Creative last-minute gift ideas (Winnipeg edition)

We’re getting down to the wire, so I’ll cut to the chase. Christmas is only a few sleeps away, and all you procrastinators are probably scrambling. I’ve been in your shoes, and while pandemic shopping is still pretty new to me, there are a few new ways you might be able to spoil and surprise your loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we interact with each other and the world. Chances are, you aren’t exactly running to the mall, and ordering gifts online (even with two-day Prime delivery) is probably out of the question. However, our “new normal” helped me come up with a few creative last-minute gift ideas. Most of them will help people in Winnipeg, but some ideas are pretty universal.

1. Deliver some home-cooked cheer

Sure, you might not have time to order and wrap a present, but all you bakers and chefs can still whip something up! If you’re the family cook, you can still spread some Christmas cheer and fill a few bellies along the way. I’ve heard of people making the full dinner they’d usually prepare, portioning it out and then dropping off servings for everybody. For someone who absolutely wouldn’t cook a turkey or ham just for themselves, at least they’ll get a taste of Christmas!

READ MORE: Eco-friendly ways to wrap Christmas presents

‘Tis the season of giving, but I was pretty overwhelmed by just how many of my friends in Winnipeg are organizing baking drop-offs throughout the city. There’s still time for you to hop on this train and make sure your favourite people don’t go an entire Christmas without gingerbread or mulled wine.

2. Schedule a virtual holiday party

Even if you can’t gather together, you can still connect online! If your family isn’t spread across too many time zones, you should be able to work out a conference or individual call over Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or the phone. It’s been a while since we all had video happy hours, but this is exactly the time to bring them back.

And you can take things a step further than just scheduling the call. If you can’t drive Christmas dinner over to your loved ones’ homes, consider having food and treats delivered! Just make sure you enter their address on Skip the Dishes, DoorDash or Uber Eats, instead of your own.

Many local restaurants are also offering either fixed holiday menus (for takeout and delivery) or individual meal options. The Roost has a vegan New Year’s Eve menu that’s selling out fast, and I wouldn’t say no to a gifted meal from my favourite restaurant, . They partnered with other Exchange District businesses to build a delivery team that can bring you goodies from four restaurants.

If you’re gifting to people who drink, remember you can schedule deliveries from the LC, as well as different restaurants, bars and vendors. My favourite local spirits come from Patent 5 Distillery, and they can be dropped off right at your (or someone else’s) doorstep. Similar programs are in place for non-alcoholic options, and I know I would never turn down a delivery from Wolseley Kombucha or Dave’s Juice Co.

3. Look for last-minute pickup options

You never know: some local businesses might still let you order things online (or over the phone) for pickup. I can’t promise these services will still be available by the time you read this, but I know some of my favourite women’s clothing shops – like Out of the Blue and Valencia Boutique – advertised last-minute pickup windows. Chain stores might have same- or next-day pickup, too, and I know a few local small businesses still have delivery drivers out in the city. Just make sure you place those orders ASAP.

4. Purchase a virtual gift card

I usually like to give people experiences instead of things. My siblings and I have a tradition where we take turns treating the others to concerts, comedy shows or other events. It would have been my turn this year, but we all know what 2020 meant for the entertainment industry.

Instead, I’m considering gift cards. Yes, there are the traditional ones for stores, restaurants and spas (which you might be able to use for products or delivery orders while Code Red restrictions are in effect), but many local shops offer virtual gift cards that you can email directly to your recipient! Some even allow you to schedule the delivery time for midnight on Christmas morning. Just check with your favourite local boutiques, makers, creatives and businesses to see what options are available.

READ MORE: How to support small businesses

On that note, I know it can be especially tough to find stocking stuffers this year. Stockings are a big deal in my husband’s family, and my mother-in-law really struggled to find little trinkets online. Normally, she’d just pick up things throughout December in the stores, but we all know where this is going.

This likely won’t help the kiddos in your life, but here’s something for the adults. Generation Green put together a downloadable Local Savings Book that you can buy and (mostly) use online. You can use the included coupons over the next few months for discounts at Verde Juice Bar, Studio Bloom Co. and Sarah Sue Design. We’re in the book, too, but that’s not even the best part. The entire thing is only $5!

Each coupon can only be redeemed once, but you can use them all between Dec. 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Buying and using the book can help small businesses stay alive, and it makes a nice little treat for anyone who likes everything from natural makeup to vegan cheese. And unlike the savings books you end up selling for school fundraisers, almost all of these discounts can be claimed online.

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