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  • Writer's pictureLinda Shantz

5 Ways to Think Outside the Big Box for the Holidays

Yes, it’s that time of year! I’m someone who isn’t a fan of malls (translate: avoids them like the plague). I like to avoid supporting Big Box stores when there are small businesses with amazing things out there. If you’ve got gifts to purchase, here are some ideas that will support individuals instead of corporations – and you don’t even have to leave the house to shop! That’s a win, in my book!

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

(okay...this is an email from a horse artist, so we know the answer to that is “tack shop” and “art supply store.”)

1. Speaking of books...they’re one of my favourite things, and they make great gifts – especially when they support indy authors. Two of the best out there are Mara Dabrishus and Tudor Robins, both of whom are known for their Young Adult novels guessed it, horses! While adults can enjoy their books as well, this year they collaborated on something a little more grown-up: a romance novel! It’s a fun read with great characters and would be a perfect companion for a long winter’s night.

Want to read along as Tudor and Mara write the next one? You can do so for as little as a dollar on Patreon!

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.” ~ Aaron Siskind

2. I rely on photos for portraits I’m painting, and one thing I often hear is, “I wish I had better photos!” There are many talented photographers out there, and Sophie Cloutier is one of them, located in Southern Ontario. A gift certificate for a photoshoot would make an amazing gift. Just make sure you ask permission to use the photos for reference for a painting when the time comes!

“The best gifts come from the heart, not the store.” ~ Sarah Dessen

3. If you’re looking for a personalized, original idea that’s also really affordable, check out Stamp Things. Sandy Duffy creates jewellery and other neat items in metal. I have one of her cuff bracelets, as well as a couple of key tags with the names of two of my OTTBs and their tattoo numbers. I love them!

4. How about a book tote for those books? This one is a personal plug! I have a few tote bag designs featuring some of my paintings. I hope to set them up on my website one day, but for now they’re in my Etsy shop. My apologies to the Canadians – they are in US funds, and shipped from the US as I haven’t found a manufacturer in Canada yet. I’ve tried to keep the price reasonable, and the printing company is quite prompt, though with the holiday rush, it’s best not to wait if you want them on time!

5. Pay it forward! What do you give someone who has everything? How about a donation to their favourite charity? There’s no end to the possibilities with this, but I’ll mention a couple of my favourites. You can sponsor a retired racehorse for a day (or more!) at LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement. Or how about purchasing Christmas dinner for one of Toronto’s homeless with Yonge Street Mission?

LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement

Yonge Street Mission

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest a gift certificate for some original art, or a commissioned portrait! Both I and Equis Art Gallery would be happy to help you with that! What are your favourite outside-the-Big-Box ideas for presents?

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