Small Shop Gift Guide

The holidays are just around the corner and I think this year more than any, those of us who have the means are making a conscious effort to support small, locally-owned shops and businesses.  And because of that, I thought I’d share some of our very favourites in the form of a small shop gift guide.  When you purchase these items, or items from these shops, you are directly supporting a person or a family  – many of whom I know personally and consider good friends.

Dilly Dally Kids  – our very favourite shop for all things kids! Seriously though – the majority of our toys have been purchased from Dilly Dally over the years.  The store is owned by Tyler and Claire, a Vancouver husband and wife / mama and papa duo and they are PROS when it comes to all things kids.  They stock the best of the best – quality items that are open-ended and grow with your kids.  Exactly what you want when purchasing toys. They also have a fantastic selection of books and creative supplies.  We have so, so many favourites, but if I had to pick, I’d say our Grimm’s rainbows, Maileg mice, Micro Kickboards, Grapat loose parts (pictured above), Holtztiger animals, and Schleich animals are our most loved Dilly Dally purchases.  Check out my other top picks in this IG Story gift guide I did with them earlier this month.

Collage Collage – our other favourite, favourite place to shop for kids! Through drop-ins, classes, camps, shop visits, and chats online, I’ve come to know Erin, Collage Collage’s owner, well and I just ADORE her.  Everything she does and has done with Collage Collage is incredible and it’s really so much more than a store – it’s part of the community.  A really integral, really fun, magical part.  Collage Collage specializes in all things creative –  quality art supplies, incredible classes (virtual ones too!), and beautiful art kits.  Erin is also THE BEST at finding the most incredible kids’ books, at I’m at the point where if she recommends one, I just buy it because I know it’s going to be really, really special.  Some of my top picks from Collage Collage include their Stabilo 3-in-1 Woody Pencils, their highly-pigmented-last-forever puck paints, their Lyra Colour Giants Skin Tone pencils, and their and their art kits (I’m particularly partial to the peg doll kit and the weaving kit, and I’ve got my eye on their new rainbow rope weaving kit too).

Connetix Tiles – easily one of our most played with and enjoyed toys!  And even better because they’re the passion project of my lovely Aussie friend Brea, her husband, and their business partner. We started with a different brand of magnetic tiles, but we’ve switched over to 100% Connetix tiles and donated our old collection to a local school because these are just that much better.  The magnets are crazy strong (as in Sam can build small structures and actually PICK THEM UP without them falling apart), the bevelled jewel-like design is crazy beautiful, the quality is excellent, and they’re compatible with all other major magnetic tile brands. We use them for everything…  From building towers, mazes, race tracks, castles, parking garages, animals homes, and trucks to creating art with them to using them for home learning.  We’ve used them to create puzzles, to practice symmetry, to explore fractions, to do sequencing, to create patterns, and the list goes on. Brea and her husband are also constantly coming up with fun new Connetix products…  They have a vehicle pack that Sam loves, they just released their giant base plates (which are also excellent as rooves), they have a ball run set coming out soon, and a GIANT pack that would be perfect if you’re just starting out coming out soon too.

Okanagan Stitching Co. masks – my fave!!!  I have several other brands of masks I bought at the beginning of the pandemic, and although they’re beautiful, I only ever wear my Okanagan Stitching Co. masks.  I have several, Brad has several, and both of the kids have a couple too – they’re that good.  (Here are the kids’ masks.) These are handmade in West Kelowna by Manisa, the shop owner, and I think we love them so much because the design is different than most masks.  They’re super easy to pop on and off, they have great coverage over your nose and chin, they stay in place, and they sit just out from your face so you can actually breathe. Grae has 3 different types of masks and these are the only ones that don’t fog her glasses up – game changer! Just an FYI as I’ve had lots of sizing questions, I wear a size small, Brad wears a size large, and both Grae and Sam wear the kids size, but there’s a great sizing guide on the site. (Manisa has generously offered everyone here 10% off their site with the code MAMAPAPABUBBA10 too.)

Rascal Remedies rollers and sprays – these were new to us this year and they’ve very quickly become a part of our every day routine.  Rascal Remedies is an essential oil wellness line formulated specifically with children in mind.  If you know me well, you know that I love essential oils, but I’m also very cautious when it comes to essential oils and kids and I often cringe at the oil usage advice given to parents.  And that’s why I love Rascal Remedies.  Dorthe, the owner, worked closely with certified aromatherapists to ensure that their blends are 100% safe for little ones 2-3 and up.  Their rollers and sprays contain only kiddo-safe oils (there are several oils that are not recommended for littles) and are pre-diluted to a child-safe potency so their ready to use.  Our absolute top picks are Sofia Snooze (on the back of Sam’s neck each night before bed), Finn Focus (above each of our heads each morning before we start our home learning), and Genie Germz (on our hands anywhere and everywhere because a) it’s undergone third party antimicrobial effectiveness testing by a regulated Canadian lab and passed standard ATCC criteria and b) it smells EXACTLY LIKE ROOTBEER!!!)

