Shopping local is one way to support local businesses, and Whidbey Island features interesting gifts no matter who is receiving them. Here are just a handful of ideas for holiday gifts with an island flair.
OAK HARBOR/NORTH WHIDBEY
Discover Pass to Washington State Parks
Giving the gift of the outdoors is possible with Washington State Parks’ annual Discover Pass. Whidbey has miles of trails and beautiful beaches, and a $30 state park pass will make a great gift for anyone who wants to go outside. Passes can be purchased locally at Deception Pass State Park, Fort Casey Historical State Park and South Whidbey Park in automated pay stations, recreational license vendors where state fishing and hunting licenses are sold, by phone and online at https://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/
Mailliard’s Landing Nursery – 3068 North Oak Harbor Road
If the receiver is someone with a green thumb, the island’s nurseries have plenty of options. Nolan Mailliard from Mailliard’s Landing Nursery in Oak Harbor said seeds can be great stocking stuffers. The nursery recently received some new seeds after a spike in home gardening cleaned out many nurseries this past spring, according to Mailliard. Indoor plants are another popular gift, with air plants being some of the easiest to wrap.
“Christmas cactuses are in full bloom right now and people are going crazy for them,” Mailliard said.
The festive Christmas cactus runs $6.99-$12.99, and the nursery has plenty of gardening accessories like pots and colorful rubber boots.
Little Town Cottage – 851 Southeast Pioneer Way, Suite 102
For spa and skincare items that look good enough to eat, visit Little Town Cottage in downtown Oak Harbor. Owner Maria Rodriguez makes all of the bath bombs, body lotions and soap herself using natural ingredients. The doughnut-shaped bath bombs are beautiful and come in shades of light blue, sea foam green and bright pink.
There are also men’s collections which include beard oil and soap.
“I love it, honestly, I just love making everything,” said Rodriguez.
Shoppers can peruse the store’s offerings online at littletowncottage.com, but should know that items do sell out quickly, Rodriguez added. Bath bombs are $5.99 each. In addition to home spa items, the shop also carries home decor.
Whimsies – 830 Southeast Pioneer Way
Whimsies in downtown Oak Harbor has a cornucopia of eclectic gift ideas.
The store has everything from colorful woven baskets in all shapes and sizes to teacup towers to whimsical jewelry.
Stocking stuffers like lavender sachets and chocolates are also a hit, owner Charlotte Gray said.
Rings are popular right now, she added.
Gray creates mosaic-rimmed mirrors in a variety of sizes and price points beginning at $24. She also sells them through an online Etsy shop.
There is an emphasis on handmade items, and Gray said most of the items come from makers on Whidbey. The names of the artists and their specialty is displayed on a sign that can be seen the moment a shopper walks inside.
“We’ve got handcrafted, retro and new treasures just for you,” Gray said.
Pioneer Sticker Shop – 749 Southeast Pioneer Way, Suite 102
Everybody needs a hoodie on Whidbey Island, and Pioneer Sticker Shop in downtown Oak Harbor has a selection with local themes.
“Hoodies are really popular right now because it’s getting chilly, and you always need a hoodie on Whidbey even in the summer,” owner Dan Mazurek said.
The Navy veteran’s offerings feature modern, clean and artistic designs rather than standard island-themed souvenirs. Some of the hats feature Navy jet silhouettes, sweatshirts broadcast Whidbey Island sunsets, and Bigfoot/Sasquatch makes an appearance on everything from Christmas ornaments to multi-tool key chains. His store also carries items from other Whidbey designers and artists.
Mazurek said he is working on setting up an online shop for customers to order the store’s staple designs, but the brick and mortar storefront will have more variety and limited editions.
3 Sisters Market – 779 North Holbrook Road
3 Sisters Market has practically everything a local foodie could want for a gift.
The market boasts a variety of locally made items, everything from pepperoni to pies.
“Everything’s local in here —— that’s the biggest thing for us,” said Roshel Donwen, one of the three sisters.
All of the wines are Whidbey-made, and there is a selection of local beers and ciders as well. The market sells 3 Sisters Family Farm-raised meat, and the pepperoni sticks make great stocking stuffers for meat lovers.
There is also a selection of local produce and jams available, and the market carries pies from both Whidbey Pie Company in Greenbank and Wild Crow Pies in Langley. Besides edible items, the market also sells locally made soap, room sprays and art.
Marbley – 7 Front Street Northwest #823
Marbley in downtown Coupeville offers gift certificates to learn water marbling on silk if someone wants to make his or her own mesmerizing creation. The shop also has a variety of colorful silks, leather bracelets and necklaces that feature the marbled design.
Owner Ed Hodson said the silks are always popular, but certain 2020-themed, handmade Christmas ornaments have become increasingly so. Embroidered sayings like “ugh 2020” and others have been picked up by many holiday decorators.
The marbling class costs $39 plus tax and includes everything needed to make a silk scarf in just under an hour.
“It’s kind of meditative,” said Thomas Garcia as he swirled floating drops of color. He traveled from Tacoma with Kaeli Todd to take the class.
The store is open on weekends and on weekdays by appointment.
Kingfisher Bookstore – 16 Front Street Northwest #1155
Kids will love a spooky trilogy, “Weirdbey Island,” written by Clinton-based author Eldritch Black and offered at Kingfisher Bookstore in Coupeville. The series includes the “The Pirates of Penn Cove,” a tale about pirates in Whidbey’s mussel-rich cove; “The Day of the Jackalope,” inspired by downtown Langley’s rabbits; and “The Island Scaregrounds,” which takes place at the Island County Fairgrounds, according to book store owner Meg Olsen.
