If this is the year that you’re ready to go for it with a big-statement gift, we have you covered. But please, don’t spend your hard-earned money at the mall or a giant box store. There are so many talented artists and makers in your own backyard creating amazing things. Keep your cash working locally, and enjoy the double thrill of a socially responsible splurge.
A Succulent in a Brian Giniewski Planter
There is something about an ice-cream-drippy planter from local ceramicist Brian Giniewski that is begging for a Haworthia fasciata (or another houseplant of your choosing). His colorful, oddly appealing creations cost quite a bit more than terra cotta, but will provide the giftee with a little jolt of happiness every day.
Framed Woodcut/Papercut from Philly Love Notes
For an almost definite future heirloom, check out the astounding woodcuts from Emma Fried-Cassorla. These delicately cut maps, handmade from Baltic birch, really are love notes, showing off the whole city grid, specific neighborhoods or, for an extra splurge, custom maps, with special locations highlighted with the symbol of your choosing. Bonus points for custom framing at your local frame shop.
$50–$350 for the woodcuts, framing prices vary
Glassblowing Classes at East Falls Glass
Introduce someone to an enchanting new craft, or delight a glassblowing pro with a chance to further explore the art. East Falls Glass, a well-appointed, community-driven studio, offers a range of workshops and classes for glassblowers at any skill level, taught by experienced artisans. Classes are open to ages 13 and up.
ReAnimator Coffee Subscription
For a coffee lover (read: addict), there is a specific joy in knowing that a fresh bag of locally roasted beans will show up every few weeks. ReAnimator’s simple, user-friendly subscription interface makes it easy to send single-origin beans every three, six or 12 months. Gift recipients can edit their subscription anytime, or even skip a week if they’ll be out of town.
Dinner at Vedge
There’s a very good reason that Vedge is considered one of the best vegan restaurants in the country. Blow a vegetarian friend’s mind with a no-holds-barred dinner at this fantastic Gayborhood spot—drinks, dessert, the whole nine. Even better, bring an omnivorous friend for an eye-opening and unforgettable walk on the vegan side.
Kole Butcher Block
Every home cook understands the importance of a good cutting board. Then why do so many of us still use flimsy plastic ones? The endgrain wooden butcher blocks from design and build company Kole show off the growth rings and natural gradients in color in the reclaimed white oak and responsibly harvested walnut that make up these gorgeous kitchen tools.
A Signed Copy of the FedNuts Cookbook and a Dozen Doughnuts
In between conquering the city with delicious hummus, falafel, soup and doughnuts, the team at Cook N Solo has written “Federal Donuts: The (Partially) True Spectacular Story,” a cookbook and business memoir in one. Score a signed (and personalized!) copy for a Fednuts-obsessed friend, and add a dozen fancies for inspiration.
$16.99 for the book, $18–$30 for the doughnuts
Handmade Leather Shoes from Mason Dixon Made
These supple leather desert boots are every bit as stylish as ones you’d find at a high-end boutique, but instead of being mass produced overseas, they’re shaped and stitched together by hand in a small workspace in Kensington. Different color leathers and laces make for a unique, sweet pair of kicks that will be just as appropriate at the office as at the dive bar for happy hour.
Sweater From Steel Pony
This clothing studio on Fabric Row has been creating bohemian-fabulous garments since 1992, when it was founded by couple Joanne Litz and Dennis Wolk. Their casual-but-chic pullover, poncho and cardigan sweaters are American made: California-grown cotton is pigmented with Massachusetts-sourced dyes, knitted in North Carolina and upstate New York, and then finished here in Philadelphia.
Botanist Watch from Analog Watch Co.
This successful accessory startup based in South Philly uses natural resources for design inspiration. Previous Analog collections have included wristwear made from sustainable wood and marble, and its newest venture, the Botanist Collection, returns to the earth, as well. Each unisex watch features natural plant material—color-stabilized flowers and moss—artfully suspended in clear resin.
$70–$84 on Kickstarter