Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the “gifts” aisle at the big box store wondering how many cocoa mug sets or neck pillows your child’s teacher might get this year? Yeah, me neither. *wink wink* But when your list looks longer than Santa’s, you have to find a way to be frugal. And we know it’s the thought that counts – not the price of the gift.
And yet, the generic stuff doesn’t feel very personal, nor does it require much thought. So this year I went in search of ideas for thoughtful, meaningful gifts at local Wichita shops and stores. Before I set out, I asked my friends what they would normally want to spend on gifts for people outside their immediate families – folks like friends, coworkers, neighbors, or the kids’ teachers and friends. Based on their answers, I set my budget from $5 to $20 per gift.
Truthfully, it wasn’t easy at first. My goal was to find specific items in that price range that are special in some way, nicer than usual, and that would appeal to a wide range of people. When I needed help (which I did), the best suggestions I got were from store managers or owners themselves! That’s one of the biggest benefits to shopping locally – when you walk in the door, someone is there to help you.
This list- as long as it is! – barely scratches the surface of what’s available here locally. You probably will think of places and ideas I haven’t included, and if you do I hope you’ll leave a comment so that everyone else can see your idea!
Bill lives in Wichita and developed this salt-free blend of jalapeno, habanero, and serrano peppers to give great flavor without scorching your taste buds. (But don’t misunderstand – it is hot. Avoid giving it to friends with sensitive palates!) He manufactures it and sells it right here in Wichita. Lots of people put it on pizza; I put it on almost everything.
You can buy Bill’s Homegrown Heat for only $7 a bottle. And it lasts a long time! Here’s where he sells it:
It’s no secret that I love this store, which is owned by my friends Mark and Susan. This colorful, fun toy shop will remind you how to play!
You can also get flags for all your favorite local teams (Shockers, KU, K-State, etc.), plus Kansas and Wichita flags, and fun garden wind spinners. Garden flags are $12.99 and the little desktop flags (great teacher gift) are $5.99 each.
Another really cool gift Susan showed me were these neat family puzzles. They have different size pieces so the whole family can work on one together – big pieces for little kids, medium size pieces for middle kids, and smaller pieces for teens and adults.
Where to buy them:
Wings of the Wind Kites and Toys
Inside Paramount Marketplace at 13th and Woodlawn in Wichita
Store hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Alfred Peet is the man who taught the world to drink coffee, and he’s also the guy who taught Timothy Wiesner how to roast coffee. Now Wiesner owns the Fresh Roast Coffee Company in Wichita and has very enthusiastic customers. In my opinion, you can’t get better coffee in Wichita! He sells his fresh-roasted coffee once a week on Saturday mornings by the pound ($16) or half-pound ($8.35). Tim also delivers – get this – at no charge during the week.
A pound or half-pound of this excellent coffee is an inexpensive luxury gift for any coffee lover and will be warmly welcomed. Plus, they’ll remember you every time they make their weekly trek to buy more. 🙂 Where to buy it:
You can call Tim or order online. He recommends that you buy coffee just before you give it, because it’s best fresh, of course!
Fresh Roast Coffee Company
Ffarquhar building, 611 S. St. Francis
Saturday mornings from 9-noon
Or order online at FreshRoastCoffeeCompany.com
Sometimes things show up at just the right time, and that was the case with this gift idea! I happened to scroll past a photo advertising their Black Friday sale and a light bulb went off. Plants! They are a beautiful, living gift and super affordable. I called and talked to Daydra at Plant Kingdom, who told me just HOW affordable. (I was floored.)
The 4″ potted succulents are only $2.99 each at Plant Kingdom! Succulents are easy to care for and come in many pretty varieties. Daydra and I brainstormed some ideas for presentation, like putting the plant in a cool or unusual container from a secondhand store, or simply wrapping the pot with fancy wrap and tying on a holiday ribbon.