For adults, Olsen recommends “Getting to the Water’s Edge,” by the Sound Water Stewards, or this year’s edition of “Hiking Close to Home,” by Maribeth Crandell as a gift for nature lovers. The bookstore also has watercolor calendars made by local artists, and all cards are $5.
Rain Shadow Nursery – 107 South Main Street, G102
Bright red poinsettias and glittering holiday decorations greet shoppers when they walk in the door at Rain Shadow Nursery in Coupeville. Employee Trish Marshall said glittery, lighted Christmas decorations she described as fountains have been popular recently.
Potted plants are also good gifts, she said, and the nursery has everything from low-maintenance succulents to cascading vines and colorful orchids.
Artist Paul Schmid
For kids and adults who are young at heart, illustrator Paul Schmid has just about every kind of home good imaginable covered with his designs, available for sale at society6.com/paulschmid. From tote bags to bedspreads to bar stools, Schmid’s products feature prints familiar to Whidbey, with bunnies and whales included.
The Freeland-based artist also makes holiday cards and has written and illustrated his own children’s books, which are for sale on his website, paulschmidstudio.com.
In addition, Schmid is a self-taught oil painter. His website also features still life paintings, but with one fun twist — Schmid has attached googly eyes to some of the fruits and vegetables. He said he likes to come up with stories and names for each “subject” in his paintings.
“Because I’ve been doing so much work for children, as an illustrator you have to be very expressive,” Schmid said. “It’s basically storytelling with pictures.”
The Bard’s Boutique – 5603 Bayview Road, #3
Fans of England’s most famous playwright can find Shakespeare-themed merchandise at the Bard’s Boutique at Bayview Corner.
Purchases at the store help support the Island Shakespeare Festival, which had to cancel all shows this year because of the coronavirus.
Board President Peggy Juve and Artistic Director Olena Hodges estimated that they have collectively sewn about 2,500 masks since protective coverings became the norm.
A variety of masks can be found in the store, alongside jewelry made by local artists.
Juve pointed out that a book titled “The Shakespeare Insult Generator” is one of the store’s bestsellers. Kids love it, she said, because of all of the different words.
The gift shop recently launched a website, island-shakespeare-festival.square.site, where products can also be purchased.
Bayview Healing Suites – 5603 Bayview Road, Second Floor
Also at the Bayview Corner, Tibetan singing bowls can be found.
Gail Kronberg of Singing Bowl Soundsations explained that the unique bowls are made of seven different metals and each has its own vibrational frequency and tone that corresponds to an energy center, or one of the chakras.
“There’s many uses for the Tibertan bowls,” Kronberg said. “A lot of people use them for mindfulness practice, for yoga.”
She added that they can also be integrated into massage and acupuncture or to promote relaxation in some forms of therapy. Kronberg has used them on or around the body during classes at the Bayview Healing Suites.
A mallet is used to strike the bowl, causing the vibration, or sound.
Interested buyers can make an appointment to view the bowls at the Healing Suites, or visit singingbowlsoundsations.com to purchase online.
Fair Trade Outfitters – 112 Anthes Avenue
Langley has no shortage of quirky ornaments for sale, and admirers of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can purchase a likeness of RBG at Fair Trade Outfitters.
Owner Lilly van Gerbig said the ornaments have been so popular that they have nearly sold out, but another shipment is on its way soon.
“We were excited to find the different Ruth Bader Ginsburg ornaments and pins, and even an embroidered shawl she wore, because she continues to embody the spirit of an American icon of accomplishment, tenacity and drive,” van Gerbig said.
Also available are felt versions of popular musicians — John Lennon, David Bowie and Elvis Presley — and scarves printed with famous paintings, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
Museo Gallery – 215 First Street
Langley’s art galleries also boast an original selection of ornaments. Artist Danielle Bodine has made several coiled critters, bird-like in appearance, that are available for $30 each.
The critters are a mixed media project and are made of metallic yarn Bodine found while visiting other countries, she explained.
The thread is coiled around a core, and eyes and antennas are added last to the ornament.
“They make me happy,” Bodine said, adding that she has found the art project to be very relaxing and has offered to teach many others how to do it.
Similar to her ornaments, Bodine also has been making “Marching COVID Munchers,” which are currently part of an art installation in Texas.
There is a slinky inside of each Muncher, which causes their mouths to comically open and close. Bodine said she imagines them “eating the COVID up.”
Secondhand Booty – 4777 Commercial Street, #6
For stocking stuffers, look no further than Secondhand Booty.
The thrift store has an extensive collection of toy cars, comic books, beads and other kid-friendly items.
Owner Dustin Yongue said the store is also a popular spot to find holiday decorations, although most of those, including an entire Christmas village, have been scooped up by now.
Customers can play Yongue’s own version of the county fair ring toss for the chance to win a dish. Standing at the “X” marked on the floor, people can toss coins and try to land them in the cup tower that sits on a table full of dishes.
Madrona Supply Co. – 8754 Highway 525
A wide range of Whidbey-made items can be found at Madrona Supply Co.
T-shirts are screen printed in the store and feature the island’s most popular landmark, the Deception Pass Bridge. The ferry boat, a nod to South Whidbey, is also a design on the shirts.
Employee Shawn Fowler explained that the gift shop has been carrying more local items recently, since many craft shows were canceled this year.