The holiday season is coming, and it’s the season for giving. You might be the type to start planning early, or the kind who is motivated by pressure, not even beginning your shopping until the 11th hour. Whichever you are, we’re here to help get the ideas flowing with a list of online gifts that are sure to be a hit.
This year, we want to keep our gift buying to online, local delivery, or pick-up whenever possible, but there are still plenty of local options available near you. Whether you’re shopping for your partner, mother-in-law, best friend, or mail carrier, there are tons of cherished goods and memorable experiences perfect for gifting in Ontario’s Highlands.
Get planning with our guide to the 12 gifts of Christmas!
*Most of these gift ideas are available for purchase online or for curbside pick-up. Check with each business to get the details on what they are doing to offer alternative options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wrap your loved ones in a big comfy hug by gifting them stylish, warm apparel to get them through winter. Shop for outdoorsy sweaters from Ottawa Valley Apparel in-store at Pembroke’s Pick-It-Fence. Or help someone special achieve ultimate coziness levels with alpaca wool socks or a blanket from Serendipity Farm.
2. Handmade Gifts
Surprise that special someone with a unique gift that is sure to be a conversation starter, like hand-sculpted candlesticks from Bittersweet Fine Craft and Art in Burnstown. Or spice up their next dinner party with a handcrafted serving board made from locally sourced wood, which you can find at Almonte’s General Fine Craft. If you are a fan of Haliburton Forest you’ll want to visit their Etsy page filled with sustainable wood products from the forest. Order one of their wood paddles for the avid paddler on your list.
Artwork is a thoughtful gift, especially if you know the recipient’s taste well enough to identify a match with a local artist. Knock it out of the park with stunning, colourful pieces from Jen White, which can be purchased as prints or original paintings in a variety of sizes. Natural landscape paintings by Karen Phillips Curran, available at her Ottawa Valley studio, will liven up any room. Browse her archives and pick the piece that speaks to you.
4. Future Getaway
Somewhere between tangible gifts and gifting an experience is surprising your loved one with an overnight getaway. They get to step away from their stresses, make lasting memories, and relax in a cozy hotel or cabin. For a true escape from the big city, we suggest an experience where you’re the only guest at Black River Retreat, or the off-grid cabins at Deacon Escarpment! Plan ahead and book your escape for later in 2021 or purchase a gift certificate to enjoy the experience when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
We all have that person in our lives who loves nothing more than quality chocolate, especially during this ultra indulgent month. Chocolate makers and chocolatiers around Ontario’s Highlands pull out all the stops during the holidays, like Hummingbird’s chocolate collections and salted caramels; Perth Chocolate Works’ mouth-watering seasonal line-up; and the Chocolate Harlot’s organic, fair trade truffles.
6. Maple Everything
Receiving liquid gold – aka maple syrup – or maple-inspired treats is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. There is a whole whack of sugar shacks you can go to get the goods, including but not limited to: Conboy and Oso Sweet in Frontenac County, Esson Creek and Wintergreen in Haliburton County, or Fulton’s and Thompsontown in Lanark County.
7. Tasty Goodies
Not everyone has a sweet tooth, so consider branching out to include other delicious edibles from Ontario’s Highlands. On one road trip you can cover both Back Forty Artisan Cheese and Seed to Sausage, to help elevate the charcuterie game for those special someones on your list. If the recipient loves coffee, pick up some beans from Madawaska Coffee Co. in Barry’s Bay, or Equator Coffee Roasters in Almonte.
8. Craft Drinks
If you’re shopping for someone who loves discovering new drinks, extend your search beyond the LCBO. Craft spirits you can’t get in stores are found at Dairy Distillery, O’Kenny Craft Spirits and Top Shelf Distillers. Smaller or newer breweries like Crooked Mile, Square Timber, and 7/62 Craft Brewers are bound to offer a new experience too. Or change it up with a refreshing craft cider from Ugly Apple or Kings Mill Cider.
9. Fun and Games
Some prefer to give “experiences” rather than “things,” and who can blame them? It might be a little trickier, but gifting experiences creates lasting memories. Gift someone with a challenge to solve with games and puzzles and other fun activities for every age. You never know what you’ll find on the shelves at Explorer’s Eco-Emporium 41 in Northbrook, including games, puzzles, and other fun stuff that will keep you busy for hours and hours. Art geeks and science nerds will adore one of The Occurrence’s unique puzzles featuring their own fun designs, produced right in the heart of Haliburton.
10. Gift Certificates
Let’s get this straight and dispel some disinformation out there: gift certificates are not a bad gift. While another gift certificate to a chain restaurant or coffee shop might not be thrilling, don’t discount the pleasure you feel when giving or receiving a gift certificate to a local, close-to-home business. There are fun and unique spots in the region that offer gift certificates, including OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River or Yours Outdoors. Let them choose their own adventure – you can just give them the key to the doorway.
11. A Day Out
Treat them to a day out however you think they’d enjoy it most. Maybe they’d like to hit the slopes and have dinner nearby. Perhaps they’d appreciate a spa pampering from Wind in the Willows Spa or Sands on Golden Lake. Pick and choose what outing they’d prefer and write up your own personal gift certificate for a future experience.
12. Pre-Christmas Outing
Let’s be honest, there’s a pretty good chance that the perfect gift for your special someone is YOU. Time spent with the ones they love is priceless. Why not spend quality time together this holiday season and take them out for a simple day trip? Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park and Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm are two great spots to enjoy seasonal activities, and of course, good company.