It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the holiday season, which also means it’s the annual drop of the Always Yours Holiday Gift Guides! And this year I am so excited about what I have rounded up on each of these lists. Now, typically I start with gift guides for Her and for Him — and rest assured they are coming — but this year I wanted to focus on small businesses first and foremost.
Friends, our small businesses in our local neighborhoods across the country need us right now. If you love regularly shopping at a favorite gift shop to purchase a thoughtful birthday gift, visiting your favorite New England town and shopping on their Main Street, or find yourself at your favorite neighborhood gem of a restaurant at least once a week, it’s time to continue supporting these businesses during this holiday season. Keep in mind that these little shops, restaurants, services, brands and businesses are praying every second of the day that you love them enough to shop with them this holiday season. Your support will keep them alive. As much as I know it’s difficult to purchase everything on your list (especially when you have children) from ONLY small businesses, I really encourage you to try as best as you can to find a way. In this gift guide, not only will you find my top recommendations on gifts from small businesses that I love and cherish, but you will also find a list (and shareable IG story) of ways that you can support small businesses throughout the country. Some of the ways to support small businesses cost $25 or less, and some of the ways are $0.00 and truly priceless.
Without further adieu, let’s get shopping!
- Candle from Gus and Ruby Letterpress: This candle called the Tuileries Candle is my favorite candle of all time, and whenever I purchase it, I pick it up from my favorite brick and mortar shop called Gus and Ruby Letterpress. Gus and Ruby’s shop is owned by two incredible women, Whitney and Samantha, and buying from them just feels good. Their shop has everything you could ever need for the perfect gift from a clever/sassy/thoughtful card to the perfect candle to handmade jewelry to the cutest baby romper you’ve ever seen. I recently did a shopping trip at their new and third location here in Boston, and let’s just say I made a good dent in my gift list. Whitney and Samantha are running a Black Friday sale online as well, so be sure not to miss out on all of the new goodies they have stocked for the holidays!
- A Gift Card to Your Favorite Family Owned Hotel/Inn: This one is near and dear to my heart because my parents own and operate a small inn on Cape Cod called ShoreWay. Some of the hardest hit businesses this year have been those in the tourism industry, especially family owned hotels and inns. And if they are seasonal hotels and inns — then they really could use some love from everyone. I won’t get political here, but nobody is helping these small hotels. One amazing and alternative gift you could give a loved one this year (maybe your husband, wife, daughter, son, mother or father) is a gift to your favorite hotel or inn to stay at when you take your annual vacation to Cape Cod, the Berkshires, the coasts of Maine, the mountains of Vermont, etc. Think of those little family owned places where you have made so many memories over the years and look forward to visiting time and time again. A gift card will give them the cash flow they need to keep paying their staff and keep the lights on, even when you aren’t staying with them, making sure that it will still be there when this pandemic is over and we excitedly run back to our favorite places.
- Adopt an Olive Oil Tree: This is one of my favorite gifts, and what I LOVE about it is that it’s so unique and perfect for that person in your life who has everything. So for this gift, you adopt an olive oil tree at a grove in Italy. Essentially these groves run by families need a lot of work and love, and so when you adopt this olive oil tree you are helping to keep the trees cared for and in good condition so they can continue producing time and time again. Then when it’s time to harvest, the olive oil company will send you supplies of freshly harvested and poured olive oil to enjoy at home — and the olives used to create that olive oil are from your own adopted tree! This thoughtful gift is one that wows, but also helps keep these groves functioning and in business.
- Buy Your Wreaths Locally: I know, I know. You usually order your wreaths from big gifting and decorating companies. But this year please consider buying wreaths from your local flower market or a floral designer in your area. In the Boston area, I love the Wild Dahlia, Kerianne Nelson Flora and Fleur Events, although my list goes on and on forever! If you are recently married, call your floral designer or florist and see what holiday wreaths and arrangements she is creating this year. Many floral designers and florists are creating pop up shops to make wreaths to make up for lost income this year due to weddings, celebrations and holiday parties being postponed or cancelled, and even just a little bit of help through holiday wreaths and decorating can make a difference in their lives. Plus, there is something special in simply knowing the person and artisan who has personally made these beautiful decorations.
- Restaurant Gift Cards: Your favorite small-owned restaurant owners will literally jump for joy when they see a gift card purchase made. Restaurants can use all the love we can give right now. One of the easiest ways to support them during this time when they cannot full operate? Buy a gift card for a future meal and pop them into stockings. Pick one of your favorite family owned restaurants, purchase small gift cards for all who live close by, and share in holiday cards.
