Think about your favorite Christmas movies.
There are the funny slapstick movies where the main character is having one issue after another at the overcrowded box store.
Then there are those cozy Christmas movies, where the characters are strolling with paper shopping bags in one hand and a festive hot cocoa in the other.
Shopping small is sort of the real-life way to create your own Hallmark movie, helping you slow down and savor the holidays.
Plus, it makes the holidays brighter for business owners in the community.
Rather than scrolling your screen constantly for the next big promo code for the extraordinary gift that will turn 2020 around, make your whole holiday season extraordinary starting with the preparation.
Make the journey part of the fun and call up a friend for a shopping date with a quick (local) bite to eat and walk around downtown for stocking stuffers.
Get a babysitter and turn it into a date night with dinner at a locally-owned restaurant before you go gift shopping.
Stroll the festive lights downtown at St. Michaels’ Midnight Madness Dec. 3-5, with this year’s gift basket being done virtually or check out Cambridge’s Holiday Night Market on Nov. 14 or Dec. 12 from 4-9 p.m.
In a time for togetherness, you can still be together, even if it is socially distanced and masked.
When you “shop small,” the store may offer a smaller selection but it also means each selection is carefully thought of and selected by the shopowner, so it’s something you and your recipient are bound to love.
If you prefer to not shop in person, you can call them up and with an inventory they know like the back of their hand, and they can steer you in the right direction.
One spot for friendly smiles and excellent customer service is your local drugstore.
Have you ever lingered in one and noticed how many times a customer is greeted by name from behind the counter?
Picking up prescriptions is sometimes their outing for the week, and shopping local can make the experience a fulfilling one.
Not only that, but a few of our local ones also double as fantastic gift shops — such as Edward’s Pharmacy in Centreville or Hill’s in Easton.
With tumblers to local high school wear, cards and ornaments to classic toys and books, rainbow unicorn socks to boutique clothing to pampering skincare these Shore boutiques have a large variety in a small space.
Edward’s will be offering free gift wrapping service for purchases over $50 and will also offer curbside pick-up.
Hill’s Drugstores also have some fabulous stocking stuffers and gifts.
Specialty shops also have hidden treasures and smaller crowds in them.
Towns throughout the Mid-Shore have stores focused just on toys, hobbies, fishing, even lamps.
If you can’t think of search terms to stick into your Amazon search bar because you just don’t know, go to a shop they’d like and let a gift find you instead.
Think outside of the box completely with locally-owned businesses that might not even sell “stuff” at all.
Experience gifts are very much a thing, so pop by a local maker to grab a bottle of a favorite local wine, or beer with a gift certificate for a tasting in the spring.
If you won’t be traveling to see your loved ones for a bit, keep in mind that Maryland wineries are also able to ship wine to several states.
Have a loved one into their smoker or grill? Grab some fancy cuts of meat from your butcher or a gift card. (An added bonus may be a dinner invite for when they cook it!)
If you know your aunt is chomping at the bit for gardening season, wrap up a gift card with tools and seeds in a pretty planter from a garden shop.
If you still aren’t quite sure, try shopping local to elevate a typical gift.
If your husband gets a pack of socks from Santa every year, head out to one of several local alpaca farms and get him a pair of Alpaca fiber socks. (Trust me, after one guy raves about them, it’s not long before everyone at the poker table needs a pair!)
Stuff their stockings with locally made treats.
Besides farmers’ markets and small bakeries, check out Shore Gourmet Denton Market, where you can pick a “Savor Maryland” package or build your own with locally made or raised products like honey, granola, cheese, coffee and more.
When shopping small, don’t just focus on shopping for gifts.
If your family will still have the hustle and bustle of multiple gatherings and the like, continue to relax and enjoy the parts you like doing but have a small shop owner do the rest!
Do you like setting a lovely table but maybe not baking? Or do you love cooking the dinner but run out of time to create a floral centerpiece or out of energy for breakfast the next day?
Many small bakeries and eateries may be feeling the squeeze this year with company events and the like getting cancelled, so turn to them for the perfect pastry platter to bring to brunch or yummy but time-consuming sides to your entree.
While there’s something about grabbing a doorbuster gift at a big box store, a gift that says, “I saw this at a little shop and it made me smile and think of you,” sends its own message, too.