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A City of Gifts: 68 Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year — again! That time when socio-cultural forces and the weight of tradition compel us to act all cheery and buy more stuff. Yay for commercialism! Okay, cynicism aside, we can’t deny that shopping is quite fun and if the holiday season nudges us to be more generous to our fellow humans, that’s not so bad. There are far worse byproducts of capitalism.

If you’re doing the whole gift-giving thing this year, as always, we encourage you to prioritize local vendors — don’t overfeed the Amazon monster! There are hundreds of talented people in this state making unique and lovely gifts, and after a week of wandering around shops and makers' markets in Southern Maine, we came up with this list of our favorites. New to our gift guide this year is a section of online items, from Mainers selling creations on Etsy and Ebay and shipping before Christmas, in addition to a few things too cool to ignore from artists out of state (because let’s face it, many of us end up doing last-minute online shopping anyway).

Alright, let’s spend some money!

 

ON THE GROUND 

APPAREL

Trucker Hat

The Art Department

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Simple, stylish, and a easy way to signal support for accessible community art studios, this hat makes for a solid gift while helping to continue the mission of The Art Department, a nonprofit that provides art classes, materials, and a studio space for children and adults with special needs. Pop into the studio and pick one up for $15, and a more seasonal appropriate beanie version for $12. | The Art Department, 611 Congress St, Portland

Monster Emporium Tees

Coast City Comics

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Everybody loves monsters and the ones on these tees burst with local flavor, hand-designed at Coast City Comics. Choose from strange beings plucked from Maine lore like the devilish goat-headed Baphomoose, the winged moose-like Pamola, and the original Coast City Comics creation, Monstorhead. Special recommendation goes to the Shit Wizard, who commands foes "Go To Shit" (useful). You’ve likely seen one of these locally loved graphic tees out in the wild before. Buy one online or at Coast City Comics at 634 Congress St.

Fancy Underwear

étaín boutique

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étaín boutique is a special underthings shop that accounts for all sizes, genders, and specific comfort and style preferences your body requires. They’ve got some rad knickers for you (or the person you're gifting). We wish bras and underwear generally didn’t cost so much — products start at about $30 — but at least here you’re putting cash into the hands of people who practice inclusion and body positivity. The same can’t really be said for other places (*cough* Victoria’s Secret). | Étàin Boutique, 646 Congress St., Portland

Cheap-Ass Winter Gear

Reny's

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Gloves, hats, scarves, hand warmers — they’re all at Reny's, anywhere from $5-25. If anyone for whatever reason is running around without these items, hook them up here. The closest Reny's location is literally right there. | Reny's, 540 Congress St. 

Wacky socks

The Sock Shack

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Socks are routinely mocked as boring gifts reserved for estranged friends or family members, but the ones at the Sock Shack are fun. Would your person prefer socks with anthropomorphized teeth or grilled cheese on them? Socks with a Mosasaurus on them, or Edgar Allen Poe? There’s fun to be had in these decisions. Most pairs cost $10. | The Sock Shack, 564 Congress St. 

 

Boots for the rest of your life

L.L.Bean

The one and only L.L.Bean boot is a worthwhile investment for anyone destined to live through Maine winters, and standard issue for everyone working outside. Durable as heck and accompanied by a lifetime exchange policy, these boots will last longer than their wearers. Several designs are offered with the basic style starting at $130, and the warmer faux fur-lined ones starting at $200. | L.L.Bean, 95 Main St., Freeport 

 

Rep Your Favorite Brewery — Beer Swag

Where do your local beer allegiances lie? It’s a question you’ll have to ask the person you're gifting, because almost every major local brewery is selling swag at a discount this holiday season. That’s far too much stuff to feature in this guide, but for starters, Allagash has a gift pack of a branded hat, pair of socks, and soap for $35; Oxbow offers their signature “Goods From The Woods” tee for $20; Shipyard Brewing offers pint glasses for $2 and baseball caps for $5; and Rising Tide has tanks and beanies for $18.

ART

Lost Monster Stuffed Creatures

Lost Monster Designs at The Merchant Co.

