The Seattle Gifting Game

Finding the perfect present for everyone takes strategy, luck, and a big list of local favorites.

By Zoe Sayler November 7, 2022 Published in the Winter 2022 issue of Seattle Met

The products listed here were independently selected by a member of the editorial staff. Should you choose to purchase a product through a link on this page, we may receive an affiliate commission.

Gifting, especially during the holiday season, can feel like a game show—and not just because of the ticking clock. You can take a Final Jeopardy!–esque risk and become the stuff of gift-giving legends—or out yourself as the weakest link of regifting shame. You can ask an informed looking member of the audience for assistance, a la Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, but what if the guy browsing art prints at the Fremont Vintage Mall actually lives in a University of Washington dorm full of wrinkled Nirvana posters? You can switch gifts last minute, but not even Howie Mandel knows which one is worth a million bucks.

Consider this list of all-local options your opportunity to phone a friend.

Is This the One?

Winning gifts for every relationship.

Friends on Occasion

The coworkers you love…as coworkers. The family members you kind of forget about until holiday get-togethers roll around. Seattle-made chocolate bars from Spinnaker provide an opportunity to show those more-than-acquaintances that you’ve paid attention when they mentioned their caffeine obsession (68 percent Colombia with Coffee ($11) features fresh-ground Ethiopian beans). Yet they’re simple and universal enough—and most are coincidentally vegan—that if you know virtually nothing about your giftee, nobody will be ever the wiser.

Concentric Circles

Gifting the exact same thing to everyone in your friend group works. Gifting variations on a theme works better. Simple Goodness Sisters makes versatile flavors like Apple Pie syrup ($16) that enhance lattes and cocktails but also shine as ice cream toppers or baking ingredients. Personalize the package a bit for each person and relationship—find a unique vintage cake stand for the pastry chef, add a pair of coupe glasses and a complementary spirit for the home bar enthusiast, and save a few individual bottles for friendships that are a bit less established (but just as sweet). 

Partner…in Good Time

Maybe you love them, but you haven’t been saying so for long. Maybe you spend all your time with them, but whether you’ll spend the rest of your life together is still TBD. Romantic relationships can be especially tricky when it comes to gifting. Offer too much and it might feel as though you’re trying to turn the relationship into something it’s not; offer too little and risk hurting your partner’s feelings. A high-quality, super-soft, sustainably made relaxed hoodie ($89) and jogger sweatpant ($69) from Pacific Place shop Proto101—available in menswear and womenswear fits and sizes—keeps the gift-showering comfortably casual. 

Constant Companions

Years of friendship, accompanied by years of gifting, call for a fresh perspective—one that shows up at their house as consistently as you do. The New York Times–approved Big Little News subscription box ($35–$55 every two months) delivers a bimonthly magazine (or two, if you so choose) alongside a snack, a novelty item, and stationery, organized under themes like “California Dreamin.’” 

Fur Children

What do you get for the pet who actually just wants attention? Designed for knitter Gabby Discepoli’s chronically chilly dachshund, the personalized, machine-washable Wooly Weenie Dog monogram pet bandanna ($46) will make your pooch stand out at the dog park (a tried-and-true recipe for more head scratches) or in this year’s holiday photos. Reviewers even report cat and bearded dragon cooperation—your mileage may vary. Can’t go wrong with a handmade stocking full of treats. 

Actual Children

Grown-ups want to keep clothing gifts cute and quality, while little ones tend to prefer brightly colored, character-adorned monstrosities (sorry, Elsa, but it’s true). This flashy, futuristic Flora and Henri Chevron short silver puffer ($388–$408) provides a rare opportunity for synergy, and was practically made to be handed down or tucked away for posterity. 

Your Person 

If you’re in this relationship for the long haul, and thus find yourself in a position where you can gift a ring without sending some seriously confusing signals, take advantage of the situation with the sapphire- or emerald-encrusted version of the best-selling Faris Lava gem band ($1,295) from Seattle’s jewelry sweetheart. If this ring feels too feminine, try the gemless Lava band ($85–$865) or the Roca signet ($195–$2,500).

Steal or Fortune?

These prices are right for any budget.

Coro Rosmarino Piccolo Salami$14

Food from local producers saves the day when it comes to sub-$20 gifts that are also easy to grab at the last minute. Coro’s holiday Rosmarino salami brings festive rosemary and peppercorn flavor and limited-edition appeal. 

Seattle Viaduct Protect Puget Sound Tee$28 

Regional gear runs the risk of looking touristy. Not so at Viaduct, which channels local identity into designs like the “Maybe Next Year” Mariners shirt ($28) and this vintage-inspired, orca-adorned tee. 

Technicolor Dino Vases$46–$80 

Named for a vibrant inflatable triceratops, color is the name of the game in Nick Robles’s playful collection of one-of-a-kind ceramics (if a certain design speaks to you, grab it while you can). Leaning vases double as utensil holders or objets d’art. 

