Last week I came out of the closet on Blogging Baby as the scroogish, grinchy anti-materialist prick I am by admitting I wasn't going to buy Juniper anything for Christmas. But that's mainly because she is too young to understand the significance of Christmas any more than she understands the significance of the monster shit she took this morning. The reality is I'm not against gift giving, I just want to draw a distinct line between giving gifts and buying mass-produced junk. Have you seen that Wal-Mart commercial where Destiny's Child is sitting around looking at the crap they bought each other at Wal-Mart and Beyonce is all singing about how she bought it, "Just to see my little nephew smile..."? Bitch, make a funny face or tickle him or take him to the zoo. Why not just sing for him, Beyonce? Your singing always makes me laugh.

Most of my beef with Wal-Mart is that all the crap they sell is made in China. I have always been a big supporter of American and local-made products. I consider shopping at Wal-Mart an unpatriotic act bordering on treason. In the past I have made rules for Christmas to reflect this hard-line ideology. One Christmas I only bought locally-manufactured gifts. Another year, when my hometown's downtown was faltering because of competition from outlying big box chain stores, I decided to only give gifts purchased from downtown merchants. This year, all the gifts we're buying will be made by independent San Francisco artists and designers.** Both Wood and I would like to be "craftier" and more skilled than we are, and ideally we'd like to give gifts that we made, but that just ain't gonna happen this year. As I see it, buying gifts like this has three main advantages:

(1) Buying one-of-a-kind art handmade by a local designer ensures that the gift will be truly unique;
(2) Supporting local people making things by hand in America is a good thing now that craftsmanship has largely been handed over to corporations and foreign labor;
(3) By buying these kinds of gifts, I'm not giving any money to some giant corporation paying Indonesian children to sew till their fingers bleed each day.

Should this idea be interesting to anyone else, I've created this mini-guide to artists/designers whose baby products I have come across at events like the feria urbana or just poking around the web and local boutiques. Beyond Christmas, the stuff on this list would also be great for baby shower gifts different from the run-of-the-mill Baby Gap, Carter's, Gymboree crap that gets all ooh'd and ahhh'd at those things.

Stuffed/Plush Creatures:

Why give your kids the standard Gund-ish stuffed animals that every kid on the block has, when you could get them a menagerie of weird stuffed creatures so unusual they'd make the stuffed beasts in Ted Nugent's living room seem downright passé. These plush creatures may be a little more expensive than most mass-produced stuffed animals, but they are hand-made with love and the money you spend actually goes to the person who makes them:


For even more DIY designer stuffed creatures, check out the storefront sites etsy and pixel girl.


Toys/Dolls:

Baby/Kids Clothes:

Onesies/t-shirts:


Hats: Butterfly & I (San Francisco); Lemon Head Designs (California).

Clothing:

This list is only of those artist/designers who have websites with their products for sale. It is by no means comprehensive; I have not intentionally left out folks from a certain island (and a certain borough) east of New Jersey and south of Connecticut. I don't have some kind of a complex; I just don't know enough about folks working there. I am not trying to be exclusive. If you know of any artist/designers who make great baby goods anywhere, please leave their names and websites in the comments and I'll add them to this list.

*I get the irony.

**Our love for these kinds of products is definitely inspired by our dear friend Carissa (of Brooklyn, NY) who made this hat for our Juniper:


Alas, she has no website.