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These soft, colorful, distinctive monsters are designed and made in Portland and are way too cute to be ignored. To play up their individuality, each comes with an adoption certificate and a fact sheet about their likes and dispositions. They cost $22 apiece and currently lurk at The Merchant Co. on 656 Congress St.

Workshop/Shop Access Gift Certificate

Pickwick Independent Press

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Budding artists and designers would appreciate Pickwick Independent Press, Portland’s most accessible community printmaking studio. Purchase a $125 gift certificate to the shop and you’ll give someone the resources they need to launch their next zine or poster project. | Pickwick Independent Press, 536 Congress St., Portland

Handmade ornaments

Ferdinand 

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Each of these unique glass ornaments are hand-made by Diane Toepfer over at Ferdinand, that East End treasure trove. Some might have piglets and psychedelic mushrooms in them, while others might contain chickens laying purple eggs. The ornaments cost $10 each or three for $25. | Ferdinand, 243 Congress St., Portland 

One of a kind jewelry

Pinecone+Chickadee

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If you're in the market for handmade jewelry, don't sleep on the collection at Pinecone+Chickadee. They have a nice array of vintage adornments like this pair of ani earrings made with laser-cut wood and antique brass. We like. $20. | Pinecone+Chickadee, 6 Free St., Portland 

Heart Blocks — Kurier 

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Kurier is best known for their selection of high-quality leather goods like wallets and handbags, but those items can get a little pricey. If you're on a budget, peruse their art and jewelry section, which has affordable things like this cute handmade wood heart block at $22. | Kurier, 615 Congress St.

ODDS N ENDS

Dumb toys & stocking stuffers

Bull Moose

In addition to the city's best selection of vinyl and CDs, Bull Moose has all sorts of weird shit you can stock stuffings with, like glow cats, finger hands, glow fingers, hand cats, wizard hats, bacon bandages, skull candles, Bigfoot air fresheners, and emergency underpants. If you’re trying to be the odd one this season, snag your gag gifts at your nearest Bull Moose. A lot of it's under $5. | Bull Moose, 151 Middle St.

Smoking Essentials

Higher Concept Glass Gallery

Stoners tend to prefer picking out their glass pieces — it would be way too hard to recommend just one piece from the Higher Concept’s splendid collection of local glass anyway — so to shop for the weed head in your life, think practical. Craft a cannabis lover's goodie bag with all the items they might have forgotten about: 420 pipe cleaner, Raw rolling papers and tips, lighters, pokies, CBD gummies, dugouts and one-hitters. All of these accessories can be bought together at the Higher Concept for under $35 by our estimate. | The Higher Concept Glass Gallery, 543 Congress St.

Beautiful Hookah Pipes

Foodie Friends Grocery and Market

In addition to delicious food and hard-to-find ingredients from the Middle East, the Foodie Friends Market on outer Forest Ave. is also one of the few brick-and-mortar places in Portland which sells hookah pipes and shisha tobacco. Pick up a glass rig with a single hose, coals, and packs of flavored shisha here for under $60. | Foodie Friends Grocery and Market, 630 Forest Ave.

Hybrid Sports Bag

Rogue Wear

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Rogue Wear out of Lewiston makes a great hybrid backpack that functions as both a sports/gym bag and an everyday bag thanks to the inclusion of a laptop sleeve, and it's available in 25 different colors. $48. | Rogue Wear, 9 Westminster St., Lewiston

French Press Coffee Maker

Coffee By Design

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We don’t say this often, but the hipsters are right — a French press isn’t just the easiest way to brew coffee at home, it’s also the most delicious. Most Coffee By Design locations sell three sizes of a French press made by Bodum. We suggest you pick up the middle-sized one at the affordable price point of $24. Take advantage of this, they're usually more expensive online.

