Editors’ Picks for Maine-Made Holiday Gifts

Nothing against the North Pole, but wouldn’t you rather support Maine makers and small businesses than some elf-run multinational this holiday? From ornamental kitchenware to origami kits to Olive Kitteridge, here are 32 classic and surprising tokens of the Pine Tree State for everyone on your list.

By Laura Serino
Photographed by Mark Fleming

Find even more Maine gift ideas (and several of our editors’ picks) on MaineHomes.com and in our Down East Shop!

Leisure

Nautical Tic Tac Toe

Sailboat Tic-Tac-Toe

Who needs Xs and Os? Jefferson artist Marybeth Canedy hand-paints the wooden sailboats on this nautical update to tic-tac-toe. A gift for your game-night rival that’ll look good on a coffee table between matches. $48. Available from the Beach Plum Company, 77 Main St., Newcastle. 207-682-0181.

Purple Bean Notebooks

Purplebean Bindery Journals

Anna Low, of Auburn, fell in love with bookbinding in college. Today, the owner of Purplebean Bindery creates one-of-a-kind hand-bound journals with whimsical and patterned fabric covers, perfect for your favorite scribe. Blank book, $30.

Swans Island Yarn Trio

Ombré & Friends Seaglass Trio

Knitters are hard to shop for — how to impress crafters who know how to make beautiful pieces for everyone on their list? Give the gift of their next creation with this bundle of hand-dyed yarns from Northport’s Swans Island Company. Ombré (or shaded color) yarn is matched with a solid and a natural skein, all soft merino wool. $75.

New Maine Books

New Maine Books

From three pillars of Maine lit: Novelist Richard Russo’s Chances Are . . . plumbs the depths of a 40-year friendship and a mysterious disappearance at its heart. (Knopf, hardcover, $26.95). His fellow Pulitzer Prize–winner Elizabeth Strout returns to fictional Crosby, Maine, and her ornery protagonist, Olive Kitteridge, in Olive, Again (Random House, hardcover, $27). Celia Thaxter’s seminal 1894 gardening memoir, An Island Garden, gets a lovely reissue (David R. Godine, hardcover, $27.95).

American Heritage Pens

American Heritage Pens

Want to sign a check with a piece of the 1797 USS Constitution? How about the historic Hesper that once laid up in Wiscasset? History buffs can hold pieces of antiquity in their hands with writing implements from Old Town’s American Heritage Pens, which uses salvaged wood from ships (and other historic sources) to make ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. $30–$120.

Maine Casual Chair

Oh Yeah Comfy Chair

South Portland’s Brian Fish founded Maine Casual after breaking one too many cheapo beach chairs. His built-to-last alternatives are made from Sunbrella performance fabric, attached with a bungee suspension system to Brazilian cherrywood. Durable and easy on the eyes (with plenty of color choices), the Oh Yeah Comfy chairs fold and ship flat. 10-inch original, $325; 16-inch high boy, $345.

DO SOMETHING!

Furniture-Making Workshop

The downside of a gift certificate to Rockport’s Center for Furniture Craftsmanship is that aspiring woodworkers can’t use it until next summer, when workshops and weekend-long community classes start up again. The upside is a deep catalog of courses on everything from introductory turning and joinery to more advanced carving techniques, all taught by veteran craftspeople on a midcoast campus.

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Kitchen

Vincent Cutting Boards

Chop Boards

Woodworker Christina Vincent crafts furniture, jewelry, and accessories in a sawdust-sprinkled workshop on North Haven, some 12 miles off the coast. Made from native hardwoods and dressed up with food-safe milk paint, her smart and colorful chop boards are just right for carrying out the crudité. From $45.

Mainely Coffee

Cold Brew Kit

Coffee lovers don’t stop drinking cold brew just because it’s winter, but French presses are a messy hassle, and so is getting the ratio just right. Sarah and Roger Buzby’s Millinocket roaster, Mainely Coffee, makes it easy with this DIY kit: two 4-ounce filter bags, pre-filled and ready to steep. Choose from four of their small-batch blends. $15.99.

Handsome Rolling Pin

Walnut Rolling Pin

This hand-turned, black-walnut rolling pin from Handsome Tool Company, a husband-and-wife woodenware shop out of Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill, looks chic (French style — no handles), and the open grain of the walnut holds more flour for a smoother, less sticky roll. $80.

