Most of the time, I detest gift guides. I realize this may be a strange way to start off a gift guide, but they're usually uninspired and predictable, so this is my attempt to make one that is actually helpful.
I try to buy most gifts, holiday or otherwise, from locally owned shops, and applied the same parameters to this guide, too. Have a limited amount of time? Start with these three: Stag, Nannie Inez, and Fail Collective, three very different stores all brimming with extraordinary options for almost anyone on your list.
Want to lessen your carbon gifting footprint even smaller? Challenge yourself to buy secondhand at places such as Top Drawer, Feathers, and Room Service. Not only is it an environmentally friendly option, you're guaranteed to find something unique.
And don't let Peloton scare you — exercise classes are a great gift, but think about supporting local there, too. From barre and yoga studios to Crossfit and bootcamp gyms, Austin has a bevy of locally owned options. My favorites are Ride Indoor Cycling and Practice Yoga, both of which were just named Austin Fit Magazine's 2019 best cycling studio and best yoga studio, respectively.
The 11 options below are all things I love or love to give, but they're also meant to get you thinking about how and where you spend your money this season. Need some more inspiration? Take a look at some of our most recent Where to Shop guides, including recently opened boutiques, Austin men's shops, and local furniture stores.
For a cheap white elephant gift that will make everyone laugh — dog poop bags from Flat Track
For $3, snag a roll of Flat Track-branded dog poop bags, which are tucked away on a little shelf next to the counter. Have a dog lover on your list? Pair the bags with a Realm collapsible water bowl, priced $20-$25, and also available via Flat Track. These to-go bowls are both stylish and easily fit into a bag or glove compartment. While there, snag a bag of whole bean coffee to bring with you for the holidays and surreptitiously swap out the Folger's for Flat Track's Ethiopian Kilenso — your family will thank you.
For a baby's gift that won't make their parents crazy — wooden rings stacker and stuffed animal from Take Heart
Take Heart is my go-to for gifts of all kinds — beautiful tarot decks for spiritual friends, linen kitchen towels for new homeowners, Sydney Hale candles for myself — but it's also a best-kept secret for baby and children's goods. In addition to carrying an assortment of beautiful Byrd Baylor picture books (a San Antonio native!), Take Heart carries beautiful wooden toys, such as this rings stacker ($45) from Wooden Story, and gorgeous handmade plush animals, like Sweater Bun ($45) from Texas Hill Country's Buddha Hill. Not only do these toys look beautiful, they don't make any noise.
For your sister who always has great accessories — Tumini Vida earrings from Limbo
My cousin gave me a pair of gold Tumini Vida earrings in April as a thank you, and I have worn them almost every day since. They're dressy enough for a special occasion, but chic enough to wear every day. Plus, these handmade earrings are priced at a very reasonable $55-$65.
For your brother who keeps saying he wants to try CBD — Mineral's Robyn CBD oil and ReStart's pre-rolled Sour Space Candy joints
Since CBD companies began coming into Austin a few years ago, one of the most frequent questions I get from readers and friends alike is: Which one is the best? It depends, but I usually suggest Mineral Health, available in the company's East Sixth shop or online. Robyn, a CBD hemp oil the company recently rebranded as Balance, Sleep, and Recovery, is best used daily to reduce inflammation and ease tension. It's pricier than other options ($80-$160) but that's because you're paying for quality stuff sourced directly from Colorado farmers. For right now, knock-your-socks-off relaxation, light up one of ReStart's pre-rolled Sour Space Candy CBD joints ($11 per joint). This has become my go-to on nights where I want to unwind without knocking back a glass of wine.
For your partner who loves an ugly sweater party — Austin Parks Foundation holiday sweater
We're not sure how holiday sweater parties came into style, but much like fruit cake, they don't seem to be going away. Proceeds from the Austin Parks Foundation's limited-edition holiday sweater ($50) goes directly to local parks, green spaces, and trails, giving the wearer a chance to give back while looking, you know, kind of ridiculous.
For your parent's enviable collection of beautiful cookbooks — Bread on the Table by Easy Tiger's David Norman
Bread on the Table, the beautiful debut cookbook from Easy Tiger's "head dough puncher" David Norman, is a delicious trip through the breads of Europe. In addition to recipes, the book is filled with anecdotes, gorgeous photography, and tips on important things like how to make a sandwich. Skip Amazon and order the book ($35) from BookPeople.
For that friend who is always down to try something new — canning class at Confituras
The jam makers and biscuit bakers at Confituras offer seasonal canning classes, which teach the basics of jam making. What's most intriguing about this class ($75), however, is it also teaches the basics of canning, a skill that can be applied to making pickles, canning tomatoes, and other things to make the most of that home garden.