5 Great Holiday Gifts Made Right Here in Tampa Bay

Here are some unique gifts ideas created in Tampa Bay.

TAMPA BAY, FL — Sure, you could fight the crowd’s at the mall and buy Dad a tie. Or go the easy route and buy Mom a bottle of perfume online for the holidays.

But, for a more memorable gift, try looking closer to home. Here are some unique gifts ideas created in Tampa Bay.

Naked Florida Man

New York Times bestselling author and Tampa resident Tim Dorsey has just released the latest installment of the Serge Storms series, Naked Came the Florida Man. True Floridians will love this tale in which Storms sees dead people and investigates a creepy urban myth in his ’69 gold Plymouth Satellite.

Dorsey, a former reporter for the Tampa Tribune, snatches fodder from today’s headlines when Storms and his best bro Colman investigate a forgotten mass grave in Palm Beach County holding the remains of African-Americans killed by the Great Hurricane of 1928.

After unwrapping their new Dorsey book, gift recipients can drop by the Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 2nd St. N., Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. to meet Dorsey and have their book signed.

Able Threads

Here’s a chance to gift some cool T-shirts while supporting a great nonprofit.

The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation in Clearwater has unveiled an original clothing line, Able Threads. Able Threads is a clothing brand developed by The Arc with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The brainchild of Madison Orr Hauenstein, executive director of The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation, the apparel features inspirational graphics using the hashtag #EmpowerEmployEnjoy. “Empower” signifies the use of graphics inspired by stories reflected on the campus of The Arc Tampa Bay.

One shirt option bears the saying, “Choose to Be Happy.” This best-seller is based on a story about Scottie, a man with intellectual and developmental disabilities who lost his sight and his ability to walk due to hydrocephalus. As his body slowly deteriorated during his final hospital stay, someone asked Scottie why he was so happy. His answer was simple: “I choose to be.”

“Employ” is an easy addition to Able Thread’s tagline. Those receiving services at The Arc Tampa Bay who wish to work but are unable to work in a traditional work environment can make labels, package and mail the items. A small biography of each worker is included as a thank you for the work opportunity to the purchaser.

“I wanted to create a product that would spread (The Arc’s) message of positivity and perseverance to everyone,” said Hauenstein. “Our friends at The Arc live this mindset every day and I believe it needs to be shared with the world.”

The T-shirts are available online and at The Arc, 1501 N. Belcher Road, Clearwater.

Make Your Own One-Of-A-Kind Gift

The owners of three boutique crafting stores will come together in a holiday pop-up to offer contemporary twists on the timeless art of sewing, needlepoint and knitting Dec 12,-14 at Keep Me in Stitches, a specialty sewing center in south Tampa.

Keep Me in Stitches will host the soiree while The Flying Needles from Belleair and Criativity in Largo offer special instruction that begins with a make-and-take reception from 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday.

The free pop-up collaboration will be held at Keep Me in Stitches at 4504 W. Kennedy Blvd.:

  • Dec. 12 from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fabric, yarns and patterns from Kaffe Fassett will also be available. Fassett is an American-born artist, best known for his colorful designs in needlepoint, patchwork, knitting, painting and ceramics.

Keep Me in Stitches owner Melissa Helms said she was inspired to host the pop-up because of the success of a pop-up needlepoint shop over the summer.

“Sewing, knitting and needlepoint bring a certain sense of satisfaction and serve as a creative outlet, and we like the idea of being the conduit to stitch this community together,” Helms said. “And when small business owners can collaborate and partner, we can offer so much more to our community.”

Guests can participate in a variety of make-and-take activities including needlepoint basics, simple knitting and machine embroidery.

Cigar Box Purses

Valrico artist Susan Jordan turns cigar boxes from Ybor City’s cigar factories into one-of-a-kind works of art that don’t take up space on a wall. You carry them with you.

The best part is Jordan’s cigar box purses can be customized to suit the personality of the gift recipient. And, yes, she also creates “man boxes” for guys to store their stuff.

Ranging from $55 to $75, depending on the size, Jordan’s purses can be found at Tampa International Airport, the Tampa Bay History Center, South Tampa Trading Company, Lena Maxey in Riverview, The White Rabbit in randon, Ybor’s Rudely Elegant and Buccaneer Beads. Or they can be ordered online through her website, Humadorables by Susan.

Dress Your Guy In Style

If you want to give your guy some holiday pizzazz, check out the Ella Bing Haberdashery, a locally owned and family-run men’s accessories boutique at 1607 Snow Circle in Hyde Park Village.

Brent Kraus was inspired by his late brother, Matthew, to open the shop. Matthew, who committed suicide. loved wearing bow ties so their mother, Lisa Kraus, would make him handcrafted silk and cotton ties by hand. Now she makes them for Ella Bing in honor of her son.

Kraus’ father, David, a skilled woodworker, creates wooden products including frames for sunglasses and, yes, wooden bow ties, with a portion of all sales going to support the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s work in suicide prevention.

You’ll also find custom-embroidered house slippers, hats, traditional ties made from unusual fabrics like retro barkcloth, apothecary items and a large selection of colorful, comical socks.

SOURCE: patch.com