Gifting Done Right

By Meg Walburn Viviano

Welcome to CBM Bay Weekly’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide!

If those words send you into a panic, we understand. “But it’s still the week before Thanksgiving, for cryin’ out loud!” you may be saying.

This is true—and I’m not usually one to jump the gun. I don’t drink pumpkin spice in August and I don’t sing carols in October. I was more than a little surprised last Saturday (Nov. 13, for cryin’ out loud!) to drive around a few neighborhoods in Anne Arundel County and find lights hung, Christmas trees decorated, and Santa inflatables already waving at me from lawns.

But when it comes to gifts, I’ll begrudgingly admit, starting early does make sense. Let me explain.

Most people can spot a hastily chosen gift from a mile away. Maybe it’s a little too generic. “Look, Dad, a tie. I know you wear those!” Maybe it’s an online gift certificate you printed on December 24 and shoved into an envelope. Or maybe you felt pressured to find the perfect gift and overthought the whole thing until you ran out of time. “I’ll get my neighbor these cute monogrammed pillows! But wait—what’s her middle name? I can’t be sure. I wonder if I can verify it on Google, or maybe a property records search. Maybe I should go to her house and sneak a peek at a piece of her mail…”

All these struggles can be avoided by making your list early. One of my friends—the best gift-giver I know—keeps her list in mind all year. Then, when she’s in a shop she says things like, “Look, a cute yellow purse! My friend Meg loves yellow…” And voila, thoughtful gifts are chosen.

Another compelling reason to shop a bit earlier this year: supply chain shortages. In the year and a half since the great pandemic toilet paper shortage, more surprising products have been in short supply. Every few weeks a news article predicts the next big shortage. Cars! Lunchables!  And everything in between.

CBS News says that the following top holiday items may be hard to find this year: PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles, large-box toys (think Barbie’s Dream House) that take up extra space on shipping containers, plus books and jewelry (especially diamonds). Even frozen turkeys and artificial Christmas trees are in short supply, the news outlet reports. It may be best to buy now to avoid backordered items or delays into January, and prices are quickly inflating on the items still available.

All this is enough to make you want to steer clear of these in-demand items and just go to a local shop, where you can buy a simple gift right off the shelf. And that’s exactly what the Bay Weekly Gift Guide is here to help you do.

Here you’ll find our picks for special gifts, from local and independently owned shops. You’ll find Chesapeake Country-specific items that don’t feel generic at all. You won’t have to worry about delayed shipping. And you’ll be supporting your neighbors’ businesses—making you the ultimate thoughtful gift-giver. Happy stress-free shopping!