Mint & Birch custom jewellery – the best of the best!  It seems like there are SO many makers out there creating custom jewellery at the moment, but the items created by Jessica of Mint & Birch are in a class of their own.  She takes no shortcuts and every part of the process – from cutting to filing to drilling and polishing – is done by hand.  Jessica also uses ethically sourced, certified gold fill and solid sterling silver sourced from North American mills and her pieces are made to last, which I love.  The difference between gold fill and gold plated is HUGE and I’ve worn my bar necklaces for two years now without taking them off to sleep, shower, swim, etc. and they’re still perfect {save the fact that Sam’s little foot broke the chain off of one of bars – must get that fixed asap, which Jessica does!}  I have the stamped custom name bars, but Jessica now does engraved bars and hand lettered bars, which is just incredible.  I also love her hand lettered discs, her hand drawn rainbow, her teeny tiny dotty disc, and her custom  signature / image engraved bar might be the most special keepsake ever.

Bottle None shampoo & conditioner bars – my go-to!!!  Yup, this was the year I officially transitioned to bar shampoo and conditioner.  If you told me this pre-pandemic, I might not have believed you…  I had tried 3 different shampoo bars from 3 different companies previously and honestly, they were a waste of money.  All three left my hair feeling like Barbie hair – not greasy, but sort of greasy – almost plastic-y and wet looking.  Not what I was hoping for obviously.  What I’ve learned from Ali and Jaye, the ladies behind Bottle None, is that many bar shampoo bars are really just expensive soap disguised as shampoo.  No wonder it didn’t work. :/  These, on the other hand, are salon-grade and leave my hair feeling ridiculously soft and clean. They also last 50+ washes, are SLS & SCS free, vegan, PH balanced, and scented with essential oils. My set, be BRIGHT, is scented with blue tansy and lemon (drool!) and the be YOU set G uses is scented with lavender and lemongrass. The best part? Brad and his cousins went to school with Ali and Jaye back in the day and the sister duo now makes all of their bars right here in Vernon.  They also turn all of the packaging their ingredients come in into travel cases for their bars, so their products are truly zero waste.

The High-End Hippie Wellness Company shampoo & conditioner bars – Not only did I successfully transition to bar shampoo and conditioner this year, but I also found TWO local companies that make bars that a) work and b) I love.  The High-End Hippie Wellness Company is also based here in the Okanagan and after years of working in high-end hotels and spas, Amy, the owner, wanted to create bars that were both environmentally-concious and luxurious.  I use the Awaken Set (with peppermint and rosemary oil – yum) and although I admittedly wash his hair very rarely (is that weird?), I use the 4-in-1 Cheer Bar on Sam.  It doubles, triples, QUADRUPLES (!!) as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and a shave bar, which is pretty awesome.  Amy’s products are free from cruelty, SLS, parabens, phthalate, petroleum products, artificial fragrances and colours.

Modern Imagination Toys – gah!!!  I can’t even with all of the gorgeous wooden things Modern Imagination Toys creates.  They’re just stunning.  Modern Imagination is owned and run by my friend Brigitte and her husband Geoff who are based in Squamish.  He’s a carpenter, she’s a teacher, and they’re basically the *perfect* pair for creating beautiful quality toys that are well-crafted, clever, and open-ended.  We have several of their items and I honestly love every single thing they make, but my top picks would have to be their custom name tracing boards, their letter tracing cards, their sorting / play dough tray, their deluxe ten frame, and their stacking bears. And if it were up to Sam?  Well he’d undoubtedly pick his new bow and arrow set.

Small Shop Gift Guide | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

Back Country Blooms flower subscription – okay, prettiest flowers ever! They’re grown right in Lumby by flower farm owner, Amie and they’re my GO-TO for friends’ birthdays and special occasions.  I usually pick them up at Nature’s Fare, but you can get a flower *subscription* where you get a new bouquet every other week.  Brad’s mom got me a subscription as a birthday present this year and truly – it was the best gift ever.  Your home is never without fresh flowers, it’s something to look forward to every second week, and it’s the gift that just keeps on giving!  Highly recommend. You can now sign up for 2021 subscriptions here.

