By: Emily Yakashiro
So it’s that time of year where you might want to exchange gifts with friends and loved ones. Whether it’s a Secret Santa thing, hostess gifts, or picks for the fam, here are my recommendations for your bestest year of gifting yet. As a total bonus: everything on my list is from here in Vancouver or other cities in the lower mainland AND most of the places mentioned below are run or owned by women!
For Your Fave Grown-Up
Above: The 2014 Hope in Shadows Calendar, found here.
Do you know about the annual Hope in Shadows calendar/project? It’s a great local initiative, and this beautiful calendar not only gives lower-income folks in our city some holiday spending money of their own, but showcases our city in a very non-cheesy postcard, beautiful way. If you live or work in Vancouver you might have seen some folks out there selling this calendar. From the project’s website, The Hope in Shadows project is a,
“Community project based around a photo contest and calendar for low-income residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside” and “is sold through our vendor program, which creates seasonal employment for people impacted by poverty. While most of the vendors we work with are Downtown Eastside residents, the program is open to anyone who identifies as low-income.”
-from the Hope in Shadows website
ALSO A GOOD PICK FOR: This a practical, artistic gift, and as such would be good for an office gift exchange, a Secret Santa exchange, or for a friend or loved one far away who could use a touch of Vancouver in their life! If you work or run an office, get one for the break room, or get a bunch for each member of your team!
For the Discerning Teen in Your Life
Above: Image of the coolest undies ever from Daub + Design here.
I would get this one for my stepsister, Britney, or my cousins who are in their late teens/early twenties: a Panty of the Month Subscription from Daub + Design, because OMG how cute is this idea, and the designs are awesome– not too cutesy or too mall-chain-y. I have some of these undies myself and they’re great!!
BONUS: Check out my interview with Vancouver-based Daub + Design owner and designer Lexi Soukoreff here.
WOULD GO WELL WITH: The Rookie Yearbook 2, obviously. Not a BC gift, but seriously, every young woman out there (and twenty-somethings like me) would get something out of this amazing anthology of articles, how-tos, advice columns, essays, etc.
FOR THE YOGA/WORKOUT NUT
This is Vancouver, where yoga and outdoor culture reign supreme. Ditch cheaply made goods by fatphobic/sexist chains, and get your favourite yoga or Grouse Grind champ a solid pair of workout leggings from Daub + Design. I obviously really like their stuff…
FOR YOUR CANADIAN STYLE STAR
Got a stylish or artsy friend? Get them local boutique extraordinnaire Front & Company‘s 20th Anniversary Book. It’s a pocket size book showing off some of the best window displays (what they’re known for besides a great selection of clothes) from the past twenty years! I can’t seem to find details on their website, but if you call or drop by I’m sure they can help you out.
ALSO GOOD FOR: mailing someplace far away–since it’s the perfect size, it wouldn’t cost too much to ship. Send it to your Toronto blogger friend who has their doubts about Vancouver’s style scene.
BONUS: Did you know Front & Company is owned and run by two women of colour? Pretty awesome, no?
FOR THE FELLA IN YOUR LIFE
Guys are notoriously hard to shop for, but my vote is that you head on over to the newly renovated Community Thrift & Vintage, specifically, the Casual Corner-Menswear & Unisex Apparel location (there’s two stores, this one and The Frock Shoppe) and get him some cool, perfectly vintage t-shirts. Can’t go wrong with that–the staff are super-helpful and chill if you don’t know where to get started. Their Facebook page has a sampling of the goodies held in store.
BONUS: Did you know that Community Thrift & Vintage is a social enterprise? In their own words they are a,
“social enterprise in the heart of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver selling hand picked thrift and vintage clothing in a warm and dynamic environment. Our purpose is to inspire positive transformation through fashion. We will accomplish this by having the best selection of clothing at the best price, by employing women with barriers to traditional employment, giving them valuable job skills in a transitional period in their lives, and by donating all profits back into the community through key programs of the PHS Community Services Society.”
-from the Community website
READ ON: I spoke with Community owner & manager Maryjane earlier this year on how to get the best Mad Men-esque look, check it out here.
FOR LITTLE ONES
For those of us without youngsters, it can be hard to think of what to get them for the holidays. I’ve come across two solid picks for the kids in your life, here they are.
1. ABC’s in Harmony by Kim Oshiro
Above: This tiny image I found doesn’t do this amazing book by Kim Oshiro justice.
Okay, this is totally biased as Kim Oshiro happens to be one of my many aunties, but seriously, this beautiful little book is AMAZING (yes, I have a copy and I love it even though I’m in my twenties). In her own words this book,
“With lyrical words and poetic rhymes, the ABC’s are used as a vehicle to deliver manners, morals and positive messages to children around the world.”
