During Christmas, buying gifts becomes like an Olympic sport for me and my family. We generally search local stores, Etsy, craft fairs, etc., to find the one thing that is going touch the receiver the most — the more tears the better!

Since moving to Baltimore in 2012, I’ve tried to search the region for the best places to find unique gifts to match the people in my life.

Here are some favorites:

Hexagon ceramic tumblers
(Courtesy photo)


Hidden behind the Fresh Market in Towson, Taken’s window front captivates you with unique displays, like the pre-Christmas one filled with tiny sweaters, ready for “sweater weather.” Once inside, you are met with a mix of vintage items, especially popular midcentury modern furniture, and goods from local artisans. Owner Vanessa Milio started in 2020, wanting a “way to connect the dots” between artists and makers and the people who want to support their creativity. Some of Milio’s favorites this season include hexagon ceramic tumblers by From Donna’s Hands, colorful dishmats by Bmore Side Dish, candle tins from Fig & Fire and cutting boards from Words with Boards.

740 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson

A selection of items from Found Studio
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Found Studio

Owner Kacey Stafford has experience with brick-and-mortar shops in Baltimore as one of the original owners of the now-shuttered Trohv in Hampden. In 2019, she opened Found Studio in Lauraville to support independent and creative companies. Some of her favorite things this season include Hon’s Honey products, especially the lip balm, Cherapy therapeutic heat wraps, which are made in Columbia, and Saffron earrings, made in Philadelphia from vintage tins.

4337 Harford Road, Baltimore

Needlepoint pillow
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Becket Hitch

Kohli Flick has worked in home and gift stores since she was 17, so it was natural for her to open Becket Hitch, a home furnishing and gift store at Green Spring Station, in April 2014. The store is packed with modern home goods and decor, gifts, apparel, stationery and jewelry. This season, Flick recommends needlepoint pillows with funny sayings, soft and washable herringbone throws, a giant tub of magic unicorn sprinkles “because sprinkles make everything better,” and indoor/outdoor rechargeable lamps.

2360 W Joppa Road, Timonium

Decorative buoys
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The Gifted Crab

This “crabtique” is cross the Bay Bridge-worthy. It features nautical items such as decorative buoys, candles by the Maryland Candle Company and pewter crab mallets from Salisbury Pewter. They even have their own all purpose seafood seasoning called “Harry’s Blend.”

210 Castle Marina Road, Chester

Baltimore tea towels
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Pandora's Box

The vibrant mod store owned by Monesha Philips has been in Federal Hill for over 20 years. It’s a great place to shop for gifts from local and independent creatives and to find things that just put a smile on your face. For the Baltimore-lover, there are brightly colored dish towels, pillows and more featuring some iconic imagery like various rowhouses, the rat and even Edgar Allan Poe.

50 East Cross Street, Baltimore

Maryland themed gift basket
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In the heart of downtown Annapolis, Annebeth's is the place for wine, beers, specialty foods and gifts. The shop creates custom gift baskets that are customizable for anyone on your list. The best seller is of course the made-to-order Maryland-themed basket that can include things like local beers from Key Brewing Co. and RAR Brewing, Rise Up coffee, Jeppi Nut Company mixes and Michele’s Granola.

46 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis

Galaxy Lantern Fly specimen from Bazaar
(Courtesy photo)


If you are looking for something unique, look no further than Bazaar in Hampden. Started in 2013 for “those seeking the strange and unusual,” Greg Hatem and Brian Henry’s shop features taxidermy, antique medical equipment and many other odds and ends. My personal favorite: framed insect specimens, especially the Galaxy Lantern Fly, but they sell out fast and the inventory is always changing. Customers can call ahead if they are looking for a particular species, or for custom orders. If specimens aren’t your thing, then there’s always the store-made candles that come in scents like Plague Doctor (based on the herbs that were stuffed into a plague doctor’s iconic mask), Overgrown Cemetery (smells like grass and dirt), Coven (smells like an herbal bonfire) or Seance (sage and frankincense for conjuring spirits).

3534 Chestnut Avenue, Baltimore

Blue crab tin candle
(Courtesy photo)

The Nest on Main

Opened in 2017 in the heart of downtown Bel Air, Kathi Gomacki’s shop showcases the art of almost a dozen local artists. Gromacki says she tries to embody the Danish concept of Hygge through her store. It’s the idea of “being cozy and gathering with people,” she said, “like I am welcoming them into my home.” While the shop has a bit of everything, the Camp craft cocktail mixes, various assortments of teas and candles made in collaboration with Pop Artist Ramon Matheu are recommended.

110 South Main Street, Bel Air

Store display at Chosen
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Located on a country road in Hydes, Chosen is a curated selection of products from 50 local makers including pottery, woodworking, toys, home decor and jewelry. Some of owner Lydia McCusker’s favorite items include polymer clay earrings by Silverhill Designs, weighted blankets for your eyes and Pinch Me therapy dough.

5235 Hydes Road, Unit 2, Hydes

Store display at Chosen
(Courtesy photo)

Makers of Maryland

Launched in 2018, Makers of Maryland is an online and pop-up shop that brings together local artists from across Maryland. The holiday pop-up store opens on Dec. 3 at The Avenue in White Marsh. Some things on my list: stickers by Brittni No Problem, fidget keychains by Charm City Fidgets, porcelain paper products by Morningstar Mud and crab sauce by Yorktown Spice.

Store opens Dec. 3, 8165 Honeygo Boulevard, Nottingham