In honour of Shop Local Month, Keep Edmonton Original’s campaign to remind citizens to buy local, I wanted to write a post about my favourite gifts to give, purchased from small businesses based in Edmonton.
For example, I love to give: bottles of en Sante, especially to those who are unaware that Alberta had a cottage fruit wine industry; Gabe Wong’s funky Blockheads, “humanoid paper toys for the people of today” that can be punched out and pieced together without glue; and boxes of Chocophilia samplers from Kerstin’s Chocolates, which must include Mocha Bean and Ecuador 72%.
But then I thought – the more the merrier, especially on a topic as subjective as gift giving. So I canvassed several local personalities for an answer to the following question: “What is your favourite locally-purveyed gift to give or get?” May their answers assist you in your holiday shopping in the coming weeks.
To Give: Really depends on the person, but here are a few:
Standard hostess gift – bottle of en Sante wine, I keep a few on hand for last minute emergencies
For my foodie friends – boxes of local food and specialty items, usually a trip to the Italian Center and the farmers’ market gives me enough variety for a number of gifts. Sometimes a run through Call the Kettle Black will score the perfect gadget to round out the gift. I also like to do a mix of coffees and teas with honey or a nice mug. Transcend, Vitalatea or Cally’s Tea and Lola Canola are good starting points.
Tickets to the Citadel are perfect for people that have all the stuff they need, and would enjoy a night out. Gift cards from Original Fare are great gifts too, as they can let you eat at a number of local restaurants.
Jennifer Crosby, Global Edmonton News Hour Final Anchor and Producer
I like to give people gifts they can use, as well as enjoy. I’m also a big fan of food grown, raised or produced locally, so I often make up packages of unique food items. I love to visit the H & R Farms booth at the Old Strathcona Market for the beautiful jams and relishes. Right now, between my fridge and my gift cupboard I have their Rhubarb Rose Petal jam (one of my favourite to give), Cinnamon-Pembina Plum jam, Cranberry Apple Pear relish, and Corn relish. I’ve mailed away a few different care packages that include the adorable little jars – to rave reviews. Add some local coffee, honey, and pastry, and you’re just bacon and eggs away from a made-in-Edmonton breakfast.
Not sure I can give one ‘favourite’ but we often get gifts from Red Ribbon in High Street. This year though I’m leaning towards gift certificates from Agency III. They’re a local lifestyle management/concierge company. I think I have people who would love having their own personal assistant to create more free time.
My favourite item to give would have to be a box of macarons from Duchess Bake Shop. They’re light, not-too-sweet sweets that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, they come in a million flavours, and they’re adorable. Plus, Duchess wraps them up in gorgeous gold boxes. Perfect.
My favourite item I’ve ever received was a pair of earrings by local jewelry-maker Nicole Salvalaggio. I got them at a Royal Bison fair and they’re beautiful silver drop earrings made with heart-shaped lockets that actually open. A friend of mine drew me a picture to put in one of the hearts. It’s amazing.
My favourite locally purveyed item to give is… the gift of talent and knowledge from the really awesome courses at the City Arts Centre. From guitar to art to wellness, there is something there for everyone and the flexibility is awesome.
My favourite locally purveyed item to get is… one of those fancy coffee machines that they have at Leva Cafe on 111th. I’ve never been given one but would love one. So if someone out there really loves me this December… *hint*
Jeff Samsonow, Editor-in-Chef and News Director for The Edmontonian
Something local that I love is Geekware. Nicola Harper has taken our e-waste and turned it into fun, funky accessories. I have a fantastic circuit board business card holder from the collection. It’s locally sourced and locally produced. She’s got the website and is at a lot of craft fairs. (We met her when she had a table beside Sally [also of the Edmontonian] at one such fair.)
If you’re looking for stores alone, we’re big fans of The Tin Box for interesting, helpful and even wacky stuff.
Sarah Bourque, the creative behind the adorable monsters of Belua Designs
My favourite gift to receive (or to treat myself) would have to be a hat from Sugar Soul Studios. I already own 3 but they are so fabulous I need more! They are universally flattering and are made from amazing fabrics. I think I need one for every outfit 🙂
Jeff Haslam, actor and Artistic Director of Teatro la Quindicina
I love love love to give or receive gift certificates from wither of my two fave Strathcona restaurants… Both family run and completely local: Gino’s Italian Kitchen (great Italian fare just south of the Varscona on Calgary Trail… Grandma is still cooking in the kitchen), and Culina (the Mill Creek branch, amazing food – a great brunch – and wonderful service too).
Dave Cournoyer, popular political blogger
My favourite local gift to give and receive is the jam made by the Strathcona Country Kitchen. I first discovered their jams at the 104th Street Farmers Market downtown this summer and I now fill up with their Raspberry Red or Strawberry Rhubarb jam whenever possible. Their jams are excellent with multigrain toast and organic peanut butter. It really is great jam.
Alex Abboud, Executive Assistant to Councillor Kim Krushell
To get – as someone who is gluten-intolerant, I like pretty much anything from local gluten-free food maker Kinnikinnick. While some of their products (and those of other companies such as Glutino) are readily available in grocery stores, the selection at their Edmonton factory store far exceeds that of anywhere else.
To give – I’ve started giving prints of photos I’ve taken. The frames are almost certainly not locally-purveyed, but the photos usually are. Otherwise, I also like to give concert or theatre tickets (or if the recipient is someone with a busy schedule, gift certificates for the Winspear or Citadel).
Nate Box, chef and operator of the forthcoming Elm Cafe
– PORK: Only once in my life has a friend been so confident in how well they know me, that they purchased not one, but two pork tenderloins for me as a gift. I took it out of the bag and was (I kid you not) overjoyed! But it doesn’t have to be tenderloin, just about any pork gets me excited. Irvings Farm Fresh product is definitely on the top of my wish list.
– MUSIC: Blackbyrd Myoozik gift certificates are also at the top of my gift list.
– CLOTHES: The girls at Nokomis are always more than helpful when it comes to finding a something unique for my wife. They usually present three of four things, I narrow it to one, and then sneak it under the tree.
– COFFEE: Most holiday meals, especially Christmas morning, my mom or sisters (whoever is hosting breakfast) usually receives a pound of coffee from Transcend.
– MOVIES: Tickets to the Garneau or Princess are also up their on the giveaways. I’m always amazed at the number of friends and family that have “been before, but it’s been years”.
Sarah Chan, chic city cycling advocate and blogger
My favourite locally-purveyed item to give or get is Transcend coffee. Their shop smells delicious, the people are divine, and the only setback was their location. I’ll just say that biking on 99 street isn’t all that inspiring. However, this will be remedied with their new location! I’ll be able to enjoy their beans with just a short bike or bus ride. Two of my favourite things, together at last.
A shopping opportunity…
To help you get started (or finish) your Christmas shopping, Jenna Herbut, the organizer of the upcoming Make It Fair (December 11-13 at the Alberta Aviation Museum), has generously provided me with 10 pairs of tickets to the craft show to give away. It looks like it will be a great show, with over 100 designers in attendance offering unique gift ideas.
If you are interested in attending, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address below (in the e-mail address field, not the comment itself) by noon on December 5. I will randomly select five names and contact the winners by e-mail on December 6.