Although it is probably too late for most of you, I thought I would share some of my favorite gifts...things I have purchased for myself, but in some cases are given to friends....or should be given to friends.
I'll start with the quilting tools and finish with the gardening tools. Last year, around Christmas time, Nancy's notions ran a 25% off their catalog items. Ever since I purchased my Bernina 440, I had been snarling at the light. The light on the machine just wasn't bright enough. I thought that most of the prices on the Bendable Bright Light to be high...in some places I've seen it as much as $49.95. Nancy's Notions has the best price usually with this sale I decided to buy one. Since I carry a second machine to my once a week sewing gathering, I purchase an extra set of brackets to mount it on my other machine. I thought this was brilliant of the Bendable people as the mounts are adhesive not magnetic (a problem for computerized machines which can be negated by the magnets as well as the problem with the fact that most heads are no longer made of iron casings), and this way you could have your light on several different machines, just by switching the light, rather than having to have a light dedicated to each machine.
The light these puppies put out is tremendous. Sometimes I just aim it on the table in front of my machine so I can see what I'm appliqueing or ripping out better. This is certainly one of the best sewing tools I have ever purchased. You can find it at Nancy's Notions right here.
This is a silly little thing that if you ever have to cut perfect circles, I think it is the best. It's Olfa's circle cutter. It has a little rotary cutting wheel on one end and a pin point on the other. You can adjust the arm to make bigger or smaller circles. I've used it on fabric with fusible web and also with fabric backed with freezer paper. You do have to have something backed to it or the thing won't work as well...the fabric is stretchy and the fusible web with paper and the freezer paper does the trick. Is it a must have? Only if you want to do circles or half circles. It cuts circles from 1 7/8" up to 8 1/2" big. It usually retails for $27.99 but frequently goes on sale at Joann Fabrics or one of the other chain stores for 50% off.
This is an odd little thing I purchased years ago at a class I took with Jo Coons. It is called a quilter's lap mate...at least that's what she called it then. It's a birch/maple wooden slant board which makes a little desk or table so that when you're quilting or appliqueing your work is held at exactly the right angle so that you don't hurt your neck. I looked at it and tried it in her class and found that she was right. You can work for hours with this and you won't get sore shoulders or a stiff neck.
At first I thought I would make it myself because it is so simple, but then I decided the angles were such and it was made so well with little spindles for your threads and a lip around the bottom so your thimble, scissors pins or other tools wouldn't roll off was just too nicely done. It's not exactly cheap at $39.95 plus shipping from New York, but let me tell you, I won't be without it. I take it with me to chemo too and while I get my treatments I use it to quilt, write notes and do other stuff.... I think you can only get it from Potpourri Pieces which is Jo's website and store. It is now called the "Needle Artist caddy" but it is a great piece! Look here.
This is another thing I wouldn't live without, although this version is slightly different than mine. This sixth-finger stilletto is almost like the one I bought from Martelli. Martelli doesn't carry it anymore, so I am guessing that he sold this item off because it could be marketed better or something. It isn't terribly expensive, only from $7 - 11, but it also goes on sale. It has a regular stilletto point, but the other end is flattened and knurled. It is wonderful for ironing down applique edges as you can iron right over the top of it. It's also great because it will slide right under your presser foot since it is flat...you can get it right up to the edge of the needle before pulling it out.
This one is is available at a variety of price points. Google it and see where it is the least expensive for your area. I think the best price currently is at Amazon.
I know I have other suggestions and I am likely to add them to another post later.
Now for some gardening tools. Ok...I admit it, I'm a tool junkie. But these are my constant companions and the ones pulled out of my tool bucket most frequently. I've also given tons away as gifts because they are just superb.
My favorite place to get all three of these tools is A. M. Leonard. A. M. Leonard is about 5 miles away from me on the Piqua/Troy border on Ohio State Route 25A. I suppose you can find them elsewhere, but these guys are great and they often have sales or free shipping incentives...and I'm all for promoting things from my area.
It is the soil knife and sheath. I bought one which was actually a Japanese soil knife and I like this one better. Why? Well, the Japanese soil knife (also carried by A. M. Leonard) is slightly longer (not a bad thing) but it has a wooden handle. Guess who lays it down and can't see it on the ground because it has a brown handle? This one with its bright orange handle is easier to see in the garden.
I use this thing constantly, from opening bags of mulch, birdseed, or whatever, to cutting twine, to whacking down Walker's Low Catmint, to digging out dandelions. I just can't live without it and most of the people to whom I have given it as a gift agree. It is really sharp and I recommend buying the sheath with it. I like this one because it has a spring clip on it. As I rarely wear a belt, this is great to clip onto the waistband of my bluejeans or even slip through the empty belt loop, or clip on the side of the bucket I carry my tools around in. The soil knife and sheath combo is $24.95 and you can find it here.
This thing is called a "Handy Weeder/Cultivator". I thought it came in two handle lengths...if it does, choose the longer handle length. This is the sharpest little piece and you really have to be careful, but it is good to scuffle across the top of the soil and get all those pesky little weed seedlings. Good for creepers too. I just love it. It reaches under shrubs and away you go. I think it is a steal at $9.99.
My soil is very heavy, and I often need something to pull out quack grass and other nasty weeds and grasses. This thing is perfectly balanced and the weight is great to whack things out. It isn't the lightest tool in my bucket, but I don't have problems with it, probably because I find the balance so good.
It's called a Mini-tiller and I use both ends...depending on the weed or the soil moisture level. At $16.99 I find it well worth every penny. Works good on improving those middle-age women's arm wings too, if you are so inclined. A darn sight better than hand weights. :) You can find it here.
I hope that this will help you in finding the perfect gift...for you or a friend! (Oh, and please note: None of these photos are mine but are taken from the sales pages to which I've directed you.)