We always have the best of intentions when it comes to gift giving. Each year, we vow to hand-make or bake each item, and then reality sets in. Thank goodness for the local artisans who create gifts we’re proud to bestow on friends and family. This year’s wish list includes everything from hand-crafted caramels to plush moose mounts, not to mention a lobster buoy bat that was snapped up in bulk by actor (and New Hampshire homeboy) Adam Sandler.
PLUSH WILDLIFE MOUNTS
Mary and Mel Read, Yarmouth, Maine
Fairgame Wildlife’s “mounts” are guilt-free, stuffed with fluff, and can be dressed up or down for a sporty look. These fuzzy critters would be right at home in a cabin or child’s room. We’re partial to Vinnie Van Goat, but Mitch the moose is the most popular mount. The mounts range in size from eight to 24 inches deep, and look lifelike but not scary. Mary sews and sculpts; Mel makes the plaques. $18-$260.
Available at the Kittery Trading Post in Kittery and other stores, and online at www.fairgamewildlife.com
WOODEN BOW TIES
Marv Beloff, Middlefield, Conn.
Everybody knows a bow-tie guy. Why give him another same-old fabric neckwear when you can give him the ultimate bow tie, handmade of wood? No two are alike, and they can be customized to reflect the wearer’s job or hobby. Beloff uses maple, black walnut, birch, and other woods; each tie has a Velcro wrap attached by small brass screws. Beloff says, “They do attract comment wherever I go. I have sold ties off my neck.” From $49.
Jason McCrea, Hyde Park
Launched in late 2010, this boutique candy company is racking up awards for its slow-cooked, handcrafted caramels. McCrea and crew make 10 sophisticated flavors of all-natural caramels with no corn syrup, just ingredients like fresh milk and cream, butter, cane sugar, and molasses. The Black Lava sea salt version is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory. Other flavors include ginger fusion and Highland scotch. The wooden gift box ($40) is manly enough for the guy on your list. Sampler with 48 pieces $28.95 online; five-ounce sleeve $9.95; also at City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain, Savenor’s and Cardullo’s in Cambridge, and other stores. 617-276-3388,
Bill Page, South Berwick, Maine
When Page’s daughter, Katherine, swung at a tennis ball with an old lobster buoy and sent the ball flying, an idea popped into this head: a lobster buoy with a hardwood handle would make one heck of a bat. And so Buoy Bats was born. The hand-made bats — made from real foam lobster buoys — are painted with local motifs, peace signs, and other designs, or are customizable. Adam Sandler had 640 custom bats made for the cast and crew of “Grown Ups 2.” “These bats are indestructible when used as designed because buoys are made to take a beating,” Page says. $31.95-$36.95 at the Red Wagon in Boston and other stores. 207-704-0260, www.buoysports.com
VERMONT SNOWFLAKES JEWELRY
This delicate snowflake jewelry reproduces the patterns of actual snowflakes captured by Wilson A. “Snowflake” Bentley, the first person to photograph a snow crystal. (He first captured an image in 1885, adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, and photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime.) Earrings, necklaces, and charms are created locally by Danforth Pewterers and authorized by the Jericho Historical Society. A new pattern is released each year. The snowflake charm bracelet is bedecked with nine tiny snowflake charms, including the 2013 edition. Earrings $17.50, necklaces $20, charm bracelet $44, single charm $5.50. Available at the Old Mill Craft Shop in Jericho, Danforth Pewter stores in Middlebury and Burlington, Vt. 802-899-1739, www.vermontsnowflakes.com
Johanna Parker, Brookline
There’s nothing cuter than a tiny plump foot tucked into one of Kaya’s Kloset’s handmade baby shoes. The shoes come in printed cotton, hand-painted organic cotton, and a “sparkly disco” version. Infant shoes have corduroy soles, while sizes over 12 months have non-skid soles; all are made to order by Parker, who’s been in business since 2007. Parker now makes them in adult sizes — and she’ll even make the big ones in kiddie prints (trains, duckies, monkeys, hearts), if you like. A matching “Mommy & Me” set is a “awww!”-inspiring gift. Baby shoes from $21; adult sizes $25-$35; Mommy & Me set $40 and up at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston and other shops, craft shows, and online. www.kayaskloset.com
FRESHLY SEWN HOME ACCESSORIES
Dotty Fobert, Cranston, R.I.
The mid-century look is still blazing hot, and the timing couldn’t be better for Fobert. Among the fabrics she uses for her hand-sewn home goods are several cool geometric prints with ’50s flair. Her line includes placemats, pillow covers, and retro-groovy aprons, perfect for the “Mad Men” maven on your gift list. Fobert has been sewing for 45 years. “Sewing is my long-held passion,” she says. Set of four placemats $25-$29, table runners $25, aprons $32. At local craft shows and fairs and on Etsy. www.etsy.com/shop/freshlysewn
FLOAT ROPE BASKETS
Richard Hill, Islesford, Maine
It sounds like the beginning of a joke: a lobster fisherman, a basket weaver, and a retailer walk into a bar . . . but it’s actually the way this company began. Some buddies got together and came up with a genius way to use the discarded floating rope (now banned) from lobster traps: rope baskets. You’ve seen doormats made of this colorful, sturdy rope, but these one-of-a-kind baskets qualify as works of art. “I’ve seen them on coffee tables filled with glass balls, in bookcases filled with pinecones, in kitchens filled with fruit,” says Hill, who uses traditional basketry techniques to create them. Average price $65. At craft and gift shops including Island Artisans in Bar Harbor. 207-244-7150, www.floatropebaskets.com
NEW ENGLAND SKI CHAIR CO.
Beth Fitzgerald, Bedford, N.H.
The Adirondack-style benches and chairs are made with cedar or pine frames and discarded skis. Fitzgerald collects old, colorful boards from family, friends, donations, and local dumps and recycle centers. Choose a style, color, and type of ski — alpine or Nordic — and she’ll create and deliver your chair in two weeks. She’s also made chairs out of snowboards, skateboards, surfboards, water skis — even hockey sticks. $175-$400. 603-674-2695,
DANA ELLE CANDLES
Carla Lesko, Winthrop, Maine
Lesko creates her soy candles in small batches using luxury scents, and pours them into artisan-blown glass made by Portland Glass Blowing. Once the 5-inch-tall candle is history, you can reuse the glass as a vase. Candles come in subtle scents like caramelized pear, coconut-papaya, and nutmeg-vanilla. They’re packaged in an elegant black box, tucked inside a black organza bag. $55. 207-512-2961, www.danaelle.com