Last year’s holiday shopping season was a bit wonky to say the least. Between lockdowns and restrictions, shopping for gifts had its own unique set of challenges.

But, 2020 is in the past and many people are looking forward to the 2021 season, and the gifting trend is obvious this year: local is in.

After a year of ordering online with minimal personal contact, shopping at local retailers within the community is more important than ever. Additionally, supporting local businesses, makers and craftspeople through gift giving helps support the local economy and keeps the town humming. And with shipping costs going up and the pace at which items are arriving slowing down, shopping locally this year might save you some unwanted stress as well.

Black Friday is quickly approaching and the Christmas trees are going up and now is the perfect time to start filling those empty tree skirts with gifts galore.

Toys, toys, toys!

Many children can’t wait to unwrap the new toys that await them under the tree. The toy wonderland known as Goose Gang in Perham is a great place to locally purchase toys this year.

For the babies in the bunch, Goose Gang has plenty of gifts for ages newborn to 3 years old. One fun and unique gift to give this year is a Warmies Stuffed animal. These cute cuddlies are perfectly sized and lightly weighted to provide a calming and anxiety reducing sensory experience. They can also be warmed up in the microwave to provide soothing warmth before bedtime. They are even scented with real dried French lavender to further boost their calming effects. And with so many cute animals to choose from, there is sure to be a perfect match for the little one on your list.

Also be sure to check out Plan Toys Sustainable Play eco-friendly toys, which enhance physical and cognitive development all while being made and manufactured in a sustainable way. This is a great way to gift the next generation with fun toys without unintentionally filling their future world with more junk.

For ages four and up, Legos are always a good option. With loads of age appropriate sets to choose from, grab one (or more) for the future builder in your family.

For the budding artist, Goose Gang has a selection of Ooly Chunkies paint sticks. These super fun and mess-free paint sticks are a brilliant way to inspire young creative minds.

For preteens, check out the National Geographic Dino Fossil dig kit. And for the crafty kid on your list, the “Make it Real Jewelry Collection” is another creative option.

Fashion

There is no shortage of fashion in Fergus Falls, and local boutiques have the fashionista on your list covered. Dandelion and Burdock has stylish winter wardrobe updates for both men and women, and The Bric has cozy and fashionable winter sweaters and unique jewelry options that are sure to please.

Creative Handmade Goods is also stocked with hand-knit or crocheted hats, scarves, sweaters and mittens from several local makers. Their selection includes handmade clothing for kids, men and ladies.

Drinks

Holiday festivities are filled with jolly toasts and a bottle of wine or six pack of beer is the perfect gift to bring for the party host. The Fergus Falls Municipal Liquor Store is stocked full of options. This year, try finding a locally brewedbeer or a small batch, craft-made wine. The Fergus Liquor Store has a huge variety to choose from and the staff is always there to help you find a beer or wine your friend or family member (or you!) will love.

You can also pop into any of the local breweries and get a growler or a crowlerbefore your gathering. Some local beer options include Fergus Brewing, Outstate Brewing, Ashby Brewing and Thousand Lakes Brewing.

If you really want to impress, check out locally madewine from places like Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria or Rolling Forks Vineyards in Glenwood.

Don’t forget about the caffeine! Bags of locally roasted coffee can be purchased at many shops throughout Otter Tail County and will certainly make cold mornings a bit warmer.

Wellness and beauty

We could all use a little boost of vitamin D during the dreary winter. So, for the health nut in your family, grab a bottle of Nordic Naturals Omega 3 and vitamin D supplements at Invision Eye Care.

If you’re looking for beauty gifts, look no further than local brand SoapWerks. The dropping temperatures and bitter Minnesota winds don’t do our skin any good. SoapWerks has you covered with their wide variety of nourishing products such as shower oil, goat milk hand and body cream and their brand new recovery cream.

Candles are always a nice way to set a relaxing mood and they make great gifts for anyone who is trying to add more self-care time into their routine. The Market, with locations in Fergus Falls and Battle Lake, has plenty of options that are made with clean ingredients so you can be sure you’re giving a safe and healthy gift that smells divine.

Board games, books and puzzles

Biffley’s & Bookmark has no shortage of board games and books for the whole family. From infants to grandparents, the book selection is vast. And if you’re looking for some additional screen-free fun, you will definitely be able to find an entertaining game to play at Biffley’s.

Puzzles also make great gifts. Puzzle sales grew tremendously during the pandemic, and they are still a wonderful gift option for someone who enjoys spending cozy nights inside while the snow falls. Biffley’s has a great selection of puzzles for all ages.

Art

Metal art is all the rage this season. Fergus Metalworks is stocked up on laser-cut trees, wall art and ornaments. Check out their Facebook page or stop by Creative Handmade Goods to see their selection.

Gift cards

If you are running low on time or are all out of ideas, a gift card to a local shop, restaurant, or coffee shop is always a wonderful way to spread some holiday cheer.

Before you hit the town with your updated local shopping list, here is a quick reminder that many retailers are approaching this holiday season short staffed and are still recovering from the pandemic. Please consider sharing the spirit of the holidays by treating local business owners and workers with kindness and joy. Happy shopping!

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