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The Yinzer Holiday Gift Guide 2021
It's totally world-famous, she lied.
It is the most wonderful time of the year! Yinzer Gift Guide time, my loves. Not going to go into a whole lot of intro here because you don’t care; you want the goods. This year, nearly every item is made locally and many by women- or POC-owned businesses. Shopping locally is always a bit more pricey than a Target or Marshall’s run, but if you’re in a position to support these businesses (and other local shops), please do. It has been a hard two years for them to stay afloat. As always, items might sell out, as many items are made by one- or two-person teams. Emailing sellers is a great way to see about restocks. I have not received a single item on this list as a gift. There are no ads.
Also, I’m brain-dead. There will be typos. You will live, honey. Here we go. We’re going to start with the beasts.
For the pets
Every pet wants to look like a legit snack as much as every pet wants to eat a legit snack. You can take care of the “look” part by buying your cat, dog, lizard, or butler monkey (invite me over please) one of these locally made bandanas! I’m over the moon like a cow for the Worker Bird bandanas, made by local maker Kim Fox. Snag the Pittsburgh-themed one with hints of keystones and local bridges like the Smithfield, or perhaps the pickle-themed ones (there are several), or go secular (hah) with owls and campfires. Check out her site for lots of other bandana designs ranging from food to outdoors to flowers. (from $15)
Another great bandana option for your pet is this one created by TripleAAAnimals for the Pittsburgh Parks 25th anniversary. The illustration by local artist Mary Tremonte features an all-star team of animals — the home team made up of animals native to our region, and visitors — animals introduced here. Be forewarned there is a snake on the bandana. Please let WPXI know that it is native and they do not need to SEND THE CHOPPA. ($20)
And as for giving your Pittsburgh dog that legit snack, the Woof Stop Barkery (CUTE!) in Cranberry Township offers online shopping and they tell me they’ll soon have Christmas-themed iced cookies ready to go. Holiday orders must be in by December 17!
For the candle lovers
Burn it down, bitches
Candles are the perfect winter gifts and Pittsburgh has so many crafty candle-makers that it’s hard to pick just a few. Here are some new faves:
None of Your Business (NOYB) Candles is a woman-owned business pouring candles here in Pittsburgh. She has Schitt’s Creek and other pop culture-themed candles (like “I Love Scotch, Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch”) but the real money, for me, are the Golden Girls candles with names like Shady Pines, St. Olaf, B.E.D. (Your Initials Spell Bed?!), and Too Ugly to Live. You can grab them individually or snag the cute Not Now, Ma! set of all four candles in bebe size. ($5 and up)
Another local candle company I’m obsessed with is North Avenue Candles, (woman-owned), because ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. Literary candles and banned book candles and more. If there’s a person in your life who has a favorite book from Poe to Austen to Dune to Nancy Drew to Huck Finn, this shop has got a candle for you. I’m personally in love with the amazing Pittsburgh Light Up Night candle (that glows from within!), Anne of Green Gables, the Macabre set, and all of the Anthology sets. I literally want to post a picture of every single candle, they’re that awesome. Go check them out. ($18 and up)
I can’t remember how I found Quicc Candles, but I did and they have this one candle that when I look it, well, I get teary-eyed. Isn’t that weird? I don’t know what it is about the saying “If yesterday was heavy, put it down,” but it gets me, you know? Like, put yesterday down; focus on today. This is a local, Black-owned and family-run business, as in a single mom and her three sons, and they have a wide range of candles but I particularly love their motivational candles. “Nah, we ain’t quittin’.” No, ma’am. We ain’t. You can choose your scents for these soy candles. ($25 and up)
I had to include Pittsburgh Candle Works’ (woman-owned) Burgh-themed collections because COME. ON. There’s the Yinzer collection, the Pittsburgh Collection and the Sports Collection. So hard to choose. But also check out the rest of her shop for lots of other great items. ($24 each or $65 for the pack)
Finally, the very popular Tal and Bert, a Black-owned business turning out gorgeous one-of-a-kind vessels, planters, votive holders and more by creating geodes using raw minerals. Truly stunning stuff coming out of their studio and they’ve gained quite a lot of attention recently. I’m partial to the votive holder, the small plant holder, and a special shout-out to their fun “Manifest that sh*t” candle. (geodes start at $21; candles at $33)
For the readers, writers, note-leavers and note-takers
So I had no idea that there was a local company making fountain pens and just … wow. Meet The Birmingham Pen Company, a tiny company run by two brothers in Cranberry. A bit pricey, sure, but each pen is handmade right here in Pittsburgh. They’re dropping a new one today, the sleek Ironside, which I expect to sell out pretty quickly because it’s stunning. So if you know this is a gift you want to buy, try to grab one before they’re gone. If you miss out, email the company and see if they have another release coming before the holidays. ($149)
