The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

5 Thrifty Things: Gifts Made in DC Under $50

gifts locally made in DC

Just as Michelle Obama has infused the White House with an independent fashion sense and eco-consciousness, DC is now home to some talented makers & doers with a hip new style up-ending the staid Capitol notion of classy. It was hard to choose just five, but here are our top picks for gifts under $50 made in DC for our first-ever Shop Local Guide to the Holidays.

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!

Nana DC Reversible Organic Silk Top
Of the wonderful people who always make us feel at home on our trips to DC, owner Jackie Flanagan of Nana is one of our absolute faves. We’ve long frequented her warm and welcoming shop for vintage pieces from QuarterLife 202 and upcycled accessories from Global Hope, and now we’re head-over-heels for her new in-house line of finely crafted women’s fashion made right in DC’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood (starting at $50). Shop online at for scores like the gorgeous organic silk charmeuse top pictured above ($43.45, on sale) — plus orders over $75 ship free!


Busboys & Poets Gift Card
With all the handmade, grassroots goings-on in DC, a gift card might sound like a cop-out, but we’re all about experience gifts here at Shoestring and none of our experiences in DC have been quite as quinessentially hipster-meets-Young-Republican as a stop at Busboys & Poets. Whether he spends it on debating politics over cocktails, picking up some new counterculture lit, or hanging out at one of Busboys’ many philanthropically-charged events, he’ll get much mileage from credits on his tab at this DC literary institution. Shop online at

Red & Main Studio Menageries
Meg Murray “really freaking loves ceramics” and it shows. Her imagination-inspiring monsters and mythical beasts ($17 and up) are hand-sculpted and kiln-fired from earthenware clay right in her DC home, and each animal comes to its new owners with an adoption story — perfect for kids to create stories around. Since Murray also takes custom orders, we bet she might make a pretty unique beast-bank, too. Available online at Etsy, or learn more at

Langdon Wood Maple Syrups
What do you get when you take maple sizzurp from Pennsylvania and age it in old whiskey barrels from Virginia? Pure awesomesauce in a bottle, handcrafted in DC by husband & wife team Art Drauglis and Carly Lesser. Langdon Wood’s motto? “It won’t change your life, but it will change your pancakes.” That’s good enough for us. Grab a bottle or a set (starting at $12) for the pancake-maker in your life directly from these small batch makers through their Etsy store.

Craftgasm Upcycled Stationery Set
It’s no secret we’re huge fans of repurposing old calendars here at Shoestring, and we just love what DC crafter Melissa is doing with salvaged and rescued paper goods. Skip the expected bottle of wine in favor of presenting your host with this set of 3 envelopes made from upcycled road maps and atlases ($10), sold in the Craftgasm Etsy store.

American Grown by Michelle Obama
Have a friend looking to get into gardening? No novice green thumb story is more inspiring than this chronicle of the First Lady’s journey to create the White House’s first kitchen garden, with additional peeks into gardens across America. Want to inspire the next generation like Michelle has with her Let’s Move! campaign, instead? Try this children’s book, First Garden ($17, Amazon). (The foreword is by Alice Waters!)

Doggie Style Bakery Pet Treats
With acclaim from The Washington Post and other local nominations, we like to think that even Bo is chomping on these do-good dog treats from DC’s own local “barkery.” Try the “Paws for a Cause” (3 for $1), with proceeds going to offset medical bills for local pets in need. To find out more about Doggie Style’s community contributions, just check out the fan mail on their Facebook page.

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

Story & main image: Copyright 2012, Shoestring LLC.
Photos: Courtesy, various retailers.