If you are like Mack, you probably won’t think about holiday shopping until approximately December 22, but if you are like me, you are probably starting to feel that creeping feeling of stress that seems to go hand in hand with this time of the year.
Although I recognize that the holidays are about more than material goods, the reality for most of us is that we want to show our loved ones how much we appreciate them with a thoughtfully-chosen gift.
So in honour of Shop Local First Month, I’ve again compiled some gift recommendations from local personalities. I hope you find their answers to the question below as helpful as I have!
What is your favourite locally-purveyed item to give or get?
Mary Bailey, Publisher of The Tomato
We are fortunate to have several top-notch chocolateries in Edmonto: Cococo, Sweet Lollapalooza, Chocolate Exquisite, Chocophilia bars, Peter Johner and Jacek. But, if I had to pick only one sweet gift it would be the chocolate-covered cherries by Cococo. The combination of high-quality dark chocolate with spirity syrup surrounding the slightly chewy cherry on the stem is a seasonal favourite. Fresh BC Bing cherries are shipped from the Okanagan in season, then immersed in brandy for about two months. The spiked cherries are dipped in fondant, followed by a coating of Cococo couverture chocolate. During the curing, the brandy dissolves the fondant, leaving the cherry surrounded by sweet and mellow brandy. Delish!
Edmonton-based research and development chef Brad Smoliak has introduced an addictive condiment called Bacon by Brad — a sweet/savoury blend of bacon made from Alberta-raised pork, onions, maple syrup and spices, similar in texture to a jam or marmalade. Slather on a burger, layer puff pastry for a quick and easy hors d’oeuvre, or eat it on your toast. Find it on the deli counter at Save-On Foods, and at kitchenbybrad.ca.
Amy Shostak, Artistic Director of Rapid Fire Theatre
One Christmas, my baba asked for a corn broom to sweep the snow. I searched high and low, and finally found some from the Holden Colony at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market. Their brooms are seriously sturdy, with some old-school charm (not to mention the vendor asked me if I was a witch and needed it to fly away). They also have beautiful deerhide mittens for sale, and I picked some up for my Dad.
I have an awesome hand-dyed bag from Veekee Workshop (artist Victoria Wiercinski) that I found at The Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair. It is practical, yet flashy, and I think any of her hand-dyed objects are beautiful gifts to give and to get.
Ed Fong, owner of deVine Wines and Spirits
Being a person who loves and appreciates food, cooking and wine, I tend to surround myself with people who share the same passion. So, I would gladly give or happily accept gift certificates from the following locally owned businesses:
Tops on my list would be sending someone or dining at Corso 32. Just the thought of sinking my teeth into one of Chef Daniel Costa’s arancini filled with mushrooms, fontina cheese and red cabbage is enough to bring me closer to heaven. Second on my list is a trip to the Red Ox Inn for their decadent pork belly appetizer followed by the bacon wrapped pork loin. Double pork!
For the people on my list looking for cool kitchen supplies, I would give them a chance to check out my friends at Call the Kettle Black. I would send cookbook lovers over to the shelves of Audrey’s Books.
Food would not be the same without bottles of great wine. Hate to blow my own horn, but I’d send all my wine loving friends over to see me at deVine Wines & Spirits. We can help you find some great vino to pair with your special meal, cool beers and premium spirits.
Bruce Bevan, Economic Development Officer with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
You should never give what you wouldn’t be happy to get and you can never go wrong with good food or wine. The Italian Centre in Little Italy is part of my regular Saturday morning shopping routine and the Beemster’s Extra-Aged Gouda is to die for; a great gift to go with port during those cold winter evenings. deVine Wines and Spirits (which is located in my favourite part of Edmonton – 104 Street downtown) is where I purchase my holiday libations and my latest discovery is a Portuguese Sparkling Rosé called Fita Preta “Sexy”; goes great with turkey.
Jeanie Andronyk, Co-organizer of The Royal Bison and metalsmith
I always recommend The Royal Bison for unique gifts (natch) but there are a billion awesome places all around Edmonton. You can never go wrong with music. Listen Records has everything for even the pickiest of music lovers; most of which you can buy on vinyl. Sweets are also a win, so if someone you love has a sweet tooth, buy them some roasted coconut marshmallows from Duchess Bakery. For the minimalist who is not a fan of presents, I recommend going to Padmanadi‘s Vegetarian Restaurant for a delicious I-can’t-even-tell-it’s-not-actually-meat treat!
Graham Hicks, Weekly Dish Columnist for the Edmonton Sun
Christmas drives me a little nuts as I don’t like shopping but like to give useful, meaningful gifts to the special people in my life, but can never think of a useful, meaningful gift to give.
Solution: Buy a bunch of one or two cute little gifties, to which can be attached gift certificates for favourite, locally-owned, community-minded restaurants (I’d send anybody to Tzin, Dadeo’s, Parkallen or New Asian Village).
For cute little gifties in the $10 to $15 range, I head to farmer’s markets for inspiration, or gift shops at public institutions like The Art Gallery of Alberta, Muttart, Royal Alberta Museum or TELUS World of Science.
I’m thinking this year of small bottles of gourmet oils, specialty salts or unusual vinegars – from Evoolution, Italian Centre, high-end canola from Mighty Trio or truffle oil from Mo-Na, Sunterra or Planet Organic. That’s the kind of gift I like to get!
Janis Galloway, Fashion Blogger
One of the best gifts I ever received was a custom-made dress from local designer Bridget Smatlan of Fridget Apparel. It was a truly thoughtful present that allowed me to be included in the process of making something I absolutely cherish today. It wasn’t just an item, it was an experience too. This is great gift idea for the real fashionista in your life and a fabulous way to support local entrepreneurs.
I also love perusing the local craft/artisan markets that are plentiful this time of year. The Royal Bison is my fave and great for finding made-with-love gifts such as the beautiful crocheted scarves of The Pretty Knotty Sweatshoppe, uniquely flavoured treats from Heritage Baked Goods (perfect for the vegan in your life), and the charmingly crafted jewelry and vintage finds of Chaos and the Dark.
When I’m shopping for friends, I really try and embrace the November Shop Local trend! If you need some sassy cards and unique items, look no further than The Artworks, which I’m lucky to be located close to for work. Know someone who likes to display photos, send mail, journal, or more? Notables is the greatest when it comes to stationary. Know someone who likes kitchen supplies? You really can’t go wrong with Call The Kettle Black. Hop across the parking lot to the Tin Box on High Street for two floors of jewellery, funky hats, awesome toys for children and adult children in your life and some great Christmas decor as well! Looking for more knick knacks or home decor? You should cross the street and talk to the ladies at Henry’s Purveyor of Fine Things. Have a geeky friend? Stop by Wizards Comics on 109 Street and talk to Brandon. He can find a comic for anyone. You’ll also find a great selection of board games too! Although, if you have a really big board game fanatic I suggest heading to Mission Fun and Games in St. Albert – as an added bonus, their new location looks like a castle. And if you want to find unique items from local Edmontonians – head to The Carrot on Alberta Avenue. Grab a warm drink and look through the jewelry, crafts, and artistic works – and on November 24th they’re having an Arts Bazaar from 9:30 – 4:30pm. I realize I have listed a lot of places, but if you’re like me there aren’t very many one-stop-shops for your variety of gift-giving needs. Luckily, there’s a whole month left before the holiday arrives.