I’ve found the perfect holiday cards for you to send to literally everyone you love. Meet Pittsburgh-based and woman-owned Hello+Company! Selling on Etsy, the shop has so many great greeting cards and even some Pittsburgh-themed stickers. ($4 and up)
Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh. A Pittsburgh Left sticker. A Sinkhole Bus sticker. Buttons. Magnets. MORE! Local woman-owned Etsy shop 1 Fly Chicken has the most perfect collection of Pittsburgh-themed stickers for you to buy that person in your life who loves to show their personality on their laptop, water bottle, journal or luggage. This is one of those shops that I have a hard time picking which items to share. So just check them all out! ($4 and up)
Meshwork Press is new to me but I’m already in love with their whole vibe. A woman-owned artist-run print shop in Wilkinsburg, Meshwork has some really beautiful items and a beautiful story because they also offer art instruction in conjunction with the Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP) and The Braddock Youth Project. I’m in love with the sunny color and simplicity of this One Thing At a Time notebook that’s sure to brighten anyone’s Christmas morning especially knowing the purchase went to support art programs in underserved Pittsburgh communities. ($20)
For the home, the bakers and the drinkers
Two words. Calamity. Ware. Calamityware, which I’m sure you’re aware of, is actually a Pittsburgh-based business run by local artist Don Moyer and his small team that creates gorgeous porcelain-ware in the style of blue and white pottery (as well as lots of other items!). But look closer. The illustrations are not little houses or regal carriages. No. It’s CALAMITY! Dragons and monsters and robots and blobs of goo and dinosaurs and vortexes oh my! You can go as affordable as you’d like, with mugs, or go big with entire sets of dinnerware. If I was rich, this is the only dinnerware I’d have in my house. I’m not even kidding. I’d buy every single thing. For gifts, I’d point you to the Things Could be Worse 2- or 4-pack of hilarious mugs, the Vigilant Dragons Cookie Jar, the Things Could be Worse Travel Mug. or the cream and sugar set (there’s a teapot too!).
Allow me to introduce you to the greatest tea-towel in the history of tea-towels. This Pittsburgh mural tea-towel by local woman-owned Worker Bird featuring some classic Pittsburgh icons including Iron City, Warhol, the parking chair, Kennywood, the Banjo Club, and more. It’s truly perfect; no notes. ($22)
For the imbiber in your life who enjoys a good whiskey, you’ll want to grab them a bottle or two of Wigle from their distillery in the Strip or perhaps their bottle shop in Ross Park Mall. They deliver to PA and DC residents as well. Check out their Strip District Reserve 6 Year Old American Whiskey ($70) with a great illustration of what makes the Strip so special, particularly on a cool Saturday morning. Pair it with their award-winning Eau de Pickle ($34) for a perfect Burghy-themed and totally local spirits gift!
Whitehall Pottery is a pottery studio located right here in Pittsburgh where they’re creating some really beautiful pieces. Their holiday mugs would make a great gift with some homemade hot chocolate bombs, or grab a gorgeous syrup pourer and pair it with some locally made pancake mix like this one from Mary Mac Bakehouse (they also have a Pittsburgh-themed muffin mix set)! Order online or check out Whitehall’s brick and mortar shop. (from $35)
For the body
I AM SCREAMING. What more can I say? This Little Nebby shirt comes from local Etsy shop Yinzburgh and I just adore it so much. It’s unisex and comes in a full size range. Perfection. ($16)
Pip and Lola’s in the Strip is a shop full of soapy goodness. Woman-owned, this shop sells everything from vegan shampoo bars to themed individual soaps for the face, body and hands. For me, it’s the entire line of Shakespeare soaps, but the man in your life would love anything from their Non-Toxic Masculinity collection. Another bonus? Pip & Lola's will donate one bar of soap for every two items purchased to domestic violence shelters and charities!
Here’s a niche shirt! They’re not sprinkles; in Pittsburgh, they’re jimmies and this soft shirt is pure joy, perfect for that person in your life who loves the joyous, the colorful and the Burghy. Oh, and ice cream. Luluz Design in a woman-owned local business with so many great items from bags to mugs and more so be sure to check out her whole shop. There is a kids’ version and a white version of this shirt as well. ($22+)
Fanny packs are back in style. Can you believe it? Next you’ll tell me flare jeans have come back lol. WHAT?!!? There’s actually a local woman-owned company making some really unique Duck canvas fanny packs/crossbody bags called PackPacks and I’m feeling special feelings about this Akira version and also the Rooney, but there are several other styles to check out. These bags are locally made, adjustable, convertible, machine washable, and hand painted by the artist. ($45)
Metamorph Jewelry studio is located in Pittsburgh where they’re handcrafting jewelry, some on a made-to-order basis. Now, you’ll find something for just about anyone in your life at their shop, but I’m kind of freaking out over their Camilla necklace ($98) which looks like three necklaces, but it’s actually one hand-beaded necklace with a ribbon-tie and vintage coin pendants. It would be great with a sweater or anything with a low neck that shows off your girls. Just gorgeous. Their lariats are to die for as well. And there’s like ten rings I want. Whew. Jesus take the debit card from my hands.
