If you are like me and you love to procrastinate, December can be a very dangerous month. Around the beginning of the month you look at the calendar and think “Hey! I have 24 days to get all of this done, no problem! I will plan better this year and won’t leave it to the last-minute.” Come Dec.23, the stress level is through the roof and you are solving your problem by pulling random gift cards from the checkout at your local grocery store or corner gas station.
There is a better way — last week I wandered my way through the city checking out a few local places to get Christmas shopping done in one stop. Although I will admit I bought more for myself than anyone else, maybe there should be some allotted budget for this — in the month of December I am a strong supporter of one gift for you and two for me. No one said you can’t spend your Santa Dollars in advance.
Stop one, Little Brick in Riverdale. Whether you are looking for a gift or a host/hostess gift for someone, an item that most people enjoy is coffee. Michael Forgie, general manager at Little Brick, has a few recommendations for the coffee lovers on your list. A digital scale to weigh coffee (ensuring the brew isn’t too weak and tasteless or too strong and bitter) is a good idea, as is a grinder to allow for coarse to fine grinds (also affecting the taste), or a pour over container.
Little Brick is your one stop shop for the coffee lover on your list and they have enough great local products in their general store that you could realistically buy a latte and have your entire list taken care of by the time you are finished sipping. Going into the Christmas season they will be carrying a variety of different coffee kits that will include coffee from Detour, Bows and Arrow and Four Barrel. You will also be able to find a variety of gifts made by local Edmontonians. You can pick up Bro Brick, the Faces of Edmonton book and artwork from Jason Blower.
Ryan Arcand of Iconoclast Koffiehaus agrees that a grinder is a very important part of making a good cup of coffee at home. If you are looking for local beans to buy for your coffee lover, Iconoclast roasts their own beans and sells them at the cafe (on 105 Street behind Oliver Square) along with a variety of necessary tools to make the perfect cup. You can also order coffee from 105ave.com and have it delivered.
Catfish Coffee Roasters also has a variety of different roasted beans to suit anyone tastes. You can find them at the Strathcona Farmers’ Market, as well as a selection of their beans at Carbon (and other really cool eco-friendly products at Carbon’s High Street location). Other cafes such as Farrow, Transcend and newcomer Bru Coffee and Beer House are great places to stop in and pick up a few things.
Stop two was Sherbrooke Liquor Store. Even If you know nothing about beer other than it comes in a can or a bottle, the team at Sherbrooke will help you pick out something for the beer lover on your list. You can take a walk through the cooler and pick out your own six-pack to pass on as a present or pick up a $107 bottle of beer to take to a Christmas party that will be spoken about for years to come. Not to mention there’s plenty of selection in between as well.
Stop three was United Cycle. If your list consists of someone who loves to get outside and get active I guarantee you could finish your list at United Cycle and have plenty of time to hop across the street to MKT and have a pint. Kelly Hodgson, brand and events manager walked me through the store and showed off gift ideas for everyone, whether your gift recipient sees snow on the road as a personal challenge to continue biking all winter or is looking to channel his/her inner McDavid. The variety is overwhelming — who knew that scooters were now a professional sport akin to skateboarding?
Hodgson also talked about types of gifts that keeps on giving without a continued cost. Snowshoes, for example, are a great way to get out in out winter city and explore the river valley. Or fat bikes are a way to carry on the summer cycling in a more sturdy and secure way.
Remember — gifts don’t have to be something that will last forever. It can be an experience instead. A great cup of coffee on Christmas morning, skating in the park before Christmas dinner and a great local beer to go along with dinner sound like pretty good gifts to me.