Your 2020 last-minute Bend gift guide for all kinds of budgets
In a meeting yesterday, a colleague referred to Christmas as “next week.” I laughed.
Then I choked, because friends, it’s true. Christmas 2020 is flying at us faster than a team of reindeer caught in a wind gust. Since the United States Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS pegged Dec. 15 as their deadline for ground shipping, you’re low on gift options for far-flung loved ones.
Don’t worry! There are still ways to hook up everyone on your gift list, from the next-door neighbor to relatives across the country who dream of visiting Bend when the pandemic ends.
Here’s a roundup of holiday gifts for everyone on your list, whether you’re flush with cash or digging through the couch for coins.
For the family foodie
Now’s a great time to make a list of your loved ones’ favorite Bend eateries and go nuts with your gift list. Many restaurants offer online gift card options so you can make the purchase with a few mouse clicks and have it delivered electronically on the day of your choosing.
If that’s not in the budget, there’s zero shame in purchasing gift cards in smaller amounts for coffee shops or budget-friendly restaurants. In fact, there’s an upside to doing exactly that. When your pal walks in to Thump Coffee with the $5 gift card you stuck in his stocking, odds are good he’ll spend a little extra grabbing a bagel or cookie to go with his latte. Ditto that for $5 gift cards to breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, which you can frame up as “buying a beer” for that buddy you haven’t seen since March. There’s a good chance your friend will kick in a few extra bucks for tots and a pizza, making it a win for everyone and a subtle way to double your support for local dining spots.
And if you absolutely, positively prefer giving tangible gifts, make an effort to shop local by hooking up your favorite foodie with kitchen goods and accessories from spots like Ginger’s Kitchenware, Savory Spice, or Newport Avenue Market.
For the outdoor adventurer
It’s been a rough year for all of us, and that’s true for both businesses that rely on tourists to put food on the table for their families, and for the tourists themselves who nixed vacation plans to stay home and slow the spread of COVID.
Why not do something nice for both sets of folks? A gift card for future adventure not only gives your loved one something to look forward to, but helps ensure local outfitters will make it through the pandemic.
Grab a gift card for a cave tour or canoe outing with Wanderlust Tours, or kayak lessons with Tumalo Creek. Brighten someone’s holiday with future plans for a bike trip with Cog Wild or a whitewater adventure from Sun Country Tours.
Maybe your mom wants to learn fly fishing in the coming year, or your best bud from college wants to try horseback riding. Heck, get yourself in on the action with a plan for the two of you to try it together when the pandemic is behind us.
If a big adventure isn’t in the budget, keep it simple with a gift aimed at making someone’s outdoor play a bit cozier. A pair of socks or a set of hand warmers from an outdoor gear shop will warm more than just those body parts. If a Bend hiking book is in the budget, hit up a Bend bookstore like Roundabout Books or Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe and wrap up your gift with pages flagged for hikes you’d love to try together.
For the nature lover
There’s obviously some overlap between the outdoor adventurer and the nature lover, but you’ll know the nature lover if you’ve met one. It’s someone dedicated to protecting Bend’s wild places and ensuring they’re cared for so future generations can enjoy them.
Score a sweet coffee table book of Bend images when you make a $15 donation to Pledge for the Wild. Ineffable makes a gorgeous gift of Bend photography, while the donation supports the Deschutes Trails Coalition and their work to protect and maintain Bend’s trails and wilderness areas. Learn more here.
Pinching pennies? Grab some seed packets from a local nursery or a bit of birdseed at Birds Unlimited to let your nature lover tend the living things around them. Include a sweet note spelling out the ways they bring joy to your life
For a free solution, use Visit Bend’s trip planner tool to create your own list of things to see and do when it’s safe to resume travel to Bend. When you share the list with your loved one, include a link to The Bend Pledge so you can vow to make it a sustainably-focused vacay.
For the person who needs pampering
Raise your hand if you’re freakin’ exhausted.
I’m now typing with one hand, but that other hand? It could really use a manicure.
Or a gift card for a manicure, pedicure, massage, or other luxury treatment from a Bend day spa. There are so many delightful, full-service spas to choose from in Bend, or keep costs down with a gift card to enjoy services from students at Phagen’s Beauty College (uh, $25 deluxe facial? Yes, please!
Pampering doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. My teenager once made me a punch card for five nights of dinners he’d make on any evening I didn’t want to cook. You’d better believe I took him up on that, and I will neither confirm nor deny dropping hints for a punch card of shoulder rubs to ease the work-from-home strain.
