The holiday shopping season is in full swing and while it might be easier to hit the mall or fill your Amazon cart with gifts for everyone on your list, there is much to be said for shopping local and giving small businesses a part of the action. According to the U.S. Small Business Association Office of Advocacy, small businesses represent 97 percent of companies here in Connecticut, employing nearly half of our workforce. Almost 20 percent of our economy is represented by businesses that have less than 20 employees.
Small businesses make our communities exciting and vibrant places to live, but they need our help to compete with the big guys and thrive. So this holiday season, let’s all do our best to support the small business owners who make our state and local cities special. To get you inspired, here are some of my favorite holiday gifts for the homemade right here in our own backyard.
Customized Push Pin Travel Map
Hailing from Trumbull, Connecticut, Amanda Naqvi and her team at 76th and Newbury create customizable paper goods and prints to help people bring their memories to life. I love the travel maps which can be personalized with names and regions to keep track of all your adventures. Starting from $50 at 76thandnewbury.com
Connecticut Pillow Cover
Laurel Ryan’s pillow covers are a simple and fun way to update your home with a personal design. I like the Connecticut outline, but Laurel can create almost anything from family crests to initialed monograms on both pillows and towels. Best of all, she keeps it local from her studio in Ridgefield. Starting from $40 at etsy.com/shop/LaurelRyanDesigns
Stained Glass Ornaments
John Chapman’s Uncasville stained glass studio is the perfect place to be inspired for that tough to buy for person on your list. With over 100 different designs, John’s ornaments and sun catchers make a beautiful addition to any home and a holiday gift that grandma or your little one’s favorite teacher is sure to enjoy. Starting from $12 at etsy.com/shop/ChapmanStainedGlass
Manchester-based Lumiere Candle Company hand pours wood wick soy candles and wax melts that last ages and smell awesome. Their small batch runs come in seasonal scents like Crackling Campfire, Eggnog, and Woodland Foliage and make a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves the smells of the season. Choose any three from $17 at etsy.com/shop/LumiereCandleCompany
DaVinci Doll Designs makes the perfect pals for little ones in your life. The Hartford-based studio creates classic Scandinavian style gnomes that make unique decorations or a great substitute for the classic Elf on a Shelf. Each one is painstakingly crafted and stitched by hand. Starting from $43.99 at etsy.com/shop/DaVinciDollDesigns
Wood American Flag Wall Art
D&L Designs from Berlin make some of the coolest signs and art using reclaimed wood found right here in Connecticut and beyond. The husband and wife team create everything by hand and designs can be custom made to fit any room in your house. Starting from $49 for signs and $125 for flags at etsy.com/shop/DandLwoodworking
Do you have a favorite small business in our area that makes fantastic holiday gifts? Tell me about them on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros
Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.