Knack Seattle-inspired holiday gift items made in Washington

Our founder Laura is famous among friends for being an excellent hostess and an excellent guest. She’s known for arriving with the perfect gift for her host, so who better than to share some thoughtful tips about being prepared for the holiday season? Here, Laura shares her best advice about creating your signature gift–something easy, thoughtful, and versatile you can give to almost anyone.

In some idyllic version of our lives we’d have the time to create gifts uniquely designed for each recipient on our list, whether they’re business partners, party hosts, out-of-town relatives or dear friends. But this dream sequence often comes crashing down when the demands of the holiday season loom large.

Here’s one way to get ahead of the season’s frantic pace and buy yourself a little peace of mind…

Create a “signature gift” now, buy 6 of them and keep them in a closet to give to anyone, anytime.

You want this gift to be as versatile as possible: something equally appropriate for a party host or hostess, service provider you can always count on, or a relative’s new significant other who turns up for Christmas dinner with a gift you weren’t expecting. These things happen to the best of us, but you can be prepared to handle them with grace.

custom gift builder

Tip 1: Aim for a price point between $45-$55, including gift-wrapping.
This is a bit more than you’d normally spend on a bottle of wine for a party host, and a little less than you’d generally spend on a relative or nanny. But aiming for this price point allows you to have a respectable emergency gift at the ready that will work for almost anyone in a pinch. And don’t underestimate the cost of the wine gift bag, ribbon and card you’d have to grab at the drug store on your way to that party: those can add another $10 to that $25 bottle of wine anyway.

Tip 2: Pick something you’d like for yourself.
When you tell a recipient that the gift you’re giving them is “your favorite,” they feel privileged that you’re sharing something special to you. This makes your signature gift memorable and meaningful. If you’re giving it as a host or hostess gift, your gift message might be something along the lines of “…this year I’m giving recycled Jameson bottle glasses because I love to drink my own whiskey from them and they’re made by a nonprofit I want you to know about.” Or “…this season I’m giving these finishing salts from the Oregon Coast, because I can’t get enough of them myself.”

Tip 3: Strive for gender neutrality and a long shelf life.
Although food items are a great gender-neutral choice and often a “go-to-gift” for business gifting, don’t give food products that won’t still be delicious at least 6 months from when you buy them. Candles are a gifting staple because they last forever, but they tend to skew more feminine and personal. Some examples of gender-neutral, long-shelf-life items include: barware, outdoor gadgets, stationery products, and yes, candles and diffusers if they have a clean, classic design.

Here are some examples of great signature gifts from our own collection to get your creative juices flowing…

Walnut Salt Box and Jacobsen Salt Co. Ghost Chili Sea Salt Gift Set

Scary Hot Gift Set

This is an example I created with my dear friend Burt in mind. Burt loves hot sauces and spicy foods, so the Smoked Ghost Chili Pepper finishing salt from Portland-based Jacobson Salt Co. is the perfect product for him to share with his friends. Paired with an artisan-made Walnut SaltBox by Revolution Design House and an adorable teak spoon, this is the type of gift that will be appreciated — and remind people of him — for years to come. At $47 including box, ribbon and gift book, this “Scary Hot Gift Set” is a great gift to have on hand as an emergency birthday, host or hostess gift. It will last years in your gift closet, and there are many flavors of finishing salt to choose from if “hot” isn’t your favorite flavor.

Holiday hostess gift with two vintage silver hand-stamped serving utensils and cranberry jelly belly beans

Paka Monk Holiday Gift

This is one of my absolute favorite year-end emergency gift sets. The two vintage silver-plate serving utensils are handstamped by Chicago-based Paka Monk with the words “A TURKEY & SOME MISTLETOE” and “PASS AROUND THE COFFEE & THE PUMPKIN PIE.” Sure to become a holiday table tradition for your lucky recipients, I like to pair them with cranberry sauce flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans for a festive touch. At $48 completely gift-wrapped, this serving utensil duo makes a great stock-up choice whether you’re in need of hostess gifts, or Christmas presents for friends and relatives. You can also buy the serving pieces individually for a less expensive gift, or substitute other styles of handstamped spoons or forks for a variation on this theme.

Usful Glassworks Jameson Whiskey Bottle Glasses and Scout Books Cocktail Book

A Toast For Two Gift Set

This set of two upcycled Jameson whiskey glasses with a handy whiskey cocktail recipe book is a charming and creative gift for someone who enjoys a dram or two! The best part of this gift is that the glassware is handcrafted by people in Usful Glassworks’ Boise-based job training program, which helps foster runaways, new immigrants and homeless job-seekers overcome employment barriers. If you fancy something other than these tumblers made from upcycled Jameson whiskey bottles, we have many other styles of upcycled glassware to choose from, all crafted by Usful Glassworks participants. Gifts that help those in need are always a wonderful choice, but especially appropriate around the holidays. This gift comes fully gift-wrapped with a message book for $42.

Capitol Hill Candle Company gift set with matches

Capitol Hill Candle Company Gift Set

This simple candle has a “Brooklyn” design sensibility appropriate for any gender, while the tiny vial of matches is simply adorable. It’s handmade in Seattle with soy wax and essential oils and fragrances by Jeremie Berg, and for $37, it’s an easy gift to keep on hand for those last-minute needs.


Grids and Guides Notebook and Pencils Gift Set

Grids and Guides Notebook and Pencils Gift Set

This Princeton Architectural Press Grids & Guides Notebook and Pencils gift set is a creative option for the right-brained recipient. Each journal includes  144 pages of graph paper in 8 distinctive designs with a smattering of fascinating scientific charts interspersed throughout, and the 12-pencil set includes a die-cut ruler. This set makes a great all-year-long gift for anyone between the ages of 9 and 99. Available soon on KNACKSHOPS.COM!

The best part of having a stash of signature gifts on hand? Peace of mind. Plus, you’ll get to savor the feeling of checking something off your list and knowing you’ve got a back-up plan when good intentions fail the test of reality.

This post is the first in a series of holiday gift-giving tips and advice that we’ll refresh often throughout the holidays, to make the season even simpler and more enjoyable for you. Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs on entertaining with seasonal cocktails, our favorite small businesses, stocking stuffers, and more! And, as always, you can contact us anytime about all of your gifting needs, from scheduled shipping to business and corporate gifts. 

custom gift builder