Anyone who has ordered holiday gifts online knows the struggle of worrying whether the item will actually arrive on time. It’s more than a little anticlimactic -- especially for kids -- to receive a belated holiday gift days or weeks after the occasion, which adds to the ever-growing list of reasons to shop local businesses this year.
Even if you're relying on a global delivery service to bring the spirit of the holidays to someone’s doorstep, get creative with your gift-giving options by perusing our shopping guide to unique ideas for friends and family.
For the best selections, shop early. And ship early!
Score big at these local holiday events
Want to make more than your giftee happy this year? Shop from the artists and crafters at Holizaar Handmade Holiday Bazaar hosted at The [email protected]
in St. Pete on Dec. 11 from noon to 6 p.m. From homemade pickles to paper products, check out the full list of vendors
Some people on your gift-giving list just don’t want a lot of actual things
for the holidays. Instead of tangibles, spend some quality time soaking up the essence of the holiday season with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
’s Holiday Musical Joyful! Joyful!
at the Donelly Theatre in Sarasota. With performances scheduled today through December 30, you can enjoy Gospel-inspired classics and pop songs that are bound to get you into the joyful spirit.
In Clearwater, make plans to check out the The Market Elaine from 5 to 9 p.m. on December 16, a spunky nighttime sister to the city’s already popular The Market Marie. The evening market takes place outside Station Square Park and features a 50+ local vendors and artisans from Clearwater and across the Tampa Bay region. Read more at this link: Downtown Clearwater Holiday Extravaganza
Peruse a variety of artist-made goodies at these galleries
is known for printmaking, making this a perfect stop for a handmade holiday card. But the merch is so much more than that, offering anything from screen-printed clothing to jewelry and other art for your walls. If your giftee is looking to get more hands-on, give them the gift of a workshop (like ceramics or sewing) at Labyrinth where they can make their own creation.
Have someone who is into the strange and uncommon? Or maybe you just want something weird to get a good laugh at your upcoming White Elephant gift exchange? Get down with your dark side and head over to Dysfunctional Grace
in Ybor City to find anything from vintage clown tchotchkes to voodoo dolls to wild taxidermies and more.
Go green with these eco-friendly gift options
Sure, Clyde Butcher has two traditional galleries (one in Venice and the other in the heart of the Everglades on Tamiami Trail) where you can buy his world-renowned photographs of Florida’s natural landscapes, but you’ll get extra squeals of excitement from the explorers in your family by giving them the gift of a Big Cypress Swamp Walk
. Butcher has been known to wade chest-deep in Florida’s swamps to get the best photographs of Florida’s untouched wildlife, and now you can too (well, maybe just hip deep) during this guided tour.
And if any family members need a refresher on Butcher's work, invite them along to check out the "America’s Everglades: Through the Lens of Clyde Butcher''
exhibit currently on display at the Clearwater Public Library
through May 2022.
Everyone has that one friend or family member who has a green thumb. Make the plant-lover you know -- and your friendly neighborhood pollinators -- pleased this year by giving them a Florida native plant from Wilcox Nursery
. Among your choices? A live southern red cedar tree as an alternative to buying a traditional Christmas tree shipped in from up North. You can even plant the red cedar in your yard after the holidays have passed.
If you’re looking for something nostalgic or some quirky vintage décor, you’re bound to find it and other surprises at Park Street Antique Center
in St. Pete. Filled to the brim with antiques from multiple vendors, it’s like an immersive art experience in itself as you look through all of these relics from days passed. Another perk is you might find some one-of-a-kind Christmas gear; they have a full room devoted to it!
Local clothing options you won’t find anywhere else
Looking at current fashion trends, there is always some throwback to older styles. Instead of buying new clothes, you can reduce your carbon footprint by shopping the awesome killer threads that are hand-picked at Frolic Exchange
in Seminole Heights. You can also shop freshly made in-house designs using upcycled vintage fabrics.
Looking to support Black-owned businesses? Stop by African Extravaganza
just north of downtown Tampa for clothing with bright, bold prints. The shop also has home décor and beauty products you’d be hard-pressed to find other places.
Edible gifts that are bound to disappear quickly
Know someone who seems to already have it all? Give the gift of food. While homemade goodies may be plentiful during this time of the year, giving the gift of the buttery-delicious toffee from Toffee to Go
will give your giftee something to chomp on and share immediately or stash away until all of the house guests are gone.
Non-vegans might think that “vegan” and “baked goods” are words that should never be uttered in the same sentence. But with decadent cakes, doughnuts, and other baked delights, Valhalla Bakery
in St. Pete is known to serve up delicious vegan treats even by non-vegan standards.
There’s a reason why mead is known as the nectar of the Gods. Its honey-base
makes it a sweet dessert beverage even non-drinkers of alcoholic beverages have come to crave. Pass on the big brand alcohols, and swing by Garagiste Meadery
in Tampa Heights for some specialty craft meads (also called “honey wine”) with punchy flavors like Mixed Berry Cheesecake and Strawberry Ginger Key Limeade to make your holiday party that much more lively.
Is there another local shop or Tampa Bay Area experience that you want our readers to know more about? Please share in the Facebook comment section below.