She wrote it with the idea of building self-esteem as young ones learn to read. She was also very concerned with representing diversity in the book, and as you read it you will see children of all backgrounds represented. One of my favourite things growing up was having adults read to me, and this book would have been my favourite.
BUY IT: On iTunes here, in print (get it in print, it is totally worth it) here.
BONUS: It was illustrated by Lonnie Barber, who lives in BC like my aunt. Come to think of it, it’s actually an effort entirely driven by women as my aunt wrote it, self published it, and Barber illustrated it!
2. “Draw Me a Lion” Colouring Book
–or stickers, greeting card pack, etc! This local line of stationary encourages creativity and artistic skills by selling a variety of colouring activities. So fun, and perfect for kids at Christmas dinners who prefer to do their own thing.
BONUS: Go see the”Draw Me a Lion” merch in person this Saturday and Sunday in Vancouver at the Got Craft? Christmas market!
FIT FOR A FOODIE
Above: Prince Edward Island-shaped serving board from Love my Local.
I personally don’t really “get” foodie culture as I hate cooking and really only like pizza and desserts BUT I know that foodies are a big thing. Plus, I saw these beautiful, locally made, province-shaped serving boards by Love my Local, and who can resist? They look solid, and it’s high time somebody started making something for gifting in the shape of Canadian provinces (sadly, territories are not represented).
ALSO GOOD FOR: A generous hostess gift, or for a friend/loved one who entertains a lot. They look pretty big though, so probably best for someone who has lots of cupboard space!
FOR THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST
This is a pet peeve/manners hang-up of mine: if you are going to a big family dinner or dinner party, you need to bring the host/hostess something, especially during holiday dinners. Hosting people takes a LOT of time, energy, preparation, money, and planning. Show them you appreciate their efforts by bringing them a little something. Flowers, chocolate, and wine are standard, but here are a couple things to go above and beyond without breaking the bank.
1. Trio of Local Honeys by Mellifera Bees
Last year I hit up Got Craft? and Mellifera was selling a trio of local honeys in a sharp gift bag. I got one for my partner’s parents, who hosted us for Christmas last year. Mellifera honeys are nicely packaged and traveled well, not to mention are produced right here in Vancouver, so they’re a way to bring in local flavour-literally! I’m not sure if they’ll be selling the trio again this year, but check out their website just the same for details.
2. Caramels by [in the oven]
Oh-em-gee these are good caramels! Made here in Vancouver with unique flavours like Lime and Smoked Salt, you should definitely stock up on a few bags to give to your hosts. I got some of the Coconut ones a while ago and my grandparents loved them, and so did one of my aunts–a hit for folks of all ages for sure, and decidedly less routine than a box of chocolates!
FOR THE FREE-SPIRIT TRAVELLER
Got an adventurer in your life? Get them a Map and Pin set by cabin + cub! I’m sad that there’s not one of Canada though there’s one of the States, but there’s one of the world, too. The bright colours and sharp design are totally fresh and inspired–it’s art, a conversation piece, and a diary of sorts all in one!
ALSO GOOD FOR: The university/college student in your life, they need cool art for their dorms or apartments. They can plan their future adventures when they need to distract themselves from midterms!
FOR THE GREEN THUMB (CURRENT OR ASPIRING)
Above: Image from Strathcona 1890 here.
I have never bought these seed collections personally, but I like the sounds of this Strathcona 1890 Urban Seeds business. It sounds like they have a vision of how to support Vancouver’s communities by helping to create quality gardens and skilled gardeners. Get your loved one with a green thumb a tin of (beautifully illustrated/packaged) seeds in theme packages like “Junior Farmer” and “Urban Apothecary”.
GET THEM STARTED: Don’t know a gardener? Give someone a new hobby with these seeds! Strathcona 1890 focuses on people who want to learn to garden/produce their own food but don’t have a lot of space–perfect for your friend in a basement suite or sharing a house with 6 roommates!
WOULD GO WELL WITH: A beginners gardening book by You Grow Girl blogger Gayla Trail who writes/blogs in Toronto!
EVERYTHING ON THIS LIST IS USELESS TO ME
Not seeing what you need? Then I would recommend heading out to the Got Craft? holiday market this Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 14th here in Vancouver which will have all sorts of cool, locally made stuff.
I would also suggest a cool magazine subscription like Briarpatch (produced in Regina!), Shameless (also Canadian!), Bitch, Ricepaper (produced here in Vancouver!), or WORN Journal (hey Toronto!).