Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

gift ideas

Five Last Minute Gift Ideas

December 15th, 2012 by Kelsey Eaton

Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge: 5 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Last minute shopping is inevitable, especially during the holiday season.  The last few months of the year seem to fly by. One day you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner with your family, and the next day you wake up and it’s Christmas Eve.  How did that happen?! Don’t panic, I have compiled a list of five last minute gift ideas or “go to” gift ideas for when your timing is a little too close for comfort.

Whether time has slipped away, a friend invited you to their holiday party last minute, or you need a gift for a co-worker you don’t know well, there is something on this list that will work for any person in a pinch.

1. Wine

Wine is the perfect go-to gift during the holiday season. Hosts love when you bring a gift that they can share with their guests during the party. It’s something that is useful, and won’t end up collecting dust on a shelf. Not only do most people enjoy a good bottle of wine, it only takes a few minutes to pick it up at the store. If you want to make the wine more meaningful, try to remember if you have heard them talk about their favorite type. If not, pick out your favorite kind and introduce it to them! Try to buy from a local winery whenever possible (this is, afterall, a Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge). Wine from Vermont’s Putney Mountain Winery and Shelburne Vineyard would make great holiday gifts.

2. Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate is a great last minute gift idea for everyone! Many chocolate companies have already helped you out by festively decorating their packages, so you won’t even have to wrap the gift. Take a look at Lake Champlain Chocolates‘ seasonal assortments. This Vermont based company makes their delicious chocolates without preservatives, and you can taste the freshness! Also, go to your local food co-op to see what your area has to offer. You may be surprised to find you have a hidden chocolate gem in your state too!

3. Candles

The winter season is a popular time to have candles lit around your home. Many people like having scented candles this time of year to get into the holiday spirit. The extra light on a dark winter evening also gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. To avoid making your candle look a little generic and like a last minute gift, buy it locally. People like knowing the source of their gifts, and knowing that it was made close to home is an added bonus. Many local artisans create candles that can be personalized, or come with American made accessories to jazz up the gift. If you’re looking for a Vermont based company, Carved Solutions ships their candles out within 48 hours. Vermont Soap & Candle and Way Out Wax have a variety of scents and candle styles to choose from as well.

4. Ornament

An ornament is a great gift for the holidays. Ornaments are easy to find (check the label for made in USA) and they are something that people will keep for years. They come in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. This gift is great for someone you know really well, because you can get something based on an interest or hobby.  Or, it can be good for someone you don’ t know well because you can get something a little more seasonally related, like a snowflake, that will be an addition to their decorations annually. Ornaments are also versatile-not only are they hung on Christmas trees, but they can be hung on an office cubicle wall or placed in windows! Danforth Pewter, a Vermont based company, handcrafts beautiful holiday ornaments that would make a special gift.

5. Gift Certificates

A gift certificate to a local business is an excellent gift; last minute or not. No one will think any less of your creativity because going to a free movie, or getting a free meal is welcomed by everyone. You can get a gift certificate to the person’s favorite local store, a bookstore, a coffee shop they frequent daily, a nice restaurant, the movie theater,  a museum, a fitness class…the options are endless! When we purchase a gift certificate we are supporting local business, and helping the local economy.

 

Now that you have five last minute gift ideas, get off the computer and get to a store– you’re running out of time! Let us know in the comments if you have any last minute gift ideas, or share them on our Facebook.

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Creative Christmas Gift Idea: Feed The Hungry

December 14th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh

Feed the Thousands

Looking for a creative Christmas gift?  How about donating food in honor of your recipient?    Project Feed the Thousands and the Vermont Food Bank are two great organizations you can donate either money or food to this Christmas season.   This donation location is at the new and fabulous Brattleboro CoOp located on the corner of Main and Canal streets in Brattleboro. 

Looking for creative Christmas gift idea?  Here’s a stocking stuffer for the person who has everything.  Skip the Charlie Brown tie or paisley pashmina and give the gift of a food donation in honor of your hard-to-shop-for friend or family member.  They’ll be happy (and surprised) to know that your gift to them is helping the 1 in 5 children in Vermont who experience hunger on a regular basis.  It’s hard to believe that hunger is a daily reality for so many Vermonters but according to Hunger Free Vermont, 13% of all VT households are food insecure with 85,000 Vermonters unable to afford enough nutritious food.