FOOD

Coffee With A Purpose

Rwanda Bean 

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Rwandan Bean Coffee isn’t just a local option to buy bags of the great bean, it’s an ethical choice as well. Founder Mike Mwenedata ensures that the coffee farmers he buys from, half a world away in his native country of Rwanda, aren’t screwed over in the exchange. He partners with them directly and sends 50 percent of his profits back to Rwanda to support the health, education, clean energy, and operational needs of the farmers and communities living there. That’s a solid mission we think you should throw some money at. (It doesn’t hurt that the coffee is also yummy, and comes in three varieties: blonde, dark and medium roasts for $16). | Rwanda Bean Coffee, 463 Stevens Ave, Portland or 185 Cottage Rd, South Portland 

Specialty Tea Gourd

Dobra Tea

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A well-made ceramic tea gourd with a metal straw is simply a must have for any yerba mate sipper. There’s really no way to enjoy the caffeine rich beverage without one! Outfit a tea drinker with this ancient and essential vessel. You can also buy yerba mate (and dozens of other loose leaf teas from all around the world) at Dobra Tea for $2 an ounce. | Dobra Tea, 89 Exchange St.

CBD-Infused Coffee

Higher Grounds

People are loving CBD-infused coffee these days, claiming that the combination gives drinkers a caffeine buzz, while also taking the edge off. Alert yet calm. Focused but not jittery. Test the hype for yourself at Higher Grounds where they sell Speckled Ax coffee brewed with some drops of the much buzzed about cannabinoid oil. | Higher Grounds Coffee, 45 Wharf St.

Infusion Kits

Vena’s Fizz House

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We all know someone who thinks they’re great at making drinks. Give them one of these all-natural infusion jars from Vena’s Fizz House and let them go wild. Just add rum, vodka, or gin to a jar, let it steep for about a week and voila! — you’ve made flavored alcohol without using heat, preservatives, or high fructose corn syrup. Flavors include cranberry cherry, apple, blackberry, coffee, grapefruit, campfire bourbon, cucumber cooler, and more. $12.50. | Vena’s Fizz House, 345 Fore St.

Seaweed Tea

Cup of Sea at Heritage Seaweed

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It’s an acquired taste for sure, but the people that end up enjoying Josh Rogers's seaweed tea rave about how it’s a delightful and savory approach to the hot beverage. He’s the only guy around that thought to combine the earthy, briney flavors of dulse, kelp, and bladderwrack with therapeutic ingredients like ginger, green tea, and turmeric. He offers three main blends: Emerald Honeybush, the Great Wave, Sailor’s Cure All, and Sea Smoke for $12.99. | Heritage Seaweed, 61 India St. 

  

 

RISKY GIFTS

Brew Your Own Beer Kit

Maine Brewing Supply

First-timers seldom brew a batch of beer that isn’t straight up disgusting, but the odds are in your favor with the starter kits offered at Maine Brewing Supply. They include clone recipes from at least five major Portland breweries to give tinkerers the chance to recreate their favorite local brew. Imagine brewing Bissell Bros. Substance Ale right at home! The kits include specialty grains, grain bag, hops, fermentable sugars, priming sugar, bottle caps, yeast and instructions for $35-80 | Maine Brewing Supply, 542 Forest Ave.

A Trip Inside the Sensory Deprivation Tank

Float Harder

Float Harder is the only service in the state that offers an intense, almost psychedelic form of meditation. Here’s how it works. Guests are ushered into a private room where they’ll strip nude and climb into the float pod — a spacious vessel filled with a purified salty solution that keeps its occupants floating and maintains their body temperature. Then guests are free to turn off the lights and close the lid (or not!) and float alone in the inky blackness until they lose their sense of up and down. It’s not as claustrophobic as you might think because the sensation feels more like you’re adrift in an endless void. It’s an unforgettable experience, but one that’s clearly not for everybody. The deluxe session lasts 90 minutes, costs $69, and includes a shower before and after. | Float Harder, 500 Washington Ave.

Weed Candies/Cakes

Pot & Pan Kitchen

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You’ll need a medical marijuana card to purchase at the Pot & Pan Kitchen, but if you have one, you shouldn’t be shopping for edibles anywhere else. The variety of goods offered here is truly staggering (they even have cannabis donuts!) and each product is made so well it's hard to tell they are made with pungent cannabis extracts. But be careful, that doesn’t mean these treats aren’t potent. (They are.) | Pot & Pan Kitchen, 100 Main St.

