Granted, Santa’s workshop is at the North Pole. But we think his helpers must live in Ohio. Why? The state is chock-full of artisans, crafters, and makers who create unique and useful items that are sure to bring comfort and joy — plus plenty of smiles — during the holidays.
Bess Paper Goods & Gifts, Cincinnati
At her West Benson Street shop, Kristin Joiner not only designs the artwork and composes witty messages — for example, “Happy Ugly Sweater Season” — for her Christmas and Hanukkah cards, but she also prints them one at a time on an 1882 letterpress named Bess. Joiner uses paper sustainably made from recycled cotton, and her repertoire of handmade goods includes ornaments and miniature paper trees.
Boston Stoker Coffee Co., Vandalia
Owned and operated by members of the Dean family for nearly 50 years, Boston Stoker sources directly from farmers, then roasts and packages its coffees at the company’s roastery in Vandalia. Its Original Grogg is a perennial favorite among flavored coffee lovers, but Boston Stoker also produces Spiced Grogg for fall and Minted Grogg for the holidays. Tip: Boston Stoker’s sample packs and subscriptions make excellent gifts.
Cassie’s Country Cupboard, Celina
Since Cassie Menchhofer refuses to use ingredients that she wouldn’t feed to her own family, her baking and soup mixes never have preservatives, MSG, or artificial colors and flavors. Although her bestsellers include Garlic & Herb Beer Bread Mix and Sweet Corn Bread Mix, she also makes seasonal products — including Cranberry White Chocolate Cookie Mix, Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Mix, and a unique Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili Mix — that are delicious and easy to prepare.
Chocolats Latour, Cincinnati
Shalini Latour uses natural ingredients — think chocolate from Colombia and local dairy products, fruits, and herbs — for the artisan sweets that she crafts at the Chocolate Bee, the production and retail space she shares with Bee Haven Honey. Latour specializes in hand-painted chocolates with adventurous flavors such as mint julep and pistachio matcha, and her ingeniously shaped Christmas confections include pretty Peanut Butter Ornaments and boozy Sloshed Snowmen.
Dancing Bee Market and Studio, Mount Vernon
Although Energy Cooperative member Jami Ingledue makes all-natural soaps and body products at her studio and retail store in Mount Vernon, ingredients like the pumpkin in her Pumpkin Spice Soap often come from her farm just outside of Gambier. Containing essential oils of frankincense and myrrh, Ingledue’s gold-and-black Three Kings Soap is ideal for Christmas gifting, and the daily surprises in her Advent Calendar include body butters, lip balms, and scrubs.
Klingshirn Winery, Avon Lake
Toast your near ones and dear ones with customized labels on wines that Lee Klingshirn produces and bottles on the farm where his family has been growing grapes since the 1920s. The labels come in a variety of designs, can be personalized with your own message, and are available on Klingshirn wines: Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Country Blush, Golden Chablis, and Vin Rosé.
Meg’s Makeshop, Kelleys Island and Medina
Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative member Megan Pucek makes wonderfully fragrant, imaginatively embellished candles that she retails at her Kelleys Island storefront during the summer and online throughout the year. Her signature cereal candles — Fruity Loops, Cap’n Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and more — look good enough to eat, while the hard-to-find scents in her Gentleman’s Collection include Leather Jacket and Fresh Cut Grass.
Milligan’s Maple Syrup, Athens and Columbus
Customers often say that Milligan’s is the best maple syrup they’ve ever tasted. Kevin Milligan uses sap sourced from his family’s tree farm near Athens to make Grade A pure maple syrup as well as Grade A bourbon barrel-aged pure maple syrup. Both varieties have been featured on the Food Network and are available in a gift box that includes pancake mix.
Sara Powers hand-crochets a menagerie of cute and cuddly stuffed toy animals that include bunnies, teddy bears, pandas, a unicorn, and even a platypus. A stay-at-home mother of two, she also takes orders for custom animals and makes newborn knit beanies and blankets using her own patterns.
Ohio Is Home, Athens
Tim Martin’s store in uptown Athens may be small, but it carries a mighty nice selection of Christmas ornaments made from locally sourced cherry wood. Martin designs, engraves, and hand-sands the baubles in-house, and his Ohio-shaped ornaments vary from snowflakes to state symbols such as a cardinal.
Ohio Till Farmstead, Marysville
First-generation farmers and Union Rural Electric Cooperative members Tim and Michelle Schacht use organic and regenerative practices on their small farm near Marysville. Their first product — Avalon Ruby Red Popcorn — was named for Marysville’s recently renovated Avalon Theatre, while their Henry’s Yellow Dynamite Popcorn is an heirloom variety bursting with big, buttery-tasting kernels.
River City Leather, Gallipolis
River City Leather began in a backyard shed where Aaron Buckley made a leather tote bag for his wife Erin’s birthday. Eleven years later, they not only produce leather handbags, backpacks, briefcases, and more in a 5,000-square-foot building but also have 15 employees. Made of domestic hides tanned in North America, River City Leather’s goods are so sturdy that they come with a lifetime guarantee.
Toledo Lamp Company, Toledo
At their combination showroom, studio, and lighting store at the Erie Street Market, Mitchell and Scott Antesky design and construct eye-catching, conversation-starting, one-of-a-kind lamps out of upcycled items ranging from Toledo scales to vintage blenders. Their quirky gumball machine lamps are filled with colorful orbs, and their heart-shaped pipe lamps will surely light up the life of someone you love.
Ultimate Sack, Hudson
Owned and operated by members of a local family, Ultimate Sack produces foam bean bag chairs that offer a comfy alternative to conventional seating. The company makes several models sized for both children and adults, and customers can choose their own covers from multiple fabric and covers options.
Water Dog Woodworking, Medina
Self-taught woodworker Jonathan Schodowski made furniture for his own home before starting a home décor company. Schodowski uses lumber exclusively from Medina County, and because he favors natural finishes, the beauty of the wood grain shows through on his popular live edge charcuterie boards, three-wick candle holders, and beer flight boards.
Wax + Wane Handmade, Circleville
South Central Power Company member Katie Mallow’s durable, lightweight, and comfortable-to-wear jewelry is made from moldable polymer clay and features her own custom-mixed color palette. Mallow fashions each piece in her home studio, and her bestselling earrings sport geometric shapes and hoop-style ear wires.