In showcasing the best of Vermont handmade home decor and accessories we felt Stonehurst would be incomplete without representation from the world’s largest teddy bear maker. Vermont Teddy Bear handcrafts roughly 500,000/year in Shelburne and Newport, VT. The company was started in 1983 by John Sortino, who sold handcrafted teddy bears in an open-air market in Burlington, Vermont. One of his customers was a tourist who wanted her bear mailed to her home. That request evolved into the “Bear-Gram”, a customized teddy bear placed in a box (complete with an “air hole”) and stuffed with other goodies. The rest, as they say is history.
If you’re anything like me, the hardest part about the holiday season is finding the right gift for everyone. I don’t mind the price tag or where I have to go to get it, it’s the pressure of finding something that a person will love that always gives me trouble. With the added challenge of finding something American-made this year for our Made in America Shopping Challenge, I seriously considered using the upcoming “2012 Apocalypse” as an excuse for skipping gift-buying altogether. Luckily, shoppers like me have the magical World Wide Web to assist us with our holiday dilemmas. Here’s my guide to finding gifts for the hard to buy for.
Gifts for the Foodie
My Vermont pick for American-made kitchen wares would definitely be Simon Pearce. We’ve talked about their beautiful pottery and glassware before on our Facebook, but I’ll have to mention them again. Any cook would love to have a Simon Pearce piece in their kitchen. If you’re shopping for someone like me who would rather consume the food rather than produce it, check out some locally made specialty stores near you to find scrumptious treats and local delicacies If you’re in Vermont, try Snowflake Chocolate Baskets, Vermont Grafton Cheese Collections or check out the Vermont Specialty Food Association for more ideas.
Gifts for the Animal Lover
Being an animal lover myself, I can assure you that animal people love gifts for their pets just as much as if you’d bought something for them. The Vermonter will love anything from Vermont Gourmet Dog Treats. If you’re looking for something a little bigger, check Just Dog Treats article about American-made dog treats. USA Made Pet Supplies will also give you some great ideas for animal gifts.
Gifts for the Adventurous Friend
We all have that one enthusiastic friend who is always suggesting that you go skiing, mountain climbing, hiking or bike riding with them with them. American Made Outdoors has great gift ideas for those who like hunting, camping, and fishing. Ragged Mountain also has some great toys for the outdoor enthusiast and they’re all American Made.
Gifts for Kids
Children normally won’t care whether their toys are made in America or nut, but their parents will! Check out Toys Made in America for a very extensive list of fun toys and games for kids of all ages that are made exclusively in the US.
Check out our Facebook for more great ideas to buy American made!
We drew names for our Secret Santa gift exchange here at Vermont Woods Studios today. Christmas, Hanukkah and the holiday season are always pretty festive in our office. This year we’ll again be focusing on promoting the idea of giving American made gifts to each other and to our families and friends.
You may remember that last year we launched a Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge. We asked our friends to pledge to buy American made gifts– to look at the tags on everything they bought for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays and to choose the ones that were “American Made”. We found it wasn’t a new idea around here. In fact most people told us they go a step further and purchase only locally made gifts, handmade gifts and items that support people and businesses in our community. Anyway, we had so much fun with our project last year that ABC News caught wind of it and came to Vernon to film a segment about it for World News with Diane Sawyer.
Vermont Made Gifts
So this year we wanted to carry on with the tradition. Heather Barrett has posted some great American made gift ideas on our Pinterest Board and Facebook page. Jump on board and share your own finds with her– we’d love it. You’ll see that we’re leaning pretty heavily towards Vermont made items, but certainly not exclusively. I do find that Vermont’s warm winter wear always goes over pretty well on a cold, snowy Christmas morning though. Johnson Woolens, Turtle Fur and Vermont Flannel are favorites in my family.
Local Handmade Gifts
This weekend we have several local craft fairs to shop our way through. One is the 17th annual “Home for the Holidays” craft fair with 50 local vendors at the Vernon Elementary School and another is the 14th Annual Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale in Brattleboro, VT. Hope to see you moseying your way through one of them. Our friends and neighbors who’ve been crafting all year long in preparation for the holiday season are depending on our support! Let the shopping begin.
Reprinted with permission from a letter by Rita Settle to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel
My friend Deana clipped this letter out of the Orlando Sentinel and sent it to me after reading about our American Made Holiday Gift Challenge. We thank Rita Settle for her creative holiday gift suggestions.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.