In Brattleboro, you can find several locations and agencies taking food donations during the holidays.  Perhaps the easiest way to donate is to visit any grocery store (like the Brattleboro CoOp shown above) where you’ll find donation baskets at the front of the store.   If you don’t want to leave Vernon, stop by our offices at Vermont Woods Studios and drop off your food donation here.  We’ll be taking all donations to the Brattleboro Food CoOp on Friday, December 21.

Not in Brattleboro or Vernon, VT?  Elsewhere in VT you can find out who’s taking food donations on the Vermont FoodBank website with this nifty Food Shelf Locator.  And Feeding America has a zip code locator on their website to help you find locations all across the country that are accepting food donations.  Merry Christmas!  Let’s hope no one in our communities has to go hungry this holiday season.

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A Green Wish List – Four Sustainable Gift Ideas for Your Home

December 11th, 2012 by Loryn Dion

sustainable gift

 

Sustainable Gifts for You and Your Home

Only fifteen days until Christmas! Better start making out your Holiday wish list! But what to ask for? Have Santa bring you a gift that will give back all year long. Here’s my top four sustainable gift “must haves” for any green home.

 

Energy Efficient Appliances

Appliances that are energy efficient don’t just look great in your home. They save you major cash!  You’ll also reduce air pollution as well as reduce your electric bill.  These energy efficient appliances can be any thing from a refrigerator to a new computer, so browse your options! EarthEasy.com put together a great guide on energy efficient appliances.

 

Gadgets to Help Reach your Green Goal

With Christmas on the way, people tend to forget about the new year almost on us! A great Christmas gift would be a gadget to help you live a more sustainable life throughout the next year. Try asking for a composter to be more eco-friendly or a new bicycle so you can get out of the house and cut down on your automobile use.

 

Recycled Furniture

This one is a no-brainer. Polywood furniture looks great, is low cost and is made from recycled plastic. Who can argue with this as an addition to your wish list? Even though the winter isn’t the best time to use Polywood, it’s weather resistant materials mean that you can bring them outside for next summer and never worry about them again. Talk about a gift you can use all year long.

 

Low VOC Furniture

Maybe you just aren’t ready to buy outdoor furniture yet. Our hardwood furniture is made using chemicals with virtually no VOC’s. Make sure your tables, beds and dressers are friends to the environment this Christmas. Buying sustainable furniture is the best gift you can give our environment.

 

What sustainable gifts and eco-friendly gadgets are on your wish list this year?

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Our Made in America Challenge Finally Aired on ABC News

December 20th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Made-in-americaAt last, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer ran the segment on our "Made in America" Holiday Shopping Challenge yesterday.  YAY!  Here is the link to view it online.  We'd like to thank ABC producers Christine Brozyna and Eric Noll for coming to Vernon to film the segment.  Theirs' is not an easy job. 

When Christine and Eric came to Vermont last month it was because they had read a blog about our "Made in America" project way back in September.  They were impressed that such a small company would take on a project about creating American jobs and they wanted to put the size and strength of ABC behind it.

Well, a lot of time has passed since then and I'm sure that as each new idea came into the newsroom, our story morphed depending on the context of the day.  There were a couple times we were considered for inclusion in earlier segments but for whatever reason they fell through.  In the end we were pretty disappointed to see that our segment really wasn't about the jobs or the furniture being created by small independent companies like Vermont Woods Studios or Woodruff Custom Furniture

Instead we got spun into a segment on American schools.  Go figure.  But it was indeed an educational experience, learning how news stories get created (I'll be much more wary now, about believing what I see in the news).  We're trying to just be grateful for the fact that ABC has been able to raise awareness (much more than we ever could) all across the country about the jobs that can be created by buying American made holiday gifts.

 

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Our “Made in America” Office Christmas Party

December 14th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Christmas-party-vtIt was way back in September that Dennis challenged all of us at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture to help support our economy by promising to buy American Made gifts for Christmas.  A lot of ups and downs have happened since then with our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge

But regardless of all that, we had a mission in the office and that was to learn more about American companies and the things they make–and to support them with our Christmas shopping budgets.  And to see if we could start a movement where others would do the same.  Thanks to ABC that has happened.

