Shop Local Month 2010: Favourite Gifts to Give or Get

I haven’t really begun my Christmas shopping yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it! Things I’m leaning towards this year: treats from Duchess Bake Shop and Jacek Chocolate Couture; wine from Barr Estate Winery; or, like we did last year, baskets of locally-sourced products.

With Shop Local Month coming to a close, but the gift-getting-and-giving season just ramping up, I thought it might be helpful to collect ideas from a few city personalities, similar to last year. I asked them:

What is your favourite locally-purveyed gift to give or get?

I hope their answers will help you with your own shopping!

Garner Beggs, co-owner of Duchess Bake Shop

StylusI would have to say a beautiful fountain pen or some ink from Stylus at 10538 102 Avenue.  I’ve got more than a bit of a pen fetish and Stylus, besides having amazingly friendly and knowledgeable staff, has the most ridiculous number of inks I’ve ever seen crammed into one shop.  Plus their selection of writing utensils in general is superb. 



Tamara Stecyk, Special Events and Community Relations for the Edmonton Food Bank

I’ve always loved bakeries. Fresh bread can be so comforting and I love to treat myself to the apple caramel bread from Prairie Mill. It’s a great gift as well because the flavour is different than any other bread that I’ve tasted and others who have shared this sweet doughy pleasure with me agree.

I also recommend buying one or both of local writer Debby Waldman’s children’s books. Clever Rachel has riddles that even adults can enjoy. A Sack Full of Feathers teaches kids why it’s not a good idea to spread gossip.

Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal Food Writer

Winter MarketI have to say that local cheese is my new favourite gift. A recent visit to Paddy’s (or Everything Cheese if you live in the south west) left me with three great ideas for locally-inspired hostess gifts over Christmas. Take a piece of St. Maure (by Holly Gale of Smoky Valley Goat Cheese) a chunk of pecorino (by The Cheesiry‘s Rhonda Headon) and a sizeable bite of Grizzly from Sylvan Star Gouda. Put them into a basket with a jar of preserves by The Jam Lady (available at Uncle Ed’s Restaurant or Bon Ton Bakery while the City Market is closed for the season) and a loaf of fresh bread from Tree Stone Bakery (baguettes are great, but they are long and might look funny sticking out of your basket). You are sure to be praised as the best guest ever at your next Christmas party.

Kendall Barber, marketer and blogger

RefineryThis holiday season wrap up the gift of handmade with gifted and talented Edmontonians.

For design lovers or aspiring chefs, give a solid maple or walnut cutting and charcuterie boards handcrafted by Geoffrey Lilge. Available at Zocalo (10826 – 95 Street) or 29 Armstrong (10129 104 Street).

Give some sparkle with handmade jewelry from So Pretty. Absolutely adoring the rose gold collection for those hard-to-buy-for-gals on my list. Purchase online or at Coup Garment Boutique (#101 10137 104 Street).

Show up to your next holiday soiree with a hostess gift from g l a s s . f u l. These hand blown, tripled layered, coloured glass votives can be used as candleholder, vase, drinking glass or centerpiece. At only $30 a glass votive, these will be my go-to holiday gift.

Kids on my list will be reading all about jam with The Jam Story line-up of books from local illustrator Sarah Jackson. The adorable books teach important lessons on self-acceptance and realizing your tastiliciousness. Available at the Art Gallery of Alberta gift shop.

Omar Mouallem, editor, writer and rapper

FridgetNo Edmonton woman is at her full potential of coolness without a piece of clothing by Fridget Apparel. Her line is a little 50s, a little mod, a little revolution.

And to add some animal or leafy charm to your life, I adore the felt anthropomorphized animals and hairpins by craft-ster Bevan Kovitz and her Trial By Fiber company.

Kat Danser, musician

I recently received a lovely gift of a massage at Prana Holistic. This business is owned by a mother/daughter team who are committed to the community and environment as well as providing a nurturing, professional atmosphere. My professional life as a musician means that I must commit to health and wellness. Creativity relies on a relaxed mind and body so that one’s spiritual essence can guide the way. The more out of my ego/mind self I am, the greater success I have in communicating  musical meaning. I plan to return to Prana Holistic many times in the future so that I can expand my body knowledge and nurture myself. A lovely gift to receive and to give.

Gerbera daisies are my absolutely favourite flowers! When I first came upon La Piazza Dasee, I realized that something special was happening in that business. The calm environment, the care and attention of the creative flower artists and the value are outstanding. Whether sending beautiful flowers for to myself or to others, La Piazza Dasee is the only flower shop for me.

Valerie Lugonja, food blogger

Art Gallery of AlbertaI will be giving gifts from La Fourchette this year as I love the back story on this young foursome and their little funky flattened silverware markers that I first found at City Market downtown.