Where to buy them:
Plant Kingdom Greenhouse
3640 S Topeka St
Wichita, Kansas 67216
Store hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
You might already think of the Great Plains Nature Center when you’re looking for something fun and free to do with the kids, but the gift shop inside the center should also be top-of-mind for holiday giving. Not only do they have a really great assortment of unique things (nature books and puzzles, edible bugs – SERIOUSLY – Kansas postcards, and more), but the gift shop is a non-profit owned by Friends of the GPNC and proceeds go toward nature education. Here are two really fantastic gift suggestions from Owl’s Nest manager Christy:Jabebo earrings are gorgeous, and made from cereal boxes! The two earrings in each pair are slightly different – for example, you might see a different view of the same animal, flower, or insect on each side. The earrings are made by a naturalist and his team in Pennsylvania. $11 at The Owl’s Nest Gift Shop at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th Street in Wichita.
Images on Stone are original Kansas scenes printed on limestone by an artist in Concordia, Kansas. $18 at The Owl’s Nest Gift Shop at the Great Plains Nature Center.
Where to buy them:
The Owl’s Nest Gift Shop
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street
Wichita, KS 67220-2200
(316) 683-5499 x111
Store Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
(Will be closed Thanksgiving weekend.)
Can you imagine a gift more special than these? At Karg Art Glass in Kechi, you can make an appointment to blow your own glass ornament for $30, which is a little over our price range for this list. But these beautiful pre-blown glass ornaments are only $20. And this year you can also purchase beautiful small starburst pendants for as little as $10 – score! These blown glass ornaments are available now, and the blow-your-own glass ornament opportunities are available from November 23 through December 31, 2018.
Where to buy them:
Karg Art Glass
111 N Oliver St
Store hours: The gallery is open Monday thru Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.) Or you can stop in and watch the artists work (it’s amazing) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon or Saturday from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
This locally owned shop of yum now has two locations – the one in Andover and a new one in west Wichita. They’ll let you try any of their popcorn flavors before you buy so you’ll have no regrets later. If you’re not good at decisions, though, bring a friend. It’s so hard to choose! In the end, we picked Tuxedo Gourmet (caramel corn drizzled with milk chocolate and white chocolate – omigosh so good) and Jalapeño Cheddar (savory and just a little bit spicy).
We purchased two gift bags on our visit to the store (plus a couple of small bags of popcorn for ourselves). We’ll need to give them early, because the folks working at the store said they’re best if eaten within 10-16 days. You can, however, order ahead and then pick up your gifts when you’re ready to deliver them. The Popcorner also sells tins of popcorn, which start at $10.
Where to buy:
East Side: 11330 E Central Ave, Wichita, KS 67206
West Side: 2121 N Tyler Rd Suite 141, Wichita, KS 67212
Store hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Do you have a Shocker fan on your list? The bookstore at WSU has all your official Wichita State Shocker merchandise, and they have sales and specials during the holiday shopping season. Get your 8 glasses a day with these cool Star Wars/Shockers co-branded pint glasses. They’re $14.99 and available at the WSU bookstore on campus. Retail manager Misti told me the store has lots of other co-branded Shockers/Star Wars merchandise, like t-shirts, lanyards, decals, and more. This is really hard to find anywhere else!
Where to buy them:
Wichita State University Rhatigan Student Center
1845 Fairmount St
Wichita, KS 67260
Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. All Saturdays in December they’ll have extended hours 10a-4p)
(Free two-hour parking in the lot south of the RSC.)
I’ll admit that when my teenager and I first walked into this shop we were daunted by the prices on some of the really beautiful (but expensive) items. Museum gift stores aren’t generally known for inexpensive gifts. But when I asked manager Nancy for suggestions, it was like the windows of heaven were opened and gifts under $20 were just pouring out.
The first one we found on our own. This is a coloring book of detachable postcards for about $10. The cards are heavy stock and the designs are nice. I wouldn’t mind receiving this as a gift at all – how about you?
The store manager showed us these nice little notepads shaped like fruit and cupcakes. We thought the apple notepad would be a cute teacher gift! About $5 each.
Speaking of great teacher gifts, what literature teacher couldn’t use this to help get students interested in Shakespeare? It’s only $12.95 at the museum store.
Nancy also showed us these brushed nickel ring holders in the shape of an elephant, giraffe, and reindeer. Only $10 each!
Where to buy them:
Wichita Art Museum Store
1400 Museum Blvd.
Wichita, KS 67203
Store hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where are your favorite local places to shop? What gift ideas would you suggest to others who want to buy local, but still stay on budget during the holiday shopping season?
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