Mamas Munchies

Mom’s Munchies

Stocking-stuffer alert: When Freeport’s Betty Crush couldn’t find healthy snack options to accommodate her health issues, she started cooking up her own. In flavors like chocolate chia beet and sweet-potato apple, her Mom’s Munchies Kids’ Bites are safe for every classroom (dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free) and also definitely not just for kids. Yum. Six pouches, $24.94.

CWS Chopsticks

Octagonal-Cut Chopsticks

Take take-out to the next level with these handcrafted octagonal chopsticks (with wooden chopstick rest). Jason Weymouth’s Brunswick woodworking studio is called Carved Wooden Spoons, but he also cuts and sands these simple beauties from cherry, walnut, or maple, inlaying each with a bit of brass. (His Spoon of the Month Club program also makes a great gift.) $21.

Minka Serving Spoons

Minka Home Serving Spoons

Snazzy enough for special occasions, durable enough for everyday use, Minka Home’s minimalist ceramic serving spoons look cool just sitting on the table. Rose and Chris Larochelle, founders of the boutique Kennebunkport design studio, offer a variety of geometric styles and sizes in black and white. $35–$45.

LaNef Chocolate

La Nef Chocolate Bars

When Samuel de Champlain landed on Monhegan in 1605, he christened it Isla La Nef. Chocolatiers Mandy and Dylan Metrano borrowed the old moniker for their island confectionery, which turns out decadent chocolate bars (plus truffles and other sweets). With packaging artwork by Monhegan artists, the bars are almost too pretty to unwrap (we said almost). $7.

DO SOMETHING!

Maine Brew Bus Saturday Sampler

Your buds will toast you while crawling the U.S. city with the most breweries per capita. This Greater Portland tour hits South Portland’s Island Dog Brewing, then visits Bayside’s Belgian-influenced Brewery Extrava and Lone Pine Brewing Company, one of the country’s fastest-growing breweries, known for big IPAs. A $70 Maine Brew Bus gift card covers this and some two dozen other tours.

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Kid Stuff

Quiet Tide Patches

Embroidered Maine Patches

Portland’s Quiet Tide Goods turns out graphic prints, stickers, pins, and more, many with a light “Maine pride” motif and all designed by local artsts. The cool embroidered patches are as likely as anything to endear you to that teen or tween you have no idea how to shop for. $7 each.

Gray Fox Mocs

Gray Fox Loafers

Gabby Doane, of Cape Elizabeth, was having trouble finding a sturdy, gender-neutral baby shoe for her infant son, so she fashioned him a pair from scrap leather, giving her booties a minimalist design with easy-on, easy-off functionality that parents appreciate. These days, her Gray Fox studio makes a selection of baby footwear, including these soft, vegetable-tanned leather loafers. $45.

Origami Mainers

Origami for Mainers

You don’t need to be a crafter to love this ingenious little kit from Strong Arm Bindery, Portlander Martha Kearsley’s design, letterpress, and bookbinding shop. Follow the instructions to fold beautifully patterned papers into loons, blackflies, lobsters, pine trees, and more. Great for rainy days and family craft time. $16.

Maine Toys Duck

Waddle Duck Pull Toy

The Instagram aesthetic has arguably made wooden toys cool again, but little kids never stopped loving them, and Maine shops like Solon’s Different Drummer Workshop have been turning out durable and affordable playthings for decades. This heirloom-quality, pull-along duck is a perfect first toy for baby, handcrafted from native pine and durable enough to withstand abuse during the toddler years. $16.

Farm Coloring Book

Fresh from the Farm Coloring Book

Maine kids ought to know where their food comes from, and Portland artist Hannah Rosengren helps show them with her ag-centric coloring book. Each of her 12 fun illustrations — one for each month, printed on Forest Stewardship Council–certified paper — highlights a seasonal farm product and the flora or fauna it’s sourced from, from dairy cows to honeybees. $9.

Baloo Baleerie

Lobster Baby Sweater

Hand-loomed and washing-machine safe, this sweet little sweater will help solidify a tyke’s appreciation of our unofficial state mascot. Mother- and daughter-in-law Kari and Sally Cameron design nautically themed baby clothes, bibs, and blankies for their Baloo Baleerie Baby online shop (they make an adorbs matching hat too). $64.99.

