Gift Ideas Beyond The Big-Box Stores


When it comes to the holidays, shopping for the perfect gift can be stressful. If you’re looking to get someone the latest multi-cooker or robot vacuum, the item has likely been paid for and hidden in your closet for weeks. But if you’re still on the hunt for meaningful gifts, our shopping guide can help. Not only will these recommendations take the stress out of where to go and what to buy; they will show you why shopping local can take your shopping experience from ordinary to unique.

Zachary’s Jewelers

If you’re looking for high-end jewelry, look no further. With two locations, one in Severna Park and one in Annapolis, this jewelry store is far from ordinary when it comes to customer service and overall presentation.

The Annapolis store sets up a selfie station for guests to enjoy, documenting their shopping experience in a fun and creative way. In the Severna Park location, Zachary’s provides treats for customers. In both locations, employees wrap gifts for children who come to the store and allow them to pick one from under the tree. Zachary’s also has goodies for kids of all ages to pick from and pet treats for furry friends that come in with their owners.

As far as gifts go, you can never go wrong with diamonds. The top three gifts at Zachary’s Jewelers this holiday season are diamond stud earrings, the diamond pendant necklace and a diamond eternity ring.

Also try: For more jewelry ideas, check out Mercado Jewelers in Severna Park or Traynham’s Jewelers in Arnold.

Park Home

Want to complement the homes of everyone on your list? Park Home is a one-stop shop. It’s not just a furniture store but also has a collection of unique home décor and more. All of the items in the store are carefully chosen, offering a variety of new and vintage finds.

Park Home isn’t lacking in the gift department either. Co-owner Heather Summers said that the store carries a great selection of ornaments that are popular around the holiday season. The store also carries unique items from businesses around the area, including signs and decorative towels. Summers noted that the candle collection with “sassy quotes” on the label is a fan favorite. Proceeds from the candle sales support suicide prevention organizations.

When it comes to finding the perfect gift, Summers’ advice is to dig deep.

“The perfect gift is a reflection of the person you are giving to,” Summers said. “It isn't necessarily what is needed but something that made you think of them.”

Side Street Framers & gift gallery

Creating a custom gift is always a win, and Side Street Framers gives you the opportunity to do just that. The store has helped costumers create special gifts for 30 years.

“We specialize in framing items that have special meaning,” said Dawn Wilson of Side Street Framers. “You name it, we can frame it.”

The shop’s staff is happy to create one-of-a-kind items from any two-dimensional projects you may have, as well as three-dimensional projects.

Along with its custom framing service, Side Street Framers also offers many handmade and unique gifts: gourds decorated like snowmen, Santas and angels, glass candles, a translucent candle filled with an assortment of berries, seashells and other items that can be burned from the top or illuminated from the bottom.

Also try: Benfield Gallery in Severna Park has fine art, pottery, jewelry and custom framing.

The Cottage

When shopping for loved ones, think about what makes them happy. Do they love to be warm and cozy? How about a pair of soft pajamas, a candle and some hot cocoa? Are they stylish? Grab a new dress or top and some trendy jewelry. If you’re not sure what to get, the staff at The Cottage can act as personal shoppers, getting to know the personalities of those you are shopping for and making suggestions within your budget.

Want to know more about the selection of apparel, jewelry, decor and gifts? The Cottage’s merchandise ranges from uber-preppy to boho chic. “We have something for every style and every age,” said Sarah Bender of The Cottage. “Even better, we carry the brands people are looking for, such as Simply Southern, Brighton, Scout, Free People, Vera Bradley, Kendra Scott, Alex and Ani, Hobo, Corkcicle, Pura Vida, Vineyard Vines, Spartina and so much more so you can skip the hassle of the mall and the impossible downtown parking!”

Alpaca International

If you’re shopping for the fashionista or stylish man in your family, you may want to browse the garments and accessories at Alpaca International. The clothing is all-natural with no synthetic blends. Items include jackets, sweaters, coats, capes, dresses, hats, gloves, ponchos, scarves, shawls, socks and more.

Annapolis Home Brew

The folks at Annapolis Home Brew don’t just hand you a bottle of wine and call it a day. They encourage adults to bond this holiday season by engaging in the activities of brewing or winemaking. Not sure where to start? Cider is the easiest beverage to make, according to store manager Steve Bolton.

“It is criminally easy,” Bolton said. “If you watch a 30-minute sitcom, you can make cider during the commercials. It takes six or seven minutes to mix up, two weeks to ferment out.

“It is a really quick turnaround time and it’s a nice finished product because it’s low in alcohol, it doesn’t have gluten – for all the people who don’t like beer because they are gluten-intolerant. I consider it a serving of vegetables,” he joked.

More experienced brewers or winemakers can try the chocolate raspberry dessert wine or a dark beer. Annapolis Home Brew occasionally has classes to help people learn.

“It’s a hobby, and enjoying the process is part of the fun,” Bolton said. “If you’re just doing this to save money or just to drink, it will save you money in the long run, especially with the climbing expense of craft beers at the liquor store — at least that I’ve noticed — but you have to enjoy the craft itself.”

Blended Essentials

Here’s another way to give the gift of a great experience instead of a material item. Schedule a visit to The Blended Essentials in Severna Park, where your loved one can create candles, bath bombs, soaps or other items. A grandparent and grandchild can spend time creating unique, handmade products while siblings can enjoy making special gifts for each other or mom and dad.

Massage Envy, Glen Burnie

The holidays are a time of joy and merriment, but all of the shopping and shuffling between family houses can get a little stressful. Help someone unwind and relax by giving a gift card from Massage Envy in Glen Burnie. Choose from three holiday gift card bundles. The “good bundle,” offered at $100, covers a 60-minute service and comes with a $25 promo gift card. A “better bundle,” offered at $170, covers a 90-minute service, $20 gratuity for service, and comes with a $40 promo gift card. For $210, the “best bundle” includes three 60-minute services and comes with two $25 promo gift cards.

Also try: Christina Josephs Salon Studio in Millersville also has gift packages including 20% off all retail items and 15% of all services with Sam and Megan.


Bulldog Schwinn & Sports

Are you shopping for a family member or friend who spends time outdoors? Bulldog Schwinn & Sports has a selection of bikes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and other items to keep people active and engaged. Bulldog Schwinn & Sports is the only  independent (non-chain) Schwinn bike dealer in Anne Arundel County.

Also try: Soccer Post in Severna Park has authentic jerseys, cleats and indoor shoes, balls, training apparel and equipment, customization and more.


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