Small Shop Gift Guide | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

Kokom Scrunchies – okay, if this isn’t the sweetest little business, I don’t know what is.  Kokom scrunchies are made from Kokom scarves, floral scarves traditionally worn as head coverings by Indigenous elders, and they’re just beautiful.  But the best part?  The business is owned and run by 9 year old Mya and her mother {and I believe Mya sews the scrunchies herself in her free time, if I’m not mistaken!}  Many of Mya’s scrunchies are made in honour of Indigenous women she admires, which makes them even more special  (if you follow @kokomscrunchies on Instagram, you often get to hear about the different women her scrunchies are named after). One of Grae’s Auntie’s {who is friends with Mya’s mom} gifted G the Kokom Dana earlier this year, a scrunchie named after Mya’s auntie! So special.  Keep your eye out for Mya’s weekly “Sunday drops” and act fast to get your hands on one of your own.

Little Treehouses – okay, another incredibly sweet business!  Little Treehouses is a combined effort of 9 year old Nathan and his Grandad.  Together they make these INCREDIBLE handcrafted tree houses and tree vehicles and the little details are just beyond.  I mean look at that itty bitty campfire!  Nathan very generously gifted Grae and Sam his Beech tree house (there are several styles to choose from) a few weeks back and everything came perfectly packaged and ready to assemble.  The package included detailed instructions on how to put the pieces together (it couldn’t have been easier) and an assortment of wooden peg people to complete the set.  Little Treehouses is currently fully booked for the 2020 year, but if you pop over to their site, you can enter your email address to be the first notified when new treehouses are available.

Back to Earth – if you know me well, you know how much I love all things Back to Earth.  It’s my very favourite one-stop-shop for all things health, wellness, and personal / home care.  I’d venture to say that the majority of all of the products in our home – from cleaners to bath products to soaps to candles and sunscreens – are from Back to Earth.  And it’s been that way for years.  Even when space was at a premium and we were bringing many of our personal care and cooking items in our luggage to the Middle East, I made room for a year’s supply of my Back to Earth favourites!  Back to Earth is based right here in the Okanagan and the founder, Kiley,  has completed several certified herbalist and aromatherapy educational programs, so she really knows her stuff – plus works with a team of naturopaths, biochemists, herbalists, and aromatherapists to ensure that her products are as pure and safe and effective as possible.  It’s hard to pick just a handful of favourites, but I LIVE for their Sacred Sage Hand & Body Wash (seriously makes me SO happy), we use the Sweet Pea Herbal Healing Balm for eeeeeeverything, I could bathe in their Bliss Body Lotion (it smells like creamsicles!), I can’t live without their Magi Blend Face Moisturizer, and their Pure Hand Sanitizer is the only sanitizer that doesn’t make my hands feel like they’re going to crack in half.  Oh – and this essential oil blend couldn’t be more perfectly west coast.  Love it.

Hello Good Juju – a brand new business I’m so, so excited for!  Hello Good Juju is owned by Alexa, an old friend of mine, and her business partner, Lisa.  Both ladies previously worked in the natural health industry for B-corp businesses and they’ve recently taken their expertise and poured it into Good Juju, a company focused on making  all-natural, plastic-free, home and body products that are good for both humans and the planet.  They currently have a line of shampoo and conditioner bars that are getting RAVE reviews and their line of waste-free laundry detergent strips is dropping very soon (I have some on the way and I can’t wait to try them).  All Good Juju products are formulated with pure, clean, organic ingredients with scientifically proven benefits, and though I haven’t tried them yet, I have 100% confidence that anything Alexa’s hands have been on will be nothing short of incredible.  All of their products are packaged and shipped using plastic-free, biodegradable, and sustainably-sourced materials, so you can feel good about that too. (Alexa and Lisa have generously offered everyone here 10% off their site with the code MAMAPAPABUBBA10 too.)

Whistle & Flute clothing – if you follow us on Instagram, you know how much my kiddos wear Whistle & Flute.  It’s owned by Miranda and Ryan, a husband and wife / mama and papa duo based in Victoria. Their garments are fun, cool, and unisex, which I love – and even better?  Every item they create is sweatshop free and made with safe inks and soft, comfy fabrics.  I’m pretty sure we own one of everything they stock, but some of our favourites include their new raincoats and rain pants my kids lived in during our trip to Tofino (size up in these), their drawstring joggers (these fit my long and lean kiddos so well!), their Kawaii crewneck sweatshirts, and my personal fave – their zip-up rompers. (I could just eat Sam up in his!) Also, out of season and not currently on their site is their rash guard and swim short combos.  We’re alllll about the sun protection in our fam and my kids live in theirs during summers.

