Everyone's tightening their belts a little this holiday season, but that doesn't mean gift-exchanging is off the table. If you're going to be spending fewer dollars this holiday season, you might as well make sure those that those you do spend benefit the local economy, rather than being shipped to some corporate HQ far, far away. If buying local is one of your holiday priorities, here are a few ideas to keep it in the neighborhood.
The Sunrise Guide
Like giving 200 local gifts at once, the Sunrise Guide offers a lot of bang for the 20 bucks it costs. The 176-page book, full of coupons and lifestyle tips, is the definitive guide to (and cheat-sheet for) green living in Southern Maine. If you capitalized on every deal in the book, you could save more than $4500, according to the publisher. And you'll have a delicious, fun time doing so, getting discounts at favorite local establishments including Bonobo, the North Star Music Cafû, various yoga and Pilates studios, Frontier Cinema and Cafû, Videoport, Material Objects, and Fetch. Giving the Sunrise Guide is the giftish equivalent to teaching the recipient to fish — the recipient will benefit all year (and think of you each time he or she does!).
Junior League of Portland's Maine Ingredients cookbook
It's been called "one of the best community cookbooks in the country," and between its inclusion of local ingredients and authentic recipes tested in Junior League kitchens, we can see why. This cookbook, $21.95 if you buy it through the JLP's Web site, jlpmaine.org, is the perfect gift for those out-of-state relatives who visit you in Maine, and rave about the home-cooked meals and seafood delicacies for which our state is famous. Now, you can bestow upon them the chance to savor those tastes at home.
No matter how high- or lowbrow, traditional or modern your loved ones' tastes in art run, there's a local artist who'll appeal to them. Rather than pick out our favorite artists (although you can see some of their designs in our holiday card section of this week's Phoenix), we'll give you some ideas on where to find their goods instead — try online at MaineCreates.com, NonProfitMaine.org, or Etsy.com; or around town at one of Portland's many art galleries and shops.
Sea Bag Coaster Set
The Sea Bag empire has grown steadily since entrepreneurs Hannah Kubiak and Beth Shissler launched their Portland-waterfront business in 1999. These days, on top of such additions to their bag line as the Plaid Bag (a classic tote with plaid ornamentation, $150), and the Bullet Bag (smaller, zippered, $95), they're offering non-toteables like a bath mat ($95) and a draft dodger to keep the chill out of your home ($30). But the best of these home goods is the set of four coasters ($20), all made from recycled sails and decorated with the bright Sea Bags designs. They'd elevate any hostess to mostess status.