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12 Affordable Ideas for Gifting Local this Holiday Season in Fresno

Guest post by Lauren Johnson. Lauren is a Fresno native, mama of two, tech marketing writer, and lover of bad Hallmark Christmas movies. 

Giving gifts is my love language, so holiday gifting is something I look forward to all year long. And this year, even though circumstances are challenging and celebrations are going to look a little different, I’m really looking forward to doing my holiday shopping because it’s a great excuse to support the small businesses that I think make our community so vibrant and wonderful.

Shopping with small businesses here in Fresno and Clovis brings me a lot of joy, not just because it keeps money in our local community and helps me give truly unique gifts, but also because I cherish the connections I’ve made with the shop owners. And nine times out of ten, it’s the same price or more affordable to shop with these local businesses than at big box stores. It’s what Jan Levinson would call a win-win-win.

If you’re interested in finding great gifts for everyone on your list and supporting local shop owners here in Fresno, here are twelve places to consider shopping this holiday season. Every one of these sellers offers fantastic gifts at budget-friendly price points and free or affordable shipping. Happy shopping!

Gifts for Kids

Art by Elowyn | Etsy shop | @elowyn.makes.art

Price range: $4 and up

Elowyn is one of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow. I have purchased stickers, pins, and beautiful watercolor from her in the past, all of which I love. She makes the cutest stickers that kids go crazy for (I’m going to snag some for my kids’ stockings), plus watercolor prints and custom pieces that are whimsical and fun for all ages. She has tons of gift options that are great for adults as well, but I wanted to highlight her in the kids section because it’s rare to find this kind of shop that appeals to such a broad range of ages. Elowyn is also super responsive if you have questions and ships items quickly.

Petunia’s Place | @petunias.place | petuniasplace@gmail.com

Price range: $5 and up

This store is a Fresno treasure and one of the few (maybe only?) independent bookstores in town. The staff is amazing at providing book recommendations. Jean, the owner, gave me tips that helped me get my oldest reading a few years back. Amy, who’s often there when I call, has fantastic recommendations for kid and adult books. You can order anything they don’t have in stock and they have a fantastic selection of not just books for kids but also adorable stuffed animals, puzzles, toys, and (our personal favorite) Klutz Kits. You can order by phone, request recommendations via email, or shop in person — just call ahead to make an appointment or confirm that they’re taking walk-ins. I’ll be shopping here for a brand new niece who will enjoy a cute Jellycat stuffed animal and one of those great baby books that are indestructible.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo | @fresnochaffeezoo

Price range: $16 and up

If you’ve got an animal-loving kid in your life, the zoo offers some fantastic gift options. My favorite is their high-quality stuffed animals, which are $22 for one, or two for $32 at the gift shop. They’re available in fun styles you won’t see in many other places like red pandas and jaguars. Another great gift option is their adopt-an-animal packages that start at $50 and include a stuffed animal, animal fact sheet, and two tickets to the zoo. If you’re gifting to a family in town, a family membership is $99 for the year and a fantastic experience gift. Both the adopt-an-animal gift and memberships are available online. Because it’s primarily outdoors, the zoo has been open through a lot of 2020 and they are extending memberships as needed to account for any shutdowns.

Gifts for Moms, Sisters, and Friends

The Fancy Feline | @the_fancy_feline

Price range: $10 and up

This Instagram shop sells vintage and thrifty finds that are unique and super affordable. It’s the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind items for sisters and girlfriends. Over the summer I got a few milk glass pieces from this shop and I love them so much. The shop also has adorable baskets, glassware (ummm my addiction) and seasonal finds right now. Just know that items go quickly so you might want to turn on post and story notifications!

CMBH | Online shop | @cmbh_creative.co

Price range: $15 and up

This shop creates the cutest earrings, and now she’s branching out to keychains and other goodies. I love the earrings because they’re unique and (this is huge for me) lightweight! They look fancy but do not drag on your ears all day! I have purchased earrings several times for myself and as gifts and everything has been beautiful. Plus it all shipped super fast (and free!) and arrived with the sweetest packaging and notes.

Foliage | @foliage.clovis

Price range: $10 and up for plants, $35 and up for plant/pot combos

Yasmeen has created both an amazing Instagram community of thriving plant parents and an amazing shop for vibrant, beautiful, oh-so-giftable house plants. I bought Maddie and I each a Pilea peperomioides for her birthday back in July and they’re both still thriving! A pot and plant combo can run $25 and up, but know that the four-inch plants, which are the most affordable option, are actually quite substantial. So you really can get a stunning gift for under $30. Foliage offers free pickup and the website has great guidance for finding plants that are low maintenance, pet friendly, low-light tolerant, etc.

