Gift Giving: Share Gifts, Make Memories and Shop Local

What does gift giving mean to you? Do you enjoy giving of yourself, your time and your talents, or do you prefer purchasing gifts to wrap with a big red bow and put under the tree? Gift giving shows someone that you value them and who they are. 

The gifts we give are a reflection of what makes us feel loved. According to Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages,” there are five main ways that people speak and understand emotional love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. For a good relationship, it is important for the giver to know how the receiver feels loved, what speaks to them.     


Do you knit, garden, write or sing? No matter your talent, you can probably share that with a friend or two or the whole community. It’s fun to take a class to learn a new skill and then share your result. There are art classes, music, cooking and canning classes through community education, specialty shops or learning centers that you can take or give the class fee and supplies as a gift for any age. 


If you love handmade items but don’t think you’ll finish the quilt before Christmas, check out the Mayo Clinic Employee Craft Show on Saturday, November 18 or the Handcrafted Bazaar at First Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, December 2. 

If you are musically talented, then you’ve probably been practicing for weeks or months for your upcoming holiday concert. For those of us who enjoy the talents of others, mark your calendar for your favorite student’s holiday recital and concerts. Start the holiday musical season with RAACHE Choirs Harmonies Fall Concert at Zumbro Lutheran Church on November 16-17 or Rochester Chamber Music Society free concert on December 2. Enjoy the Rochester Symphony Orchestra Sounds of the Season concert on December 16. Plan to get your tickets early for the annual Bella Voce Christmas concert December 15-17.  And, simply enjoy the traditional music at your place of worship.

Make the time you spend with family and friends memorable. Take the time to bake cookies with children and participate in a cookie exchange with friends. Give the gift of a theatre show or concert to spend time together. Plan a family vacation to a ski resort or somewhere far away to escape the harsh Minnesota winter together. 


Where and when you buy a gift can be as personal as what you buy for someone. In Rochester, we have a good selection of locally-owned gift shops to find the special gifts for everyone on your list. Shop local on Small Business Saturday, November 25 in downtown Rochester. 

I like to find gifts that say “I love you” for my family members and friends. I am on a budget and schedule, so I need to plan out how I spend my time and money. I spend the most on my three children, including some wants and needs. I allot for my parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins and friends. It gets to be expensive to buy for and exhausting to spend time with everyone. Last year, I told my brothers and sister I was only going to buy birthday gifts for them (their birthdays are all in November and December), but no Christmas gifts. Spending thoughtful time together has been more valuable since living away. I hope that over the holiday season, we can at least get in touch and maybe discuss plans for getting together next year. 

Receiving gifts gracefully can be just as much of a gift as giving. Accept the kindness of others. Say “thank you” in person with a hand-written note or even a text message. It will warm someone’s heart and make them feel loved in return.


  • Get together with friends at locally owned Dunn Brothers Coffee and buy in-store roasted coffee and a mug for a teacher or caregiver. 
  • Give locally brewed beer from a brewery or wine from a locally winery, which can also be purchased at Andy’s Liquor, Apollo Wine & Spirits or Silver Lake Wines & Liquors. Stop in to Tessa’s Office Wine Boutique for a bottle of champagne to bring to the holiday party or give as a gift.  
  • Find gift items at Ashley’s Hallmark, such as cozy socks, Shaggies® multipurpose 100 percent cotton chenille cleaning cloths in every color and beverage cups from college and professional teams. 
  • Soul Purpose in downtown Rochester sells fair trade items, hats, mittens, jewelry and home furnishings.  
  • For your pets or pet-loving friends, shop at Rochester Feed and Pet Supply at one of their two locations in Rochester. Bird feeders are a fun gift that brings birds to your home all year long.
  • Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartville has a selection Christmas cookie cutters, baking pans and vintage Christmas tree ornaments. How about an old Coleman lamp or duck decoy the camper or hunter in your life? 
  • Invent your own scents of bath, body or home products with Bathologie. Order locally from Julianne Marie Dahlin through 
  • Pick out Polish Pottery, an Epicurean MN State shaped cutting board produced in Duluth or a progressive spiralizer from Cook’s Pantry.
  • Buy soy candles hand-poured by Pauly at Dwell Local. And while you’re there check out all of the handmade jewelry and the edible (for the birds) garden art.
  • Give your man a shaving kit and treat yourself (or your mom) to a HydraFacial skin kit or smokey lip colors found at BB Makeup downtown Rochester.
  • Buy a book from a local author.  A couple of our or Rochester Women magazine writers have recent releases: “Lost Rochester” by Amy Hahn and “Time in My Pocket” by Gina Dewink 

Jorrie Johnson is the publisher and editor of Rochester Women magazine. Last year for Christmas, she took her 18-year-old son to a concert of his choice.