In a typical year, I would not be even contemplating holiday gift buying until after Thanksgiving. I am just not that person. BUT, this is (again) no ordinary year. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are already issues with shipping this year. At first, it seemed like a short-term blip. However, the ever-expanding delays in shipping timelines are likely to get worse over the holiday buying season. Due to supply bottlenecks and logistic issues (thanks a lot, COVID) inventory is slimmer than usual and delays in shipments are expected.
But, wait! What’s that I see? A glorious silver lining!
There’s never been a better time to purchase from smaller, local to PDX-area businesses. I know it can seem easier and more convenient to buy from big box stores, but trust me when I tell you there is gold in our metro Portland small businesses. Here are 10 ideas for finding the perfect holiday gift for the Pacific Northwest kiddo in your life and keeping your money local (win-win)!
As a biology nerd and fellow scientist, Yellow Scope Science kits have a special place in my heart. These kits check all the boxes: Science education, check. Company run by fellow scientist moms, check. Kits aimed at closing the STEM gender gap, check. Also, they look SO fun (I’m only slightly jealous these were not available back in my day). While my time in genetics has me VERY biased towards recommending their genetics “DNA & Traits” kit, they also offer several chemistry-focused boxes to choose from. Each box is designed for ages 8-12 and comes with all the equipment needed for a fun and educational experiment.
Like pretty much every local mom I know that’s ordered Earth Grown Kid Doughs, I’m a big fan. And so are my kids. Last year I ordered a rainbow 6 pack of their glitter dough and a small set of tools. It was literally one of my kids’ favorite Christmas gifts that year. They love the vibrant colors and, I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the texture is worlds better than the big box stuff. Also, it lasts a really long time (we’re still playing with our set from last year). You can get just the dough or choose from a variety of sensory sets with themes like holiday fun, space exploration, dinosaurs, and more. And if you can’t choose just one, they even offer a monthly subscription to keep the sensory kits coming!
Hoot N Annie is a beloved staple of the Hillsdale neighborhood in Southwest Portland. Their resale boutique is one of the best around (and for good reason). The quality of their items is fantastic. The selection is great. And the prices are WAY more affordable than buying new. Plus, you know, less impact on the environment. They have children’s clothing, of course, but they also have toys, books, puzzles, games, and just about everything you could think of for newborn care. There are often new and unique handmade items available from local artists as well.
I stumbled across Little Wildings Store in a local Facebook moms group. The store features handmade baby loveys, hoodies, leggings, and hats that are soooooo cute. Honestly, I have a hard time picking out a favorite because of the plethora of adorable patterns. And they even have the ability to personalize and customize for the perfect baby lovey/outfit combo.
Independent Toy Stores
Instead of purchasing from large corporations that rhyme with things like Tamazon and Arget, consider your area’s independent toy store. Of course they have more than just toys. With learning and art kits, puzzles, and outdoor play, there’s always something new and exciting for kids of any age. And the best part is, these stores will HELP you find the perfect gift. In addition to online gift guide by age, should you, I don’t know, walk into the store, their experts will open your eyes to options you didn’t even know existed (speaking from personal experience). My favorite east side location is Hammer & Jacks, off SE Foster. When I’m on west side, I love Piccolo Mondo (with 3 locations – P.S. they also gift wrap!)
Yes, one of the hippest PDX stores/record labels has an entire section for kids. In addition to their collection of cool kid apparel, you can find a selection of adorable/quirky/all-around-fantastic books, stuffies, loveys, art kits, gift boxes, and more.
Living in the Pacific Northwest means we are literally SURROUNDED by nature’s beauty – waterfalls, trails, hiking, and camping abound. That makes a monthly subscription to Super Nature Adventures the perfect gift for getting kiddos outside and exploring. Made for ages 3-8, each monthly packet comes with hand-illustrated maps, activities, and stickers for a different area. They also include a new parent newsletter, to help the entire family engage with each other while connecting with nature. And you don’t want to miss out because this is their LAST YEAR for subscriptions (that means there are added goodies like collectible stickers for each month).
But don’t fear, Super Nature Adventures will continue to work with schools, non-profits, and other partners, so they will still be around (maybe you can connect with them at your school!)
Like many of us, pre-kids I didn’t really understand the whole “teething accessories” thing. Post-babies, I totally get it. That’s part of what I love about Sparrow and Bean. They have some A-DOR-A-BLE teething accessories: A camera, a Gameboy, hipster glasses, A PENGUIN YOU CAN TAKE TO THE ZOO TO SEE THE PENGUINS! In addition to their teething jewelry, they also have some pretty great (non-teething) options for the grown-ups in your life too (hint, hint friends).
Admission to an Indoor Playspace
I know, I know. It can feel a little weird to head back indoors with other kiddos. But, many of these spaces are aware of the germ concern (especially in the winter months) and have adjusted cleaning and headcount policies to create a safe environment for kiddos to work off some of that excess energy they always seem to generate. Playspaces to consider include:
(on the East-side) The Wiggle Room
An obvious Portland staple. You know it, you love it (or at least I do). In addition to tons of books and fantastic recommendations for readers of ALL ages, they offer a variety of art kits, Legos, crafts, science experiments, and more!
What PDX-area businesses are you buying from this year? Let us know in the comments!