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Souvenirs and mementos – they’re a great way to recall the memories of your trip to Lancaster County. Or you may want to bring something home to your loved ones. Here are some ideas of the 10 best Amish gifts and Amish souvenirs from Pennsylvania’s Dutch country.
Best Amish Gifts & Amish Souvenirs
The quintessential Amish gift has to be a hand-sewn quilt. Both Amish and Mennonite women traditionally make the quilts that are gifted for special events. Quilts have become quintessentially American. Unlike the mass-produced quilts, these are lovingly made by hand, one at a time. The intricate patterns and details are fantastic, especially considering the planning and precise attention to detail that goes into each one. They’re truly a work of art!
2. Handcrafted Items
If the price of a quilt is a bit intimidating, consider buying a smaller handcrafted item, including a quilted or hand-made item. Found in stalls along many markets such as the Bird-in-Hand or Lancaster Central Market, Amish women sell their handmade items. In addition to things like pot holders or mittens, consider a microwave bowl holder or a baked potato bag (used to cook your baked potato in the microwave). These small items make a great thank-you gift for someone back home. Or look for other handcrafted items, such as candles or other decorative items.
3. Straw Hats
Worn by Amish men and boys, straw hats protect their heads from the sun. A proper straw hat is made by hand by an Amish woman. The woven straw bands are woven together tightly, making for a quality hat that lasts for years. The inside should contain a sweat-wicking band with a black ribbon and bow on the outside rim. Whether you choose to buy it to keep the sun off someone’s head or as a decorative item, a straw hat is a great Amish gift.
Are you looking for a family heirloom or a piece of furniture to last for generations? An Amish-made piece of furniture makes the perfect gift or souvenir. Made by hand, the craft of furniture-making passes from generation to generation. With an eye to detail and pride in quality work, each piece will be made to order if desired. Stores like Peaceful Valley Amish Furniture in Intercourse carefully wrap each piece of furniture to fit it in your car to take it home.
5. Bird Houses
Anyone driving through PA Dutch country notices the great birdhouses in everyone’s yard. What’s the deal? Amish homes do not use electricity, so they don’t sit around watching TV or binge-watching Netflix or surfing the internet. Instead, the Amish admire and appreciate the environment. A birdhouse, some of which are extravagant, brings nature closer to their homes. A side benefit is that birds control the insect population. Gifting a birdhouse means someone can create a joyous oasis in their yard, where singing birds can be admired, and their helpfulness is appreciated.
Another popular form of American folk art is the Amish rag dolls, traditionally made from old, worn-out clothing. The dolls typically feature boys and girls in traditional garb. What sets them apart from the usual dolls is their lack of faces — they have no eyes, lips, noses, etc. Traditionally, the lack of faces reinforces the Amish belief that we are all equal in God’s eyes. These dolls make great collectors’ items or a gift for a younger child.
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7. Wooden Toys
The Amish skills as woodworkers carry forward to making toys for their children. Think of traditional wooden toys like train sets, houses, barns, etc. But if you’re looking for a wooden toy that serves as both a toy and a decorative item, consider purchasing a wooden buggy and horse set. They look great on a shelf!
8. Shoofly Pie
Shoofly pie, or shoo-fly pie, is an item included on our Amish foods to try in PA Dutch Country, makes an ideal gift if you’ll be giving it as soon as you return. The shoofly pie consists of a pie crust filled with a mix of molasses, flour, brown sugar, egg, and water, topped with crumbs. You’ll want the wet version, in which the molasses mixture hasn’t set, making it closer to a custard consistency rather than a coffee cake. While this traditionally has been a breakfast item, it is now found on many restaurants’ dessert menu.
9. Whoopie Pies
A more available food item to gift, especially as a little something for someone you’ll see soon after your return, is the famous whoopie pie. The original whoopie pie consists of two chocolate cake batter cookies sandwiching a creamy white filling, either a sweet cream or icing. Since then, flavors and variations have expanded, offering an almost endless variety of colors and flavors. Red velvet and chocolate chip are popular variations, with seasonal flavors like pumpkin or sweet potato making an appearance.
Newer versions include fillings like peanut butter and other flavors. Some more modern whoopie pie versions have flavors like Key Lime Pie and many more. The popular eatery Shady Maple, included in our places to eat Amish food in Lancaster, even hosts a Whoopie Pie Celebration in September each year, featuring over 35 different versions of the whoopie pie! They’re an easy and fun little gift.
10. Preserved Foods
Since the Amish do not use electricity, they do not store their surplus food from the summer into the winter months by putting it in a freezer (though some have gas-powered refrigerators) Instead, they have perfected preserving foods through canning and dehydrating foods. Visitors to the area can select items such as pickled vegetables, jellies, jams, or jarred versions of soups or meals, with a cute little label giving instructions for the recipient to prepare or use the item. This is an excellent alternative for those driving within the US unless you plan on putting these in your checked luggage if you’re flying within the US.
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What Amish Souvenir Are You Bringing Home?
There are so many Amish gifts options to bring home from your trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country! We hope you enjoy your memories for a long time and choose to come back again for more visits. The positivity and peacefulness alone make it a great area to visit. You can find many of these gifts at Dutch Haven in Ronks, PA.
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Annick, The Common Traveler