By Jen Derose | Photographed by Mark Fleming | Styled by Jennifer Fleming
Frontier Maple Sugarworks’s candy boxes are filled with maple sugar molded into mustaches, butterflies, Victorian rosettes, or a mix of skulls and mushrooms — “maple candy poison,” reads the cheeky label on that last one, drawn by Rockland artist Alexis Iammarino for Carrie Braman and VJ Guarino, who run the Jackman sugarhouse. $8.
Retired chef Lisa Ferrel started Brunswick’s Zen Bear Honey Tea using a recipe her nephew created — stir a glob into hot water and voila. Made with clover honey, orange, cacao, and cloves, Zen Bear’s Cocoa l’Orange is a decadent seasonal favorite for snowy days (and a portion of every sale goes to Heifer International). $13.
Vermouth, the classic cocktail buddy, is a great aperitif on its own, and this one, from South Portland beverage purveyors Lincoln & Main, is made with Maine rhubarb for an herbal rather than sweet flavor, with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Great in a Manhattan too. $20.
A four-pack of hot sauces — including Red Riot (red peppers), Jalapeño Business (jalapeños), Earth Fire (beets), and Melon Head (sweet cantaloupe) — that brings the heat, along with a healthy dose of probiotics, as they’re made with organic fruits and vegetables farmed and fermented in Bremen. $42.
For the Connelly family, of Brunswick, a trip to China in 1992 inspired a love affair with the country — and with organic, whole-leaf tea, which the Connellys select and import from five Chinese fair-trade cooperatives. The four-tin gift sampler lets you choose from among varieties like delicate white peony, smooth da hong pao, and smokey lapsang souchong. $20.
Small-batch, organic simple syrups from Newcastle’s Royal Rose are great for cocktails, mocktails, craft sodas, even baking. Plus, they’re fun, colorful gifts that come in three sizes (from 2-ounce stocking stuffers to 16-ounce under-the-tree bottles) and some 20 flavors (we love cardamom clove, saffron, and hot ginger lime). $4–$27.
Chocolats Passion Holiday Platter
French chocolatier Catherine Wiersema’s creations are as beautiful as they are decadent, a collection of both light and dark chocolate in flavors like dulce de café, brown butter pecan, and bananas foster. The proprietor of Portland’s Chocolats Passion also offers a platter with fewer chocolates and a gorgeous yule log, filled with a Provence nougat of hazelnuts, pistachios, and organic citrus. $76.
After working for 15 years as a wildlife biologist, Sarah Johnson, of Yarmouth, launched Sundew Sewing this spring, stitching ball caps from cotton canvas and limited-edition fabrics. Each hat is numbered on the inside front panel, and the hats come in kid and adult sizes, so little ones can match mom and dad. $55.
Talk about wearable art: Painter and textile artist Sarah Lee, of Tenants Harbor’s Spruce Tree Studio, hand-paints each of her unbleached, organic-cotton tees (washing machine safe, sizes small to extra large) with a classic Maine landscape scene. (She does cute hand-painted pillows too.) $65.
Looking for a fun outlet to keep her mind occupied while undergoing IVF treatments, Kelsey Champagne-Smith started making artwork out of resin. Fast-forward two years and she’s busy making one-of-a-kind jewelry out of her Dixfield farmhouse — when she’s not caring for her 6-month-old daughter, that is. $15–$17.
Sarah Gordon, of Augusta, launched her Third Born line of ready-to-wear linen apparel this year, but makers on your list will love her sew-your-own kit, which comes with linen, thread, elastic, a safety pin, a pattern, and an online tutorial for making a simple top, scrunchie, and headband in a range of soft, subtle hues — no sewing experience required. $64.
Sisters Sarah Kelly, a breast cancer survivor, and Leah Robert, an oncology nurse, run Kennebunk’s SaltyGirl Beauty, a line of organic cosmetics. Their five-piece kit for five different skin tones includes an aloe-based foundation, a hydrating concealer, smudge-proof mascara, and either a moisturizing lipstick or gloss. Ten percent of proceeds goes to Foundation4Love, their nonprofit supporting those undergoing cancer treatments. $120.
Adorned with hand-drawn images of clams, lobster claws, corn, potatoes, and pine trees, this jaunty bandana is available from Brooke Knippa’s AP Curiosities, co-designed with Amanda Mitchell of Yarmouth’s Delany Arts. Knippa sells her wares in a 1978 Airstream International turned gallery in Bowdoinham. The bandanda features some of the iconic symbols of a life well-lived in Vacationland, and a portion of sales supports Maine Coast Heritage Trust. $21.
Maine College of Art grads Madison Poitrast-Upton and Jordan Carey cut and sew all the pieces from their Loquat line in their Portland studio, including their sharp, TSA-carry-on–approved duffels, made from water-resistant waxed canvas outside and a cotton signature wave pattern inside. $198.
