The holidays represent such a special time of the year. For us, our family, our friends, and millions of other people throughout the world, the holiday season brings with it joys, good tidings, and an opportunity to give the people you care most about a thoughtful gift or two. Unfortunately, as the years have progressed, holiday gifts have tended toward the mass produced and generic, losing the sense of uniqueness and individuality we often want to present to our gift recipients. It's not for lack of trying, but sometimes due to a simple lack of known places to find unique gifts. In the sea of Etsy and online boutique shops, it's easy to get lost or overwhelmed, and before you know it you're sticking a $20 iTunes gift card you picked up at the drug store into an envelope, utterly defeated.

Here at Old Town Home we've been fortunate to meet a series of very creative, genuine, and talented small business owners that offer an array of handmade items that very well may make a perfect gift for your loved ones. These are fellow bloggers, artists, craftspeople, and friends that offer those very unique and personal items many of us will be searching for this holiday season.

Today, as part of an effort to bring back a little bit of individuality and personality to your gift giving season, as well as to shine much deserved light on some fantastic artisans, we've partnered with a few of our favorite small business friends to put together the 2013 Old Town Home Handmade Holiday Gift Guide. This guide features a collection of unique and special places where you can do some (or all) of your holiday shopping. The wonderful people we've selected all offer exceptional and unique gifts in a variety of price ranges. All items are handmade from our wonderfully creative friends and we hope you'll consider shopping with them for the people on your list. And if you happen to see something you like for yourself it might be a good time to snap it up, don't worry, we won't tell.   

Without further ado, we bring you the 2013 Old Town Home Handmade Holiday Gift Guide!

  • Funnelcloud Studio
  • Janery
  • Lil' Fishy
  • Mary's Mini Monsters
  • Old Town Suds
  • Plum Papaya
  • Tippyknits

Funnelcloud Studio

Funnelcloud Studio makes bold and graphic art with a focus on illustration. Colorful and modern ink drawings, gouache illustrations, paintings and block prints reflect the artist's love of graphic design and her education as an architect. Repeating geometric patterns and nature-inspired art are common themes in the artwork of Rachel Roellke-Smith, who works from her home studio in Falls Church, Virginia.

Several quirky holiday card designs are currently available as well as the popular Things That Are Awesome print. Prints and cards are available for purchase online in Funnelcloud Studio's Etsy shop and in person at local art markets.

Please visit Rachel's Etsy shop to make your online holiday selections, or check out her upcoming show schedule for the opportunity to browse in person.

Janery

Janery was born from a stack of colorful fabrics, a quest for better dog beds, and a few too many hours spent daydreaming in corporate meetings. Today Janery sells pillows, pet beds and personal accessories handmade in Vienna, VA. Merlin Mats and Catnip Cuddlers are machine washable pet beds that can cozy up a pet crate, protect the sofa, or hit the road as a travel pet bed. Janery also offers unique and popular Sunglass Sweaters and iPad Sweaters - cozy cases made from recycled, felted wool and colorful cottons.

Janery focuses on sourcing American-made supplies as much as possible, and because they believe that everyone deserves a safe place to call home, they donate a portion of their profits to programs for homeless humans and pets.

Old Town Home readers will receive a special discount of 10% off through December 25 when using the promo code OLDTOWNHOLIDAY. Holiday orders can be accepted through December 19. Please visit www.janery.com for more information.

Lil' Fishy

Lil' Fishy has a motto: "It's important to be little." Its onesies, bibs, dresses, scarves and aprons are colorful, fun and creative - just the like the little ones who wear them (and for the parents, they are also machine washable). These hand dyed onesies make everyone smile and are available for newborns through eighteen months. And for the little ones you know, who are just a little older, Lil' Fishy has tee shirts in sizes up to four years old.

Visit www.lilfishy.com and you will be amazed at all the fun and stylish clothing: reversible dresses, scarves made just for little ones - and even scarves and dresses for all you grown ups, because you're important, too!

