Some people are thrilled about holiday shopping at their favourite stores. For others the thrill of speed shopping through malls is similar to running a sweaty and very packed marathon.
In many cases these shoppers will skip the crowds and switch to online shopping. But if you prefer eying glittery ornaments and marvelling at the cornucopia of trinkets in person, St. Albert has several boutique retailers that carry creative gifts.
If you’re a last-minute window-shopper beware. Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa may appear far away. However, holidays have a way of creeping up and it’s less stressful to buy early before selections get spotty.
Seasons Gift Shop located on McKenney Ave., has for more than a decade stocked its shelves with boutique jewelry, artisanal craft wares, purses and wallets, capes and coats, bath and body products, baby presents and fashion footwear.
Mary-Ann Hamernyk, who attended the shop’s Christmas Open House this past Saturday, says the store is her go-to place for hostess gifts and seasonal presents.
“They have reasonably priced gifts for different seasons. I love the different items and the price point. There’s always a good selection. And I’m 100 per cent in support of local business,” said Hamernyk.
Walking into Seasons, one can’t help but wonder if Santa just dropped by with a delivery. Several feet from the doorway is a gigantic gnome tree packed with gnomes of every size.
“Gnomes are really big this year. There’s tons and tons of them. That was what we saw at the gift shows. Gnomes started appearing last year, but they went really crazy this year,” said co-owner Dara Lee Paul.
Another trendy holiday item is Diamond Dotz paintings. It’s a new craft hobby that’s a mix between cross stitch and paint by numbers. Hobbyists apply tiny resin diamonds to an adhesive canvas to create vibrant mosaic paintings. The craft kits offer a wide selection of designs from simple to stunning.
Another popular gift people are snapping up are trivia card games.
“People will be spending more time with family indoors. Instead of doing other things, they’re having fun with trivia games.”
Seasons has once again imported British Columbia wood carver Dave Francis’ line of Christmas tree ornaments. This year’s theme of Santa carvings are winter sports – a hockey player, snowboarder, curler and skier.
“They’re so cute. And they’re a collectible. He does new ones every year.”
And Seasons is also carrying copies of Morinville writer Riley Quinn’s Lost Boys Trilogy. It follows the story of four boy clans living in a mystical wood. Clan hostilities build and when the protagonist Leonardo is sent on patrol to defend his clan, inexplicable events occur leading him to question everything.
Over at Bookstore on Perron, a gift store staple exuding warmth and hospitality, avid readers will discover an entire wall plus assorted shelves with diverse books kept on hand for every age and taste.
Customers can order Barack Obama’s newly released political biography, A Promised Land, or just as easily wander into the little kids’ section and flip through a wealth of short readers such as Poo! Is That You?, an adventure with Lenny, a lemur who vacations in the Amazon rainforest.
Christmas tree ornaments hang from every nook and cranny – fairies, athletes, dancers, animals, elves, gnomes, metal musical notes and various Santas. Other holiday decorations range from light-up, self-swirling snow globes to one-foot trees made entirely of frosted glass that light up.
There is also a generous selection of spiritual icons such as angels and nativity personalities for patrons celebrating Christmas’ religious history.
Just a few doors down, Modern Eyes Gallery and Gifts specializes in blown glass art objects and one-of-a kind pottery and artisanal jewelry. One of their biggest sellers at this time of year is scented candles.
“Some are in a log. Some are on a wooden tray. Some are in glass. Some are paired candles. Others are tapered. And there are quite a few scents – grapefruit pine, ginger patchouli, sugared lemon and tobacco bark for men,” said assistant manager Susan Jackson.
With the pandemic’s increasing cases, customers are asking for lamp purifiers and Modern Eyes has brought in the Maison Berger line.
“It has a catalytic burner that purifies the air. It’s beautiful and it makes your home smell clean and wonderful,” Jackson said.
The store has also ordered a variety of Love’s Pure Light luxury scarves. The oversize silk scarves are defined by bold swirling colours and saturated with biblical messages.
“They’re very big, but light. You can wear them indoors or as an accent to a coat.”
And for those searching for functional holiday presents, there are always warm fuzzy slippers or a Swiss Army Knife.
“We really do have something for everyone.”