Since 1981, Fish River Crafts cofounders Mark Aman and Georgette Fehrenbach have been handmaking giraffes, bull moose, Siberian tigers, panthers, and other creatures using reclaimed birch, natural oils, and water-based paints. Bonus for parents: strings are easily detangled, as they’re removable at the top. $36–$55. marionettes.com or via The Good Supply.
To make her mobiles, Camden-based Karina Steele, of Karina K Steele Woodworking, steam-bends pattern-cut ash into bird shapes, then applies milk paint in shades like butter yellow and slate blue before stringing them together with waxed cord. The light-as-air mobiles are delicate enough to be hung up with a thumbtack (read: no hammering or drilling). $65.
After (fruitlessly) putting a sword on their Christmas list for a few years, the Ting kids (Vienna, 12, and Oslo, 10) learned to make their own in their dad’s Belfast woodshop. As V and O Armory, they make a range of imaginative battle gear inspired by The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. $7–$35.
Keep kids’ clothes protected with aprons as cute as the kids are. Sewing out of her home studio in Bowdoin, Jinger Howell, of Yo Momma’s Apron Strings, uses her grandkids as models to ensure a fit for little ones 6 months and up. Her Baprons — a bib-apron combo — are great for messy eaters and budding artists. $16–$32
Bowdoinham’s Isabel Stearns learned felting as a child at a Waldorf school and has since perfected her craft as a Waldorf teacher. The wool fairies from her Felted Acorns Etsy shop are customizable in a range of skin tones, hairstyles, and wing colors and come with adornments, like acorn cap hats. $30.
Tachee Kids’ Tees and Sweatshirts
As a toddler, Portlander Rachel Adams thought her first name was pronounced tachee. So when she launched her line of naturally dyed, locally silkscreened kids’ clothing — including onesies, tees, and sweatshirts — she embraced her inner child. The first Tachee collection features bunnies and turtles, with more designs to come. $25–$40.
Angela Chase, of Lisbon’s Larkspur + Birch Design Co., creates custom name puzzles for kids using laser-cut wood bases, acrylic letters, and more than 60 backgrounds — flowers, sports, stripes, trains, you name it. The puzzles are great for little ones learning letters, and a bonus for parents: no fighting over whose is whose. $33–$43.
HOME & DESIGN
Maine Bicentennial Beverage Bucket
This convenient cooler from the Maine franchise Sea Bags takes design inspiration from the state’s original (and superior) 1901 flag. Water-resistant, thanks to recycled sail cloth, it has six pockets for bottles, space for ice, a grommet to drain water — even a bottle opener. Pair it with the recipient’s fave Maine beer. $100.
The gift that keeps on giving. A Year of Mugs from Ariela Kuh’s ANK Ceramics — a studio in a former Camden auto shop — gets you a limited-edition collection of hand-slipped mugs in
experimental clays and glazes. (These are last year’s, since Kuh makes her designs as the year progresses.) Seasonal (four mugs) $160, bimonthly (six mugs) $240.
Sabrina Thiemke, of Cornish’s Think Greene, makes nature-inspired cards, clothes, and home accessories, such as tea towels that she silkscreens with eco-friendly inks onto flour-sack cotton, then packages with compostable, recycled cardboard. Cute Maine-y themes include fiddleheads, pines, and camping under the moon. $16.
Blue Butterfield Greeting Cards
Portland artist Blue Butterfield — a physician assistant at Maine Medical Center when she’s not making woodblock prints — captures memorable Maine scenes both urban (Portland’s Longfellow Square and Munjoy Hill) and natural (blueberry barrens, Tumbledown Mountain) in her charming, blank greeting cards. $10 for 6.
With few brides and grooms to shoot this year, Portland wedding photographers Bethany and Dan Cox turned to embroidery. No fussy florals or trite sayings: they launched The Mod Stitcher with eight modern designs, including Portland Head Light and a rocky coast scene. Kits include an embroidery hoop, preprinted design on fabric, a needle, thread, directions, and a stitch guide. $10–$25.
To create her silky-soft wool blankets, Nanne Kennedy, of Washington’s The Maine Blanket, dyes extra-fine, apparel-grade wool in seawater, then weaves the yarn on antique looms. A generous 5 x 4 feet, the throw she calls the Mermaid Napper is perfectly proportioned for snoozing on the sofa. $250–$300.
Home chefs will love Treeline: Wood + Floral Design’s shapely cutting boards, sturdy enough for chopping, pretty enough for serving charcuterie. Portland woodworker Monika Pfistner crafts them from native wood species such as maple and cherry, then uses scraps to make spoons, spreaders, and jewelry. (And yes, she designs artful flower arrangements too.) $115–$157.