The holidays are here, and with them comes the best excuse to support your friends and neighbors by shopping locally.

In a typical year, we buy almost all of our holiday gifts from area vendors, not only because it boosts Baltimore’s small-business community but because it provides for a more intimate gift-exchanging experience that can’t always be sourced with goods from the big-box stores.

Below are some of our favorite places to scout out gifts large and small for the holiday season — and, who are we kidding — all year round, too.

Want more gift ideas? Check out the full 2023 Baltimore Banner Gift Guide

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Charm City Chocolate. 2023 Limited Edition Baltimore Advent Calendar.
(Courtesy photo)

Charm City Chocolate

Michelle Deal-Zimmerman isn’t just a brilliant journalist but a terrific chocolatier. She and her husband, Todd, can be counted on for all your sweet treat needs.

The pair tells us they’re especially excited about Charm City Chocolate’s 2023 Limited Edition Baltimore Advent Calendar ($45), a fun way for families and friends who hold Baltimore dear to count down to Christmas. The calendar features an illustration of the city skyline and includes 25 handmade chocolate pieces — crafted right in Hampden. There are fun shapes and characters in milk, dark and white chocolate and equally fun flavors, including dark chocolate orange and chocolate lemon peppermint stick.

Truth be told, you can’t go wrong shopping here, and Banner readers are being offered a 10% discount (promo code: Banner) for supporting them this year. So, have at it, hons.

809 W. 36th St.

The Clean Bohemian soap bar from Mount Royal Soaps.
Stokely Baksh/The Baltimore Banner

Mount Royal Soaps

The Mount Royal Soaps crew have become rock-solid community staples over the years, with two brick-and-mortar locations in the city (including a stall in the newly overhauled Lexington Market), a presence on shelves all over town and contracts with two of the biggest hospital networks in the region to supply hand sanitizer.

Co-founder Matt Williams says to look out for the Alpine For You candle ($18.99), Holly Berry Bar Soap ($7.50), David S Pumpkins Soap ($7.50) and the Lavender Bath Bomb ($6). The store offers a wide variety of products including lotions, hand and body creams, salves, balms and scrubs.

A 35% off sale will run Nov. 20 to Nov. 27. Sometimes it just pays to have good hygiene.

2740 A, 2740 Huntingdon Ave., Unit B, Baltimore

Books on desk in library at the elementary school
Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Book Thing

If you’re on a budget and shopping for a reader, look no further than the Book Thing.

The massive Waverly warehouse is home to thousands of free — yes, free — books, made available to the public through donations and a host of volunteers.

But plan wisely: Book Thing will be open for only two days before the holidays: Saturday, Nov. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 10. Doors open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.; patrons can arrive at the warehouse and sign up for a timed entry. If you’re faced with a wait, Peabody Heights Brewery and the 32nd Street Farmers Market are just down the block; the latter only operates on Saturdays.

If you’re looking for a specific book, you’ll need to be prepared to search through the shelves. “We move such a large volume of books that it is difficult for us to keep track of what we have,” the Book Thing’s FAQ section reads. “Come look for yourself! Our volunteers can point you in the right direction. Besides, the search is half the fun — who knows what else you might find!”

We have tons of additional bookstore recommendations in mind if you’re looking for something more specific, and we’re happy to share our favorites if you send us an email. Just be prepared to use your wallets there.

3001 Vineyard Lane, Baltimore

A botanical mural adorns the side of B. Willow in Remington.
Emma Patti Harris/The Baltimore Banner

B. Willow

B. Willow is so much more than a plant shop.

The Remington store, which operates out of a beautifully converted rowhome, also hosts classes that span everything from herbal medicine making to yoga classes (starting at $20). This year, B. Willow will also host a local artists market at the nearby R. House food hall on Sunday, Nov. 26, and Sunday, Dec. 17.

If you’re keen on buying something green, owner Liz Vayda recommends the store’s wide variety of terrariums and kokedama arrangements, dried flower bouquets, pressed flower cards, potted arrangements and mounted tropical plants. Plant products start at $4, and dried goods start at $6.

She said the store will host giveaways and discounts for Black Friday and in early December. Discounts are also found regularly on B. Willow’s mailing list.

220 W. 27th St., Baltimore

Photo from inside good neighbor coffee shop.
Brenna Smith/The Baltimore Banner

good neighbor

good neighbor, the Hampden coffee shop beloved by Baltimore’s arts scene for its impressive span of culture magazines and bespoke home goods from local artists, will be home to a variety of holiday programming this season.