So our office Christmas party was yesterday and fortunately it was a Yankee Swap (because it's possible that some of us are on the naughty list).  Anyway we all gave gifts that were made in America:

A bottle of Kendall Jackson California wine, a Harley Davidson beer mug, a handcarved wooden letter opener (Ken picked that one out, of course), a Cangles bracelet made out of recycled soda cans, a handmade glass ornament, a paperwhite bulb, Vermont made goat's milk caramels (yum!), a Vermont made silk scarf and a cool necklace that has a hidden pen in it.

If you haven't had your holiday office party yet, it's not too late!  See if your colleagues will go for an American made theme.  Then let us know what you bought either in the comments section below or on our facebook.

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American Made Holiday Gift Buying Challenge: Progress Report

November 15th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

American-holiday-giftsBy Dennis Shanoff

Earlier this year I wrote a blog which I hoped would inspire a “Buy American Made Products” movement but with a new twist. I thought that the upcoming holiday season would be the perfect time to raise awareness that there still are some great American Made products.

After all this is the time of year when shopping is going full force. So if there ever was power in numbers this would be the time to really make a difference!

 

I began my research into American Made Products that would make good holiday gifts and I was both surprised and pleased to find that this was not as difficult as I first envisioned. Certainly at some point most of us have commented on the overwhelmingly high percentage of imported products we see on our stores shelves. And how product quality has diminished as well. 

 

American-made-toys

I realize that there is some perception that US made product is just too expensive but when you factor in its quality and lasting power over “cheap” imports it actually may prove to be a bargain! Buy it right, and buy it once I say.

I was also very pleased to find that most of the companies I had discovered were started in America long ago, understood offshore production savings or felt economic pressure to manufacture offshore, but firmly resisted this based on a core belief of contributing to the US economy and an unwillingness to diminish quality. Those companies I commend, and those companies’ products I will purchase! They are indeed out there and they deserve our business.

It has been both a fun and enlightening project and I was quite surprised and happy to find good old American made products that my family and friends could use and enjoy. And as a matter of fact I book marked a few dozen websites for things for myself in the process! So Santa, if you are reading this….

Below are some American Made gift ideas I found during my first pass I would like to share with you and I plan on updating this blog post throughout the holiday season.

  • Well you may have thought any type of US produced clothing would be hard to find but it’s out there! And who hasn’t gotten or given pajamas as a gift! Check out Vermont Flannel. BTW… I actually was given a VF shirt and shorts about 10 years ago. Still have and still wear them! And it doesn’t look like they are going to wear out anytime soon! http://www.vermontflannel.com/index
  • What’s more American then blue jeans, right? But blue jeans made in America these days? No way you say! While the famous brands packed up their US factories long ago, there are some little guys refusing to budge! Check out Texas Jeans http://www.texasjean.com/ and All American Clothing http://www.allamericanclothing.com
  • Hmm, I suppose when you need to grab a flashlight you must be in a REAL need for light? So the one that you have to keep smacking in the palm of your hand to stay on may not be the best choice! And how much of a bargain is it in that situation? Well there’s a USA Made MAGLITE in my home, all my vehicles glove boxes, and in my backpacks & camping gear. Turns on, stays on EVERY time! TIP: The little MAGLITE Solitaire attaches to a key chain and is a great stocking stuffer! http://www.maglite.com/
  • No “handy-person” would be disappointed to get a top notch pocket or belt multi-tool. This extremely handy gadget was pioneered by “Leatherman” almost 30 years ago and has been evolving ever since (and is probably one of the most copied inventions of the century!) Now they have an ingenious multi-tool for almost every activity and function. http://www.leatherman.com/
  • Something for the little ones? How about some good old fashion wooden toys? Don’t think they make them like they use too? Well then check out the award winning line of wood toys by Maple Landmark. Lots of fun stuff for kids of all ages and you can personalize them with the child's name! http://www.maplelandmark.com/
  • Need a gift idea that suits all ages? Or something that the whole family can participate in? How about the classic jigsaw puzzle! From 60 piece children’s puzzles to 2000 piece challenges for the master puzzler, Springbok is the oldest and most respected brand name puzzle manufactured in the USA (and they get another vote from us for having environmentally friendly manufacturing practices!) They have a great sorting & categorizing feature on their website to make finding the perfect puzzle quick & easy! http://www.springbok-puzzles.com/

So I hope I have inspired you to consider this holiday gift theme for your family and friends gatherings, office party, secret Santa, or Yankee Swaps. And please feel free to share your findings or events by joining our Facebook event. We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you a Happy Holiday season!

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