The Best Holiday Gifts from Boulder Artists and Makers


Holiday shopping is hard enough in a normal year, but 2020 poses a particularly tricky gifting puzzle: In the midst of a pandemic, what could your loved ones possibly want in their stocking, under the tree or during the eight days of Hanukkah?

A great way to spread holiday cheer and support local Boulder County artists is to purchase handmade paintings, scarves, jewelry or ornaments for your friends and family. After all, everyone needs more art in their lives and your friends and family will appreciate that you supported a small business during a particularly challenging year. And with your superb taste? You’re sure to pick out a gift that will become a treasured family heirloom.

Here are a few ideas on where to find the perfect present for those on your “nice” list:

Shop local online

Of course, online shopping for holiday gifts is not a new concept: Cyber Monday has been going strong for several years now. However, did you know that you don’t have to pick out a mass-produced tchotchke for your in-laws on one of the standard big corporate websites? Instead, try out these lovingly-curated Boulder-based online shopping experiences.

The Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery has an excellent online marketplace where you can shop by artist, medium, occasion or price point. Check out their Gifts Under $50 section for easy price-based perusal.

The NoBo Art District (NoBo means North Boulder for those uninitiated in the Colorado neighborhood nomenclature) also has a great resource for online holiday shopping. Specifically, take a peek at the NoBo Guide for lots of great ideas. Skip to page 11 for all the local artists, their websites and contact information plus little tags denoting what type of art they produce.

Those two are great jumping-off points to point you in the direction of local galleries and art collectives with online shops. For example, visit Firefly Handmade’s online store for everything from bespoke onesies to unique wood carvings.

For your friend who has been glued to the news this year, consider memorializing the seismic cultural shifts of the last 12 months by gifting a beautiful and socially conscious poster from Flatirons Political Art. The online shop has poignant posters touching on environmentalism, thanking healthcare workers, the #SayTheirNames and the Black Lives Matter movements and recognizing the contributions of indigenous peoples. For extra panache, get your poster gift expertly framed at Mercury Framing (4692 Broadway | 303-938-0123 | Mon. to Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

There’s nothing quite like receiving a handmade piece of fiber art in December to keep you warm in the upcoming cold months or to add some texture to a room. Shop artisan clothing, jewelry, bags, face masks, rugs, pillows and wall hangings online at Weave + Gather.

Although Boulder Mountain Handmade has been going for 45 years, the festival supporting the Boulder Mountain Fire Department is canceled for 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. But, you can still shop online because Boulder Mountain Handmade still has a lovely directory of all the participating 2019 artists.

For Her

Artist Jen Lesea crafts beautiful pendants and earrings inspired by the Rocky Mountains. (Photo courtesy of Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery)

As we head into the dark at 3:30 part of winter, Coloradans are not just adorning their eaves and trees with twinkly lights, but decorating their bodies with sparkly trinkets too. Boulder-based artist Jen Lesea crafts beautiful silver pendants and earrings inspired by the Rocky Mountains for the lady who wants to display her love of nature.

For more jewelry inspired by the natural world, you might also consider Figs & Ginger adornments that feature deer, owls, rabbits and the all-important lovebirds.

Elliott Bird Drop Earrings by Figs & Ginger hand made with .925 Sterling Silver (recycled when possible). (Photo courtesy of Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery)

Business backpacks are all the rage and you could surprise a lucky woman in your life with a hand-crafted leather one from Dry Creek Leather. Place your order now, since all of leatherworker Jean Olson’s bags, wallets and purses are made-to-order and take about three weeks. Or check out Maruca Designs for quirky, interesting fabric bags made from textiles milled in the United States.

For Him

Wads of cash is a good problem to have, but pulling crumpled bills out of your pocket to pay for a coffee isn’t a great look. Surprise the coin collector dude in your life with a one-of-a-kind Buffalo Nickel money clip by artist Devin Johnson. Johnson takes coins like the elusive Buffalo Nickel and turns them into jewelry and other personal items. He also has several pairs of cufflinks for sale made from Buffalo Nickels, pennies and quarters.

Buffalo Nickel money clip by artist Devin Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery)

For a truck guy, don’t miss handmade Chevy potholders made in New Mexico by Embudo Fabric Design. The classic Chevy is screen-printed onto fabric based on original drawings. Plus, everyone always needs more potholders to retrieve steaming hot gingerbread cookies from the oven.

There are plenty of beer nerds in Colorado and if you’re shopping for one, don’t miss the can-shaped souvenir beer glasses stamped with a signature Boulder style available at Art Mart.

For Little Ones

Is there anything better than watching a child hurriedly rip the wrapping paper off a new toy? North Star Toys specialize in classic wooden toys perfect for small hands. Pick up a smiley face whale rollie or baby’s first rattle.

Gift hand-painted and lacquered dreidels by artist Yair Emanuel and others from Zion Judaica. Each comes with a display stand for when the recipient isn’t spinning the dreidel to their heart’s delight.

Hand-painted and lacquered dreidels with a display stand from artist Yair Emanuel and others via Zion Judaica. (Photo courtesy of Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery)

Holiday décor

Perhaps you would like to give a locally made menorah to start years of family traditions. Look no further than Boulder, where you can find handcrafted menorahs in all shapes and styles. Acme Animals makes a wacky one with a ginger cat to hold up the candles or a beautiful whale and pelican ensemble.  For a more classic style, check out a hand-forged iron menorah by metalworker Steven Bronstein at Blackthorne Forge.

For the family with a Christmas tree, there are gobs of ornaments available made by local artists. Decorate the boughs with an adorable clay gingerbread man by Little Guys, or a lucky grape cluster by glassblowers Salusa. Surprise your bestie with a pewter stylized “Friendship” ornament by artist Leandra Drumm. For the hiker and nature lover, Nordic Dreams makes an over-the-top cute fabric and felt hiker girl ornament, or stained glass artist Peggy Pulling has crafted stunning hummingbird and flower ornaments. 

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