‘Twas the fortnight before Christmas, at 12 in the afternoon,
I realized I had not done much shopping; I'd better start soon!
Where should I go, and what should I buy!?
Lo and behold, the College Input Holiday Gift Guide!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me and have been so busy with work or school and trying to maintain your mental stability that half of December has just flown by.
You could tell your family Santa’s workshop was closed due to COVID-19, or you can keep reading and check out a few of our favorites holiday gift ideas this season—full of local spirit.
Remember, small businesses are hurting during the pandemic, and need your support now more than ever.
Here are 12 local shops to support (and gift ideas to inspire you) in the downtown Fort Wayne area.1. House to Home
110 W Columbia St.
Calyan Wax Co. candles available at House to Home.
H2H has the perfect accessories to add comfort and style to any interior with modern flair. Home décor is a great gift for your work-from-home family and friends who are beginning to get stir crazy and needing something liven up their space. Whether it’s a private office, a tiny corner of the living room, or in my case, a windowless walk-in closet, a soy candle from Calyan Wax Co. will transform the dreariest spaces into a luxurious study. My favorite scent is Apples + Maple Bourbon, but House to Home also stocks Aspen + Fog, Home + Holiday, and Oakmoss + Amber. Candles make great supplementing gifts, too. A Calyan Wax Co. candle, a bottle of wine, and a soft fleece blanket make for a relaxing evening at home.
2. The Nurses’ Nursery
Plants from the Nurses' Nursery.
The Nurses’ Nursery is an online business started by two intensive care unit nurses in Fort Wayne with a passion for gardening. Orders can be made via their Facebook and their new website. The Nurses offer a variety of house plants, ranging from those that require little indirect light to those that are tropical, needing bright direct light. For a first-time house plant owner, I would recommend going with a jade pothos. They are relatively low maintenance, requiring indirect light and can even grow under standard fluorescent lights. Follow the Nurses' Nursery social media accounts for holiday discounts and plant care tips.
3. Honey Plant
1436 N Wells St.
Plants and ceramic pots by artist Kristen Watrous of K Watrous Ceramics available at Honey Plant.
If you’re picking up a house plant from The Nurses' Nursery, be sure to also visit Honey Plant boutique, as well. Not only do they also offer a wide assortment of house plants in their boutique and online, they also carry a diverse selection of pots and containers. Many of these ceramic pieces are made by Indiana artists, such as Sarah Thompson owner of Sarahmics. Honey Plant owners Cassandra and Logan Braman are always friendly and helpful in choosing the correct plant and type and size of container for your plant’s needs, too. For those whose thumbs are more black than green, Honey Plant also designs plant art from mosses and dried flowers. This option is a step up from fake plants, but doesn’t require the same maintenance as living plants.
4. Hyde Brothers Booksellers
1428 Wells St.
Books of all types at Hyde Brothers Booksellers.
Before you even reach the door, you’ll catch a whiff of that universal “old book smell” drafting through your COVID-19 mask. The shelves of Hyde Brothers Booksellers are stacked floor to ceiling, housing over 150,000 books. Browse the selection, and you’ll find new reads and plenty of classics. For socially distant shopping, the bookstore will host its Midnight Sale this year in two sessions, lasting two hours each, on Saturday, Dec. 19. This extravaganza requires a ticket to participate, and you can reserve one for free via Eventbrite. On this special night, you will receive a 20 percent discount on your entire purchase and a gift if you wear your pajamas! If you are not able to make the sale, you can also shop the online book packages, which are specially curated with the help of the staff. Buyers can fill out a preference form based on their desired genre and previously enjoyed books. Can you imagine, getting The Sam Hyde Family Package, and everyone getting their book on Christmas Eve, reading and sipping hot cocoa? #goals.
5. Fancy & Staple
Fun wrapping paper available at Fancy & Staple.
I don’t know about you guys, but I am a gift wrap snob. While most often gift wrap is ripped to smithereens, I aim to use gift wrap that will cause the receiver to pause at its glory and appreciate the artwork that goes into it. Fancy & Staple not only carries gift wrap, bags, stickers, and tags for a myriad of occasions, but also has an eclectic supply of goods from creators—both local and all over the world. Follow Fancy & Staple on Instagram and stay tuned for updates regarding their upcoming toy store, Hopscotch House. It’s all the fun and wonder that can be found in Fancy & Staple, but for your favorite littles!
6. Creative Women of the World
125 W. Wayne St.
Friendship bracelets available at Creative Women of the World.
CWOW’s Wide Silk Rainbow bracelet is an awesome group gift. Friendship bracelets are timeless, and it is an extra reminder of your love when you can’t be near. These bracelets are small, but meaningful, like work done by the ladies of CWOW, a shop and nonprofit that specializes in empowering female entrepreneurs all over the world to use their creative and artistic talents to support their families and communities. Each bracelet is handmade by a Guatemalan artisan, so no two are exactly the same. Along with the Friendship bracelets, CWOW features a wide variety of sustainably sourced gifts for men and women alike, including clothing, accessories, home décor, baking kits, coffee, and essential oils! Visit their shop downtown next to J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Pub or browse their selection online.
7. Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Gift Shop
131 W Main St.
Coney Island socks available at Fort Wayne's Famous Coney Island Gift Shop.
Steamed buns aren’t the only thing Coney Island is peddling. While you’re taking a break from the many hours of shopping, grab a couple of Coney dogs—sauce and cheese only for me. Then walk over to the Coney Island Gift Shop next door. This tiny shop is full of Coney Island inspired apparel, but the gift that takes the cake is the Coney Island dress socks. What better way to wear your local pride than with this iconic Fort Wayne restaurant keeping your feet cozy all winter long?
8. The Find
133 W. Wayne St.
Camp Craft DIY Cocktails available at The Find.
At some point this year, most of us have yearned for nights out with our friends, but instead, have settled for nights stuck at home to stay safe. But thanks to Camp Craft DIY Cocktails available at The Find, you can learn how to make artisanal cocktails yourself—no professional bartender required. While the cocktail kits require three days for the alcohol of your choice to infuse into the ingredients, at least you know there won’t be a long line to pour yourself a glass! You can get two uses from the ingredients included in each pack. Cocktails come in four flavors: Hot Toddy, Hibiscus Ginger Lemon, Sage and Turmeric, and Pineapple Jalapeno. While you’re at the Find, be sure to shop around, too. They carry a wide range of goods ideal for homebodies and kitchen aficionados. You can transform your house into a high-end restaurant!
9. Outer Grace Boutique
511 W. Wayne St.
Hats and earmuffs available at Outer Grace Boutique.
Baby, it’s cold outside, and there’s no better way to cozy up than to snag a new knit hat and gloves from Fort Wayne’s Outer Grace Boutique. Located downtown, in a refurbished historic house on Wayne Street, Outer Grace offers a beautiful selection of handmade and locally sourced goods just inside its doors, including candles, t-shirts, pillows, and bags that can be gender neutral. This season, my go-to item at the women’s clothing boutique is its line of trendy knit hats with fluffy fur balls and matching gloves—the perfect pair!
10. Snickle & Fritz Candy Emporium
511 W. Wayne St.
Stocking stuffers at Snickle & Fritz Candy Emporium.
While you’re at Outer Grace, follow the main hallway into the Snickle & Fritz Candy Emporium. This Downtown general store for kids will make you feel like a child again. Snickle & Fritz is hands down the place to go to fill up those stockings. Their stockpile of sweets ranges from classics like Candy Buttons to Legally Addictive snacks. The shop’s walls are lined with all sorts of toys and joys for kids of all ages as well as family activities. Whether you choose to bake some gingerbread cookies for Santa, take turns guessing Dr. Stinky’s Scratch and Sniff Stickers, or take part in a number of other fantastically fun activities Snickle & Fritz has in store, you’re bound to have a great time.
11. Old Fort Tee Co.
T-shirts at Old Fort Tee Co.
Old Fort Tee Co. is an online shop that makes tees in Fort Wayne and for Fort Wayne. Not only do these shirts make a great gift for locals, but even more so for your out-of-town relatives who may not be able to visit this year. My Nana is a snowbird. Usually, she’ll spend the spring and summer months here, and then leave for Florida as it gets chillier. Lucky her, right? Of course, this year has been different, for all the obvious reasons and for her safety, she hasn’t visited. So why not send a little piece of Fort Wayne her way?
12. The Hedge
A faux leather mini clutch at-home workshop by The Hedge.
As cabin fever rises during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure you’ve already exhausted your typical hobbies. But thankfully, a small business owner downtown is creating fun ways to keep you busy and help you create something extra special for your loved ones this holiday season—or share the gift of crafting with others. The Hedge, a fine art print shop studio on Broadway, has created Workshop at Home kits, which make great gifts for craft-lovers ages 10 and up. Each craft is highly useful and appeals to adults, too, like a faux leather mini clutch or a linoleum print. The Hedge’s owner, Julie Wall, includes all of the necessary items for each craft in the kit, as well as instructions and notes about where additional supplies may be obtained. While you’re visiting The Hedge, check out their great selection of locally made items and gifts with city spirit, like Fort Wayne ornaments!
That’s all for now, folks. But there are so many more places to shop local in the Fort Wayne region, so if you do venture out to do some holiday shopping, consider visiting a new small business.
Supporting local businesses will always be the gift that keeps on giving in our local economy. Keep in mind, during this holiday season, many of our Fort Wayne merchants are offering gift cards, online shopping, and curbside pickup and delivery options, too. (See a full list of local deals and discounts here!)
Stay safe, and be merry!