Think Small to Score Big: Shop Local to Fill Your Gift Lists

You want cool gifts? Think small. You don’t want to worry about where your gifts are coming from? Think local. Shop small and shop local to fill your gift lists.

It’s not often I tell anyone to think small, but when it comes to holiday shopping, the best finds are right under your nose—right here in the SATX.

That’s right. Step away from the screen (well, not *now* or you’ll miss great gift hints) and step into a locally owned business—which, BTW, probably has online shopping, too. But those big search engines don’t think small, so you’re missing out on fantastic local finds.

Mayor Nirenberg declared that now through December 31 is “Buy Local Season” in San Antonio.

Why? Local businesses help make San Antonio what it is. They add to the fabric of our community and our economy. They create local jobs and pay local taxes. Shopping small also reduces your environmental impact. No shipping + less packaging = smaller carbon footprint.

If you’re ready to look past “doorbuster deals” for true finds this holiday season, think small and shop local to fill your gift lists. Check out these never-fail favorites and claim the crown of “Best Gift Giver” this holiday season:

The Twig

A San Antonio institution since 1972, a step inside makes a book lover’s heart swoon. Brimming with best sellers and indie titles, the children’s selection is unmatched, ranging from fabric books that are destined to be gnawed by teethers to a wonderful young adult section. The store is also more than books, featuring delightful and unique gift finds like fantastic puppets and stuffed animals, making it fun to browse and discover new treasures.

a range of items on display at a storeFeliz Modern, Feliz Modern Pop, Rancho Diaz

The world of Feliz Modern is a world of happy—something we all need. From the original Feliz Modern to Feliz Modern Pop, and now the amazing home items in Rancho Diaz, you can gift smiles galore with the colorful, amazing, beautiful, functional, and funny items you’ll find. No one will blame you if you pick up something for yourself. It’s impossible to resist, so just do it.

Del Alma Imports

outdoor market display of handcrafted goods from Mexico
Image credit: Del Alma Imports

Ornaments, stockings, tree skirts, pillowcases, and everything beautiful. Gorgeously rich, handcrafted, handstitched designs, all ethically sourced goods from Mexico that tell artisan stories and create wonder with the amazing talent that goes into each item. Del Alma Imports supports artisans and their cultures by creating awareness for authentic products and the effects of plagiarism on ethnic groups across Mexico. You’ll find these beautiful items at a variety of pop-up markets, but shop online and know you’re supporting a mom-owned San Antonio business AND amazingly talented artisans in Mexico.

No. 9 Floral Chocolates & Gifts

The name says it all and you’ll find a great mix of all of the above when you pop into No. 9. You can also shop online for some puro San Antonio goodies and the most beautiful jigsaw puzzles around, but stop in the shop to enjoy the amazing array they offer.

In the Weeds Natural Skin Care

dried lemons surrounding a body scrub
Dollface Face Scrub & Mask

Locally made and all-natural—and another ACM Favorite—In the Weeds is known for its fabulous scrubs and skincare. Trust us and gift Dollface Face Scrub & Mask to anyone who needs some pampering on the regular, and Mint Condition Salt & Herb Body Scrub is like a spa treatment. And the candles are amazing! If you want to shop them in person, here’s a list of shops that carry their products, and check out their market schedule posted regularly online.

La Villita

sign in trees at la villita in San Antonio
Image credit: Limelight San Antonio

Yes, we live here and we shop La Villita. How can you not? Every shop is locally owned and you’ll find an array of handmade goods and a mix of options you won’t find anywhere else in San Antonio. Somewhere that has something for EVERY occasion is Bird and Pear, brimming with color and hands-down the best kids games and gifts in town. Candles, jewelry, home décor, and more. Trust us and go!

Stroll the tree-lined walks and hit up Capistrano Soap Company for San Antonio-inspired scents in the most amazing candles and fantastic soaps and skincare. Grab art from local artists at River Art Group.

Handmade on Main

handmade dolls in a chair
Pops of Whimsy

Handmade and locally made? Yes, please! This wonderful collection of local makers is just up the road in Boerne, where you can shop on Main Street and score gifts while actually enjoying yourself. It’s worth the drive for finds from ACM Favorites like From Scratch Farm, Bear & Roo Candle Company, and Pops of Whimsy. (Trust us—you’ll want one of these amazing dolls or blankets for yourself. Our team has been known to fight over them!)

Bless Your Heart

With #somebodyhastobethecutest and shoppingismycardio.com, you know there are wonderful finds to be had at Bless Your Heart. From cute shoes to fabulous earrings and everything in between, fill your gift lists and grab something for yourself.

REI

Technically, REI started in Austin, but it’s a local must for us when it comes to cool toys and gifts. Yes, we said toys and gifts. REI is more than a store for hiking and camping gear. They have clothes, jewelry, home items, and the most amazing toy and book section. Outdoor fun, STEM, and hands-on cool finds, including awesome puzzles and all sorts of learning fun. Head there for the hard-to-shop-for kiddo on your list.

Two other *not* local spots we recommend for toy finds that aren’t your usual gifts:  Learning Express (The Quarry and Village at Stone Oak) and Lakeshore Learning. Lakeshore Learning is far more than a teaching supply store: it’s hands-on educational toys and fun gifts. (And why would we recommend shopping these “chain stores”? They have local employees and add to our tax base. Shopping them in-person versus online keeps dollars in our economy too.)

Blue Star Arts Complex

a store display with jewelry and textiles
Mockingbird Handprints

Locally made by local artists? Yes, please. Blue Star offers a variety of events for holiday shopping and there are some great shops where you can always find something creative. You can make an appointment for private shopping at Mockingbird Handprints or pop by on the weekends for pottery, textiles, jewelry, cards, and art that make wonderful gifts.

Where Shopping is Art

The Museum Store at the Briscoe Western Art Museum

And finally, our go-to secret source of gifts you can’t find anywhere else? San Antonio’s fantastic museums. Yes, we shop at museums. Did you know that you don’t have to pay admission fees to browse and buy at the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Briscoe Western Art Museum, or the Witte? Find globally-inspired gifts at the SAMA Shop (score their wonderful bilingual board book series for a little art lover) or land the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys the beauty of the West at the Briscoe Western Art Museum store (including some pieces you’ll see Kevin Costner and the dysfunctional Dutton family using in “Yellowstone” and classic Lincoln Logs sets). The Witte’s Bolner Family Museum Store has a range of animal and dino plushies, as well as books and toys for kiddos. And of course, The DoSeum is a great option for cool toys and learning disguised as fun.

And another local gifting hint: a museum membership or season pass makes a holiday present that ensures fun throughout the year. If you’re looking for a great gift that doesn’t end up as clutter, give the experience of dinosaurs, cowboys, animals, or LEGOs to fill their weekends with San Antonio adventures.

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food