18 Handcrafted Holiday Gifts

by Maxwell Tielman


A few months back, I wrote a small, somewhat exasperated essay about the challenges that face modern-day consumers, from the issues surrounding unfair working conditions and underpaid labor to the environmental impact of mass-scale production. Since that point, I’ve tried to keep these issues at the back of my mind whenever making purchases. Do I know who the maker is? Do I know where this item was made? Was it made safely and ethically? Because of this, I’ve decided that most of the gifts I give this holiday will be of the local, small-batch, handcrafted variety. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to meet some truly incredible artists, makers, and craftsmen over the past year, many of whom live a close distance from New York. From beautiful heirloom-quality jewelry to delightful little stocking stuffers, here are some of my favorite handmade gifts for 2014! —Max

This hand-carved trinket tray from East To West Woods is both beautiful to look at and to touch—it's been sanded to smooth perfection!
Andrew Molleur's beautiful "Origami" containers, crafted using color-infused porcelain.
Scarr's vegetable-tanned leather & felt coasters feature 100% Merino wool felting on the underside, great for protecting tables in style!
Hudson Made's small-batch Worker's Soap is created in the Adirondack region of New York State and features an irresistible scent and pumice to really get dirty hands clean. This "Double Shift" set comes with a sustainable stoneware dish crafted by ceramist Dana Brandwein.
Rebecca Atwood's beautifully subtle hand-screened pillows.
Perfectly imperfect hand-thrown espresso cups from BTW Ceramics.
Adelia Sugarman's Owlkill Studio crafts these charming brass and leather key fobs in Cambridge, NY. Each fob comes with a hand-stamped muslin bag.
Birdkage's shibori-style tea towels are hand-dyed using naturally-derived indigo.
Greentree Home's 100% beeswax candles are handcrafted in the Catskill Mountains. Don't forget their lovely (and delightfully weighty) cast iron candleholders!
Inspired by Japanese teacups, ceramist Alyson Iwamoto's Solar Eclypse Crescent necklace features a crackled glaze and hand-painted 18k gold luster.
Jewelry designer Rebecca Peacock's minimal diamond-shaped stud earrings.
Doug Johnston's simple white backpack is hand-sewn with braided cotton cord.
Young In The Mountains' made-to-order Mountain Vortex ceramic plates.
Amelie Mancini's cast copper arrow spoon.
Known for custom motorcycle upholstery, Jay Teske crafts handmade bicycle and motorcycle accessories like this stunning leather top case.
Fern's wooden doorstop is crafted using leftover wood and leather from larger furniture projects.
Kelly DeWitt's welded steel tabletop plant stand.
And, for the person who has everything: a truly out-of-this-world potted plant sculpture from Chiaozza, created using recycled paper pulp.

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  • These are all really beautiful. I think an added advantage (besides supporting local artisans) is how unique and high quality these all are. It makes the gift feel like more thought and attention were paid to the recipient.

  • Beautiful collection — they all feel like they sprang from a genuine need on the part of the maker, and were designed with affection and pride!

  • I really thought the candle sticks were some sort of artisan mallet. Just a little embarrassed…

  • This might be controversial.. but Grace, are you and AJ on good enough terms for a gift guide? I looked forward to his every year, I thought it was THE BEST. And would love love love to see his perspective again.

  • Great picks (adore that copper spoon)! Would love it if you would include the price in the caption in future gift guides–while I agree that supporting indie, artisan makers is of the utmost importance, it’s a little sad (for me, at least!) to fall in love with an object and realize it’s outside my budget. Thanks!

  • That trinket tray is so gorgeous! Love the dark wood. Would love to see it in person!

    I’ve got DIY gift roundups going up this week into next, I’d love if you checked them out! :)


  • i have been looking for a good key chain since i got my new car in april… i love the key fob from owlkill, and will definitely be putting it on my list!!