’ve gotten them all these little hooded toddler towels ($40). They come in a bunch of cool prints and seem like a versatile and useful gift for people with babies who are probably getting a lot of stuff from lots of people. And most of our babying friends don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s a unique piece of the region to bring to them.
Other companies and people I know (or know of) who make great gifts from the PNW and beyond:
Merewif – Jewelry and home accessories (Wilmington, NC – online)
Sadie’s Stitches – Cute needlepoint creations (Chapel Hill, NC – online)
Oddly Weird Shop – Emoji pillows, monsters, googly eyes, lots of color (Brooklyn, NY – online)
Appetite – bags made with Pendleton fabric, custom printed canvas, etc (Portland, Oregon – online)
5416 Studio – Handmade purses, letterpress cards and posters, handblown glass (Ballard, Seattle)
Moorea Seal – A cool shop with all kinds of goods from small companies (Belltown, Seattle)
You could also consider donating to these PNW organization in your name or in someone else’s name:
KEXP radio station
Union Gospel Mission Church homeless outreach
Peace for the Street from Kids from the Streets programs and shelter for homeless youth
Mary’s Place for homeless families