Anyone can go to the mall on Black Friday and swoop up some generic gifts. But no, not you. You’re a researcher, a hunter, a savvy shopper of the coolest, quirkiest, finest presents around. Maybe you’re a bit crunched for time this year, though, so we’re here to help with some unexpected present ideas. The good buys. The brass rings in the holiday merry-go-round. And because you’re on top of trends, you know that products that are designed by local artisans or sold by your neighborhood shop are the ones to find. So we made sure to include options from regional sources, three of which we found at D.C. brick-and-mortars
Shopper tip: if you’re mall-averse and want to find something unusual, don’t overlook your local museum’s gift shop. Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to Los Angeles to visit the gift shop at that city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. We found this art for your kitchen, a tea towel with an illustration of tools by artist Louise Bourgeois, online. ($19. www.mocastore.myshopify.com).
Kate Spade’s black-and-white mug with its sassy green lid will please latte lovers of all stripes. Pair it with a bag of local, fresh-roasted coffee beans (or loose-leaf tea or hot cocoa). A spill-free top keeps a generous 16 ounces of liquid piping hot ($18 each, www.katespade.com).
In small or large, red-string notebooks from Jayson Home in Chicago are a touch of nostalgia for the technophobe or the not-so-stealthy co-worker who’s always raiding the office-supply closet ($10-$15, www.jaysonhome.com). Pair a notebook with another throwback: chic pencils by Jonathan Adler. Each comes with a cheeky saying to cheer you up ($10 for a set of 10, www.paper-source.com).
You can’t beat the price of CB2’s 3-Piece Trio Vase Set. Three porcelain vases in organic shapes for less than $10? It’s our new go-to hostess gift. Two are glossy and one is matte, for contrast, and they arrive in a box ready for wrapping ($9.95, www.cb2.com).
There are a ton of stylish new calendars out there, but for the cook or foodie, the clear winner is Florida-based Rifle Paper with its 6-by-9-inch Herbs and Spices calendar. Each month features an illustration of an herb or spice — such as cloves, ginger root and peppercorn — in its botanic form ($16, www.riflepaperco.com).
Help the consummate host be ready for a guest’s every need with a set of four sustainable-bamboo toothbrushes from New York-based Izola. When said host saves a guest’s dental hygiene with these teeth sweepers, they’ll thank you for coming to the rescue ($12.50 for a set of four, www.izola.com).
What politico could resist the D.C. towels we found at Home Rule? One design features a border of elephants and donkeys (color scheme: “Politically Correct”), along with some fun D.C. trivia (state bird: the wood thrush). The other shows iconic landmarks in snowglobes. While you’re at Home Rule, feel free to pick up something for yourself; the store in along the 14th Street NW corridor was Washington City Paper’s best home-goods store this year. Go online to www.vestigesinc.com to hunt down Virginia’s or Maryland’s state towel, or one from any other state in the union ($14.99, www.homerule.com).
For modernists, those in creative fields and all who have fun with fonts, Pentagram’s 2014 Typography Calendar, from Seattle bookstore Peter Miller, comes in first. Each month features a different typeface nominated by members of the Alliance Graphique Internationale ($30-$48, www.petermiller.com).
Glitzy and glam, these plated-glass ornaments from Serena & Lily would be gorgeous on and off a tree — pile them in a pretty bowl for a gifted centerpiece or string them across your own living room as a decorative present to yourself ($38 for three, www.serenaandlily.com).
Forget the orchid; smart gift givers look to the unexpected, such as a Red Velvet echeveria. Terrain’s red-tinged succulent comes in a gray, lace-pressed pot ($28, www.terrain.com).
In 2013, Italian designer Paola Navone turned her designer’s eye to the United States, first with bedroom textiles for Anthropologie, and then with tableware for Crate & Barrel. Our pick is her hammered-aluminum Como pitcher. Fill it with flowers for an extra-special presentation ($49.95. www.crateandbarrel.com).
Forget wine, it’s craft beer that’s having a moment right now: Sales grew 14.1 percent in 2012 and are still rocketing through 2013. Provide your nephew, favorite bachelor or any other brews aficionado with a set of tasting tumblers. The Libbey Craft Brew set has two each of six glasses: a classic pilsner, an English pub glass, a Belgian ale glass, a craft pub glass, a porter/stout glass and a wheat beer glass ($39.99, www.target.com).
Present the dark brown, oval Angenäm bowl with candy, earrings or a trinket, and get someone started on a candy bowl, jewelry holder or dresser-top catch-all ($24.99, in stores only, www.ikea.com).
Give loved ones a set of stunning stainless-steel servers with mother-of-pearl handles, and they’ll think of your thoughtfulness and good taste whenever they dish up greens ($45, www.jaysonhome.com).
Light up a loved one’s dark winter nights with a set of three cinnamon-bark tea lights from VivaTerra. Perforations in the bark let out the glow of candlelight, but the best part might be the way the flame’s warmth wafts the smell of cinnamon around a room ($39, www.vivaterra.com).
Everyday containers — tin cans, plastic bottles, milk cartons — are cleverly preserved in porcelain form by Seletti. Our favorites are canisters that recall aluminum cans, which we found at Washington’s Salt & Sundry. The largest (the “biscuits” jar) would make a striking gift on its own — or buy one of each size to make a set. Want more wit and whimsy? Stop by the store at Union Market for more giftable housewares and linens, as well as special events and demonstrations with chefs, mixologists and other experts ($14-$48, www.shopsaltandsundry.com).
Even the worst baker is sure to impress with cookies from Anthropologie’s ceramic White Rabbit jar. We imagine filling it with bunny-shaped sugar cookies ($68, www.anthropologie.com).
What’s under your evergreen? A tree skirt from Terrain shows unexpected form, being that it’s a basket and not a traditional cloth. Handwoven from natural fibers, the rustic basket skirt is perfect for a new couple’s first Christmas ($58, available in four color options, www.terrain.com).
A bit of welcome extravagance comes in the form of a set of four linen napkins from Alder & Co. in Portland, Ore. The French-made napkins, in blush, green-gray, dark gray, white or chalk, will make your loved one’s dinner guests (maybe even you!) feel like they’re sitting in the lap of luxury ($70, www.alderandcoshop.com).
Pile up some gourmet brie and bleu with this gift, and you’ll be the big cheese of any present-giving extravaganza. The bamboo cheese board has rims on the sides for crackers and a hidden drawer with bamboo-and-stainless spreaders for a picnic on the go, or just on the coffee table. ($64.29. www.casa.com.)
What these dainty dot-, swirl- and stripe-studded champagne flutes lack in stems they make up in panache. Each holds 8 ounces, and a set of six comes in a ribbon-tied, hand-crafted wood crate. Bonus: When not being used for celebrating, the flutes can double as bud vases ($78 for set of six, www.oliveandcocoa.com).
Feel free to use New York potter Barbara Eigen’s pitchers to calculate how much water, juice, syrup or dressing you’re serving — the stoneware pieces are stamped on the side with the quantity they hold — but they’re beautiful even without the added utility. They’re available in a variety of colors and sizes, including the 21 / 2-quart pitcher in cream and marigold, the 21 / 2-quart pitcher in cream and smoke, and the 11 / 2-quart pitcher in cream and gray (shown). For smaller budgets there’s also an 18-ounce creamer (shown). We found them at Trohv, a home-goods store with locations in Baltimore and the District that, true to its name, sells new as well as vintage treasures (pitchers $54-$74, creamer $28, www.trohvshop.com).