Oftentimes the most unique gifts are the ones made by small businesses. Shopping small and locally gives gifters the opportunity to seek out hyper-specific items that show the person receiving how much attention and care went into choosing their gift.
It can also have the added bonus of directly supporting a marginalized community or coming with a story about the relationship that made it.
For the sustainable homebody
Vancouver-based, student-run start-up Mosa, collects discarded glass bottles and upcycles them into drinking glasses and home accessories. Originally called Recycled Glass, the students behind Mosa comb through beach cleanups, local restaurants and bars, and other locations to collect glass bottles and repurpose them in their micro-factory. The result is a unique, sustainable collection of candles, platters, lights, and drinking and shot glasses.
For the map nerd
Point Two Design in Kitsilano specializes in using map data and satellite images in highly detailed art. The images are high resolution enough that a ton of detail is captured. In some of the Vancouver-specific pieces, you can make out people walking around Granville Island, though it depends on the size of the image (the full Vancouver shot stretches from Point Roberts to the North Shore Mountains). They don't just focus on Vancouver, either. The art ranges from famous cityscapes to interesting designs made by the interactions of people and geography, to more hidden human places and natural wonders.
For the fashion conscious
Ay Lelum translates Coast Salish art onto clothing. The designs are a mix of formal and everyday dresses, jackets, and shawls with the occasional top. Run by sisters Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good, their brother, artist and carver Joel Good, also contributes to the collection.
For the Star Wars fan
Digital artist David Aste creates prints depicting a version of Vancouver overrun by the fictional Empire. Aste drops details and Easter eggs into iconic landscapes and recognizable landmarks. In one of his images, a rebel helmet is covered in stickers referencing UBC, where he figures many of the rebels willing to fight Darth Vader would come from. In another titled "Walker Chilling Beach," the Vancouver parks board sign has been altered in two ways. The obvious way is the name; the image is a play on Barge Chilling Beach. But a much smaller detail lies in Vancouver's 'o,' which has been swapped out with an Empire logo. On top of that, the walker has an Uber light on it, since Aste figures when they're not moving troops they could help out the urban transit department.
For the Pokémon enthusiast
Chase Gray, who's Musqueam and Tsimshian, took his ancestral background and mixed it with his childhood playing Pokémon. His artwork, which he sells in prints, is in the Tsimshian tradition (with ovoids and u-shapes), though he is learning Salish designs right now (with crescents, trigons and negative space). Pokémon is his main focus but he has other designs too. Some, like Digimon or Studio Ghibli pieces, are similarly inspired by pop culture.
For the artful stoner
While cannabonsai isn't a recognized word it should be fairly obvious what it's about; cannabis plants are cared for in a similar way to bonsai trees. North Vancouver resident Manny Oyarce is quick to point out he's not the inventor of the practice and that the experience isn't about producing something to smoke. "You form a relationship with the plant because you're checking on it every day," he explains. The plants aren't like bonsai trees; they grow and are harvested over three months (as compared to the decades a tree might live). Over that time he forms each plant, creating organic art.
For the skincare girlie who has everything
When someone has every product over the sun, it's best to not try to add to their collection. Instead, get them the best facial you can afford. It helps to know what skin concerns they have as well (dryness, acne, age spots, etc.) and match the treatment to the concern. If you really want to give them something physical to unwrap too, gift them a product they can use to keep their skin glowing post-facial or a fun skincare tool like these reusable under-eye patches that come in a sleek compact and have sassy phrased printed on them for mirror selfies.
For the natural skincare expert
Nuez Acres is a Metis beauty brand for men and women based in Langley that uses pecan oil to create beard, face, and body care products that are waterless and environmentally friendly. The pecans are harvested from a family farm in Mexico and two of the products just won an international clean beauty award, too. People with acne tend to be afraid of oils but this brand is surprisingly effective at helping clear it up.
For the Euphoria watcher
HBO's Euphoria, a neon-noir teen drama, introduced Metro Vancouver brand SUVA beauty's signature Hydra Liners to the mainstream thanks to makeup artist Doniella Davy. Davy used the brand's products to create bold, colourful and graphic looks that have sparked countless articles and trend reports heralding this style of makeup as the next big thing.
For the person who had a hard year
Yusa Masud is a registered clinical counsellor, who created Kasih Kit (initially for herself and her husband) from her own training and experience, plus principles of trauma-informed therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and mindfulness. The pieces can be purchased as a kit or individually and are intended to give you everything you need to understand your own inner dialogue and develop self-care routines that work for you. The kit contains "multiple sensory items to calm us down, cards with affirmations and activities to engage our minds and bodies, and a 'feeling wheel' with a notebook to help us get into the practice of noticing, identifying, and understanding our emotions and thoughts," says Masud.
For the badass biker
This is more of a present for gift-givers who are flush with cash and have a motorcycle lover on their list. EastVanChopcycle makes electric bikes that pay homage to chopper motorcycles. One was even featured in a Snoop Dogg music video. They run somewhere between $7,500 and $10,000, though a special model sold for $12,000. But if you've got the money, it would certainly make a great gift.