Ho ho hold off on buying from Amazon this year
As you finish your exams and stress about online classes, your inner Scrooge might ask you to stay away from the celebration this year. For that reason and many more, we all need a big dose of holiday cheer. It might be tempting to pick gifts off of Amazon with a click, or stop by a department store to get your gifts quick. But the best gifts are those that come from local stores — regardless of who you’re buying for.
With our UVic community in mind, the Martlet has highlighted some local businesses in Victoria that have affordable gifts and sustainable practices.
But before starting on the gift guide, the Martlet wishes to recognize that some folks might not be able to afford gifts this year. Soon, we will release a do-it-yourself craft and cooking gift guide for those inclined to give handmade things. These options will also be more affordable, with the hope that everyone can find a gift idea for the loved ones on their list.
None of these local businesses in Victoria paid the Martlet or sent us complimentary products; this is not sponsored. It was difficult to choose only eight local Victoria businesses to feature in this gift guide, and this list is certainly not comprehensive.
Bilston Creek Farm
Bilston Creek Farm makes lavender-based products in small batches, with lavender directly sourced from their farm near Victoria. Lavender is calming and gifts like the essential oils, eye pillow, or lavender charcoal soap might help any stressed out student or instructor in your life.
The lavender hand sanitizer would make a great stocking stuffer. It is sold on their website for $12.30, certified by Health Canada, and contains 70 per cent alcohol. The sanitizer includes organic aloe vera, lavender hydrosol, and lavender essential oil, which Bilston Creek Farm says “provides a sense of calm.”
Local Assembly has vintage and handmade clothing, houseware, prints, jewelry, and so much more. A lot of the unique things sold by Local Assembly are made by local Victoria brands or artists. On their website, you can also sort through pages with gift ideas by price range — all of the items pictured above are $30 or under.
They recommend the Never Ending Weekend tote bags, Lizard Breath tees and bike shorts, Uhm Studios necklaces and bracelets (like the “fuck” bracelet pictured), and Pink House Dry Shampoo. For those keen on being cozy, a ceramic mug by Vancouver artist Meg Hubert would also make a nice gift.
Although brands like Blundstone and Patagonia are staples of every Pacific Northwest hiker or wanna-be hiker’s wardrobe, Ecologyst is a great and more local option. The brand has a co-ownership model, uses consciously sourced Merino wool, and offers a lifetime guarantee on nearly everything they sell.
It’s no surprise that the items are a bit pricier, given their sustainable and made-in-Canada focus. Accessories like toques and candles are less expensive, and every Victoria local needs at least one pair of Woolies socks to keep their toes warm in the winter months.
Pictured is the limited-edition $75 wolf tee, designed by Indigenous artist Ocean Hyland, styled with one of their toques. Twenty per cent from every tee sold goes to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
The Birdcage Confectionary prides itself in being “Victoria’s smallest and oldest little corner store.” It’s been around since 1915, making it the oldest out of the local businesses in Victoria on this list.
Tucked away in James Bay, near the B.C. Legislature, the Birdcage Confectionary has a lovely storefront filled with beautiful bouquets. Inside their small shop you’ll find handmade chocolate truffles from Terrible Truffles, a local company in Victoria, and an assortment of locally made greeting cards.
Books are a great gift, and are incredibly easy to wrap. Munro’s is one of a few great local bookstores in Victoria, and easily found on Government Street with their huge holiday red bows decorating the front pillars.
For Martlet readers, Munro’s staff recommend A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Greenwood by Michael Christie, Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, and Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Munro’s also has an online store that allows customers to order for pick-up or delivery, too.
Good Planet Company
Good Planet Company is a local store with sustainable products for those looking to get closer to a zero-waste lifestyle. Some of the products they sell, like pottery and Abeego beeswax wraps, are made in Victoria.
For the holidays, they have three gift boxes that they recommend to Martlet readers. The gift box pictured above is perfect for the cook in your life — it’s got sustainable kitchen items like dish soap, a Swedish dish cloth, and coconut scours. Another gift box option has dental hygiene products like bamboo toothbrushes and natural toothpaste, while another box features Good Planet body products made in store.
Luna Collective is nestled in Fernwood Square. Their shop sells local and sustainable vintage clothing and handmade goods. They’ve got lots of delicate and dainty jewelry, homewares, and skincare.
The candle pictured is the $16 Protection Crystal candle, with a black tourmaline crystal and eucalyptus, rosemary, camphor, and peppermint essential oils. The candle is made by Teal Pansy, a Queer- and Trans-owned company that sells candles made with soy wax and hemp wicks.
Luna Collective also recommends Martlet readers check out the skincare products from Sḵwálwen Botanicals, a local company founded by Leigh Joseph of the Squamish First Nation. Using cultural teachings and ethically harvested plants, Joseph creates products without any of the synthetic ingredients typically found in skincare.
Sea Cider sells drinks crafted here on Vancouver Island, at their cidery just north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. Their cider is made with apples from their 1 300 organic apple trees. They’ve got a range of gift boxes with local products, your choice of cider, and Sea Cider merchandise.
For the holidays, they have a Sassamanash cider that blends apples with cranberries and hibiscus flowers. The Sassamanash cider is part of Sea Cider’s Canadian Invasion Series, so a portion of the proceeds from these $17.50 bottles helps combat invasive plants. If you buy six or more bottles, the price is reduced to $15 each.
As mentioned above, none of the stores sponsored this article. These suggestions should help you find something for anyone on your list, while keeping your spending local.
Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season, and a happy new year.