Looking for something different? Here’s what we liked this year.
1. Plant jewelry: It’s not only a lovely accent to your favorite houseplant, plant ‘jewelry’ works better than a stake to support growing plants, with flexible loops that move to embrace the plant instead of vice versa. Each piece, from the simple single-leaf stake to the seven-leaf arch, is handcrafted in Pennsylvania of durable bronze by a metalsmith, artist and indoor ‘plant lady.’ Use it over and over, bending it anew to suit each plant.$45-$200, Megan Aumanshop.meganauman.com
2. Aluminum-free deodorant: Eureka! A natural deodorant that actually works. The plant-based, ethically sourced ingredients – we like the lemongrass & clove scent – contain antibacterial properties that neutralize, rather than mask, your own smell, transforming it from sour to sunny. Vegan, zero-waste and cruelty-free, it’s made in the USA by a husband-wife duo whose own skin issues – acne, rashes – led them down the rabbit hole of natural healing. The travel-friendly three-ounce tube, ideal for frequent fliers or the gym bag, is thoughtfully packaged in biodegradable paper using uncoated labels.
$16.99 for two-pack, J&L Naturalsjnlnaturals.com
3. Handcrafted soap: Handcrafted on a two-acre homestead in Washingtonville, NY, these small-batch soaps are made the old-fashioned way, out of lye and essential oils. The generously sized bars are 20 percent bigger and last much longer than a generic store-bought bar, with none of the harsh detergents and chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin. Sarah David started making her own skin products as part of an effort to reduce her family’s chemical exposures. Her friends loved her soap –plus making it turned out to be fun – so she and her husband launched a business a decade ago. The company name comes from the biblical story of creation, in which the plants were made on the third day. The goat’s milk, oats and honey bar uses honey from the homestead’s own hives, and Sarah sources beeswax and herbs locally whenever possible. Their bestsellers are a non-petroleum “healthy jelly,” a zinc and castor oil baby rash cream, and the lavendar and oatmeal soap bar.
$5.98 for 4.25-ounce bar, Third Day Naturalstdnaturals.com, Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh NY /Freedom Hill Farm, Otisville NY
4. Signature hammock: These as-seen-on-Shark Tank hammocks live up to the hype. Woven by hand in Thailand by artisans who earn a decent wage, they are cozy as cocoons and durable enough to stand up to enthusiastic roughhousing – a claim the kids have tested rigorously, attempting, without success, to dump each other out. “Will you come lie in the hammock with me?” may be the sweetest words in the English language. The outdoor signature hammock, which fits three, comes in fun colors and is made of a soft, weatherproof acrylic yarn; an indoor model is available in pure cotton.
$199, Yellow Leaf Hammocksyellowleafhammocks.com
5. Flavored olive oil: From the heart of California’s wine country come flavored olive oils that surpass anything from Europe, according to judges at the 2022 LA International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. A drought-tolerant crop fit for the times, Pasolivo’s 12 varieties of organic olive trees are grown in a 45-acre orchard, the fruit harvested by hand to avoid stressing the trees. They press the fruit through the on-site mill within hours of harvesting, and use the leftover olive paste as fertilizer for the orchard. Pasolivo creates its flavored olive oils – habanero, garlic, basil, jalapeno and lemon – by co-milling its olives with real herbs and fruits, delivering a lively twist on the pantry staple.
$47.95 for 500 ml bottle, Pasolivopasolivo.com
6. Woolpop slippers: They look futuristic, but these slippers are made of nothing but sheep’s wool and natural rubber, dyed with sustainable food coloring. The grippy soles allow for non-slip pivoting around the kitchen and hardwood floors. We’re only four months in, but hard daily use with nary a toe dent suggests that they will last longer than our beloved standard-bearer of wool slippers, and at two-thirds the cost. Founded in 1954, the Austrian company is now run by the third generation of Giessweins.
7. Tripware upcycled ceramics: This pioneer in ceramics upcycling makes elegantly minimalist plates and bowls from broken tableware. Based in a region of Japan famous for ceramic production, the company breaks down porcelain discards and re-works the finely ground material into new pieces. Intelligently designed, the plate can also be used as a lid for the bowl for leftovers storage.
Bowl $23-$31; Plate $17-$20, TRIPWAREloisthestore.com/collections/tripware-recycled-ceramics
8. Local map coffee mug: Potter Cheyenne Mallo makes unique, tactile mugs that hold, along with your coffee, memories of favorite hikes or beloved spots. From their Hudson Valley home studio, she and her partner Zac Schiff create ceramics adorned with the raised contour lines of hyper-local topographical maps. The simplified map designs grace everything from flasks to Christmas tree ornaments to candle holders, but mugs are the best-seller, the “gateway drug,” says Mallo. Their portfolio of maps – which includes national and state parks nationwide – is anchored in New York State’s mountain ranges: the Catskills, the Adirondacks and as far west as Bear Mountain.
$48-$52, Cheyenne Mallo Potterycheyennemallo.com
Some of these items were provided free to the editor in return for gift guide consideration.