Stop reading now and skip to the next section if you’re squeamish about adult-only pleasure aids, K?
Rumor has it Pretty Pussycat boasts a bevy of delightful items to pamper your sweetie in all the best ways. Also, Lora Di Carlo (a Bend-based manufacturer of adult toys) has a dizzying assortment of top-of-the-line devices, so scope out their selection if you feel like treating someone to *ahem* a different sort of pampering.
For the whole fam
As a family that favors “experiences over things” for gift giving, we struggled this year to plan something to top last year’s Europe trip (which, of course, was postponed due to COVID).
I think we’ve actually done it. Don’t tell my kids, but I’m pretty sure they’ll lose their ever lovin’ minds when they learn there’s a day of snowmobiling in their future with Central Oregon Adventures, Inc.
If high-octane winter adventure isn’t your jam, how about passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park or Trampoline Zone? Make a day of it with a gift card to hit K1’s indoor cart racing track, or head over to Puzzle Effect (formerly Bend Escape Room) for a fun, interactive game experience in which your whole group is locked in a room and given clues to find the way out.
A family pass to the High Desert Museum guarantees a year of exciting educational exhibits and glimpses of cool critters, or challenge each other to a PacMan battle at Vector Volcano’s arcade filled with vintage video games.
Not every family activity requires serious spending. Grab board games and puzzles at Modern Games or the video variety from Game Stop. Then plan a series of family game nights, complete with popcorn and soda.
For the charitable folks
If you have a giving heart and a little extra in your wallet this year, there are plenty of ways to help your Bend neighbors through these unprecedented times.
The Bend Factory Stores have been hosting a special Jingle Store where kids in need can receive $10 in Jingle Bucks to shop the store for gifts. There’s gift-wrapping, a card making station, and food bags for hungry families. Donations are needed to help stock the Jingle Store, so it’s a great spot to do some last-minute shopping and help those less fortunate while you’re at it.
Here’s a bit of bright news: The Old Mill District usually hosts a Tree of Joy where folks can grab tags marked with gift ideas for needy kids. The effort went online this year, and I’m happy to report that generous donors have hooked up all 692 kids who were part of the program this year.
But there’s still plenty of need in our community, so check out spots like Pandemic Partners, The Giving Plate, Shepard’s House Ministries, the Bethlehem Inn, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and NeighborImpact if you have a little extra to give.
For those seeking small ways to help, the Sinclair gas station on Galveston and Columbia (which is owned by a family that’s been in Bend since the ‘50s) is sponsoring a fundraiser through REACH. Starting Saturday, Dec. 12, they’re collecting gift cards in $10 increments to purchase propane to help keep homeless folks warm or gasoline to keep them mobile. Swing by for your next fill and pitch in a little extra to help neighbors in need.
Also this Saturday, Bend Park & Rec is sponsoring a drive-through food bank at The Pavillion to help hungry families. It’s a great excuse to go ice skating and drop off a bag of non-perishable food that’ll go straight to those who need it.
Keep an eye out at grocery store checkstands when you filter through for your holiday food shopping this weekend. Most have programs in place where you can round up or purchase food bags to help feed the needy this holiday season. Even a few cents can add up fast.
For anyone who wants to see small businesses survive
Last Saturday, I went on a quest.
A quest to do whatever I could to spend money with local businesses I desperately want to see standing when the pandemic ends.
After kicking off my morning with the world’s best breakfast burrito from Los Jalapeños, I headed out for a hike. Then I zipped into Downtown Bend and hit Bellatazza to grab a pound of coffee so I could cross that off our grocery list. Did you know you can bring your bag back for refills and the fifth pound is free? I didn’t, but now I do!
My husband texted to say we’re out of ice cream, so I skipped down the block to grab pints from Bontá. Oh, hey…there’s Zydeco, and it’s been ages since we enjoyed their mouthwatering barbecue shrimp. Did you know you can buy the base for it to make at home? (Pro-tip: Double the sauce and grab a loaf of bread at Village Baker or Nancy P’s to sop up the extra).
I capped off my afternoon with a tasty sandwich from Rockin’ Daves because their reuben is widely known to be the best in three galaxies. Then I headed home with a happy belly and plenty of checkmarks on both my grocery and gift lists.
In all, I didn’t spend a ton more than I might have if I sat on my phone making purchases from big-box stores online. But knowing I helped support friends and neighbors who own businesses in Bend? That’s worth an extra helping of holiday cheer
Look out for each other, folks. Happy holidays, and I’ll see you on the other side of this.
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