2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Haves from Local Boston Shops and Makers

Photo of presents wrapped in the paper bag-colored paper and big blue bows with spots, near cut-outs of snowflakes, and an evergreen branch with blue ornaments.

Courtesy of iStock/photoguns

Gifts

2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Haves from Local Boston Shops and Makers

Giving great presents while supporting area businesses

December 1, 2021
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A lot of things may have changed over the past couple of years, but there’s one thing that doesn’t: wanting to give rad gifts to the people you care about this holiday season. However, if your brain’s a little fried from, you know, everything, and you don’t know where to begin, BU Today is here to help with some affordable ideas for what to get everyone on your list, from the hardest-to-please to the person who’s happy with anything.

We’ve rounded up 13 gift ideas from local shops and vendors, making it easy for you to support Boston-area businesses.

Happy gifting!

Photo of six pairs of part-gold, part-porcelain earrings sitting on a white surface.
Courtesy of Porcelain and Stone

A piece of ceramic jewelry from Porcelain & Stone

Kimberly Huestis makes gorgeous jewelry out of—you guessed it—porcelain and stone from her Somerville workshop. Snag a pair of her 22-karat-gold-dipped ceramic studs (starting at $56) for the minimalist on your list; they’re simple but pretty, and ideal for daily wear.

A white converse hightop sneaker on a white background
Courtesy of Converse

A pair of sneakers from one of Boston’s sneaker outlets

Don’t forget: Boston’s a sneaker town. More than one famous brand has headquarters here, which means it’s almost too easy to swing by a premier outlet or factory store to pick up discounted kicks. Visit the Converse outlet in Assembly Square for limited-edition and classic Chucks, or head to the New Balance factory store in Brighton for throwback styles and running shoes.

A pair of gloves on an off white background. The gloves are beige in the palm and blue/red on the finger tips.
Courtesy of the ICA

A quirky gift from one of Boston’s museum shops

Haven’t been to a museum in a while? Here’s an excuse to swing by. The Museum of Fine Arts gift shop has tons of exhibition-related items, as well as classic art prints and tchotchkes (like a Dalí melting-clock pin, $10). Have a design lover on your list? Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art shop in person or online to find fun (and practical) items, like these colorblock tech gloves ($32) or a double-walled glass mug ($28 each), perfect for a morning beverage.

Multiple bars of soap wrapped in twine sit on a wood table in front of a blurred festive background
Courtesy of Uvida

An eco-friendly treat from Uvida

This zero-waste shop in the North End is the first of its kind in Boston. It eschews plastic packaging for its home health goods, meaning you can feel better knowing you’re making eco-friendly purchases this holiday season. Uvida is also wallet-friendly thanks to a roster of affordable products: gift someone a shower set with a cedar shaving bar ($15) and shampoo and conditioner duo, like the woodsy “Boyfriend” bars ($10 each). Or pop into Uvida’s plant section for an extra-green present.

A couple sits at a bar sharing drinks with holiday lights in the background
Courtesy of iStock/monkeybusinessimages

A gift card to a local restaurant

We all know that local restaurants have been struggling during the pandemic. Give the gift of experience: make someone’s (date) night with a gift card to a local restaurant. Buy directly from your favorite neighborhood restaurant or browse OpenTable to find the perfect spot for whoever on your list is in need of a night out. Not sure where to start? Check out our neighborhood guides for some dining ideas.

Courtesy of Landrys Bicycles

A new bike lock from Landry’s

Know someone who treats their bike like a member of the family? Stop by Landry’s Bicycles—conveniently located in West Campus—for gear to help them keep it safe. Employees recommend Kryptonite’s U-locks (starting at $34), which come in a variety of sizes and colors. Trust us when we say they’ll be grateful: as anyone who’s ever had a bike stolen will tell you, there’s no such thing as “too careful.”

Courtesy of Black Owned Boston

A T-shirt from Black Owned Boston

Help support BIPOC businesses and show your local pride with a T-shirt from Black Owned Boston. The organization’s tees come in two styles: the “bos.” shirt ($20) and the “Buy Black, Buy Local” shirt ($30), both featuring Black Owned Boston’s signature “bos.” graphic on the front. While you’re there, check out the org’s directory of vendors—listees include products from skincare to vegan cupcakes.

The front marquee of Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, MA on a cloudy day
Photo by Maddie Malhotra (COM ’19)

A pair of concert tickets at a local venue

Live music was sorely missed during lockdown. Now that concert halls and clubs have reopened, why not treat someone to a show? Lineups around the city are stacked for 2022—including at the nearby Paradise in West Campus and Brighton Music Hall—and venues are itching to get fans back through the doors. 

Courtesy of Jaho

A bag of coffee from a local coffee shop

Did your parents love the coffee shop you took them to during Move-in? Bring back happy memories of their visit with a bag of coffee from that shop. If it was Pavement, grab them a bag of the Pavement Dark blend ($16), and if it was Jaho, get them a bag of the Scarlet Espresso ($16). And if it was somewhere else—well, you can figure it out.

Courtesy of Boston Shaker

A tiki mug from Boston Shaker

Let’s be real: everything tastes better in a tiki mug. Add some escapism to someone’s holiday by giving them something unique to drink from, like a porcelain unicorn ($16) or Baby Yoda ($30) from Boston Shaker—if you can’t gift them a beach vacation, this may be the next best thing.

Photo of a white jar of body butter that reads "Organic, Bath Co. Refreshmint Organic Body Butter, Net Wt. 6.2oz". The jar sits on a granite counter with white tiles in the background.
Courtesy of Organic Bath Co.

A jar of body butter from Organic Bath Co.

Treat someone on your list to a jar of decadent body butter ($29) from this Charlestown-based company. Made from shea butter and a blend of argan, sunflower, and jojoba oils, these 100 percent organic butters are hyper-nourishing and more than ready to take on dry winter skin.

two hands hold a tray of dog treats
Courtesy of Polkadog Bakery

A bag of pet treats from Polkadog Bakery 

Pets deserve presents, too! Your fluffy friends will love you even more after you give them a bag of homemade treats from local pet shop chain Polkadog. Go for something classic, like the “Chicken Little” bones for dogs ($14), or try something different, like the chewy turkey-and-cranberry “Wonder Nuggets” for cats and dogs ($11). Either way, you’ll have one happy fluff.

a pair of plaid baby boots on a white background
Courtesy of Olives and Grace

A gift from an actual gift shop

Gift shops: they exist for a reason, and Boston is lucky enough to have plenty of them. Stop by the South End’s Olives & Grace for cute finds, like the sherpa-and-fleece baby booties ($20), or grab the knit watchcap ($29), among other rustic goods, at Boston General Store in Coolidge Corner. If you head across the Charles, you’ll find more great gift ideas at Magpie in Davis Square or Albertine Press in Inman Square.  

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2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Must-Haves from Local Boston Shops and Makers

  • Alene Bouranova

    Writer/Editor Twitter Profile

    Photo of Allie Bouranova, a light skinned woman with blonde and brown curly hair. She smiles and wears glasses and a dark blue blazer with a light square pattern on it.

    Alene Bouranova is a Pacific Northwest native and a BU alum (COM’16). After earning a BS in journalism, she spent four years at Boston magazine writing, copyediting, and managing production for all publications. These days, she covers campus happenings, student life, and more for BU Today. Fun fact: she’s still using her Terrier card from 2013. When she’s not writing about campus, she’s trying to lose her Terrier card so BU will give her a new one. She lives in Brighton with her plants. Profile

    Alene Bouranova can be reached at abour@bu.edu

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