Gifts for Partners and Grandparents

Madison Thomson photography | @madisonthomsonphotography

Price range: $10 and up

Every Christmas, I print and frame photos for grandparents and great grandparents. When I first started getting my portraits done by Maddie, she gifted me a few of my photos printed by her lab in the fine art finish. I literally almost passed out at the difference in quality between her prints and the Costco ones I usually ordered. I will never go back and I’ve already ordered prints of my fall family photo session for holiday gifting. If you’re giving photo gifts this holiday season, consider ordering prints and canvases through Maddie to display in your home. They are amazing. And if you’re shopping for a partner or grandparent, I highly recommend her custom albums. My husband worked with Maddie to order a custom album of our spring pictures last year and surprised me with it for Mother’s Day. It’s one of my favorite gifts of all time. Maddie also offers gift certificates that can be used for future photo sessions. You can never go wrong with keepsake photos of your family!

Forever Vintage | 1932 N Echo Ave | @forever.vintage.shop and @vivilyvintagehandmade

Price range: $10 and up

Deep backstory: I got obsessed with vintage glassware during this pandemic. I believe Instagram suggested the Vivily Vintage account to me one day during a doomscrolling session, which led me to the Forever Vintage account, and it’s brought me soooo much joy to visit this shop in person a few times over the past few months! Neither of these accounts post a ton on Instagram, so you’ll have to visit the shop down by Fresno High to see the goods. It is 100% worth it. I found the cutest vintage fairy lamp here, an adorable candy dish, and a set of my mom’s vintage dishes for an incredible price. They also have new, handmade items by local artisans in stock. Just do yourself a huge favor and go check out this store if you’re shopping for yourself or someone special.

Wish upon a watercolor | @wishuponawatercolor

Price range: $6 and up

Jill makes adorable ornaments, bookmarks, stickers, earrings, and prints. I bought a few bookmarks and a pair of earrings during one of her recent sales and I love them! She also offers free porch pickup which is a huge plus. I know she’s having a baby soon (yay!) so check her Instagram and Etsy for updates, but this is a great shop to follow for holidays beyond Christmas like Mother’s Day and birthdays.

Gifts for Teachers and Neighbors

The Mug coffee shop | @themugfresno

Price range: $5 and up

There are a lot of great locally-owned coffee shops, but this one happens to be near my house and I love it the most. They have awesome huge mugs for $15 that make for a great gift, and a gift card goes a long way at a coffee shop! This is what I’m planning to get for our teachers this year along with some Pop’s caramels.

Pops caramels | @popscaramels

Price range: $12 and up

This is a lovely Fresno couple who makes and sells the world’s best homemade caramels for $8 for a quarter-pound bag, $14 for a half-pound bag, or $25 for a full pound. My dad (the world’s pickiest foodie) loves these. He’s very hard to shop for so this is now my go-to gift for him. Pop’s caramels come in several flavors (my favorite is almond) and make for great neighbor gifts, stocking stuffers, host/hostess gifts, or add-ons to something that doesn’t feel quite as fancy like a gift card. I’m snagging at least a couple pounds to use in teacher gifts and stockings this year. The best way to order is to DM the Instagram account.

The Brioche Lady | @thebriochelady

Price range: $7 and up

I have the sweetest neighbor who spoils us for holidays. Last year she brought us a brioche loaf from the Brioche Lady and we were blown away. Now whenever I see them at our nearby farmer’s market I make sure to get a loaf for each of us! Loaves are about $7 and would look adorable with a fancy bow. It’s a great neighbor or teacher gift that’s tasty, festive, and safe to share. I highly recommend the triple chocolate chip loaf.

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  1. Belyn says:

    Great article! I LOLed at:

    “ When I first started getting my portraits done by Maddie, she gifted me a few of my photos printed by her lab in the fine art finish. I literally almost passed out at the difference in quality between her prints and the Costco ones I usually ordered. I will never go back and I’ve already ordered prints of my fall family photo session for holiday gifting.”

    Can’t wait to check out these businesses. Thanks for sharing!

    • Madison Thomson says:

      Haha Lauren has a great way with words! And pro prints vs. consumer prints are so crazy different! It’s amazing!

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