This holiday season, many Kingstonians will look beyond big box stores and online retailers for special gift giving ideas. For many of us, the festive season is an ideal opportunity to have a positive impact on the community by shopping and supporting locally owned businesses. Whether you choose to give that special someone their favourite locally made treat, or introduce out of town friends and family to treasures offered by Kingston-area businesses, you really can’t go wrong with shopping local. Not only will buying locally made gifts truly personalize the experience of giving, but it will also have a real impact on the community by contributing to the local economy and supporting jobs.
After scouring the shelves of my favourite local shops and restaurants, I’ve created this short list of stocking stuffers to help guide your festive gift giving. It caters to everyone on your list, from foodies to music lovers, from the sentimental Christmas type to the socially conscious. In no particular order, here are my best recommendations for shopping local this holiday season!
Kingston Olive Oil Company’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($19/375ml Bottle): this family-owned establishment offers dozens of varieties of Olive Oil from world renowned olive regions. They’ve also got a healthy supply of infused olive oils, ranging from basil to green chili and the adventurous blood orange, a good selection of balsamic, salts and so on. Pay them a visit, try some free samples and walk away with a really tasty bottle of something.
2014 Limited Edition Pewter Ornaments ($8/each): Downtown Kingston’s 21st installment of their annual pewter collection features landmarks ranging from the J.K. Tett Centre to Sir John’s Public House. A limited supply is available with proof of $25 purchase from select downtown businesses. Available at the Grand Theatre and K-Rock Centre box offices, as well as Kingston Community Credit Union at Market Square.
Cooke’s Fine Foods Special Old Cheddar Cheese: this is admittedly one of my go-to gifts. It’s easily one of the best things to serve guests during impromptu holiday gathers, but it is also a real hit when it comes to gift giving (just be sure to keep it refrigerated). Part of what makes their special old cheddar so great is the friendly and knowledgeable guy behind the counter who serves it up. Hail to the Cheese Man! Did I mention there are free samples? Try walking away from Cooke’s with just cheese… it’s not possible.
Donate to #MovetheM.I.L.L. campaign ($10): Joe’s M.I.L.L. is Kingston’s one and only musical instrument lending library, with over 750 instruments available for temporary loan (for free). The M.I.L.L. will soon be relocating to their new home at the Tett Centre, which involves a costly move and configuration of the space to suit the charitable organization’s needs. Why not lend them a hand with a small donation in the name of someone you love!
Multatuli’s Christmas Blend Fair Trade ($11.25): this seasonal favourite is one that many customers crave all year long. Multatuli’s festive offering blends a Costa Rican dark roast with a Brazilian medium roast to create a stunningly smooth and full bodied cup. Roasted right here in Kingston, all of Multatuli’s offerings can be purchased online, or via their retail extension: Coffeeco.
Grand Theatre Gift Certificate: moving away from giving “stuff”, why not give the gift of a memorable night out taking in something performed at the Grand Theatre? From performances by our local symphony to live theatre companies, as well as traveling acts such as Stars with Hey Rosetta!, Just for Laughs and Jann Arden, there are loads of entertaining reasons to justify this gift option! You can purchase gift certificates at the box office or online in whatever denomination you wish.
Stone City Ales’ Lock 49 ($19/Growler, $13/Squealer): aside from setting up shop in downtown Kingston, the smartest thing this new local brewery did was open up a bottle shop allowing customers to take away their favourite brews. For the holidays, why not give a bottle of Lock 49, a dark, toasty, 6.6%, 30 IBU American brown ale with caramel tasting notes. Of course Stone City Ales has half a dozen or so other types of beer to choose from. Bottle shop hours can be found here, and of course gift certificates are available if you really can’t decide.
Christmas is for Boys and Girls CD ($15): a recently released 18 track Christmas album featuring local musicians such as Luther Wright, Sarah Harmer, Miss Emily and Spencer Evans. All of the proceeds from this benefit CD are being donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Kingston. Available for purchase online, as well as through a host of local retailers.
Harper’s, Atomica, Le Chien Noir and Dianne’s Gift Certificate: finally, why not give the gift of a real treat prepared by one of the best kitchens in Kingston? Whether the recipient fancies a gourmet burger, delicious pizza, French inspired cuisine, or something special from east coast, this group of locally owned restos has you covered. Leave the difficult job of choosing where the recipient will dine in their hands by purchasing a gift certificate that’s good for all four of these local establishments. Gift certificates can be purchased at each restaurant or online.
What’s missing from this list of local stocking stuffers? What traditions have you and your friends and family started by way of local gift giving? Drop off your very own stocking stuffer recommendations below!