Get Better at Giving.

We’ve all heard it: “give experiences not things” – which is fine but what experiences are we talking about specifically here? One of the suggestions I heard recently is babysitting your niece. Great. But dude, that shouldn’t be a Christmas gift. It’s nice and all but if you live in the same city as the little rugrat, and you aren’t babysitting once in awhile, it’s time to step it up. And the ‘ol book of coupons for your main squeeze isn’t as awesome as you think, trust me. Sure, a foot massage sounds romantic, but there may be a reason it isn’t a popular request in your house (hint: you suck at it). All that said though, giving thoughtful and creative, experiential gifts is way better than going to the mall and buying everything in sight. But there is another way to be thoughtful and creative, so put away the craft supplies, set up a play-date with your niece for fun and instead, think local food and drink.

First up, West Coast Brewery Tours. What better way to check out Victoria’s booming brew scene than to actually go visit the breweries and speak to the malt magicians who work there? Tour choices range from a two hour jaunt to a five hour haul and all include transportation so you can imbibe, just make sure you grab a cab home! 

Why not give the gift of dining? Most restaurants sell gift certificates so your recipient will be able to go for a great gastronomic experience anytime. Even though there are so many incredible restaurants in town, it’s tough to step outside your comfort zone. This is where a copy of TASTE MAG is going to come in handy. With detailed restaurant profiles of quirky Victoria favourites like Mo:Lé and North 48, old standbys like The Keg, Pescatores and Willies Bakery you’ll find a ton of information to make the perfect decision. Plus, with the locals driven listings you can do some taste-testing pre-Christmas, just make sure you use the built in rating system to keep track of your favourites. This is going to come in handy year-round. Turn to the back of the MAG and you’ll find an awesome piece that lets you know where you can take those coffee connoisseurs on your list – try checking out one of the many open mic nights or grab a low key lunch with made with local ingredients. 

A gift basket full of local, edible goods is great for everyone. Surprise someone with a romantic picnic or let your family from out-of-town try the best of what Victoria has to offer. For a great homemade gift basket, your first stop should be the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson. It’s an incredible place where you’ll find local artisans, farmers, fishers, butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, vinters, perservers, florists and brewers all congregating under one incredibly funky roof – just make sure you take a break from shopping and grab a bite at Roast. Top off your basket with a bottle of local wine, cider or beer – you just can’t go wrong.  

See? Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming, just remember that whatever experience you decide to gift someone this season, you’ll be in good hands pairing local fare with great company.