Totally Local, Totally Chic Gift Ideas Under $50

Hello, happy holiday shoppers! If you're anything like me, it's probably not too difficult to narrow down the big ticket items you want to give over the holidays. But the smaller gifts can be a bit trickier. You want something thoughtful, but you can't spend a bomb. Something unique, but you probably don't have a ton of time to shop.

Fortunately for us, Omaha is brimming with fabulous affordable and beautiful gift ideas by local makers -- most of which you can pick up online, on your way home from work today, or a during a quick pop-in at a holiday market this weekend. Here are some of my faves:

 Photo courtesy of Benson Soap Mill

Photo courtesy of Benson Soap Mill

With their dead cool, minimalist design and modern, clever fragrances, Benson Soap Mill soaps can be found in the loos of the best restaurants in Omaha (and in mine). Sourcing ingredients, including sunflower oil and aromatics from local farms, restaurants and coffee houses, Chef and soap maker Tim Maides created an eminently practical, vegan, sustainable and stylish product that is also iconically Omaha. At $6 per bar and $8 per bottle ($4 per bath bomb), these make great stocking stuffers -- or you can gift a membership into the Soap Club -- a one-time $25 cost, which includes a handmade, reclaimed wood soap dish, free bar of your choice, a 10 percent discount on future soap and insider previews of products that are coming down the pike. You can buy Benson Soap Mill soaps, or find stockists, on their website, or pick some up at the Holiday Market at The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge on Sunday, 17.Dec. from 11-4.

True Blue Goods and Gifts has a meticulously-edited collection of gifts for women, men and children that's smart, a little edgy and a little arty. It's the kind of store that wouldn't be out of place in Silver Lake or Brownstone Brooklyn -- except the inventory is almost all Omaha-made or designed. True Blue's trio of women owners are big supporters of local organizations, such as Omaha Girls Rock (sweatshirt $45) and artists like dancer/dance instructor/author Julian Adair, whose Delightful Secrets of the Nutcracker book is $27 hard cover and $16 for soft cover at the store. They're also not afraid to wear their progressive politics on their sleeves (sorry, I didn't check the price of the gold cuff bracelets because I really, really want to see them under my tree). The store is co-hosting the Shake Your Trunk Last Stop Holiday Shop at the Slowdown from 1-7 this Sunday (17.Dec) and a lot of local makers will be there.

Lost Restaurants front cover.PNG

This is my go-to gift this year for anyone who grew up in Omaha in the 20th century. OhMy!Omaha blogger Kim Reiner has compiled a well-researched and fascinating look at the city's history, as told through the beloved restaurants of its past. Kim will be signing copies this Sunday from 1-3 at The Bookworm, or you can buy the book on Amazon (this is an affiliate link, if you use it to purchase the book, I will get a small commission).

Earthen Joy earrings.jpg

For years, I bought into the old chestnut that jewelry is too personal to give as a gift. And while that may well apply to high-end custom pieces (which, with apologies to my sisters and girlfriends, I will never be in a position to gift anyway), I now realize how much happiness I get from giving and receiving jewelry. The ideal pieces are simple modern classics -- the types they'll reach for again and again, like these beautiful EARTHENjoy nugget studs by Omaha clay artist Joy O'Connor, which are available at Hello Holiday, or on the EARTHENjoy website, for $30. 

Hutch is featuring 30 local makers in the store over the holiday season and I think I'm in love with every single one of them, including gifts from their house brand like the Not Nebraska Nice welcome mat (which I gave to my bff on his last birthday) for $36, and sweetly illustrated prints celebrating everyone's favorite bars and attractions ($25-30 each). I'm stocking up on prints from the Anastasia Co. ($8 unframed) and Sweet Minou Cocoa ($10), both Omaha-based, for host gifts and impromptu exchanges.