The shop will run two holiday season sales: 20% in-shop items the day before Thanksgiving through Black Friday, and a last-minute holiday gifting 15% off in-shop items sale from Saturday, Dec. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 24.

good neighbor will also operate the new Hillside Holiday Chai Bar & Tree Market this year, which will run every Saturday and Sunday starting Nov. 18 and ending Christmas Eve. The market will take place on the coffee shop’s outdoor patio, next to its plant shop, green neighbor.

Customers can also purchase Christmas trees from good neighbor this holiday season. Trees will be available for pre-sale starting Wednesday, Nov. 1, with pick-ups beginning the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

Justin Timothy Temple, good neighbor’s director of brand and marketing, highlighted a face mug ($65) from local maker Kiran Joan and Ichendorf Milano’s new line of home goods (starting at $10). Design lovers can also check out the Thompson Paper Wall Clock by Lemnos ($150) and a Porta Table Lamp by Normann Copenhagen ($155).

3827 Falls Road, Baltimore

An assortment of items at Hunting Ground shop in Baltimore.
Hunting Ground

Hunting Ground

After you’ve sipped a coffee at good neighbor, head a few blocks down Falls Road to Hunting Ground, which in our humble opinion offers the most consistently great vintage finds in Baltimore. It’s where Emily nabbed one of her most beloved T-shirts of all time ($26), which sports Ed Schrader’s legendary “CATS ON THE LAKE” design. (Remember, cats set sail at 10:30 a.m.!)

The store specializes in seasonal apparel and bags that are 20 years or older, which is what makes Hunting Ground a vintage store rather than a thrift store. It’s consistently stocked with perfect pairs of jeans and worn-in tees, as well as evening wear like silk dresses and rayon gowns, all carefully curated and varying in price. The store also stocks the most interesting pieces from labels of the savviest young designers out there, from Paloma Wool to Find Me Now, and goodies like Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style ($50) and coffee-scented candles ($20).

Owner Jess Soulen said the shop usually offers promotions for the holidays, but they have yet to be finalized.

3649 Falls Road, Baltimore

Wilson ornaments at Highlandtown Art Gallery.
(Courtesy photo)

Highlandtown Art Gallery

Whether you’re a first-time art buyer or a seasoned veteran, you’ll likely feel at home at the Highlandtown Art Gallery.

The gallery is a staple in Highlandtown, which, among its many charms, runs a monthly “art walk” for local residents and visitors to peruse handmade goods, chat with neighborhood artists and get a feel for the community’s creative spirit. In Hallie’s opinion, this is one of the best events in Baltimore — and it’s free to participate.

Gallery owner and director Felicia Zannino-Baker, a Highlandtown native, recommends the shop’s one-of-a-kind ornaments ($30) and jewelry (starting at $35). Original art starts at $95, and each week a new pop-up artist will have a trunk show of their wares. While there are no discounts on original art, the gallery does offer free gift-wrapping services.

Zannino-Baker also recommends coming by the store in person in November and December, where she plans on serving up some home-made biscotti. Now that’s priceless.

248 S. Conkling St., Baltimore

Patagonia in Fells Point, Baltimore.
Paul Newson/The Baltimore Banner

Patagonia Baltimore

Baltimore: Home to blue crabs, Old Bay and Maryland’s only brick-and-mortar Patagonia store.

You’re probably familiar with Patagonia clothing and gear, beloved among the hikers, climbers and campers in our lives for their durability and style. But the brand has also gained a following for its mission, committing a portion of its sales to environmental causes and taking up local causes in the communities surrounding its stores. (In Baltimore, the company has eyed water quality and conservation.)

Patagonia Baltimore’s Craig Orn said gift givers will have their choice of a large assortment of current and past-season outlet merchandise and can also support the store with gift cards. We’ve given our loved ones the Atom Sling bag ($65), the Synchilla Snap-T Pullover ($149) and the Better Sweater Vest ($119).

The store will offer some additional promotions and sales throughout the holiday season, Orn said, adding that shoppers can follow the shop on social media or subscribe to Patagonia’s newsletter.

🎁 Looking for more gift ideas?

🎁 9 great gift ideas to buy in Baltimore County

🎁 8 places to buy gifts for the holidays in Anne Arundel County

🎁 8 places to shop for holiday gifts in Howard County

🎁 7 places to shop for holiday gifts in Bel Air and Harford County

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🎁 7 places to shop for the holidays in Sykesville and Carroll County

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