Let’s face it, global e-commerce takes some of the magic out of gift giving. Visiting a loved one’s Amazon wishlist, selecting an item of appropriate value, and having it wrapped and delivered for you lacks some of the charm of gifting traditions of yore.
So this holiday season, we’re humbly suggesting an alternative. Pick up a gift from a local artisan or maker instead. (Yes, Amazon is technically a Seattle company but you know what we mean).
This is an annual GeekWire tradition originally begun by former GeekWire columnist Monica Guzman. (Check out previous local gift guides here and here.) We received a large number of submissions in response to our post last week, and below, we’ve rounded up our recommendations for 12 great — and geeky — gifts made by locals in Seattle and the Northwest.
Venture Kits: $25
Seattle mom and tech exec Leslie Feinzaig created Venture Kits to get kids excited about entrepreneurship through play. Each kit comes with comes with everything a child needs to be the CEO of their own small venture. Currently, the startup is selling “Treats to Go,” a kit to start a bakery and “Art Auction,” which helps kids make and sell art.
The Olympic Backpack, by Seattle’s Poros, has a built-in charging system that can power-up devices on the go. The bag includes a padded laptop sleeve and a charging package with a dedicated lightning connector or micro USB jack, plus an additional open connector. It also comes with the ringing endorsement of GeekWire’s Kurt Schlosser, who carries the backpack every day.
Factory 43 T-Shirt: $32
In the Seattle tech world, you can’t have too many t-shirts — but you can have too few. Consider expanding the wardrobe of a geek in your life with this “Under Control Tee.” Factory 43 makes apparel, posters, and other items, all printed at the company’s Seattle HQ.
Knack, a Seattle company that helps customers create custom gift boxes, is offering a special wine and truffle set with local products. The Bordeaux, available exclusively to wine club members or through Knack, is from Washington’s Betz Family Winery. The set also includes chocolate truffles from Bellingham’s Forte Artisan Chocolates and two handblown wine glasses from Seattle-based De Cicio Artisan Glass.
Fort Boards: $60-$125
Fort Boards make a perfect present for the imaginative child. With just one kit, kids can build playhouses, forts, rocket ships, or anything else the can imagine. The fort-building kits were designed by August Graube, who used to build exhibits for museums. Fort Boards took home the $20,000 prize in Microsoft’s annual small business contest earlier this year.
This gift is for the health-conscious home cook. Paleo Baking Company, a small upstart in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, is selling a line of paleo and gluten-free baking mixes. Each mix just has four main ingredients — coconut flour, hazelnut flour, baking soda, and salt. The mixes are available via Paleo Baking Company’s e-commerce platform with free shipping and are also sold in West Coast Whole Foods stores.
The BedPak is a backpack that converts into a sleeping pad to simplify travel. The bag is a standard carry-on size, with seven built-in compartments. Claudia Hall, a Bellingham, Wash. resident, got the idea for BedPak when she was forced to spend the night in an airport after a canceled flight.
2bar Bourbon: $26-$48
This truly is a Pacific Northwest Bourbon. 2bar’s signature spirit is the first bourbon made using all local grains. The liquor is 95 percent Washington grain and five percent Oregon grain. It is distilled and bottled in Seattle SoDo neighborhood. 2bar’s founder, Nathan Kaiser, has a microbiology degree from the University of Washington and a long history working with startups. Before 2bar, he served as COO for Seattle’s Blue Box Group.
These hardwood graphic coasters combine form and function. They make a great stocking stuffer or a stylish addition to your holiday party. The coasters are designed and constructed in Seattle, using only materials sourced in the U.S. They can be purchased online or at Five Ply’s studio in Chinatown.
Coffee Cuffs: $6
These cute coffee accessories would make great stocking stuffers for your eco-conscious friends and family. They’re reusable, they insulate cold and hot beverages, and they won’t break the bank. They also come in a variety of geeky prints, from Star Wars to superheroes to math equations. Coffee Cuffs are made by Sultan, Wash.’s Chelsea Johansen.
Tousled Gift Certificate: $36-$175
Busy moms will appreciate this one. Tousled is a Seattle startup that provides on-demand beauty services, like haircuts and massages. Customers can book appointments via a smartphone app and the beauty professional will come them.
Players Make Plays is a clothing line launched by Gibran Hamdan, a former backup quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Hamdan was inspired to create graphic tees, hoodies, and other apparel by play diagrams from the game. We’re recommending the Beast Quake Hoodie, inspired by the 2011 Wild Card round game between the Seahawks and the Saints, for all those Hawks fans out there.