So it’s finally the holiday season!

Unfortunately, this year looks very different than years past. This year, it’s lighting the menorah over Zoom instead of celebrating Hannukah with your family. It’s listening to carolers on Facebook Live instead of attending a Christmas concert. And it’s having your kids repeatedly checking if Santa will still be allowed to travel (don’t worry, kids, we’ve been assured he’s good to go).

Many traditions may be on hold or modified this year, but gift-giving needn’t be! There’s a pretty good excuse to be late with your holiday shopping this season, what with the ongoing global pandemic and rising cases in our region. Thankfully, there’s plenty of home-grown holiday gift ideas for you to safely pick up last minute for friends and family. Plus, you’ll be supporting small, local businesses! And since we’re in the red zone and should be avoiding all non-essential shopping, the options included below offer curbside pick-up, pre-ordered in-store pick-up, or can even be ordered right from your own home! 

So we’ve got your Zoom gift exchanges, porch drop-offs, and physically distanced holiday visits covered! 

Scoop up Something Cozy

What’s better than cuddling up with a warm beverage and a comfy blanket or sweater? There’s no shortage of spots in London, ON to pick up a cozy last-minute gift for your loved one.  

A photo of a maroon sweater that from neck to mid-stomach; the sweater says Take Care and the individual is wearing a long necklace with a crystal.
Image via Instagram @softflirt.

What about…

Introduce Them to Their New Favourite Band

What’s better than giving the gift of music? London’s got lots of options for picking up some records or CDs for your music-loving pals! Check out Grooves, Odyssey Records & Cinema, or Speed City Records and introduce them to their new favourite musician! Or get them a membership for Aeolian Phoenix Sessions, and they’ll be able to enjoy four performances by premier artists each month from the comfort of their own home! 

Grooves Records Gift bag and sign that says have a very indie Christmas.
Image via Instagram @groovesrecords.

If they’re musically-inclined (or just wish they were) — what about music lessons? Junction Beats, 519 School of Hip Hop, The Drum Studio, and SMArts – School of Music Arts are just some of the options! 

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Give the Gift of Culture

London, ON is lucky to have many museums and cultural institutions. Show your support for these arts and heritage organizations while also giving a fabulous gift that can be used all year long!

Image with a red background says Gift Guide and shows member card and gift certificates.
Image via Instagram @children_museum.

Gift them a membership to the Forest City Gallery, an annual pass to Fanshawe Pioneer Village, a membership to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, or membership and some fun merch from the London Children’s Museum.

Inspire Their New Year’s Libations

If your intended recipient is known to imbibe now and again, there are plenty of options from craft beer, artisan cider, and handmade, batch-distilled spirits are all available locally! 

Four spaces with a six-pack of beer, a hat, a sweat, and the words "gift card."
Image via Instagram @beerlabldnon.

Pick up some locally brewed craft beer from London Brewing Co-Op, Storm Stayed Brewing Co., Beerlab!, Forked River Brewing Company, or Anderson Craft Ales

A bottle of red vodka sits between two glasses of red liquid with candy canes and elves in the background.
Image via Instagram @uniontendistilling.

If beer isn’t their thing, pick up some wine from Grace Restaurant’s Hygge European-style Christmas Market, some local cider or mead from Heeman’s, or maybe a bottle of Candy Cane Vodka or a Hot Chocolate Rum Cocktail Kit from Union Ten Distilling.

Encourage Their Green Thumb

Whether your loved one is an avid gardener or can’t keep a plant alive for more than a week, there’s something for everyone at one of London’s many garden centres and flower shops!

A room filled with plants and gifts.
Image via Instagram @growandbloomco.

What about… 

Gift a Unique Forest City Experience

Don’t want to give them more stuff? Think about gifting them a fun London experience! 

A man works with a piece of wood in the lefthand corner, with a larger piece of wood and tools in the foreground.
Image via Instagram @londonwoodshop.

What about… 

Keep them Well-fed

Everyone’s a little cash-strapped in the new year, and this one is likely to be no different if not worse due to the pandemic. Give your friends the gift of future dining out or take-out while also supporting local restaurants! 

A container of fries covered in toppings and sauce.
Image via Instagram @shelbyscanada.

There are plenty of amazing restaurants in London to choose from, but may I suggest Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium, Shelby’s, Ivanopoblano, YOU Cafe, The Church Key Bistro-Pub, or Zen’Za Pizzeria. Or give them the gift of choice with a local restaurant holiday gift card pack featuring gift cards from Grace Restaurant, The River Room, Blackfriar’s Bistro, and Craft Farmacy.

A hand holds up a gift calendar with January 2021 written on it.
Image via Instagram @onthemoveorganics.ca.

And if dining out or take-out isn’t their thing, help them out with groceries with an On the Move Organics 2021 Calendar full of year-long discounts or a gift certificate so they can have fresh, organic food delivered to their doorstep! Gift them a membership to London Food Co-Op or a gift certificate to Reimagine Co.’s new package-free grocery store. 

And Well-read

No holiday parties this year just means there’s more time to read! London’s lucky to boast many lovely independent bookstores that sell both new and gently used books. Get the bookworm in your life their next great read!

Gifts are wrapped in brown paper with red string and snowman tags.
Image via Instagram @brownanddickson.

Brown and Dickson Bookstore, Bread and Roses Books, City Lights Bookshop, Mystic Bookshop, The Book Addict, and Oxford Book Shop are just some of the options for your last minute shopping, and many offer curbside pick up or delivery. 

Make a Donation

If your friends or family are the types who already have everything and you’re scratching your head at what to get them – consider making a donation in their name! This year has been tough for many charitable organizations and non-profits.

A black background with the words "No Hungry Queers - together we can ensure everyone has access to food this winter."
Image via Instagram @queerevents.

Make a donation to those who help the most vulnerable, and you’ll be sure to give them the warm and fuzzies this holiday season. Some organizations you can donate to include the London Food Bank, My Sister’s Place, AtlhosaLife Spin, SafeSpace London, Queer Events London, and Anova.

What are your last-minute local gift ideas?

And which of these gifts would you most like to receive? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature photo of Grace Restaurant’s Hygge Holiday Market courtesy of Dundas Place

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