Updated December 21, 2021
Christmas 2021 is flying at us faster than a team of reindeer caught in high winds. While you’re out of time to ship goodies to far-flung relatives, there are ways to hook up most folks on your gift list.
To help you find the perfect thing for everyone from your hairdresser to your husband, here are gift ideas whether you’re flush with cash or digging through the couch for coins.
For the family foodie
Bend restaurants took a huge hit over the past two years between COVID-related capacity restrictions, staffing shortages, and fluctuating closures. Now’s the time to support eateries you’d like to see standing when this is over.
A gift card for a loved one’s favorite Bend dining spot lets them schedule their next date night on their own terms. Many restaurants offer online gift cards that can be emailed right to the recipient.
If your loved one is less comfortable dining indoors, they can use the gift card for takeout dinners or breakfast to-go when they’re out exploring Bend. Here’s our staff’s roundup of Bend restaurants with an awesome takeout game.
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. There’s even an upside to it. When your pal walks into 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 much during the pandemic. 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 Kara’s Kitchenware, Savory Spice, or Newport Avenue Market.
For the outdoor adventurer
The pandemic’s been rough on all of us. That’s true for businesses that rely on tourists to feed 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 can keep going 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.
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 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 purchase Ineffable. It’s a gorgeous volume of Bend photography, and proceeds go to the Bend Sustainability Fund to support the land managers and their work to protect and maintain Bend’s trails and wilderness areas. Learn more here about where you can purchase it, or stop by the Bend Visitor Center to grab a copy along with some sweet Bend stocking stuffers. While supplies last, the Visitor Center even has a package deal offering all three volumes of Ineffable for just $30––a $15 savings.
Pinching pennies? Grab some seed packets from a local nursery or a bit of birdseed at Wild 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 on your next trip 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 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 to plan something to top 2019’s planned Europe trip (which is still postponed due to COVID). We chose to stick closer to home and gifted our teens a family a day of snowmobiling 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.
For a chance to escape reality (and who doesn’t need that right now?!) book a family outing to Zero Latency. Whether you’re slaying zombies or fighting pirates, you’ll forget for a few minutes there’s a pandemic sweeping the globe.
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 Boarshop 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.
There are tons of charitable organizations doing good work in our community. Consider places like The Giving Plate, Shepard’s House Ministries, the Bethlehem Inn, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and NeighborImpact if you have a little extra to give.
One have a few cents to spare? Keep an eye out at grocery store checkstands when you filter through for your holiday food shopping. Most have programs in place where you can round up or purchase food bags to help feed the needy this holiday season. Even a small bit of change can help.
For anyone who wants to see small businesses survive
I went on a holiday quest.
A quest to do whatever I could to spend money with local businesses I desperately want to see thrive through the pandemic.
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.