I’m starting with this as the first of several holiday guides I’m pulling together for you Foxes this month because it requires some lead time. If there are any specific gift categories you want to see featured, drop me a line.
I would really like to be one of those people who makes personal and touching gifts for everyone on my list. But, let’s be honest, I’m busy and not particularly crafty. I mean, 12-years later, a bag full of my collegiate T-shirts is still sitting in my garage waiting to become a quilt! With the odds stacked against any craft project of mine ever being completed, or, if by some miracle it is, that it look good, I’ve found the best way to make a gift for someone is to pay someone to do it for me.
In support of all the girls out there like me, a quick roundup of some of my favorite places to turn when I need a gift with a personal touch, but I don’t want to touch it.
Made by Julene
A custom, handmade paper-cut by Julene is one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever given. Gorgeous. Personal. One-of-a-kind. You can make it say or show whatever you want. I gave one to my husband on a birthday a few years ago that tells the story of us.
If you want it here by Christmas, time’s really tight because of the time it takes to design and deliver a custom work. But don’t worry, you can also order gorgeous ready-made designs.
When I was a kid, my dad let my brother and I design custom-framed artwork to give to our mom for Christmas. She loved them and these beauties still hang high in a place of honor above the family piano for all to admire. Flash forward 20(ish) years and Formia Design is building on the idea of turning children’s artwork into keepsakes by turning doodles into jewelry.
No kids? No problem. The Formia Design website states that they’ve worked from all kinds of artwork, logos, even tattoos, to create these custom pieces. If you want one for Christmas, order fast. Last day for regular shipping is Dec. 4 (today!). Express shipping’s available until Dec. 18.
Lovely Little Cakes
Sometimes you don’t need a gift-gift, but want to share a special holiday treat with friends and family. If you’re in the Bay Area like me, turn to Lovely Little Cakes. The owner Sharon bakes up the most scrumptious cookies, cupcakes, cakepops and pies and they’re organic!! The Fawkes household has already enjoyed (scarfed) sweet mince pies and cupcakes this holiday.
The beauty of Lovely Little Cakes work is that the goodies are as professional and polished as can be, yet Sharon’s style retains the charm of coming from your mom’s kitchen. She’ll work with you to customize your order and can even do gluten-free, vegan, dye-free, casein-free, and refined sugar-free sweets. If you aren’t lucky enough to be near Lovely Little Cakes, indulge at a local bakery in your area.
One of the few things I learned to sew as a youngster was decorative pillows. My grandma taught me when I was 5 or 6 and she soon became the recipient of a stunning, roundish, yellow satin pillow stuffed with cotton balls and emblazoned with “I <3 Ma” freehand embroidered by yours truly with red yarn. She loved it, and not just because of the small pearl button detail and decorative stitch trim.
A number of years later, she and my mother returned the favor and sent their homesick girl away at grad school Cat Studio’s San Francisco pillow. When I got mine 10+ years ago, they were a bit rarer and more rustic than they are today, but they still scream a homemade piece of almost any home you can think of to whoever’s lucky enough to unwrap one.
When my first nephew was born earlier this year, I really wanted him to have a keepsake from Auntie Rach and Uncle Lee. Naturally, this should be a plush fox that would become his best pal. I searched all over for the perfect foxy friend for B and found it in Socks the Fox, one of many knit pals with personality (his online bio notes he’s a writer for a local newspaper with beautiful handwriting he mostly uses to write lists and love notes) by Blabla.
All of the dolls and goodies at Blabla looks like granny knitted or sewed it and most toys are safe for the very youngest babies. I love Socks and his lady Suzette, but there are tons of choices to match your wee one’s fancy.
I stumbled on this site a few months ago and love that it combines serious manliness with Etsy-like ease of browsing artisan wares. More of a guide than a store, they regularly feature wares like Polar Stones, which add a chill to your man’s whiskey (special for the holidays, put a lump of Whiskey Coal in someone naughty’s stocking), and editor-picked collections, like Mustache Mania, to make manly buying easy on other sites like Etsy.
Of course, you can also use search terms to find the perfect gift. Expect a dose of macho and side of humor with your results.
When all-else fails, turn to the super collective of artists and artisans, Etsy. Search by category, i.e. jewelry or tech gear (yes, there is crafty tech gear), or by interest. Because, like me, you aren’t creative, you’ll be surprised and amazed what crafts “golf,” “dance” and “rockclimbing” inspire from those touched by the muses.