TECH

Headphones/Earbuds

Stinson and Supply Pawn Shop

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Earbuds are an obvious small gift idea, and it’s worth remembering that there’s money to be saved buying them through your local pawn shop. We stopped in the Stinson and Supply Pawn Shop and tried out their iHip earbuds which have a built-in volume control button and mic. They’re perfectly suitable, brand new, and worth the price of $14. | Stinson and Supply Pawn Shop, 337 Forest Ave.

Retro Video Game Consoles

Electric Buddhas

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You could go the nostalgic route this holiday season and outfit a gamer with a Playstation 2, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis or Atari gaming console. They’re all available at Electric Buddhas for mad cheap alongside a buttload of classic gaming titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario and The Legend of Zelda. $35-50. | Electric Buddhas, 49 Oak St.

 

EXPERIENCES

Skydive New England

Out of all the entries in this guide, this one is truly unforgettable. Nobody forgets their first time jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet. Tandem skydives with a trained instructor are available for first-timers who don’t want to go through the full training session. For $215, thrill-seekers receive the instruction, equipment, and scenic plane ride necessary for a safe and exhilarating jump. | Skydive New England, 40 Skydive Lane, Lebanon

unclened

Uncle Ned's Cabin [Photo courtesy Maine Escape Games]

The Escape Room

If you wanna ease into the family dynamic this year, or maybe merge your parents with some in-laws, we suggest shelling out for a session at an Escape Room. The one on Congress Street is excellent, and we also recommend Maine Escape Games out by the mall (a classic interfamilial meet-up spot), where you can solve the Maine yokel riddle of Uncle Ned's Cabin. | Escape Room, 492 Congress St, Portland | Maine Escape Games, 125 John Roberts Rd, #8, South Portland

Portland Gear Hub Gift Card 

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The Portland Gear Hub sells gift cards for $10, $20, and $50 which can be used to buy bikes, bike accessories, repairs, and camping gear. Consider this for someone who’s been slacking on fixing their bike, but knows they want to before spring arrives. The Portland Gear Hub, 155 Washington Ave., Portland

Portland Museum of Art Membership

For $60 you can gift someone a year-log membership to the Portland Museum of Art, and with it, a lot of value. Members receive free unlimited admission to the museum — which has five new exhibitions planned for 2019 — and access to special lectures and film screenings, store discounts, and a subscription to the museum magazine. | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland

Tubing at various mountains/trails

Tubing is a blast even if you’re an adult. Here are the mountains and hills in Maine which offer a tubing adventures, complete with a tow so you don’t have to climb up the hill every time: Black Mountain (Rumford), Mt. Abram (Bethel), Eaton Mountain (Skowhegan), Hermon Mountain (Bangor), and

Seacoast Adventure Park (Windham), all between $12-18.

 

 

ONLINE ONLY 

ART 

Creepy Nature-Themed Art

Primal Adornments

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Bones and bodies are her tools for Kim Morrison's artistic creation. She collects them from her backyard in Southern Maine and asks friends to bring back animal remains from hunting and trapping trips. From them, she creates decor and jewelry — pretty hardcore. We’re fascinated by anyone bold enough to sell little bottles of dead baby possums floating in preservatives. If anybody in your social circles enjoys being reminded of their inevitable demise, get them something macabre from her online shop at Primal Adornments. 

Reclaimed Wood Blocks

Running Blynd

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Running Blynd out of Cornish primarily sells handmade clothespins and magnets, but also these adorable reclaimed and painted wood blocks depicting bright minimalist designs of outdoor motifs (think mountains, birch trees, moose, cats, birds, etc). We could see a hiker or a skier enjoying this wall decor. They’re selling for $10 each and $25 for three. 

Paper Houses

By Yeiou Paper Objects

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Abigail is a Boston-based artist who works with paper, folding and cutting pages until they transform into semi-sturdy 3-D architectural creations. Inspired by Chinese origami art, she runs Yeiou Paper Objects, turning flat materials into unique and interactive objects. Buy a small kit to make your own paper neighborhood for $15, or commission a special piece of your childhood home or favorite building for Abigail to craft and frame for $150.

