HOUSTON – The Bayou City has so many gifts you’ll want to give and receive this holiday season. Here is a selection of just a few things that caught our eye this year around town.
It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but it just might inspire your search for the perfect local holiday gift.
If you’re not sure what to get something to someone
If you’re not sure what to get someone, Magpies Gifts is a great starting (and likely ending) place. The store, which we have visited in the Bellaire location, is well-organized and has an impressive selection of linens, décor, and things that really feel like quality items that you’d actually like to receive. The store is set-up with a number of attractive, stall-like setups, featuring the best-of-the-best of various brands like Texas-based Kendra Scott.
For the person who loves designer things
If you’re looking for designer-anything or a luxurious, special experience to treat someone to, you should probably head toward Tootsies. The store’s stylists can help you find something to make that designer guy or gal in your life happy with their personalized services.
Here’s a list of some of the designers the mini-chain out of Houston, Dallas and Atlanta carries. The Houston store has private appointments, curbside pickup, complimentary valet parking, free parking, free gift wrapping and on-site alterations.
Leather goods that you might not want to hand over
There are plenty of great leather-making businesses in Texas, but we recently discovered a place along the Southwest Freeway called UHorse. The store is primarily made for outfitting your horse, but you can also outfit the humans in your life there, as well. The belts, in particular, are a great find. Substantial and stylish, you can feel the quality in your hands. While you’re there, you might want to peruse the other sections too. There are some great, unique rugs in the front and so, so many hats. The store just feels very Texas. The selection of cards and other bibs and bobs are well worth a visit.
A pie you might just want to keep
It’s no surprise that this pie made the gifts list again. Goode Company, in this writer’s opinion makes the best, and most well-presented pecan pie she’s ever eaten. This is a great gift to give as a gift. You can send it via your computer. If you want to save a little, you can pick up the shrink-wrapped pies at the restaurant on Kirby and send them yourself in the mail. It’s a favorite for out-of-towners who need a reminder why they should come back to Texas. However, be sure to buy yourself an extra to keep in your freezer for that day when the holiday sweets run out.
Cross the pond without crossing the Bayou City
British Isles in Rice Village isn’t just for the Anglophile in your life who drinks tea and talks about “Downton Abbey.” This store is for the hard-core chocolate person, the person who loves dainty little beautiful things and adorable stuffed animals and toys.
The store from the front is filled with gift options that have a connection with the British Isles: Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides and other smaller islands. The front of the store in my mind is generally the breakables: teapots, beautiful china, Knick knacks. However, I like to journey to the back of the store where all things edible live. Think chocolates. Exquisite chocolates and teas and snacks and cookies that you will rarely find at the grocery store. I also like checking out the toy section and its amazing collection of toys, from Paddington Bear to Thomas the Tank Engine. These are the gifts you’ll want to give. They’re quality, thoughtful and remind us of the best gifts we received -- and remember -- as children.
Also, don’t forget about the Christmas crackers -- and no, they’re not food. They’re the little poppers that have “traditionally consisted of a tissue paper hat, a small toy, and a joke or a riddle,” but can include more luxe items like booze, fancy trinkets and beauty products, according to Town & Country Magazine. British Isles has a nice selection of the poppers that may make you want to bring this tradition to your side of the pond.
Bring some of home to your home
Jim Koehn is a Houston-based artist with a flair for making our hometown into artwork. You can find iconic Houston places like Minute Maid Park or the Heights Theater, but also many off-the-beaten path places that could have personal significance for the gift recipient. Did you get engaged there? Have the best time ever? Bring a little bit of the713 into your space with one of these watercolor prints. There are framed or not-framed options. If you want something custom, you can contact him at 713-252-1659 or via email at jimkoehnBTS@sbcglobal.net. He also has an Etsy store.
Food that will make you feel cozy and just special
Phoenicia Specialty Foods is a Houston destination for the food lover. Whether you go to the downtown or Westheimer locations, you’re sure to find a ton of foods that are sure to fit any palate. We especially love the tea and coffee selection as well as the bakery filled to the brim with beautiful pastries. You could give a gift card to this spot or wrap up a selection of the food items as gift. However, to make it even more special -- make an experience out of a visit to the store with a friend or family member visiting Houston and pick up the tab.
When you need music to be just right
Houston has a great selection of music shops. This wife of a record collector has visited many of them throughout the Houston area and finds them all pretty stellar, especially when it comes to knowledgeable staff. There’s always a part of me that worries about the employee that channels Jack Black in “High Fidelity (there is explicit language in this clip)” who will mock my record gifting choice, but I’ve never had that experience in H-town. The staff are kind, helpful and steer me away from the mainstream stuff that they know my husband likely already has. Sig’s Lagoon is a treasure trove. Cactus Music is a spot for amazing selection and fabulous events. However, a particular favorite of mine is Vinal Edge (not a misspelling) in the Heights. The owner often runs the cash register and his encyclopedic knowledge of the store’s stock, what’s new and available is something to behold. The rest of the staff is just as impressive. The vintage vibe here can’t be beat.
For the coffee person
Boomtown Coffee in the Heights is a great place to pick up a bag of quality beans for the coffee lover in your life. We love that some of the beans have Texas and Houston names but the beans have ties to good causes like this coffee that helped a town open a new school.
When you want to give the gift that’s green -- and not money
Support a local business by giving some plants this year or greenery for the home. Here are some local greenhouses you might want to check out for fresh wreaths and garlands: River Oaks Flower House, Enchanted Forest and Houston Garden Centers.
If you want to do something a little more customized, Enchanted Forest has these really cute custom containers built from mugs and wooden boxes.
What did we miss? Where do you like to shop for the best local gifts in Houston -- and what do you buy there? Let us know!