2020 Local Canadian and U.S. Gift Guide
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have sharpened our focus to hone in on what truly matters most to us. We've collectively come up with some wildly creative ways to maintain our most important relationships and we've done some serious housekeeping – both literally and emotionally. Modern organization guru Marie Kondo has unexpectedly played a big role, becoming a major inspiration as people increasingly take a hard look at the things that "spark joy" in their lives.
As you finish up your shopping for the special people on your holiday gift-giving list this season, think about what sparks joy for them, keeping in mind that our fondest and most enduring memories are directly connected to our experiences.
Whether it's a hand-stitched blanket they could use at the beach or around a campfire, an artisan coffee mug to make their morning ritual just a bit sweeter, or a gift certificate to a restaurant they've been wanting to try, you'll find unique, special, joyful gifts at small local businesses. Plus, when you shop at independently-owned local small businesses, you're actually giving more than one gift. In addition to checking something off your gift list, you're contributing to giving the business the gift of keeping its doors open. Where you choose to open your wallet matters, now more than ever before.
Small businesses truly are the lifeblood of our communities. We are trying to do our part to ensure they can continue to add to the character and energy that makes our towns and neighborhoods special and unique. To that end, we've compiled a list to round out your holiday shopping. Every company listed is a small, local business in a community where one of our hotels is located. We're shining a light on them in the hopes that they come out strong on the other side of this pandemic.
The gift of self-care is always appreciated, and perhaps this year more than ever before. One Little Elf's signature product, the Felted Soap Exfoliator, is self-care in an adorable, functional, and innovative package. As the soap gets used, its Merino wool "envelope" shrinks along with it, acting as a built-in washcloth for exfoliating.
Photo Courtesy of One Little Elf
This one's for the foodies on your list. Downtown Vancouver's Dirty Apron is a deli-market hybrid and cooking school owned by husband-wife team David and Sara Robertson. You can gift cooking classes or gift cards, or have food delivered from the deli. Chef David has also put out two widely celebrated cookbooks, Dirty Apron Cookbook and Gather.
Located inside the Fort Langley National Historic Site, Sxwimele Boutique and Gifts sells unique, handcrafted indigenous gifts and souvenirs. We especially love the Pacific Umbrella, each of which is designed by Coast Salish artists. You can also purchase gift cards.
Funktional celebrates all things local in the Okanagan Valley. The vibrant shop opened back in 2001 and offers a thoughtfully-edited selection of gifts, home decor, jewelry, and more. Everything in the shop is Canadian-made, and there's a special focus on British Columbia artists and makers.
One of the only things that could make a gift purchased from a small local business even better is if it's environmentally-friendly. West Coast Wax Wraps check all the boxes. These innovative reusable wraps provide a much more sustainable alternative to plastic wrap and aluminum foil. They're made with locally-sourced North Saanich beeswax and 100% cotton, and the company is offering free "doorstep delivery" throughout Greater Victoria.
Family business Mussels and More Pottery is going on 50 years in Campbell River. The well-established shop makes gorgeous, unique home decor items, plus a variety of metalwork products. As its name implies, the shop's collections are inspired by coastal living.
Nanaimo's Bread + Clutter Books bills itself as a "kid + adult bookstore" and its books are refreshingly fun and modern. Author-illustrator Lindsay Ford's mission is to start a conversation about mental with her books. The Awkward+Awesome series is a standout, and she also does custom work.
Farmers' markets are wonderful for finding unique gifts while also getting fresh locally-sourced produce and providing the local economy a little boost. This year the Revelstoke Winter Market is held every second Thursday from 12:00 - 5:00 PM – conveniently during ski season. There are countless great finds so you can enjoy delicious foods and souvenirs from your visit., Not included in the market this year, but we especially love this local stained glass Begbie Bear from MTN Made Studio which can be purchased in-store (available for curbside pick-up) at The Annex.
Photo Courtesy of MTN Made
Family-owned Hapa Threads specializes in making toques, close-fitting knitted hats, by hand. Many people refer to these winter hats as beanies, but whatever you call them – they're adorable and functional, making the perfect gift for just about anyone. Hapa Threads makes other knit winter accessories as well, including popular headbands.
Anto Yukon was born in Whitehorse out of a deep love for nature and all of its products reflect that. Its small-batch-created soap and body care products are ethically and sustainably created, and they're gorgeous, too. Each bar of soap is hand-wrapped by artist Meghan Hildebrand, who grew up in Whitehorse.
Anything handcrafted makes a wonderful gift, but PROJECT A has an especially neat story that makes its goodies even more gift-able. The now-permanent Canmore shop started as a popup for emerging Canadian artists in 2015 and everything is handcrafted. This should be your go-to for a very well-curated selection of home decor, fashion, art, and jewelry.
Who doesn't love a great upcycle? Heartstrings Jewelry partners with local Edmonton music stores to repurpose guitar strings and other metals that can't be recycled. They become beautiful, understated, unexpectedly elegant jewelry pieces for both men and women.
Located in Seattle, glassybaby makes a variety of unique hand-blown glass gifts including candle holders and glassware. The company's tagline is "votive with a motive" because $3 from every single sale is given to the glassybaby foundation, which partners with local non-profit organizations to help the planet, as well as people and animals in need.
In the fiercely competitive cosmetics industry, Bésame Cosmetics stands out for being cruelty-free and "historically-inspired." The Burbank, California-based company was founded by Gabriela Hernandez in 2004 and remains a 100% family-run business. All ingredients and products are sourced and made in California.
Photo Courtesy of Besame Cosmetics