I will also be giving memberships for the Art Gallery of Alberta to my daughters as supporting our local art community is so important.

The last gift I will be giving is the gift of learning how to cook and bake through a gift certificate to a cooking class at my new business partnership with Maria: Taste Tripping.

I would love to get a gift of a donation made on my behalf to go to The Boys and Girl’s Club of Edmonton or to the Edmonton Food Bank. It is a time for me to give back and when someone wants to give me a gift, I ask that they keep these two very needy and incredibly important organizations in mind.

Jerry Aulenbach, realtor and bacon enthusiast

Bacon stuffies by @Evieheartsmilo. They are hand made, cute, cuddly, awesome, and bacon! Available as a muppet or a simple pillowy stuffy.

Bruce Clarke, photographer

CredoCoffee – you can’t go wrong with just about any coffee product from either Transcend or Credo. Gift cards are always nice too.

AGA Membership – I’ve visited the new Art Gallery of Alberta more times in it’s first year of being open than I ever visited in all the previous years combined so I think a gift of a one-year membership would make an amazing gift to give or receive.

Hats – Headcase on Whyte Ave has a great selection of funky hats for men and women. As a man with a growing forehead, I’m learning to appreciate hats more and more.

Cosmetics – for the lady in your life, check out Lady Venom Cosmetics. Gina Cicero is an amazing makeup artist from Edmonton who has created her own line of high quality cosmetics.

Adam Rozenhart, Social Media Specialist and Podcaster

MoCupcakeYEGBoy, this is really a tough question. And I hate to default to something so common as what I’m about to suggest, but over the last five or so years, Edmonton’s food and beverage scene has grown by leaps and bounds.

If I had to give a gift from the local food scene, it would probably have to be a selection of fine roasted coffees from Edmonton’s very own local roasterie, Transcend Coffee. The boys and girls at Transcend have coffee bean roasting down to a T (pardon the ironic pun, if you’re reading this out loud). But more than that, they get what it means to be a local business. They’re active in social media, they love chatting with customers, and they also chat with competitors like the folks at Café Haven in Sherwood Park, and Nate Box over at Elm Café.

The holiday season is about staying warm and spending time with family. And nothing beats a delicious cup of coffee to help facilitate both.

Cindy Lazarenko, owner of Culina Highlands

Kerstin's ChocolatesKerstin’s Chocolates! One year I received a gift basket with chocolate, book, coffee etc. wrapped beautifully, they do a great job there.

I love macarons from Duchess! Especially the salted caramel.

Also Callys Teas (8608 99 Street), her teas are so good and she sells these great little colored brown betty type teapots with basket inside, we use them at the restaurant.

Ryan Jespersen, Host of CityTV’s Breakfast Television

NotablesMy wife (Kari Skelton) and I are big fans of “the experience,” so we try to give out-of-towners gifts that provide an opportunity to visit and learn a little bit about Edmonton. In past, we’ve gifted “itineraries” – weekends built around an Oilers game, a show at the Citadel (especially A Christmas Carol!), the Edmonton Indy or even the Ice on Whyte festival. A weekend in the capital city isn’t complete without a visit to one of our excellent independent restaurants, so we’re sure to include a stop at one of our favourites – Madison’s Grill, the Blue Plate Diner, Koutouki, Lux Steakhouse or Delux Burger Bar. Presentation-wise, it’s tough to beat the offerings at Notables Stationers. We’ve designed custom Christmas cards with their talented staff in past (and the hand-made wrapping paper is sure to impress). And for that person that seems to have everything, we’ve always found something special at La Piazza Dasee. Their team pushes floral design to a whole new level and their expanded location just south of Whyte Avenue has a great selection of unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else!

Make sure to check out Lightside Photography’s blog, featuring 30 local businesses over 30 days, for even more ideas!

Shop Local Month: Favourite Gifts to Give or Get

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.

Jessie Radies, co-owner of The Blue Pear, and founder of Keep Edmonton Original

To receive: anything from Lux Beauty is awesome; spa gift certificates from Tonic; and Notables has a great line called Russell and Hazel that I love.

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.

For the hard-to-buy-for man – A monthly Beer Subscription from Sherbrook Liquor Store

For people I know well, gift certificates for Yoga, Integration Pilates or Pause Massage.

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.

Cary Williams, financial advisor for Edward Jones and co-chair of Edmonton Next Gen

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.

Jennifer Fong, staff writer for the Edmonton Journal and creator of the “52 reasons to love Edmonton”  series

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.

Michael Janz, Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues

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

To receive:
– 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.

To give:
– 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.

Good luck!