Handmade in Sarasota
The best gifts are those that have been handmade.
This year I am sadly reminded how true that is as we mourn the loss of a grandmother. Her specialty, though there were many, was making homemade chocolates at Christmastime and sending them to her loved ones. If you were very lucky, you would receive one large box full of Grandma’s goodies. Everything from homemade Butterfingers, Reese’s, chocolate covered peanut clusters and white chocolate-dipped licorice with sprinkles filled that box. But it didn’t stop there; chocolate chip cookies and the most delicate sugar cookies, expertly decorated and fragile as teacups were all packed so well there was never any breakage. That is love.
I applaud all my friends and former co-workers who are now finding their passion making things. It seems hours spent behind a desk or in a corporate culture isn’t for everyone. Creative people can only stay within the confines of cubicles and office walls for so long. Eventually they burst forth with their great ideas and paintbrushes with a “hell hath no fury” like attitude and let their creativity flow. Out of that comes beautiful jewelry and wonderful sculptures, or delicate ballerinas made of stained glass. With perseverance and a plan in mind, the ambitious creators turn their talents into cash. Before they know it, a boring career with endless days turns into a desire to get to work before the sun rises so they can get their hands dirty, literally. That is dedication.
This holiday season consider reaching out to a friend who is selling their wares. So much happens when you throw your money toward a handmade product. First, you get the joy of supporting an individual, maybe even a friend, and not a giant Walmart-type conglomerate. Second, your product will likely be unique and made with love. Third, it is probable the items sourced to make said product were done so locally, therefore even more of your friends and neighbors are benefitting from your purchase. And, lastly, the receiver will genuinely appreciate receiving a special gift. With that in mind, below is a short list of items that are great to give and receive over the holiday season, at birthdays or just any old time. That – – is smart!
Soaps: Handmade soaps are a wonderful gift because, well, we all use it daily. I discovered a small shop near my son’s school years ago that makes beautiful soaps and other scented products and that began my love of giving soaps and candles from Lolablue. What I love is that their products are handmade in small batches with essential oils and natural products that are great for the body and the environment. It does not hurt that the owners are super friendly and laid back and eagerly give of their time to their community. Lolablue is located in North Port, but most of their business is online and their products have made their way into some pretty impressive swag bags. Check them out for a great Christmas find!
Jewelry: Jewelry is a wonderful way of reminding someone you care about them all the time. A bracelet, pair of earrings or necklace can signify love, friendship or a shared bond. Charms are great to memorialize a special vacation or hobby you might share with someone, and a locket can hold a priceless photo. In addition to handmade jewelry, passing down a special piece that you already own to a friend or relative is a generous and lovely gesture. I think of the times that has happened to me and it is so touching when someone says, “this was special to me, so I want you to have it.”
Hand-sewn Anything: The patience and accuracy it takes to knit, crochet, or sew items escapes me so when I see a beautiful scarf or purse that has been handcrafted, I am in awe. When I was about three years old, I received a handknit purse which I still have. But the most special handsewn item I now own is a ragdoll named “Laura.” She was my best-friend’s doll in grade school, lovingly crafted by her mother with a homemade wardrobe included. I look at Laura and remember all the sleepovers and Halloweens she went along with my best-friend and me. I also see the work and hours of sewing by her mother, who worked full time. That is why handmade gifts are the best. You don’t just get the end-product; within each stitch, brushstroke, or sprinkle placement are the hands and heart of someone who made it just for you.
Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos and Lolablue Facebook page.