Shadow Lamps

By Hannah Ellingwood

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We forgot night-lights were a thing until we saw the ones made by New Hampshire-based artist Hannah Ellingwood. Hers completely reinvent the concept. Place a tealight candle in the center of this cube of laser-cut wood panels and watch as geometric patterns of shadow dance across the walls. Prices on these vary and are available upon inquiry by emailing Hannah at hannahellingwood1@gmail.com. Perfect for children, insomniacs, lovers of symmetry.

Clay Cups

By Flyn Costello

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Exuding mythological vibes, these clay creations by Maine-based artist Flyn Costello can upgrade someone’s bland coffee mug. For $35, these curious cups succeed at holding liquids and also staring back ominously.

Moran’s Terrariums

By Kyle Moran

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Ideal for nature/plant lovers, these terrariums come in differently sized glass containers and would really make someone’s desk space more interesting (or more cluttered). Inside each is enough soil, rocks, and sand to support a closed ecosystem of moss and lichen. Spray some water inside a couple times a week and place it near a light source, that’s it! Kyle Moran, a horticulturalist from South Portland, sells these D.I.Y. kits with a little plastic animal figurine to eventually live in the world waiting to be created. $25 at Moran’s Terrariums

Mountains of Maine Poster

Hills & Trails Co.

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Does a hiker in your life need a reminder of the peaks they’ve conquered? Or maybe a “must hike” list? This 18" x 24" print of the state’s most trodden mountains by way of Hills & Trails Co., a company based in Saco and Union, Maine, does the trick. $10

Custom Order Wood Panel Prints

By Isabelle Dillard (idillard on Etsy)

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Famous pop culture icons like Audrey Hepburn or Bob Dylan adorn these wood panel prints in vibrant splatters of watercolor paint. Other designs by way of Portland's Isabelle Dillard feature characters from Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Mad Max, Stranger Things, and The Walking Dead. They don't seem kitschy to us. Get these high quality prints for $20 each on her Etsy store.

Maine License Plates

Custom Signs

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Designed to be hung in man caves, game rooms, or camps, these signs are made from recycled Maine license plates and can read whatever you want them to read. A dude in Buxton cranks out custom orders of these signs and we'll print his number (it's 207-590-6606). Know somebody with a Zoo Cain-sense of style?

Scratch N Sniff Maine Card

Maine Paper Artisans

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Send this to an out-of-state loved one who really misses Maine. This hand-drawn holiday card has five spots to scratch-n-sniff, each evoking Maine aromas of white pine, wild blueberry, chocolate whoopie pies, peppermint and — love it or hate it — Moxie soda. We tested this and our nose was pleased. $6 at Maine Paper Artisans

Fantasy map of Maine

Parnasium

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This piece from the Parnasium store reimagines Maine in the same style and typography of an old-timey looking fantasy map. It looks fantastic. While it depicts our ordinary state, it wouldn’t look out of place in the halls of Edoras, or Winterfell, or Hogwarts. You get the point. $96 at Parnasium

The Printers' Tarot Deck

emprints

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Made by Pickwick Independent Press artist Nicole Em, this local project is the origination of the since-been-memed "anti-capitalist love notes" and other uplifting, solidarity-based axioms and sentiments. Appropriate stationery for fans of Karl Marx, feminists, witches, and generally anyone who has an eye for aesthetically pleasing typography. $35 at emprints Portland

ODDS N ENDS 

Journals

Moggy Hollow Design

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Made from high-quality card stock and heavy paper, these journals are an easy pickup for writers, skechers, and jotters of to-do lists. The woman who makes them can personalize the cover with whatever phrase or image you want, so think of something clever. Otherwise you can choose from a selection of predictable, but still appreciated, motivational quotes. $10 at Moggy Hollow Design

Hail Satan Santa

The Hermes Crab (Portland)

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We’re not sure exactly what type of message this card is sending, but we are "here for it." And yes, most of the other cards and stationery this local project prints and illustrates are just as whimsical. $5 at The Hermes Crab

Downeast Dealer Card Game

Downeast Dealer

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After a successful Kickstarter campaign ended last year, Downeast Dealer, a card game for 3-5 players based on Maine people, things and experiences, is shipping out decks for the first time this holiday season. In this fast-paced game, players bid, bargain and bluff, while attempting to amass the most yard sale treasures. A good pick for families. $20 at Downeast Dealer

BATH & BOD

All Natural Skin Care

Holmes + Hudson

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Holmes & Hudson create skincare concoctions from botanicals harvested in Maine. Their Mollifying Mud works as a great cleanser for those with sensitive skin because it lacks chemicals or irritants like micro beads. Instead, it's made with clay, matcha, coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, and charcoal for a powerful antioxidant-rich alternative. Smells nice! $24 at Holmes & Hudson

The Sweetest Soap

Casco Bay Soap Co.