- Holiday Cards from a Stationer: While this isn’t exactly a gift, I would be remiss not to include this idea in this gift guide! Considering skipping big printing companies this year and purchase your Christmas cards directly from a stationer. There are COUNTLESS stationers who can create the prettiest holiday cards for you, and so many of them are running specials this year. One of my favorite companies is Fete Collection here in Boston, but there are thousands and thousands of stationers in every state who you could choose from (hint: start by looking on Instagram). Not only will these get you in the holiday spirit, but you’ll have a very happy stationer popping champagne over your new holiday cards!
- A Legacy Wall with Your Photographer’s Help: All married couples and families with newborns — this is the perfect time to create that legacy wall in your home that you’ve been talking about for ages. Husbands, this is a great gift for you to give to your wives, so take note. Reach out to your wedding photographer (like my wedding photographer, Elizabeth Laduca) or your newborn photographer and work with them directly to print a set of gorgeous prints from your wedding or family photography session to frame in your favorite frames. OR, if you don’t have dreams of a legacy wall, consider purchasing a beautiful heirloom album for your coffee table to gift to your spouse, parents or grandparents from your wedding day or a newborn session. The photographers in your life will be dancing all around their homes over your order.
- Earrings from the Tiny Tassel: If you have been following me for a while, you know I love Charleston, SC. And every single time I visit Charleston, SC, I have to visit Mimi at the Tiny Tassel. Mimi makes the most gorgeous feminine jewelry and accessories, especially her signature tassel earrings. But honestly, these little tortoise shell heart shaped earrings have my heart this year and I know they would have a teenager’s, young adult’s or fashionista’s heart this year too. Little boutiques who usually experience lots of foot traffic during the busy tourist seasons are feeling the pressure of their doors being closed during these peak times. One fun way to spread a little love to these boutiques (like the one Mimi owns) this year? Purchase ALL of your Secret Santa gifts from a small boutique. The shop owner’s heart will skip a beat.
- Support Your Hairdresser/Nail Salon/Spa: Ask your loved ones this year for gift cards for your hairdresser, nail salon or spa. Plain and simple, these service-based professionals are having to limit the number of clients they see, close down often to quarantine when exposure occurs, and reduce the level of service they can offer. Nothing would make them feel more confident than a flurry of gift cards for future services when all is safe again (which is not so far in the distant future). While maybe this isn’t a gift you give, this is a gift to ask for, which will give back to these professionals in your life who you have been loyally returning back to time and time again.
- A Gift Box from Afar: One of the hardest parts of this year has been not being able to celebrate the holidays fully together. To help make the holidays feel a little sweeter, consider sending gift boxes from a small gifting company to those who you typically would have to your house for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and/or New Years. I love this box filled with holiday treats and all you need for festive hot cocoa from Teak and Twine. Simply order, add a note and have the gift team ship to your regular holiday guests. Plan a Christmas Eve Zoom with everyone to enjoy this gift box together, and talk about all the joy to come in 2021.
- A Styling Mat for the Creative in Your Life: This final gift is something to give to the creative business owners and artists in your lives who need a little boost. If you have a floral designer, planner, stationer, photographer, videographer, designer, jewelry maker, artisan, etc in your life who you need to get a gift for, look no further than this gorgeous textured styling mat from one of my favorite companies, Chasing Stone. These mats are perfect for showcasing products (ideal for creating photos for online shops) and adding to a styling kit. I personally own four of these mats, and every time Brandon comes out with a new one, I’m already eyeing it to add to my collection. Plus, Chasing Stone is having a HUGE sale right now, which never happens. So run, don’t walk to get one for that creative in your life.
I could go on and on and on with more gifts to purchase from all of my favorite small businesses, but then you would never actually get to buying, so I’ll stop here. But before I let you get to shopping, I wanted to share one last thing with you.
Our small businesses bring so much joy. Whether you realize it or not, each and every one of us is surrounded by small businesses who make our lives sweeter, easier, more beautiful and more enjoyable. From boutiques to restaurants to hotels to artists to bakeries to local candy and ice cream shops, our lives are more joyful because of these little businesses that we incorporate into our lives. Think of how many times this year you have said to yourself “I am so upset we cannot go to _____ hotel this year on vacation” or “I am so sad we cannot eat at _____ tonight” or “I’m counting down the days until ____ opens again!” The hope is that soon we will no longer be experiencing these disappointments, but there is fear that lies in the idea that perhaps we will never stop experiencing these disappointments if these little places and services we love disappear forever.
I know it can be hard to shop locally for everything and everyone on your list, and so here is one last request that will make all the difference to small businesses all over this world. Share this little IG story below, OR for every gift you buy from a big box company, store or brand, consider choosing to do one thing from this list that is free and supports the small businesses all around you.
More holiday gift guides to come, friends. Happy shopping and happy Thanksgiving!