So this item is another I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but it is pretty much a perfect gift for everyone of every gender and every age. Shades on Point is a local company selling some really cool wood sunglasses and blue light-blocking glasses. Some have Pittsburgh neighborhood names and come etched with the Pittsburgh skyline on the stems. When you click on the “Shades” page, you’ll see most are sold out (still some cool North Parks available though). Those are the first editions. Keep clicking through to the next page of items for the 2.0 versions like the Allegheny and the Ohio. If not the glasses, you can grab the Pittsburgh Bamboo Case for any sunglasses you might buy as gifts. (from $69)
For the teens
How do you do, fellow kids?
The only thing teen girls love more than sweatshirts are cropped sweatshirts and HERE. YA. GO! Teenagers terrify me, so have your teen embrace her ability to wither with a single glare with this snarky I’m Just Nebby Sweatshirt, also from Luluz Design. So fetch. Fellow kids. ($49.99) Or perhaps your teen boy already knows he’s on his way to becoming iconic, and in that case, check out her Pittsburgh Icon t-shirt, which is actually gender-neutral ($26).
Want your gift to also do some good? Grab your teenager who ROCKS this badass Rock Goddess cropped hoodie ($58) or lightning bolt tee ($38) which benefits the local Magee Women’s Research Institute. These items are the official merch from the Women Who Rock concert. I have never been nor ever will be as cool as these two people:
You’re going to think I’m crazy but hear me out on this gift idea for your anxiety-prone teenager, or hell, any person in your life who appreciates a way to keep their hands busy. Put down the fidget cubes and spinner doohickeys and pick up the Picking Rock courtesy of locally owned, woman-owned Pick ‘N Peel. This sort of satisfying item is all the rage in the TikTok world as teens search for ways to cope with an increasingly maddening world. Small escapes matter. The Picking Rock provides a satisfying way to relax, and the kits come with the rock, paint, and the pick. There’s a reason this shop has sold 14,000 items. Your teen will love it. Just trust me.
For the rest
Why are you so hard to shop for?
And here’s a round up of some other ideas that I’m too exhausted to go deep into detail about because, YINZ, I have worked on this list for so so many hours, starting weeks and weeks ago. But for those people who are just impossible to shop for, here are my suggestions:
Liberty Magic is back in full swing and there’s an upcoming show that is Pittsburgh-themed and sounds AMAZING. It’s a magic show by Liberty Magic’s inaugural magician Eric Jones and it’s called Immaculate Deception. “Drawing inspiration from our city’s history of miraculous moments, Eric Jones, bringing us a brand new show. Featuring perplexing prestidigitation created with Pittsburgh in mind, this premier production is sure to amaze and inspire. Don’t take your eye off the ball… or the card… or the coin… You just might catch The Immaculate Deception.” I’m sold. Tickets on sale now and the Skeleton Key VIP ticket sounds insanely cool.
Local maker Audra Azoury is selling a gorgeous 8-piece set of ornaments featuring 8 Pittsburgh bridges along with a booklet about the history of each bridge.
Whitehall Pottery, that I mentioned above, has a HILARIOUS Bernie Sanders mug featuring his Inauguration getup and I imagine this is a limited-run mug, so grab one while you can.
This Clark Morelia leather travel wallet, made right here in Pittsburgh is just one of the many cool items in the Clark Morelia shop along with bags, belts, keychains, card wallets, and more. I also love the Page Wallet.
For kids, did you know you can buy this neat Open The Joy Love & Forgiveness Activity Box at local Target stores or online and it benefits the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh? How cool is that? The box is full of activities you can do with your children to teach them emotional maturity regarding loving others and forgiving others, a great holiday message, while having fun doing it.
Now, in the last slot I just want to point you to this shop that is not local but is so cool and I think lots of you would find a gift or two for the sports fans in your life. Playbook Products does just what it says in their name. Take diagrams of famous sports plays and convert them into awesome gifts. You can snag coasters, bags, phone cases, mugs, shirts, masks and more with some famous Steelers, Penguins and Pirates plays like the Immaculate Reception, or Fleury’s Cup-winning save (THE STRESS!), or Clemente’s ‘71 World Series or Maz’s walk-off. So many great options.
And that’s it. Get to shopping. I need some sleep. Group hug.