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Shannon L. Grauer has been making bars of soap the old fashioned way and selling them at local farmer’s markets and fairs since 2007. Online, she offers her full inventory of sweet smelling bars for about $4 each. The Blueberry Cream is our favorite, but Maine Pine and Wild Sea Rose we'll mention honorably. Whichever you choose from the dozens of options, make sure you request one of the small linen gift bags for it to arrive in. $4 at Casco Bay Soap Co.

Jordy’s Suckers

Virgo Moon Botanicals

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These lollipops and candies from aren’t just packed with flavor, they also contain hemp oil, a popular ingredient holistic shamans swear by. Hemp extract contains CBD (cannabidiol) which is derived from a variety of cannabis plants, but this natural chemical is non-psychoactive. These suckers won’t get you high, but proponents of CBD edibles ardently claim they offer numerous health benefits like reducing inflammation, relieving stress, boosting your immune system, balancing hormones and improving mood. Flavors come in coconut lime, honey lavender, orange zest, roasted berry, and chaga chai. Pick up a pack of 10 for $30. Virgo Moon Botanicals

FOOD 

Chocolate Art

La Nef Chocolate

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The luxury truffles from La Nef’s shop are so pretty and shiny they almost look inedible. That’s sort of the appeal. Made with artistic flourish on Monhegan Island and responsibly sourced, these chocolate wonders go for $3-6. La Nef Chocolates

Tonics

Herbal Revolution Apothecary

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Give someone the gift of Maine-made plant potions. Herbal Revolution Apothecary makes three different kinds: Restore, Fire, and Digestive. Each contain a base of apple cider vinegar, an ingredient that’s been scientifically proven to yield several tangible health benefits. Don’t think of these tonics as medicine, but rather daily supplements which aid your body’s digestive and nervous systems. $15 at Herbal Revolution Apothecary

RISKY GIFTS 

Cosmic Horrors

The Shoggoth Assembly

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Eric Anderson from online shop the Shoggoth Assembly primarily makes hyper-realistic silicone horror masks, but he also makes dope figurines from hard resin plastic. This one, modeled after H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic entity Cthulhu, caught our eye. $45 at The Shoggoth Assembly

Fox Ears

Maine Oddity Shop

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Could just be a furry thing, but we’ve definitely seen Portlanders sporting some fake animal ears long past Halloween. Emerging fashion trend? Cute way to signal that you’re “different?” We’re not sure, but just in case, here are some good local fox ears from the Maine Oddity Shop for $16.

 

TECH (Random internet finds, non-local edition)

Shower Speaker

Aqua Audio Cube 

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This is one of the cheapest bluetooth waterproof speakers on the market. Pick one up for that person you know can’t stop/won't stop singing tunes in the shower. Also a solid speaker option for outdoor trips or porch/patio hangs. $22

Every Single Color (CMYK) Sketch Pen

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A great gift for art students, this pen combines the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce every color on the spectrum. This pen is basically an handheld version of the CMYK process used in your computer printers. Neat! $8

The Bluetooth Beanie

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This gift is basically two gifts in one. It’s a beanie, yes, but a closer inspection reveals a control panel which allows wearers to sync up the beanie with a cell phone and listen to music through its built-in speakers. Reviewers report that the audio quality is satisfactory and the Bluetooth connection is strong. Is this the future? $39

The One Handed Gaming Keyboard

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Sporting colored backlights, highly responsive hotkeys and a sleek design, this one-handed keyboard is essential tech for the PC gamer looking to enhance their chances for survival in Fortnite, or increase their kill/death ratio in Dota 2. This will satisfy competitive gamers. $77

“This is Fine” Plush Doggo 

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You’ve seen the meme. Now it’s time to gift the plush version. Is this the official stuffed animal of 2018? We think so. Snag this for $15 at topatoco.com 

“Shit For Brains” the Trivia You Can’t UnKnow Game

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Trivia games are usually filled with boring questions, but not this one! Born out of a frustration over the banality of typical trivia games, the creators of Shit For Brains packed their version full of disgusting, inappropriate, twisted, fascinating, and downright weird questions. The stuff you’ll learn on these 600 cards will stick with ya. Buy one for $25 at www.harebraineddesign.com

We’re All Going To Die Embroidered Patch by Retrograde Supply Co.