Mary's Mini Monsters

Mary's Mini Monsters is a tribute to the little guys – our furry friends that make our lives more fun and our homes more cheerful. Animals have personality, no question, and Alexandria-based artist Mary DeStefano enjoys capturing them. Whether a whimsical smile on a dog, or a chance meeting between a leopard and a turkey, she enjoys putting these images on paper. Mary makes custom pet and animal drawings, and her favorite medium is colored pencils on heavy weight archival paper.

Mary's Mini Monsters is offering a special discount rate of $200 (reg. $225) for an 8″x 10″ or 9″x 9″ drawing for Old Town Home readers, valid until December 25. Christmas orders can be placed until December 1st, and "good-for" certificates with later delivery are also available for gift giving.

Please visit www.marysminimonsters.com/old-town-home for more information about how commissioning works, and contact Mary at [email protected] with any questions.

Old Town Suds

Old Town Suds' grew out of a desire to create alternative and chemical free products for use in the home of owner and Alexandria resident, Steffanie. Today, their handmade soaps and cleaning products are made from ingredients you could eat and drink. They specialize in 6 Packs of beer soap, bars made from your favorite Merlot, and you can't forget about their suds made with chocolate. Your favorite guilty pleasures don't have to stop just because you are taking a shower - plus they are decadent on your skin too. 

The Beer Soap 6 Packs are a holiday favorite and absolutely worth a sniff! Instead of the forgetful box of chocolates or everyday bottle of wine as hostess gifts - be the favorite guest with the Milk & Honey soaps that are made with Ghirardelli Chocolate, or Wine soap that’s made with a Virginia Merlot. If you're looking to DIY your holiday presents you can attend a soap class where you’ll make your own custom scented soap!

Old Town Suds is accepting holiday orders on their website, so be sure to head on over to OldTownSuds.com to see the full variety of soaps and cleaning products they're offering. From shower soaps to laundry detergent (and just about everything else around the house), there's definitely something for everyone's tastes.

Plum Papaya

Plum Papaya was created so Owner Tessa Bowers could put her sewing skills to work to create for her young daughter and others. She makes several handmade "critters" like her popular mouse design. Its combination of a sweet face, crinkly ears, and soft snuggly body make it a favorite! Other critters available include a dragon, whale, platypus, penguin, an owl, and Flip the turtle, based on a kids book about bullying. Lap size quilts along with critter size blankets and pillows are also available.

All creatures, critters, and quilts are handmade in Tessa's smoke free and pet friendly environment in South Riding, Virginia.

Custom orders on all critters and their accessories are available in time for the holidays. A sampling of photos can be found on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PlumPapaya. Requests can be submitted through Facebook. Requests for Christmas orders can be made until December 15.

Tippyknits

Tippyknits was created out of a desire to learn how to knit and carry on traditions. Once the finished product was around Owner and Creator Tippy's neck, she started receiving requests for custom orders, which over the span of two years turned into a successful small business. She is very passionate about creating goods for people, and really enjoys all the thank-you photos her clients send her.

A special offer for all Old Town Home readers is a 'one-for-you-one-for-me'. When you purchase any two (excluding 'Just The Tip') Tippyknits receive 10% off. During the checkout process please enter coupon code: OLDTOWNHOME to receive your special. You can pick up your Tippyknits at the Tippyknits Etsy shop.

Please note: Tippyknits is hand-knit by Tippy herself and take 3-5 business days to complete. We would appreciate your holiday orders no later than December 5. If you're not too worried about having a Tippyknits under your tree this year, then feel free to order anytime before December 25 to receive the Old Town Home special.


As you can see from our list there's quite literally something for everyone. Best of all, the small business owners and artisans outlined in our list are all leveraging their passion for creating one of a kind items to provide high quality and individualized gift ideas for you and your loved ones.

We hope you've found something (or several things) on this list that's going to end up being the perfect item that qualifies you as a gift giving hero this holiday season!

This post is in partnership with the many wonderful small businesses you see above.

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