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‘Tis the season for alternative gift giving

With the holidays around the corner, the last-minute rush to get your shopping done is now. Instead of wrapping up a physical gift to have under the tree this year, why not offer an experience instead? This creates a fun activity that you can give to your loved one, and could potentially be a way to spend even more time with them!

An example of an experience you could give to someone this year is a gift card to Spa Santé Le Relais Campagnard in Sainte Barbe. The holidays are a stressful time of year for everyone, and fitting time to relax into your schedule can be difficult. But by giving the gift of a spa retreat, “It allows for relaxation and well-being. A lot of people have a lot of tension,” says Kathleen Poulin of the spa. It offers various services that would definitely come in handy amidst the Christmas madness.

If the people you’re shopping for prefer something a little more hands-on, The Potter’s Homestead in Franklin is offering beginner pottery classes this holiday season. “Over the course of eight weeks (one three-hour class per week), we cover the fundamentals of wheel-throwing, trimming, and decorative techniques,” says owner Hanna Greig-Steinmetz. This is a great way to have a friend develop a new hobby or get some experience in something they’re passionate about. Greig-Steinmetz adds that giving someone an experience also helps to extend the holiday season, and lets people celebrate for a little longer. “Once all the gifts have been opened and the tree has been put outside, most go back to their daily routine. By gifting experiences, you’re gifting memories and something to look forward to beyond the holiday season.” She also offers at-home kits and handmade pottery.

Tricot Laines Studio in Huntingdon is also offering various courses that could be gifted this holiday season. “The store offers courses in knitting, crocheting, weaving on Berger loom, wool spinning with spinning wheel and spindle, wool dyeing, felting, embroidery and cross-stitch at all levels,” explains owner Christina Fasoula. She adds that not only are these classes fun, but they also have benefits as well. “It’s amazing to be able to build something or create something…It can be meditative, relaxing, and fulfilling.” She also mentions that handmade gifts are a wonderful option to give this year. “It’s offering love when we gift a creation we’ve made.”

Tricot Laines Studio also sells lots of different products made by local artisans such as chocolates, jewelry, home goods, and more. Amongst these are different kits you can complete at home. These can be a great way to get the family engaged in a fun activity while everyone is home for the holidays. Fasoula says, “It can be easy to get lost in front of the phone or the TV or video games. This creates a family link and opens up creativity.”

Something else to consider would be to shop secondhand this year. Chloe Chamandy of Ormstown’s Kitschin Café and Boutique explains that “Some secondhand items are in such good condition that they’re very giftable, and in some cases they’re collectibles too, like some rare records.” Her boutique is half vegan cafe, half shop, where you can find everything from quirky home decor to pins and patches to clothing and more. About 20 per cent of her products are secondhand (including books, records, video games, comics, etc). Something she recommends when shopping is to have a specific vision in mind for each person individually. “Getting something personalized goes a long way,” she explains.

Steinmetz echoes this sentiment and says, “Feel free to ask someone close to them for ideas as well: what do they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What’s on their bucket list?” Gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money to be special, especially if they feel thoughtful and personalized.

Being able to get Christmas presents locally comes with unique benefits. For one, you can feel good about it, as “Local businesses usually treat their employees somewhat better,” says Chamandy. Fasoula adds that supporting local businesses puts money right back into the community. The people you’re supporting are your friends, neighbours, children, and beyond. Shopping locally isn’t just a gift for your loved ones, but for your community as well.

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