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Because a cheerful anthropomorphic rainbow reminding us of our encroaching doom totally makes for a fun and festive $5 holiday gift! Visit www.retrogradesupplyco.com

Yaupon Tea Concentrate by Lost Pines Yaupon Tea

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 This concentrate comes in three flavors — mint lemon, basil lemon, or apple spice — and makes ½ gallon of tea from the only caffeinated plant in North America. At $11, it’s pretty special (and tasty). Visit lostpinesyaupontea.com

The Perfect Spoon For Peanut Butter Consumption

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A cross between a spoon and a spatula, this thing is here to change the way you scoop out peanut butter. This patent-pending design ensures that you scrape every last ounce out of the jar, and even if it didn’t, we sorta love the idea of having a dedicated PB spoon. Scoop one up for $12 at at www.pbspoon.com   

Ancient Hand-Woven Chinese Rugs (for your computer mouse)

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Your computer mouse deserves to rest upon fabric fit for an Asian monarch. And now it can, with these hand woven mini rugs. At $20, there are about 40 designs to choose from inspired by the ornamental patterns present in the real luxury rugs of ancient China, Persia, and Afghanistan. Get one at www.mouserug.com

Grow Your Own Groot by NoVa Peak

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Do you even need to be a Marvel fan to appreciate how awesome this is? The Groot Man Planter Pot recently had its price slashed by 50 percent, so pick one up while it’s on sale! Visit www.novapeak.net

Misfortune Cookies Black Cookies, Black Humor

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Each box contains 13 individually wrapped cookies, each hiding a message more brutally honest and pessimistic than the last. Gift these at $13 to someone with a dark sense of humor who likes inconvenient truths. Visit www.pech-keks.de/en/. 

The Most Intense Magnet Money Can Buy

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These super magnets are certainly not toys. The website that sells them warns that they are strong enough to break bones and crush fingers if used recklessly. When carrying one of these throughout the house, plan your route carefully because loose metal objects will fly across the room at impossible speeds right toward you. These magnets could easily get out of control. Wait, why are we recommending this item again? Purchase for $90 at your own risk at www.unitednuclear.com

ORGANIZATIONS TO DONATE TO

 

Let's face it, there's a strong chance your loved one would appreciate a donation in their name to an organization doing vital justice work rather than a doo-dad that gets lost by February. Here are a bunch of options.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is part of national network of affiliates which aims to be the nation’s defender of equality, liberty and justice. In Maine, they organize around many issues including but not limited to criminal justice reform, racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, and freedom of expression. ACLU of Maine, 121 Middle St., Portland (www.aclumaine.org).

Catholic Charities coordinates dozens of individual programs and partnerships, all of which aim to ameliorate the living conditions of people grappling with mental illness, food insecurity, isolation, addiction, and immigration challenges. They say that your donations could help change someone’s life. Catholic Charities P.O. Box 10660, Portland (www.ccmaine.org).

The Frannie Peabody Center offers free and discreet HIV/AIDS testing services while also working to increase housing and treatment options for those already living with the infection. Frannie Peabody Center, 30 Danforth St., Portland (peabodycenter.org).

The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center opened earlier this year and serves as a hub for immigrants to network with others and fully reach their civic, economic, and social potential. The center provides a co-working office space, English language lessons, and administrative support for immigrants starting their citizenship application process. The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, 24 Preble St., Portland (www.welcomeimmigrant.org).

The local chapter of Homeless Voices For Justice is made up of homeless and/or formerly homeless Portlanders who organize and advocate for institutional change around the intersecting issues of mental health, addiction, and affordable housing. They also push for better representation of homeless folks in city planning groups, policy decisions, community education, and voter registration. Homeless Voices For Justice, 38 Preble St., Portland (www.preblestreet.org).

