The clock is ticking, your bank account is starting to dip (or your credit card balance is rising) and your list of gifts to buy seems to be getting longer with every passing minute.
Welcome to the holiday season!
No matter how you celebrate your winter holidays, giving gifts that won’t break the bank and still feel useful is a tall order.
So we here at The Colorado Sun turned to the smartest, best-looking, most charming people we know — the readers of our newsletter, The Sunriser (which you can sign up for here) — and asked them what their go-to gifts were.
They did not disappoint.
We present here, in no particular order, some of the great local — or just plain useful — gifts suggested by our readers.
Note: These are real picks from real readers, not paid ads (see our ethics policy for more). We encourage you to pick these items up at a local store whenever possible to keep more money in our communities. In cases where local pickup isn’t an option, we’ve included some affiliate links that will give a portion of your online purchase back to The Sun to support local journalism.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I (or one of my colleagues) share a Thing of the Day at the bottom of The Sunriser. Sometimes it’s a song, sometimes a podcast or a movie, or sometimes something that makes a great little gift. Here are a few of my favorite ideas from the newsletter:
- Cheap brass blade ice scrapers — Seriously, just buy a bunch at your local gas station or hardware store and stuff everyone’s stockings with them. They make short work of everything from light frost to hardened ice sheets.
- Refurbished awesome Bluetooth headphones — I pledged my love for the headphones that have filled my ear canals for the last year and a half (see the Oct. 9, 2019, Sunriser) and the refurbished extra-waterproof version of them is down to less than half of what I paid.
- A very cool children’s book — “Who Needs Donuts?” is an incredibly illustrated children’s book that reveals something new every time you open it.
- Gloves that actually work with your phone — Pretty simple: Decently warm gloves with a bunch of copper woven through them so you can use your phone naturally (instead of trying to make some single point of contact do all the work). Won’t survive the backcountry, but are good for getting around town.
Rebecca B.’s List — So many great ideas
I want to kick off our reader contributions with Rebecca B.’s list, because something tells me she is a great gift giver. She really understood the spirit of a local, low-stress guide like this and came prepared (and I promise, this choice isn’t just for her No. 1 pick 😁).
Here’s her list:
- Subscription to The Colorado Sun *Local!*
(Editor’s note: Just click “Buy a Gift Subscription” at coloradosun.com/join to get started!)
- Lift tickets *Local!*
- Legos (especially holiday-themed sets) *Timeless!*
- Printed photographs *Local if printed at Mike’s Camera or another local shop!*
(Eric: On the Front Range, I found Reed Art & Imaging in Lakewood and Cloutier Fotographic in Colorado Springs as other local printers that offer high-quality prints of your photos. Let me know if you know of others!)
- A boxing gym membership *Local!*
- West Paw dog toys (especially the indestructible ones) *Made in USA!*
- A box cutter (because we all shop online, and scissors aren’t the tool for the job of opening boxes) *I no longer feel like a broke millennial!*
(Eric: I almost always carry my little Kershaw pocket knife, mostly to break down cardboard boxes, but I’ve had my eye on this handsome wood-handled box cutter in case I lose/break my knife)
- Gift certificate to the best pizza place near you *Local and literally no one would be mad at this gift!*
(Eric: It’s a hard choice between Cart + Driver‘s chewy, wood-fired mushroom pizza, Blue Pan‘s Detroit-style deep dish Brooklyn Bridge and the way-tastier-than-its-price-point Pizzeria Locale Sausage + Broccolini as my favorite slices in Denver. But the best thing about pizza is that even “bad” pizza is pretty good.)
- Noise canceling headphones (Bose is great, but there’s lots of competition) *Life-changing!*
Pasta, cheese and socks!
Jan P. came prepared with recommendations across the savory spectrum — and some local socks.
- Pappardelle Dos Amigos Jalapeno or Hatch Green Chile noodles (they have spicy Asian noodle varieties as well) coupled with Chile Crunch. Pappardelle has gluten-free flavored pastas as well. Both available at many Savory Spice stores, other specialty shops, or online.
