Last-minute, local holiday shopping

The recent snow that’s blanketed the Bitteroot Valley is beautiful and gives me another reason to stay close to home for last-minute Christmas shopping. I whole-heartedly support our Main Street businesses and hope you will too.

Hamilton and our surrounding communities have wonderful shops and stores filled with beautiful and affordable gift ideas. I’m a big fan of gift cards and gift certificates that allow your favorite people to feel loved with the added bonus of their own shopping experience at the perfect time for the perfect item.

This year, our family is trying to focus our gift-giving with gifts that build relationships and make memories rather than just fills a space under the tree. I hope you’ll join me, even amid the chaos, to refocus on what matters most in our lives and enjoy peace this holiday season.

The following are a few of my favorite places to shop local:

  1. For children’s gifts: Main Street Toys just opened this fall adjacent to the Bitterroot Drug and is also owned by Pete and Jeni Siefert. I’ve always loved shopping for gifts at this historic pharmacy on Hamilton’s Main Street but now, there’s even more possibilities in this new toy store full of quality gifts.
  2. For memorable experiences: The “Flying Hawkes” will always recommend a scenic flight over the Bitterroot Valley as one of the best gifts you can give someone. Simply call Choice Aviation and they can arrange for the memorable and breathtaking experience. Call 363-6471.
  3. For practical gifts: With gas prices plunging, now is a great time to get more bang for your buck and share gift certificates from Lone Pine and Riverside Conocos. Located at the north and south ends of town, gift certificates are easy to pick up on your next fill up and are guaranteed to give someone a practical gift they will sincerely appreciate.
  4. For sweet treats: “Let someone else do the baking,” has always been my motto. I love Red Rooster Artisan Bakery in Hamilton as well as River Rising on Main Street. Ali Bowcutt at Red Rooster has an assortment of artisan breads and baked goods that are beautifully wrapped and ready for you to share with neighbors and friends. You can’t beat the cookies at River Rising and both bakeries have warm drinks and lots of smiles served.
  5. For clothing and accessories – I’m amazed how many wonderful clothing shops offer all you could want or need. Downtown Hamilton shops include Bellas, Fords, Foxwood, The Closet – all with wonderful employees and owners waiting to help you find the perfect gift.
  6. For local events that will knock their socks off – The perfect stocking stuffer can be a pair of tickets to a local event or concert. The Bitterroot Performing Arts Council has an upcoming dance performance in January. They also have a Main Street box office where you can drop in and see what else is on the calendar. We have world-class entertainment right here in the Bitterroot and the series makes perfect monthly date nights. I’m also so proud of our local theaters – the Hamilton Players and the Stevensville Playhouse gather great talent in our community for unforgettable plays and musicals. The gift of performance tickets help your loved ones not just gather things, but memories, which last much longer.
  7. For fine dining and good eats – Everyone loves a gift certificate to a fun restaurant and dinner they can look forward to. Some of my favorite spots in the Bitterroot Valley include The Wild Mare, Spice of Life, Bouilla, and Clatters (with a storefront right below the Iten Company – they send us their sweet aromas all day long).  Also, Big Creek Coffee Roasters, which is also located on the main drag of downtown Hamilton, offer gift certificates or awesome gourmet coffee presents for your loved ones.
  8. For your favorite outdoor enthusiasts – With so many amazing outdoor opportunities in Montana, you’ve got to have the gear to go with it. My favorite spots for all the right gear include Bob Wards & Sons, Al’s Cycle, Red Barn Bicycles, Hamilton Polaris and Murdochs.
  9. For your furry kids – Whether for a pet that’s a member of your family, or livestock that’s part of your livelihood, give them a little treat or accessory this holiday season. I love Murdochs and Wild About Pets in Hamilton where I always find exactly what they need.
  10. For ensuring quiet time: One of the best parts about the holiday season is to sit by a fire and read – to your children or maybe even a book you’d enjoy. Stop by Chapter One Book Store this week and pick up something for everyone on your list. Enjoy the season! Merry Christmas!