The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project provides free and low-fee legal services regarding immigration and its related challenges to Portland’s non-citizens and their families. They help keep non-citizen families together by defending them against persecution and deportations while helping them obtain residency and work authorization before setting them on a path for full citizenship. ILAP 489 Congress St., Portland (ilapmaine.org).

The Maine Humanities Council is a statewide non-profit that creates programs and grants around literature, history, philosophy and culture for the socio-economically disadvantaged. Maine Humanities Council 674, Brighton Ave., Portland (mainehumanities.org)

Maine Inside Out is an organization that works with youth inside and outside correctional facilities to produce original theater productions, while engaging the public at large about issues related to incarceration and the criminal legal system. They exist solely from community support and you can donate to further their mission here (www.maineinsideout.org).

The Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition is comprised of Maine prisoners, their friends and families, victims of crime, and others committed to ethical, positive, and humane changes in Maine's prison system. (www.maineprisoneradvocacy.org)

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross-cultural collaboration that successfully supported the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, implementing the Commission’s recommendations with a focus on Wabanaki health, wellness and self-determination and community building. (www.mainewabanakireach.org)

Maine Youth Leadership works with 120 different high school students from across the state to develop their leadership skills and volunteer experience while providing them with the motivation and tools they need to further succeed. Maine Youth Leadership PO Box 11483 Portland (www.maineyouthleadership.org)

Milestone Foundation is a nonprofit that provides emergency housing and short-term rehabilitation services for men who are dangerously intoxicated. Donations here go directly to helping Portland’s most vulnerable residents. Milestone Recovery 65 India St., Portland (milestone-recovery.org)

Planned Parenthood NNE offers affordable (sometimes free) and dignified reproductive health care for both men and women. Medical professionals there also work tirelessly to provide positive sexual education and are staunch advocates for reproductive rights nationally. Donate by visiting www.weareplannedparenthood.org. Planned Parenthood, 443 Congress St., Portland

The Portland Public Library is a vital free resource for hundreds of Portland residents of all ages, providing WiFi access, and a huge collection of books, magazines, and other media. Each week, the PPL also hosts engaging educational and artistic events. The city of Portland doesn’t provide a dime of municipal funding to the library, which makes individual donations essential to keeping this vital nexus of educational resources around. Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Way, Portland (www.portlandlibrary.com).

The Preble Street Resource Center provides food, shelter, and social work services to around 500 people struggling with addiction and/or homelessness in Portland. They depend on community support for 50 percent of their revenues, and also accept donation of food, clothing and toiletries. To give a gift contact their Development Department, 38 Preble St., Portland (www.preblestreet.org)

The Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine offers free and confidential support services for rape and sexual assault victims throughout the state, including a 24/7 crisis hotline. They appreciate donations no matter how large or small. SARSSM P.O. Box 1371, Portland (www.sarsonline.org)

SPACE Gallery is a non-profit organization that provides a contemporary space for the exchange of provocative art and ideas right in the heart of Portland’s arts district. Their programming ranges from concerts, film screenings, lectures, moderated discussions, visual art exhibitions, and experimental performances. SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland (http://www.space538.org)

Speak About It is a nonprofit that partners with area schools to provide comprehensive education and performances around positive sexual health, the importance of consent, and the impact of sexual violence. You can help expand Speak About It’s programming to more Maine schools and campuses by donating here (www.SpeakAboutItOnline.com).

The Telling Room offers free after-school programming for young writers aged 6 to 18 aimed at encouraging them to share their ideas, develop their literacy skills, and disseminate their work to a wider audience. They host events and performances throughout the year that showcases the city’s budding literary talents. The Telling Room, Suite 201, 225 Commercial St., Portland (www.tellingroom.org).

WMPG is a community radio station broadcasting a diverse line up of music and local programming on 90.9. They rely on entirely on listener support. WMPG 92 Bedford St., Portland (www.wmpg.org)

 


If you’re doing the whole gift-giving thing this year, prioritize local vendors — don’t feed the Amazon monster!

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