Are you tired of giving the same old gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays? It's time to think outside the box and surprise your loved ones with something truly unique. Whether you're shopping for a friend, family member, or significant other, these gift ideas are sure to impress. Plus, by shopping small businesses, either in person or on-line, you'll be supporting entrepreneurs and artisans who offer not made in a factory items. Just like the 12 Days of Christmas, I have 12 fab gift giving ideas, so let's dive in and discover the perfect gift for your special someone! I've even added a few of my favourite shopping places to get you going.
1. Handmade Jewelry
Instead of opting for mass-produced accessories, why not choose a one-of-a-kind (or just "a-few-of-kind") piece of handmade jewelry? Local artisans put their hearts and souls into creating unique designs that will make any outfit stand out. From delicate necklaces to statement earrings, you're sure to find something that matches your fashionista friend's style perfectly.
2. Handmade Artwork
Add a touch of creativity to your loved one's home or yard with a piece of handmade artwork. Visit local art galleries, the local arts council or browse online platforms that support independent artists. Don't forget to look for local crafters. I’ve seen some amazing artistic creations! Whether it's a painting, sculpture, or paper craft, you'll find a wide range of unique and affordable options. In my area we have an amazing chainsaw carver who does incredible sculptures big and small from found wood or right on your property; beautiful and eco-friendly BoisLuxe, serving the Quinte and Prince Edward County areas. I also just discovered a very talented artist Angela Jane Lavender. “Angela is a mixed media artist whose vibrant artwork is an expressive dance of colour and intricate line work”. Her work is beautiful! My daughter introduced me to a Toronto artist, Hayley at Moon Eyes Art. Her art style is cute, whimsical and magical. She is inspired by nature, tarot, astrology, fungi, and – most of all – cats!
3. Experiential Gifts
Instead of giving a physical item, why not create lasting memories with an experiential gift? Treat your loved one to a cooking class, spa day, or an evening at the theatre. Maybe you are going to go with the recipient - a great way for some together time! These are also great for all of those hard to buy for parents who seem to have it all! Maybe mom and dad need an evening out, on you? How about trying out a Mirvish production in Toronto or local to me show Empire Theatre in Belleville or one in Tweed called Tweed & Company. Order gift cards if you’re unsure if tastes and availability.
4. Date Night
How about some gift cards that will take the recipient out for a date night. This could be for your sister and her husband, your cousin and significant other, or even your spouse. A gift card to a special restaurant on its own or if you are particularly flush, paired up with a show at the local movie house or theatre group can be a lovey gift. All can usually be done with gift cards so you don't have to worry about schedules and preferences. I can show you how to make those gift cards extra special - presentation is everything.
5. For the Eco-Warrior: Earth Friendly Products
Give the aspiring or already committed eco-warrior in your life a gift that lines up with his or her green values. Everyday, small businesses are popping up to do what’s right for our planet and for us. From laundry to beauty to dental to food packaging, small businesses are saving the planet.
I've been an eco-warrior for many years and I’d like to share a few of my favourites! For the kitchen, you can get clean and waste free beeswax food wraps by Abeego in Victoria, British Columbia. For your dental needs you can get waste free toothbrushes from Nada Toothbrush in Dundas, ON. These are beautiful anodized aluminum handled toothbrushes that you keep for life, and the replaceable brush heads are sent back for recycling. For a variety of better for us and the planet products ranging from beauty products to candles to crayons, try Renewed Essentials from Iroquois, ON.
6. Handcrafted Home Décor
Add a touch of uniqueness to your loved one's living space with handcrafted home décor. Look for local artisans who specialize in ceramics, woodworking, or textiles. From vases and candle holders to wall hangings and pillows, there's something for every taste and style.
7. For the Foodie: Gourmet Food and Drink
Indulge your loved one's taste buds with gourmet food and drink. Visit local specialty food stores or order from small-batch producers online. From artisanal chocolates and craft beers to exotic spices and organic teas, there's a world of flavours waiting to be explored. It's a delicious way to support local food producers and give your loved one a taste of the region. My favourite picks: for some beautifully blended teas and accessories is Firebelly Tea in Ottawa, ON; for delicious, handcrafted sustainably sourced chocolate Hummingbird Chocolate Maker in Almonte, ON is the one that satisfies my sweet tooth; and for wonderful, sustainably produced Prince Edward County wines, Closson & Chase in Hillier, ON; cheers!
8. For the Coffee Connoisseur: Local Coffee Shop
If your loved one can't start their day without a cup of joe, a gift card to his or her favourite coffee shop for a month or more is lovely. (I can make that gift card look extra special; ask me how). Some of these shops even roast and blend their own varieties and make them available for home use so you can purchase those for under the tree as well. As a bonus, many of these shops provide wonderful treats to go with the coffee - a win/win for sure - nothing beats a coffee and a treat. Not only will your recipient enjoy a delicious cup of coffee for as many days as you fill the card up, but he or she will be supporting a local small business. One of my favourite "local to me" spots is the Grind & Vine as it also dabbles in wine and hosts cool events too.
9. Personalized Stationery & Greeting Cards
In this digital age, personalized stationery is a unique and thoughtful gift. Look for local printers who offer custom designs. You can have notepads, journals, or even personalized pens made. This gift is perfect for those who love to write, doodle, or simply appreciate beautiful stationery. You can also purchase a collection of handmade greeting cards from a local card maker for your recipient to share with others… perfect for birthdays, holidays thank you’s or just because. It's like the gift that keeps on giving. Nothing beats handmade kindness.
10. Handmade or Small Batch Bath and Body Products
Treat your loved one to a spa-like experience with handmade or small batch bath and body products. Look for local artisans or small companies who create natural soaps, bath bombs, and body scrubs. These products are not only luxurious but also free from harsh chemicals, making them perfect for sensitive skin. A few of may favourites include a small Canadian company helping people make good choices for their skin called Ground Soap in Cornwall, ON. Great ingredients and glorious scents!. Another of my faves is Birch Babe from Northbrook, ON. This business makes hand made low waste and sustainable beauty products and has just recently, launched a clean line of baby products. Yay them!
11. For the Fitness Enthusiast: Personal Training Sessions
Help your fitness enthusiast friend reach his/her goals by gifting some personal training sessions. Maybe there is someone at your recipient's gym who takes on clients or look for free lance local trainers who offer customized workout plans and one-on-one coaching. It's a gift that not only supports their fitness journey but also shows that you care about their well-being.
12. For the DIY Enthusiast: Craft Workshop
If your friend loves getting his/her hands dirty and creating something from scratch, gift a craft workshop experience. Many local studios offer workshops in pottery, woodworking, crafting or painting. Even local coffee shops are getting in on the action offering up their locations for local artisans to share their skills with newbies. Provide that someone on your list with a chance to learn a new skill and create something to proudly display in his or her home or share.
With these gift giving suggestions, you'll never run out of ideas for special occasions. Remember, the most important thing is to choose a gift that reflects the recipient's interests and personality. Put some thought into it, and you're guaranteed to bring a smile to their faces and create lasting memories. So, the next time you're searching for the perfect gift, consider these unique suggestions. By shopping small businesses, you'll not only find one-of-a-kind items, or small batch items but also support our entrepreneurs and artisans. Happy gift-giving!