The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

5 Thrifty Things: Gifts Made in CA Under $50

gifts locally made in california

The Left Coast has no shortage of amazing, eco-friendly, local makers keeping indie manufacturing in the USA, which made it super hard to pick favorites for our first-ever Shop Local Guide to the Holidays. But, since we must — here are our top picks for gifts under $50 made in California.

Be sure to check out the rest of our 250 picks for made in USA holiday gifts under $50 on our new interactive US map, where you’ll find our favorite locally made products by state for her, him, kids, the home, the host/hostess, stocking stuffers, even some for pets!

New Dress a Day: The Ultimate DIY Guide
If you’ve read Shoestring for any length of time, or followed us on social media recently, then you know how much we luuuurve Marisa Lynch of New Dress A Day — and how excited we are about her blog turned book, just released last month. We can’t think of a better fit for a guide about making things than to gift her ultimate guide to making fashion dos from thrift store don’ts. Read our interviews with Marisa here on Shoestring and over on DIY Boston, and grab copies of her book (for everyone on your list with a sewing machine) over on Amazon.

Everlane Men’s Luxury Tees
To paraphrase Macklemore: “$50 for a T-shirt? That’s what I call getting swindled and pimped, sheet.” Luckily, the team behind the latest hotness in modern clothing felt the same way, and founded Everlane as a way to provide high-quality, made in the USA tees (and other fahsion items for her and him) for just $15. Our stylish California friends tell us they’re so hooked they already own one of everything, and we can see why. Shop online at

Jenny Smith Handmade Teddy Bears

Only in West Hollywood would we find these adorable handmade stuffed animals that look like they just crawled off the set of Where The Wild Things Are. Starting at $45, these lovable plush creatures from artist Jenny Smith are imagination-sparking toys to grow up with and to treasure. Shop online at

Back to the Roots Grow Your Own Mushroom Kit
Where but UC Berkeley would two frat brothers spend their precious last months before graduation not celebrating, but figuring out how to grow mushrooms from recycled coffee grounds — and then use the resulting product to “turn waste into wages & fresh, local food.” That’s right: nowhere. Nick Arora and Alex Velez now sell their Back to the Roots kits ($20 to $35) across the country, allowing homes everywhere to grow pounds of fresh mushrooms right in their own kitchens. Shop online at Back to the Roots, Daily Grommet, or Amazon.

Spread Couture Peanut Butters
Nuts for nut butters? There’s no fancier way to adorn your toast than Spread. Based in San Diego, the restaurant team behind the custom concoctions also ships these signature spreads direct to your door. Dig in to some Ode to Elvis or Dark Chocolate Lavender ($10.25 and up) with or without bread, we won’t judge.

Smencils & Smens
A more eco-friendly version of the scented Mr. Sketch markers we all grew up huffing in art class (yes, we know you did it, too), Smencils & Smens are made from 100% recycled newspapers and recycled plastics. The “gourmet scented” writing implements made just outside San Diego come in fun flavors like Gum-E Bear, Pom-Paya, Kinda/Sorta Cola, Waffle Cone, and Syruppdipity, and can be ordered by the pack ($5), bucket ($45), or DIY craft kit ($20) — or ordered for school fundraisers. Today only for Cyber Monday, take $10 off a bucket of Holiday Smencils ($50) at

Sharon Montrose Animal Prints & Books
For years, we’ve been obsessed with Sharon Montrose’s award-winning pet photography, including her popular coffee table tomes Dogtionary and Cationary. Now, through her new online store The Animal Print Shop, pet and animal lovers everywhere can enjoy single prints (framed or unframed) of this Los Angeles-based photographer’s heartwarming works, starting at just $25.

Did we miss your favorite locally made products from California? Definitely share them with us in the comments, we’d love to add them to our shopping lists!

Story & lead image: Copyright 2012, Shoestring LLC.
Product photos: Courtesy, various retailers.
Pet photo: Copyright Sharon Montrose.