These are all products and services with which I have had direct experience. Please feel free to add any of your favorite items that would also make great gifts.
1. "Lewis" Series One to Five. If there is a BBC fan on your list, consider Lewis. If the recipient has a "region unlocked DVD player," get the Series One to Five BBC/UK version. This has the full versions of the episodes, not the shorter PBS versions, as well as the not-yet-aired series five (and is much less expensive!). Also consider Downton Abbey (Series 2 is now available as well) or the new Sherlock.
2. A Leather Man Ltd. Motif Belt or Key Ring, The original belt (increasingly imitated but never duplicated), made in sailing mecca Essex, Connecticut, is still the best. And the hardware on the key ring is incredible. Both have the same fabulous motif selection, so if you can, custom order one to align with a favorite past-time of the recipient.
Key Ring ($15)
3. Swans Island Scarves, Blankets and Throws. Made on the Maine coast, these unique items are something very special and lasting, and a worthy acknowledgement of a true milestone.
4. Acquired Tastes by Peter Mayle. This classic is still a favorite book and go-to hostess gift add-on. Peter Mayle, in his trademark wit, examines the cost and benefits of true luxury items to see which are really worth it. And getting any book signed, as I did fifteen years for my husband, turns it into a something even more appreciated.
5. Sweaters from J. McLaughlin or L.L. Bean. Stay warm with Italian Merino Wool Sweaters from J. McLaughlin for Women, or the Irish Fisherman's Knit Sweaters from L.L. Bean for Men (although I wear the Men's small) in Donegal Tweed or Natural.
J. McLaughlin for Women ($298)
Irish Fisherman's Knit Sweaters from L.L. Bean ($129)
6. The Tartan Terrier Bermuda Bag. These are from a brand new company, although carrying on a family legacy. They are made in the US, here with a wool Dress Gordon cover, as well as leather buttons and a wooden handle.
7. Vermont Originals Wool Hats. These may be the best-made hats from Vermont. I like to get them fleece-lined, and there is time to get a personalized message written on the front.
8. Local Farm Share, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Consider giving a share in a local farm's 2012 crop yield. Local Harvest.org is a good way to find a farm close by to the recipient. They will look forward to it during the cold winters, and then enjoy fresh vegetables all summer long.
9. Antiques and Vintage Items. While the quality of many new items is increasingly questionable, many older pieces, like this Wathne Belt Buckle (given to me by my husband 20 years ago and hard to find now), or even true antiques make perfect gifts. Consider an antique runner, painting or piece of furniture.
10. Donations. Finally, there are those who prefer making donations in the recipient's name. Just be sure it is their cause, not yours. For starters, YWP suggested donating to the Connecticut Farm Trust, and I would add the Maine Farmland Trust and The Chewonki Foundation.
|See the Boat in this Earlier Chewonki Post|
These are just some ideas, of course. Be creative. I know one friend who included a link to her favorite podcast (in this case, Slate.com's free daily podcast including their political and cultural roundtables) with every emailed Christmas Card.
The best presents are personal, or can be personalized. Being generous in consideration, spirit and time, more than budget, make the longest lasting impressions.
Tropicalsunbird kindly passed on this great list (in pdf form) from ABC News of many "Made in America" companies.