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Sleighing Holiday Gift-Giving With a Little Help From Haldimand

earings and other homewares

Hello fellow humans and holiday gift-givers! My name is Andrea and although I live on the outskirts of Haldimand County, I’ve visited countless times to enjoy activities on the Grand River, to visit local farm stands, and/or to quench my thirst at the local brewery or restaurant.

One thing I haven’t done much of, however, is pop into the small businesses that make up the fabric of Haldimand. So with my wallet and “Tis the season” attitude in tow, I made my way to the County to spend a dreary Saturday shopping for unique holiday gifts.

First stop: Cayuga! I’ve always been a sucker for baked goods, so when Cravings by Brittany made its way on my radar, I knew I had to make a visit.

The owner, Brittany, is a self-taught baker who prides herself on creating sweet treats with a quality that shows: the festive cupcake that I bought (and ate!), for example, led me to later buy six more for an upcoming holiday party. Over and above the incredible-looking cookies, donuts, and butter tarts, this quaint bakeshop also houses a gift boutique in which a variety of Canadian and locally made products are available. Check out these gorgeous Saige Collective earrings!

With a belly full of sugar, I left Cravings to head for the Dunnville Farmers’ Market – or the perfect place to cross some names off my gift-giving AND grocery list. One fabulous thing about this small market is that it’s entirely indoors, so you can stay cozy while browsing the various merchants selling everything from jams and jellies to produce and coffee.

After purchasing some fresh veggies, I hopped back in my car and made my way to The Minga Café: a not-for-profit café and community centre pouring delicious fair trade coffee and selling a variety of local, handcrafted goods. My personal favourites included these vegan soaps. After picking up and putting back several other beautiful items, I ultimately purchased a few eucalyptus shower steamers knowing I’d be tempted by plenty of other goodies as the day went on.

After a lovely couple of hours in Dunnville, I mapped my way to nearby Selkirk. Although small, Selkirk shouldn’t be overlooked during a day trip – especially if you’re hungry. The beloved Sunflower Café exists here and is a cute spot to warm your belly (and spirits) with a bowl of soup or hearty sandwich. Venture a little further towards the Lake Erie shoreline and you’ll come upon Bluewater Flower Farm – and although this business doesn’t have a traditional storefront to browse – it does offer a variety of gift-worthy products online such as flower subscriptions (Check out their Spring Share flower subscription) and creative workshops and more. With blue skies cutting through the clouds of the day, I decided on my next stop: Jarvis!

Antiques and collectables

As I pulled into Jarvis I was greeted by a variety of holiday signs and lights, as well as a fun little antique shop aptly named Nice Old Stuff. Every nook and cranny of this place was filled with relics of the past, as well as a surprising selection of succulents which I thought was a nice juxtaposition between old and new. After my visit I took a lovely stroll down Main Street before moving along to Hagersville.

Now, it’s worth noting that there is no trip to (or through) Hagersville without spotting the iconic Hewitt’s Dairy on the side of Highway Six. Producing an expansive range of quality Canadian dairy products, Hewitt’s is beloved by many for its delicious ice cream, and now by me for a specific seasonal treat – the egg nog! I tucked a couple of litres into my trunk’s cooler and headed into the heart of Hagersville to Olde Country Jewellers. I must admit: I wasn’t looking to purchase any gold (although this lovely store has plenty of it!), but had heard Olde Country offers giftware as well. To that end, this store truly delivers with a wide assortment of ornaments and collectibles that I know would please many of the sentimental folks in my life.

Last but not least, I decided to stop in Caledonia, which also happens to be on my way home. I wanted to check out Second Chance Records, and boy did it deliver! Not only does Second Chance house a vast selection of new releases and old favourites, but also a pretty significant collection of posters, music merch, and instruments as well. I settled on a Tom Petty vinyl and made my way down the street to the Distinctive Finds Gift Shop. Upon stepping inside, I was greeted by crystals, candles, and jewelry, all of which appeared to be carefully curated by the store’s owner.

There were so many wonderful aspects of my gift crawl through Haldimand County, but for me, the best part was the positive interactions I had with each and every small business owner I encountered. So often and out of sheer convenience, I tend to shop at big box and chain stores – and in so doing – I rarely experience the warmth of a high-touch customer service experience. Everywhere I went in Haldimand, business owners were eager to show me their goods and to answer my questions. They were thankful for my business and invited me to come back with an authenticity that couldn’t be questioned. As a result, I’m looking forward to making a return and to (hopefully) expanding my list of pit stops along the way.

Andrea Dyer is a writer and editor for a boutique creative agency, as well as a freelance writer who enjoys promoting small businesses, travel experiences, and social good projects.

Shop more gift ideas at local stores in the Haldimand Wish Book. You can also shop from the comfort of home on the Real. Haldimand. Marketplace.

Wish book cover