Fair Isle Build-a-Box of Six Saisons$90 and up

Choose from more than a dozen different brews from a Ballard brewery known for beer more akin to champagne than hefty IPAs; the ideal gift for the connoisseur or frequent host. 

Devon in Space Fringe Shirts$100–$265  

Designer Devon Urquhart upcycles vintage finds with carefully placed fringe—’90s horse shirts get braided manes and tails; crewneck sweatshirts get puffy clouds and rainbow tassels—for a clever, and sometimes irreverent, one-of-one look. 

The Freeman Raincoat$365

Why trust another city’s maker with rainwear? Freeman’s signature made-in-Seattle raincoat conjures up images of an idyllic camping trip, from the plaid flannel lining to the muted waterproof shell, and avoids common rain gear pitfalls (no blue tarp vibes here). 

Image: Courtesy Xbox

Xbox Series X Bundle$548 and up 

Microsoft’s most powerful gaming console alone makes for an ecstatic unboxing, but this fully customizable package allows for more personal touches—including the option to design an adaptive controller for users with limited mobility. 

Blumenstein Audio Orca Speakers$900 and up

Serious music buffs deserve to hear each note at its best; Blumenstein’s compact wood speakers draw from audio history’s most effective designs and reject “the mass techno-mill of endless hype” to get the job done so beautifully reviewers call it “magic.”

Valerie Madison Montana Sapphire Drop Necklace, $1,100–$1,120 

Madrona jewelry studio Valerie Madison crafts nature-inspired pieces with fine jewelry quality and everyday wearability; five light blue Montana sapphires, hand-set in Seattle, offer unique color and subtle sparkle. 

Today's Contestants

We describe the local gift. You guess the answer.
Fashion Statements

➽ Worn by Linda Derschang and W. Kamau Bell, this tee is a loud-and-proud rallying cry for the organization cofounded by a Seattle woman who went viral for talking candidly about her abortion online.

✏ What is the Shout Your Abortion “I Will Aid and Abet Abortion” tee? ($25)

➽ Find these floral earrings, made from a biodegradable plastic alternative, in a Ballard shop that prides itself on keeping locally handmade jewelry sustainable and affordable.

✏ What are Baleen Bloomy hoops? ($64)

➽ The work-from-home lifestyle just got more fashionable thanks to this chic, Seattle-founded substitute for bunny slippers.

✏ What is the Dooeys house mule? ($140)

Local Provisions

➽ J. Kenji López-Alt’s daughter eats this spicy, garlicky Seattle-made condiment with a spoon.

✏ What is KariKari? ($15)

➽ Step aside, Starbucks: This local, subscription-based coffee company delivers curated roasts from around the world straight to subscribers’ doors.

✏ What is Bean Box? ($20 and up)

➽ A small SoDo workshop crafts simple, solid wood furniture and home goods, including this 1950s-inspired party necessity.

✏ What is the Fin serving tray? ($85–$105)

Image: Courtesy Fin

Premier Gear 

➽ This antagonistically named product from an Everett family business improves upon the classic cash carrier with a key hitch option and an ultra-pared-down silhouette.

✏ What is the Anti-Wallet? ($22 and up)

➽ A woman-founded running company with its flagship in University Village offers the ultimate in high-visibility gear with this breathable product that’s as well-suited to a happy hour as it is a 5K.

✏ What is the Oiselle Firecracker reflective jacket? ($288)

➽ Shopping for a Whistler trip with a friend who’d recently undergone brain surgery, Tara Clark discovered an obsession with retro winter fashion that led her to launch this modern take.

✏ What is the TaraShakti ski suit? ($1,150)

Distinctive Designs 

➽ Tacoma-based glass artist Oliver Doriss counts this beautifully eerie vessel—also available with devil horns—among his bestsellers.

✏ What is the Baby Head Cup? ($45 and up)

➽ Fourth-generation Seattleite Robb Hamilton commemorates local landmarks through art like this ode to sub-$5 burgers.

What is Simcoe Industries’ set of two Dick’s prints? ($60)

➽ Smart-looking smart extension cords earned fans for the Fremont-founded company behind this bright idea.

What is the Jax task lamp? $255–$275

Image: Courtesy Jax

The Small Things

➽ Seattle’s favorite cryptid has never looked softer thanks to this kid-friendly creation from an artist who conceived of the design in Maine before moving to the creature’s natural habitat.

✏ What is the Woolly Sasquatch from Careful It Bites? ($45)

➽ A fairy toy hides in this otherwise practical product meant to prevent little ones from waking up with tangled hair.

✏ What is the Hair Fairy kids satin pillowcase? ($36)

➽ Reduce Lego-induced foot injuries to an all-time low with this SoDo-produced, parent-invented method of containing toys (that would make a fantastic reusable gift bag).

✏ What is the Swoop bag? ($32–$54)

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