On local gift baskets and how they saved my holiday bacon

Local Gift Basket curated by vLife writer and passionate buy local supporter Erin Casey

Local gift baskets — and shopping for said baskets — has taught me a lot this holiday season. Mainly that while I seem to be quite good at locating and spending money at small businesses near me, I am NOT very good at actually assembling my haul of local goods into an attractive package.

Before I go on, I need to say one thing: MOM, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you how putting together a basket for my mother has delivered me from the temptation of the Amazon gift card and the Black Friday sale.

Local gift baskets are ideal for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to buy for the — ahem — older folks on my shopping list. (Mom, if you’re still reading… STOP IT.) In my case, my parents don’t really need anything. So I tend to think treats, but as the deadline for this blog post came around I was getting that icky pandemic panic feeling a.k.a. OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO GET FOR MY MOTHER!? TODAY???

Me with the little bird ornament that started it all!

It really started with the tiny, perfect, handmade rainbow bird ornament I bought at new vLife provider Café Aroma Latino when Mel and I went there for lunch (which was outstanding). I could picture it hanging from the handle of the beautiful basket of local personalized gifts I, the world’s best daughter, was going to lovingly curate for my mother.

Next stop was the Hydrostone Market, a great buy local resource right in my Halifax neighbourhood. At one of my mom’s favourite stores, Lady Luck Boutique, I found a lovely little necklace perfect for fiddling with in moments of existential dread, then at Made in the Maritimes I purchased a very cool stress-relieving doodling journal from Doodle Lovely (also a new vLife provider!). I finished off at brand-new Lemonade General Store, which is chock-full of unusual items and gourmet local food. Here, I stuck with a classic: Ganong gumdrops!

Cathy Hope, owner of Lady Luck Boutique in Halifax’s Hydrostone Market, shows off her many hats.

Check out the list of vLife local gift providers here!

There’s clearly a theme emerging: Calming the persistent low-grade buzz of worry and uncertainty we’re all living with. I calm myself by supporting local businesses near me (so they’re all still here next holiday season!) and Mom gets to enjoy the relaxing benefits.

Local gift baskets of consumables are a great option

Consumables are big this year. And they definitely fit with the stress-reduction, self-care theme. I picked up some luxurious lavender-mint hand cream from Saskia Roch Aesthetics at Foxy Moon Salon that Saskia makes with her own two hands!

To add to this bunch of deliciousness, I selected (alright, to be honest it was my husband) some exciting locally made products in the form of hot sauces and barbecue accoutrements at the Halifax Forum Farmers Market. I love this little market — it’s close to my house and features both local food and locally made gifts.

It’s important to balance the hot and spicy with sweet, so I thought I’d throw in a gift box of assorted cookies from Halifax Bread Factory. (In fact, all your sweet and savoury carbohydrate needs are just a click away on their inviting website.)

For folks who like a drink, there are myriad exciting locally crafted booze choices: wine, beer, spirits, and more. I went the spirits route this year, and got excellent advice from a charming young man at Rockhead Wine & Beer Market in Halifax’s west end.

Finally, more people are enjoying cannabis than ever before. Frckn’ Delicious! DIY Gummies kits allow you to create your own custom gummies with cannabis products OR vitamins, electrolytes, and other supplements.

(I’d like to acknowledge that sobriety can be especially challenging right now. I see you! These are hard times, and if you’re looking for healthy ways to socialize sober, Sober City Halifax is a great resource.)

Saskia Roch shows off some of her lotions and potions.

Local gift baskets for people and organizations in need

While we’re on the subject of seeing each other in all our myriad successes and struggles, support local can also include supporting our friends and neighbours who might be struggling — now more than ever. Google causes and charities close to your heart to find out what they need!

Many organizations assemble gift boxes and need personal care products, food items, warm clothing, and toys and books for kids. Grocery gift cards are great, and don’t forget my personal favourite: menstrual products. You can even make a donation in someone’s name as a gift.

Where to buy gift baskets locally

Keen to be a good citizen and follow your local safe shopping guidelines? Several of the small independent businesses I visited this week said they were planning to offer local gift baskets to help the many of us who haven’t finished shopping yet.

Watch for local small businesses to offer curated packages of locally made products, local food, and local gifts, including local gift basket delivery in Halifax. Many have already adapted to offer delivery and curbside pickup!

What about a local gift basket of local produce or even local meat or seafood? A number of producers and farmers’ markets offer pickup and even home delivery. Why not send a box of deliciousness to someone you love? Or someone in need?

My advice? Ask. Even if a business isn’t advertising local gift boxes or baskets, many will be happy — dare I say thrilled! — to help you achieve your buy-local holiday goals.

The finished product. MOM! Don’t look.

Even your own special local gift baskets need a card!

Even though I may not have the most artful basket assembly skills, I like to make my own holiday cards. But if this too much to contemplate, fear not. Try some gorgeous options from vLife providers MaeisArt Gallery (you can also find prints, mugs, and calendars!) and Three Ps in a Pod Art Studio (where you can connect with artist Janice Webber to give you the goods.)

My wish for you this holiday season

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Protect strangers as you would protect your own family. Hug your close people (even if you’re a teeny bit sick of them). And support local business any way you can, so we can all be together again soon!

See you next year. xo

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