Loulou Lollipop – if you’ve been here for a long while, you know how much I love Loulou Lollipop – since the day they launched!  It’s owned and run by Eleanor and Angel – a twin sister power duo who are two of the most hardworking, kind, and generous people I know.  (I remember several years ago I messaged Angel and asked if they’d be at all interested in helping me treat some NICU mamas and with zero questions asked, a HUGE box of Loulou Lollipop goodies showed up on my doorstep within days.)  Their company launched the same year that Sam was born, so we had their teethers (this rainbow one – gah!), plus an extensive collection of their muslin swaddle blankets and muslin quilts which we actually still have and use today (they just get better and better with time).  Their muslin quilts are my absolute favourite and I for real would love a king-size one for my bed.  They’re all stunning, but I particularly love the mud cloth one and the city ones.  More recently, Eleanor and Angel have branched out into the world of apparel, and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews.  I love the colours, the fabric looks buttery soft, and you could very easily create a capsule wardrobe for your little one using their pieces because they mix and match so well.

Busy Toddler Playing Preschool Curriculum – the most incredible resource by my dear friend, Susie.  You know Susie, right??  OF COURSE YOU DO.  Everyone knows Susie.  Plus the parenting magazine I picked up last night says that she’s one of the most influential parents of 2020, so that’s just proof of her reach.  Susie is a former teacher and mama of 3 who helps parents “make it to naps, one activity at a time”.  If you love doing fun things with your kiddos but would like a little more structure or feel a bit overwhelmed about having to come up with or seek out activity ideas, Susie has done all of the work for you in her Playing Preschool play-based curriculum. If you know Susie, you know the ideas are doable, use things you most likely already have, and are really fun and engaging for little ones.  Highly recommend.  (At the beginning of the pandemic, Susie put out a 25% off code for her preschool curriculums and said that it would remain active so long as schools were closed, and she meant it.  Use the code HOME25 for 25% one or both of her curriculums.)  Also, I can’t talk about Susie and not mention that she has a brand new book.  It’s called Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting and I really can’t recommend it enough.  If you can, buy it from your locally-owned book shop – otherwise I have it linked in both my Canadian Amazon shop and my American Amazon shop.

Imagination Tree Invitations to Play Cards – love these! You know my friend Anna of Imagination Tree, right?? She’s been doing this blogging thing for longer than I have been (I started in 2010 and I think she started in 2009) and she’s the QUEEN of easy-to-pull-together play and learning invitations. Well, she’s taken all of her amazing ideas and created this line of incredible activity cards that make setting something fun up for your kids a breeze.  Her first set was sensory play themed and her newest set is literacy themed – which is so, so perfect for us with home learning currently!  Not sure what to set out for your kiddo to enjoy tomorrow? Flip through the cards, find an idea you like, and follow the simple instructions on the back. They’re split up into 3 parts – find, make, and play – and couldn’t be easier to follow. The cards also come off of the rings (so perfect in a classroom setting, especially when setting up a sub folder) and are super thick, high-quality card stock that is WIPEABLE!!  ALSO – wouldn’t this set would make an incredible gift for a little one when paired with some of the activity materials? I’m picturing a little bin filled with dyed rice, some dry beans with letters in them, some markers, chalk, salt, etc. and these cards front & centre (sort of like the DIY science kit we put together using The Curious Kid’s Science Book as a focal point.)

LanaBetty – the most GORGEOUS geometric contemporary jewelry!  Lana and I have known each other through social media for several years and I just adore everything she creates.  She uses a combination of traditional goldsmithing and 3D design to make quality pieces that last.  She loves thoughtful shapes and angular lines, and uses ethically sourced gold and silver, beautifully hand-cut gemstones, and top quality brass, yet her pieces are really affordable.  I have soooooo many faves, but on my current wish list are the Little Heart Post Earrings, the Cassiopeia Gemstone Ring, the set of three Andromeda Hammered Stacking Rings, the gold filled Heart Bead Ring, and the Necklace Spacer / Detangler.  I also love that all of these pieces would also work for Miss G, though I think she might be partial to the Little Cat Post Earrings.  SO cute!!

Oh my gosh…  And that might be it for now!  (She doesn’t blog all year long and then dumps out the most massive blog post in history a month before the end of the year…  Haha!  What can I say??)  I’m certain I’m missing someone important, but I’ll add them when I remember them!  In the meantime, if you’re looking for things you regularly see in our house, you most likely can find them in our Amazon shops:  US Amazon Shop | Canadian Amazon Shop.  I also have extensive kids’ gift guides broken down by age in my US shop, which I think many people found useful last year.  I try to keep everything I get asked about most there just because it’s easily accessible to many and simple for me, but as always, if you have the means I encourage you to try and find the items locally if you’re able to.  <3

See my ‘The Very Best Gifts for Kids’ blog post here.

6 thoughts on “Small Shop Gift Guide

  1. Wow thank you for the recommendation! It really means so much! I definitely agree, my jewelry is accessible, that’s important to me and I love making pieces that are quality and fun for any age!

  2. Wowwww! Its so wonderful! And I wiant to advice your promote your product and shop in social media networks… I can even share best and safe platform, because this is a great strategy to promote your beautiful gifts and increase your sales, think about that.

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