As health-related restrictions and closures put ever more pressure on local businesses and charities, it’s critically important to help support them this holiday season.
One option is to make a donation in a loved one’s name to a nonprofit based on their interests. Do they care deeply about animals? Consider giving to a local no-kill shelter or rescue operation. Do they sympathize with humans less fortunate than themselves? Give to a local food bank or other charity that helps the low-income and homeless populations.
On the for-profit side, you could purchase a gift certificate for folks to spend at a favorite locally owned restaurant, coffee shop, hair or nail salon, or retail store.
If you’re looking for something more tangible to give, there are plenty of options around the Harbor.
General gift stores are plentiful. A few worth browsing are the Grand Heron in Aberdeen; Pomegranate in Grayland; the Basket House in Westport; Mermaid Cove in Ocean Shores; and Brooklets Toys in Seabrook.
A few locally owned drugstores also have aisles full of inexpensive gift ideas: City Center Drug (Aberdeen), Harbor Drug (Hoquiam), Twin Harbor Drug & Gifts (Westport) and Valu Drug (Montesano).
But wait, there’s more.
What follows is by no means a complete listing; it’s meant to get your thought process started. If you see an idea you like, apply it to your own area and shop local.
Although museums remain closed by state mandate, several of them are keeping their gift shops open for the holidays:
The Polson Museum in Hoquiam has shifted its inventory of local history books and other items to the building’s foyer. It’s open to a limited number of people at a time from Wednesday through Sunday until 4 p.m.
Damon’s Outpost, the Coastal Interpretive Center’s retail operation in Ocean Shores, is open for holiday shopping. In addition to a variety of gift items, it offers a wide selection of natural and cultural history books, including many for children. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Dec. 22.
The Northwest Carriage Museum’s shop in Raymond sells memorabilia as well as handmade works by local artisans. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The proprietors of the Museum of the North Beach in Moclips are allowing people to shop by appointment for glass floats and other coastal memorabilia. Call 360-276-4441 to set a time.
Antique shops offer alternative possibilities for those who enjoy vintage items. Regional favorites include Past & Present Mercantile in Aberdeen and Sooz Rusty Nail in Pacific Beach; but there are numerous other shops to browse. Use Google or Yelp to find some near you.
The Harbor is home to a wide variety of artisans who create beauty with paint, wood, metal, stone, clay fabric and more. Many of them also are going through rough times and could use a boost.
If you have a favorite artist, look them up and ask where you can view the items they have for sale — or maybe ask if you can commission something special. (It may be too late to do that for Christmas, but Valentine’s Day is coming up sooner than you think.)
If you’d like to consider different types of art to give as gifts, several galleries offer works created by an assortment of local creative minds. In addition to those noted above, check out the Alder Grove Gallery in Aberdeen and Fusions Art Gallery in Ocean Shores.
If Native American art is your bag, you can shop online for goodies from the Quinault Indian Nation, ranging from tree ornaments to handmade drums to children’s books. Visit the Quinault Pride website to see it all.
Plenty of outdoor activities are still accessible with minor restrictions. You can charter a boat from Westport to go fishing, watch for whales or spot seabirds that can’t be observed from shore. Visit the Charter Westport website for the various operations’ schedules and pricing.
Or, for something completely different, you could go mucking about in river mud with local photographer and artist Marcy Merrill. She has discovered a wide variety of interesting artifacts at the mouth of the Chehalis River and created some cool showpieces with them.
Now, she’s leading small two-hour expeditions for others to share in her filthy fun at $35 per person. It’s BYOB (bring your own boots), but she’ll provide nitrile gloves and a bucket or bag for your finds. Outings are limited to three people each. Visit her Airbnb Experiences site to book an upcoming date: www.airbnb.com/experiences/264182.
Indoor opportunities also are available. Some local galleries offer art classes, such as the Gallery of Ocean Shores, South Beach Arts Association in Westport, and Grays Harbor Potters Guild in Hoquiam. Check their individual websites for current information.
Food and drink
Grays Harbor is home to three wineries and one family-owned wine shop. GH Wine Sellars, in downtown Aberdeen, sells some local vintages as well as a selection of others from across the Pacific Northwest.
Cranberry Road Winery in Westport operates a restaurant and sells its wines by the bottle. Wynoochee River Winery and Gardens near Montesano not only makes unique fruit-based wines, but also sells vegetables and plants from its garden and nursery.
In addition to making and selling its own wines and spirits, the Westport Winery Garden Resort operates a restaurant with covered outdoor seating, as well as a colorful gift shop with all manner of beachy doodads and gastronomical goodies.
Don’t forget our local breweries, either. We have quite a few of them around the Harbor, from Westport to Aberdeen and Hoquiam to Ocean Shores. Find one near you and take a growler of local brew home for the holidays.
If seafood is what your loved ones crave, this is the place to be for fish, crab, clams and oysters. Grays Harbor vendors include Merino’s Seafood Market and Brady’s Oysters in Westport, and Lytle Seafoods in Hoquiam. Check their websites for store hours and what’s fresh. If you prefer to shop online, Quinault Pride sells and ships canned, smoked and frozen seafood (and much more) through its website.
For other fresh meats and accoutrements, you might check out Rancho Alegre in Aberdeen, Bay City Sausage near Westport, or Back Porch Smoked Meats in Ocean Shores.
For freshly baked goods, try CaKecaKes in Aberdeen, which is taking orders for holiday treat boxes; Linda’s Bakery & Café in Ocean Shores; Savory Faire in Montesano; or Nancy’s Bakery at the Hoquiam Farmers Market (which, by the way, also has plenty of local gift ideas within its walls). If you’re partial to Mexican pastries, head for La Unica in Aberdeen.
If the person you’re buying for has a hobby, you should be able to find something nearby.
Do you know someone who appreciates a good cigar? Waugh’s in Aberdeen has an amazing selection in a special room.
Video or tabletop gaming enthusiast? Lion Guard Gaming.
Someone who loves words like “BAMF” and “SNIKT”? Tectonic Comics.
Avid gardener? Marshall’s Garden and Pet.
Crafter? Harbor Bead and Crafts and Quilt Harbor.
Reader? Harbor Books & Gifts.
Star Wars fanatic? Sucher and Sons.
You name the pastime, you can probably find something to suit it in a locally owned shop.
So, go forth and spread a little holiday cheer — not only for your loved ones, but also for your community.