- Socks from Everything Alpaca in Castle Rock.
- Ski Queen Gjetost Cheese: This costs about $10—available at King Soopers and some cheese shops. This with a wedge of Stilton with cranberry or blueberries and some crackers, grapes, etc. makes a nice cheese dessert board.
Heather M. recommends Colorado Crafted Box, a Longmont-based collection of gift boxes — with names like the “Après Ski Box” and the “Colorado Gold Box” (featuring Enstrom toffee) — filled with Colorado goods.
Colorado spirits — Move over craft beer
Mike H. says the best gift is one of the many whiskies being distilled in Colorado. Craft beer is still king, but spirit makers of all kinds are popping up in every corner of the state, so there’s a good chance you can find a really local bottle of local spirits, whether you live in Denver, Crested Butte (check out a cool story about Montanya’s Valentia rum), Palisade or Fort Collins. The state tourism board has a pretty good list of local distillers here.
Tom W. has a gift that is perfect for total beginners and mountain experts alike:
From Tom: “One of my favorite Colorado gifts is a book by M. John Fayhee, ‘The Colorado Mountain Companion: A Potpourri of Useful Miscellany from the Highest Parts of the Highest State’. AWESOME book full of fun trivia and (maybe) obscure facts about the place we love so much!”
Nancy S. recommends the legendary Colorado caramel maker Hellimae’s — who so dominates the idea of salted caramels that they own the domain saltcaramels.com — based in Wheat Ridge.
From Nancy: “Helliemae’s caramels are the best, and the small box is perfect for a hostess gift, stocking stuffer or present.”
Denise D. recommends clothing from Colorado brand 1876, which offers a bunch of very comfortable-looking hoodies, shirts and scarves, plus a whole lot of craft-beer-focused gear.
From Denise: “I’ve bought several T-shirts, hoodies and beanies from them and I’m ALWAYS satisfied with the quality and comfort of their items! Super comfy and a GREAT way to represent our great state!”
Give to your favorite Colorado charity
Cookie M. from Gypsum is thinking about helping others this holiday season.
From Cookie: “Make a donation to your — or someone else’s — favorite charity, in the name of someone who you need to get a gift for but have no idea what!
Mine is Mountain Valley Horse Rescue, where you can make the donation quickly and help support our work (I am on the board) of rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming equines of all kinds; serving the Western Slope and much of Northern Colorado.”
Jean, from Lakewood, has a salty suggestion: “I purchased a carton of these delicious chips that come in small bags and gifted the clerks in a store I go to fairly often. They were a hit! Really outstanding chips — and local.”
Elizabeth S. recommends Denver’s Earthlinks for philanthropic reasons and to fight Colorado’s dry air.
From Elizabeth: “The best soaps, lip balm and lotion are made here in Denver by people experiencing homelessness. It’s for a good cause, but honestly, this stuff is the bomb!!”
Melissa W. recommends the SolarPuff, a “self-inflating portable solar light” its creators say is inspired by origami and looks like it would be a great camping accessory (or a very cool kids nightlight).
Carla D. from Aurora recommends a portable car jump starter and I have to agree. I got one as a gift a few years ago and have jumped my own cars (and my neighbors) on a busy, crowded urban street where pulling up another car for a jump is not just impractical, it’s dangerous.
From Carla: “My husband used to have an old school jump starter in his car the size and weight of a full car battery. When it finally died, I purchased him one of these new small jumpers that are surprisingly powerful for their size. He didn’t believe me that such a lil’ thing could start a car, but with some research he was convinced and we now own one for each of our vehicles (including a diesel 3/4 ton truck) and he bought another for his own dad as a gift. Smaller than a set of jumper cables, they come in different amp capacities for bigger vehicles and you can also use them as flashlights and to charge USB devices. We have used them multiple times on our own and others’ vehicles without a problem. ”
Got a suggestion to add to this guide? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Gift Guide” in the subject line, and we’ll keep updating this page throughout the holiday season!