Local Love: My Favourite Christmas Shopping Destinations

Most of us are halfway done our advent calendars, and in the final stretch of holiday shopping frenzy. My family is terrible to buy for. And humour is no way to go. There was the year I bought my dad tacks and put them in a tiny box, and paper clips in another and elastics in a third and so on, all wrapped inside progressively larger boxes. And I was the only one who thought it funny. Or the year I bought my brother a Vancouver Canucks Snuggie even though he’s an Oilers fan.

While it may be no surprise that no one else shares my odd sense of humour, I am persistent that one day all my gifts will be truly appreciated. And hey, if it means I have to go shopping year after year, searching for elusive present perfection, I’ll do it. At all my favourite local stores and small businesses.

Like the Alberta Craft Council shop. There’s a gallery and the sophisticated jewellery and cute crafty things. I need to go see their feature exhibit Well in Hand which features the human-equine connection.

2014_holiday

Holiday Gifts at the Alberta Craft Council shop

While your downtown, might as well head over to 124th Street where you can buy amazing baking – or baking supplies – at Duchess Bake Shop, there’s the High Street Market, Henry’s and then, Mountain Equipment Co-op for my outdoorsy husband and adventurous kids. Wear your walking shoes and put a dent in the Christmas cookie calories.

This stuff smells amazing and is the perfect luxury gift for our dry Albertan skin

This stuff smells amazing and is the perfect luxury gift for our dry Albertan skin

Winter is almost the best time to go the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. There’s less crowds, more meandering, all my favourite booths for perogies and produce and jewellery, and just down the street and around the corner is Laurel’s on Whyte. They carry a beautiful line called Farmhouse Fresh. I love me my honey heel glaze – and apparently so does Oprah!

If you’re up for a Christmas shopping road trip, my favourite directions are south or west.

When I head south, I start with a to-go cup of a coffee and I carol all the way there, singing along with the radio. I stop in Leduc at It’s A Crock Country Store, and there’s a little western store just across the street and down a couple stores, an antique mall across the street, and Prairie Mountain Furniture next door.

Then I keep going south and west to the Village at Pigeon Lake. I’m guaranteed to find something unique at the Village Emporium or Backstreet Antiques. And the food at the Ecocafe is always good.

Backstreet Antiques has, of course, antiques, but also items of household beauty, jewellry and kitsch

Backstreet Antiques has, of course, antiques, but also items of household beauty, jewellry and kitsch

If I head west, first I stop at a place in town, the Blue Jar Antique Mall. I got a print of a mama bear and her two cubs last time I was in, and I know there were more animal prints… but that’s Christmas shopping for me. Am I the only one who can’t resist her own treasures while out on the hunt?

Then I drive right through Spruce Grove to One Man’s Treasure, a gorgeous little antique emporium and marketplace. The Country Pumpkin is also full of beautiful rustic pieces that I know my mom would love. And maybe, one of these days, I’ll stop at the infamous Jack’s Drive-In on the way home.

country pumpkin

I love words, and things with words, and not just books. In fact, I kinda want that pillow. For me.

I hope you’ll try a few of these places out. I think you’ll find the experience a lot more fun than the push-and-shove of a mall, the gifts more unique, and then there’s that warm and fuzzy buy-local feeling.

Have I missed any great local shops that you think should be on my list?