Beat ‘buyers block’ by shopping locally for holiday gifts


Finding the perfect gift for someone is a challenge. Whether it’s your parents who already have everything they could possibly want, or a colleague you barely know whose name you drew in the Secret Santa exchange, holiday gifts may cause you to suffer excessive mall-wandering and dazed online purchasing.

The thing is, a holiday gift is simply a way to say that you care. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate to make the person who opens it smile. And when you shop at small retailers located in your own neighbourhood, the gifts you buy have an impact on more than just the recipients.

Shopping locally for holiday gifts keeps dollars in the local economy, which benefits your community. When you find the perfect gift for someone at a small retailer or service provider, you’re supporting small business owners instead of giant corporations.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of holiday gift ideas you can source locally. Use our list to overcome “buyers block” when you’re out shopping in your neighbourhood – bonus points if you buy from Vicinity merchants and rack up rewards when you shop!

Make them laugh. Fun party games like Jenga, or board games like Monopoly, make great gifts. Whether you find the perfect game at a local gaming shop, or in mint condition at a thrift store, board games are the gift that keeps giving – long after the wrapping paper is recycled and the decorations are put away.

Make them cry. Naturally we mean tears of joy, not sorrow. A favourite photo can easily become a sentimental gift: have it beautifully framed at a local photo shop. Some merchants can even have your photo printed onto a mug or T-shirt, or blown up and printed on canvas.

Make them feel spectacular. Put together a “holiday detox kit” for someone on your list aiming to get healthy in the New Year. This can include a set of workout sessions with a personal trainer, a selection of herbal teas and healthy snacks from your local health store – or a detox massage from the local spa.

Make them hungry. Whether you bake a batch of homemade treats and package them for festive giving, or you seek out special goodies from foodie boutiques, chocolate shops and bakeries, edible gifts are always a hit during the holidays. People on the receiving end have the choice of sharing, or hoarding the deliciousness for themselves.

Quench their thirst for comfort. Hot beverages are a daily motivator for most people – especially during winter months. So a thoughtful selection of loose-leaf teas presented with a teapot or fancy steeper will please tea lovers on your gift list. Coffee fans are always keen to try exotic beans – ask your local barista about what special varieties might appeal and gift a bag of that roasted caffeine goodness along with a cool new mug, plunger pot or pour-over setup.

Make them feel inspired. Check out your local bookseller for a life-changing book, like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Anais Nin’s Diaries, or another book that you love. Aspiring writers on your list would love a blank journal with a beautiful cover and a few kickass pens. Or visit your local florist to select a special plant that reflects the person you’re gifting: a tiny bonsai tree for someone determined; an orchid for someone with staying power; an amaryllis for that friend who’s always in the holiday spirit.

Visit to find local shops in your neighbourhood that will reward you this holiday season.


  1. Margaret   •  

    Thanks for this list. I just got home after several fruitless ‘blocked’ hours at Trainyards in Ottawa – big block discount stores. Time to look for some local specialties. Maybe I’ll start with a hot cup of something local just for me.

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