SYO Unicorn

Unicorn Craft Kit

Delilah Iris, of Madison, started out stitching reindeer stuffies for her daughter, then launched DelilahIris Designs, offering a whole menagerie of cute felt animals and DIY instructables. You don’t need a sewing machine to make your own 8-inch plush unicorn, just basic stitching skills and the yarn, wire, stuffing, and other supplies in Iris’s kit. (She sells ready-made ones too.) $24.50.

DO SOMETHING!

The Polar Express

Tickets go fast to this month’s Polar Express train ride at Portland’s Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum, a holiday tradition for many Maine families. Book a lucky kid a boarding pass for a journey to the North Pole, complete with holiday treats, carols, stories, and a visit from Santa. Through Dec. 23. $31.

Find even more Maine gift ideas (and several of our editors’ picks) in our Down East Shop!

Wearables

Vincent Earrings

Christina Vincent Earrings

Christina Vincent started making earrings as a kind of calling card for her furniture business, little tokens to show off the style and form of her woodwork. She still makes beautiful furniture from her North Haven studio, but her earrings — simple, geometrical, and made from pieces left over from table-and-chair projects — make a statement all their own. $65.

Quoddy Slippers

Fireside Camp Slippers

Quoddy is carrying on Lewiston’s shoemaking tradition from an old textile mill on the Androscoggin River, but the company’s slippers are a damn sight comfier than anything the Franco cobblers were making a century ago. Hand-sewn moccasin construction and soft shearling inners make the Fireside Camp Slippers (men’s and women’s) look sharp and feel like clouds. $179.

Memory Mittens

Memory Mittens

That old sweater you don’t wear but can’t part with? Ship it to York’s Jack & Mary Designs: within a month, they’ll send back custom-made, fleece-lined mittens (or stockings, scarves, and more) — new apparel, same old memories. Gift an empty box (with shipping materials and instructions) to anyone you know with a “sentimental sweater” tucked away. Mittens, $50 adults, $40 children.

Gayle Slade Scarf

Handpainted Silk Scarf

Each gauzy scarf created by designers Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, of Boothbay’s Gayle Slade Design, is made with fiber-reactive dyes hand-painted on natural fabrics. Some are whimsical (polka dots! coffee beans!), others are conservatively striped, but all bring a pop of color to even the grayest winter days. $85.

Rogue Hats Backpack
Rogue Hats Backpack

Rogue Wear Pack and Hat

We love the utility and retro feel of packs and apparel from Lewiston’s Rogue Wear. The Benny Backpack is a catch-all day pack with a sturdy nylon exterior, lots of pockets, and more than a dozen snazzy color combos ($66). We’re fans of the original Maine state flag — and the push to bring it back. Until that happens, we’ll fly the pine and Polaris on Rogue Wear’s distressed denim cap ($20).

Trosko Clutches

Tröskö Design Zippie Bag

These simple, zippered pouches from Tröskö Design are sewn in Yarmouth and just the right size for keys, phone, and wallet. The prints are designed by artist and Tröskö founder Solvejg Makaretz, whose fun, Maine-inspired patterns take a minimalist page from her Scandinavian roots. $26.

American Roots Hoodie

All-American Hoodie

If Maine has a staple fashion item, it’s the hoodie — a coat in the spring, a boat layer in summer, and a cozy go-to in fall and winter. The heavyweight pullover from American Roots is a burly classic made from American cotton. Workers in the company’s union shop in Westbrook learn to stitch in a job-training program and include many recently immigrated new Mainers. $79.95.

DO SOMETHING!

Fiber Studio at Nezinscot Farm

Four-hour weekend classes ($50) teach new and intermediate crafters techniques of spinning, knitting, crocheting, and more, all in a lovely farmhouse surrounded by 250 rolling acres in Turner. Tack another $50 on the gift card and your fiber-loving pal can stay over in a loft above the studio — or splurge on registration to the four-day Winter Weaving Weekend (Jan. 17–20, $500).

We haven’t listed retailers carrying these Maine-made gifts, except in instances when they’re not available directly from the makers. But many can be found in gift shops and other Maine stores (including our own Down East Shop, online and on Route 1 in Rockport. For details on stockists and retailers in your area, visit the producers’ websites.