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10 Colorado-Made Gift Ideas for the Holidays

By Eric Peterson

Made in Colorado means something in 2016. Local is king, whether it’s food, beer or art, it shouldn’t be any different with gifts for meetings and events or as holiday thank-yous. Here are 10 hand-picked ideas for corporate, association and nonprofit buyers looking to give a present with a Colorado connection.

1. Koostik, ENGLEWOOD
There are few electronic accessories made of wood and fewer yet that need no electricity, but Koostik’s handsome wooden amplifiers are exceptions to the rules. Designed for iPhones and iPads, these handmade products give your mobile device’s speaker an assist by way of special cham – bers and channels that turn up the volume the old-fashioned way: acoustically. It works like a charm, boosting the decibel level by a factor of two to five times. The company offers laser-etched logos for companies and other organizations looking to brand their holiday gifts. $79 to $99, with volume discounts of 30 to 50 percent.

2. Miniatures for the Modern World, DENVER
Becky Wareing Steele started making buttons for local bands, but found herself entranced by the little people and props at Caboose Hobbies in Denver—the Guinness-certified world’s largest model train store—and now crafts detailed dioramas in jars and on jewelry, driftwood and crystals. With titles like “Henri & Evelyn’s Afternoon Stroll” and “Catherine Escapes the City,” Wareing Steele tells stories with dinky actors and stunning landscapes. Also available are greet – ing cards with her original miniature photography, custom dioramas, and build-your-own diorama kits that can be a fun team-building activity. $28 to $76, volume discounts available.

3. Make My Notebook, EDGEWATER
Sara Blette wasn’t satisfied with the selection when she went shopping for a gardening journal in 2007, so she made her own. That simple act has since blossomed into a business that makes custom notebooks that are a cut above what you’ll find at an office supply store. With artistic designs, quality paper and so much aesthetic appeal that it’s difficult to defile one with handwriting, customers choose everything from the size to the cover design to the type of paper. Blette also has made custom notebooks for a wide range of orga – nizations. $9 to $13 for custom notebooks, with volume dis – counts.

4. Johnson & Held Belt Buckles, ENGLEWOOD
Since the early 1970s, Johnson & Held has made a wide range of belt buckles with stock and custom designs from its Denver workshop. The craftspeople create colorful inlays from a wide range of wood, shell and stone, and they are happy to interpret your back-of-the-napkin design into beltbuckle reality. Over the years, the company’s buckles have featured everything from race cars and Colorado flags to corporate logos. $150 to $300, with 25 percent volume dis – count for orders of 10 or more buckles.

5. Phunkshun Gaiters, DENVER
Keep the cold out and the warm in with Phunkshun’s Denverstitched neck gaiters. The flagship product’s double-layered, synthetic fabric construction is moisture wicking, water resis – tant and breathable and also offers sun protection and odor control. Phunkshun also makes a selection of Merino wool scarves and gaiters, as well as custom products for outdoororiented corporate clients, printing photorealistic graphics and high-resolution logos onto the outer shell. Custom neck gai – ters: $10 to $17.50, with volume discounts. 

6. RedCamper Paper Goods and Preserves, DENVER
Born of an old cache of vacation slides, RedCamper started as a humorous greeting card company, mar – rying funny captions with awkward family photos, but the business has since expanded to encompass a line of preserves that pair spirits with fresh fruit, like absinthe and oranges or Colorado whiskey and peaches. The cards, branded US Hwy 89, include such doozies as a tree resting atop a car with the words, “Yes. It makes a sound,” and the small-batch, often seasonal preserves are available in gift sizes. $3 to $15.

7. Syntax Spirits Gift Bottles, GREELEY
Syntax Spirits distills whiskey, rum and vodka from scratch with a farm-to-bottle approach that’s increasingly rare in the industry. The catalog includes a few twists and turns, including Perky Pepper Vodka, which is infused with green chiles, and smooth Devious Vanilla Vodka, featuring the flavor of imported vanilla beans. Available exclu – sively at the distillery’s slick tasting room in Greeley, Syntax’s gift sizes include 50-milliliter shooters and 200-milliliter bottles. $7 to $19 for shooters and gift bottles, with volume discounts.

8. Helliemae’s Caramels, WHEAT RIDGE
Caramel is a confectionery canvas for Helliemae’s, which makes caramel the old-fashioned way—on machines made in France in the 1950s—and adds unexpected contemporary flavors. Take Chili Palmer, with cinnamon and chili, or Whiskey Love Bomb, with whiskey and smoked salt. Other varieties are infused with chai or espresso, and Helliemae’s also makes cara – mel sauces for a sundae kick. $10 per small box to $50 for a sampler.

9. Knotty Tie Co. Ties and Scarves, DENVER
Offering custom-printed, hand-sewn ties and scarves, Knotty Tie has grown by leaps and bounds since it launched in 2013, and the company also has a social mission of employing resettled refugees to help them transition to life in the United States. The company designs and prints in-house and offers bow ties, neckties and several styles of scarves. $20 to $40, with volume discounts.

10. Parametrix3D Sculptures and Accessories, DENVER
What do a tiny scale model of downtown Denver, a nifty planter for flowers or houseplants complete with aeration and overflow protection, and a geometric penholder have in common? 3-D printing. The company behind all three, Parametrix3D is one of Colorado’s first movers for 3-D-printed consumer products. In business since 2014, the company updates its Denver model with the new high-rises as they sprout up around Union Station. $20 to $34.