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Local Nova Scotian gifts you'll feel good giving - or receiving (11 photos)

Here is a small sample of unique gift ideas made locally and sold in the municipality. 
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There is no shortage of local gift options in Halifax this holiday season, and by buying local, your also giving a gift back to the community. 

Supporting your neighbourhood businesses keeps money in the region, and is also better for the environment with local products requiring far less transportation. 

When you have the selection Halifax businesses do, why shop anywhere else?

Here is a small sample of unique products made locally and sold in the municipality. 

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Unique Bardbardbard Cards

Brad Hartman creates intricate pop-up cards out of his north end apartment and sells them under the business Bardbardbard

"This year customers are loving my Lobster Trap Tree design and my new set of ornaments comprised of Nova Scotian scenes," he says.

Hartman adds buyers have also connected this year with his card featuring Halifax's infamous collapsed crane. 

"Many who have picked up the crane card have shared their stories about cosying up by candlelight with family or friends visiting during the hurricane," he says. 

Bardbardbard cards are available at Inkwell Boutique on Brunswick Street, and Made in the Maritimes in the Hydrostone and in Bedford. 

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The Dartmouth Clothing Company Tees

The Dartmouth Clothing Company helps people wear their pride. 

"People seem to be really proud to be from Dartmouth and they like to have a shirt that says that," says the company's co-owner Aimee Semel. "A lot of it is poking fun at where we live. Taking stereotypes like 'The Dark Side' and playing off of them."

Semel says a popular Christmas product this year, features a talking Christmas tree that once graced Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth. 

"We have a number of Woody products, like ornaments, socks and T-shirts," she says. "The socks are a good gift because they are one size so you don't have to figure out what size your friend is."

It also has Oak Island tees for the people on your list who believe in buried treasure.

The Dartmouth Clothing Company has products available locally at Trainyard General Store in Dartmouth and at Strange Adventures in Halifax. It also has an online store. 

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Osha Mae Natural Skincare Products 

Laura Mae created Osha Mae 15 years ago, and has since been making dye-free, synthetic-free and animal-free skincare products. 

Mae says she is a professional aromatherapist and herbalist, and prepares all of the company's products by hand in small batches in her Halifax studio. 

Osha Mae carries a number of different products including essential oil blends, facial serums, various ointments and soap bars. 

"Our soap takes several weeks to age and cure before being sold," she says. "It's the old way soap was traditionally made and the quality is unmatched."

Mae says her 'earth to ocean,' and 'orange cinnamon,' soaps are top sellers this time of year, as well as a lavender mist spray which can be used on pillows to improve sleep. 

Osha Mae can be found at a number of retail outlets in Halifax, including Organic Earth market, Made in the Maritimes, Pete's Frootique and The Tare Shop. 

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Rousseau Chocolatier Sweets

Sweeten someone’s Christmas with fine chocolate, skillfully crafted downtown Halifax. 

Rousseau Chocolatier prides itself on using the highest quality and most sustainable ingredients available, which are locally sourced when possible. 

Co-founder Nathalie Morin says typically handmade chocolate gift boxes are the first to go during the holiday season. This year, she says Rousseau has put a twist on its best seller, incorporating other local businesses. 

"We wanted to feature amazing local craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries by creating the festive truffles collection," she says. "Each has its own box of four truffles and are already proving to be quite a success."

Some of the local craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries featured includes Good Robot, Big Spruce, Ironworks, and Lake City Cider. 

Rousseau Chocolatier store front is located at 5151 South Street, Halifax, but its products can also be found at The Picnic General Store in Lunenburg, and The Farmer’s Daughter Country Market in Cape Breton. 

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Beezy Wrap Beeswax Wrap

Beezy Wrap is a reusable beeswax wrap, that can replace throw-away single-use plastic wrap and baggies. 

"People are becoming more aware and environmentally responsible so a Beezy Wrap beeswax wrap would be a great way to start someone on their way to green living," says business owner Sandra MacDonald.

The wrap is non-toxic, biodegradable and sustainable, made in Nova Scotia from cotton or organic cotton fabric, local beeswax, organic jojoba oil, cinnamon oil and tree resin. 

"Beezy Wrap beeswax wraps can be used to cover bowls, wrap fresh fruit and vegetables, or cheese," she says listing some examples of how to use the wrap. "They will last for hundreds of uses."

Find Beezy Wrap at Halifax Seaport Farmers Market on a weekly basis, as well as a number of retail locations including Honey & Ginger in Dartmouth and Bedford, Wheatons across Nova Scotia, and the Masstown Market. 

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Stingin' Hot Honey 

Spice up the holidays with some stingin' hot honey!

"First you taste that local wildflower honey sweetness, then slowly and smoothly emerges the tastefully hot experience of the chillies," says co-owner of The Halifax Honey Company Jake Mahoney. 

The unpasteurized honey-based condiment pairs well with a number of dishes and drinks, like cheese plates, chicken wings, roasted veggies, salmon, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even ice cream. 

"It's a great compliment to anything you want to add a sweet heat to," he says. 

The Halifax Honey Company is based out of the Halifax waterfront, and works with local beekeepers who have more than 500 hives between Antigonish and Cape Breton. 

"Our business was built with a passion to raise awareness about the declining honey bee crisis," he says. 

Pick up some of the Stingin’ Hot condiment at retailers including Pete's Frootique, Red Barn Farm, and Civic Duty. 

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Crafting with The Lunenburg Makery

Keep kids and adults alike artfully occupied with a gift from The Lunenburg Makery. 

"Our kits come with everything you need. Step by step instructions with illustrations, quality supplies and materials," says co-owner of the business Leslie Wright.

The Lunenburg Makery sells needle felting, hand sewing and cross stitch kits for all ages and skill levels, that feature the Canadian natural world.  

"In our hand stitching projects, our wool felt red lobster finger puppet is popular and timely as our South Shore lobster fishermen and women have just started their fishing season," she says. 

Adorable designs available in the needle felting kits include the beaver, piping plover, polar bear cub and Atlantic puffin. 

All of the business' kits are designed and packaged plastic-free by hand in Lunenburg, using Canadian-sourced materials when possible. You can pick one up in HRM at Made in the Maritimes, Trainyard General Store or The Loop. 

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Cheers to Local Alcohol

Raise a glass this holiday season to local wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries.

"It's by far our busiest season of the year," says Jennifer Katona, team lead for spirits at the NSLC. "Everyone is in our stores looking for gift or entertaining items and local definitely plays a part in that as people become more aware and engaged with what's happening in our local industry."

She says a number of local producers are exploring holiday flavours, including Coldstream's Eggnog Rum Cream.

"It sold out pretty much right out of the gates," says Katona. "But the great thing about working with local producers is when we sell out, we are close enough that if they can make some more and we can get it out to our stores before the holidays actually hit."

For that hard-to-buy for wine-lover, Katona suggests the Benjamin Bridge Spark Giftbox.

"Benjamin Bridge is the creator of Nova 7 which is our top selling wine every day of the year," she says. "They have come out with a gift pack that includes two of their wines and a glass as well.

Katona says there are also a number of craft beer variety packs. 

"If you are not sure what kind of beer people like or if they just like to try different things, there are options that have up to six in a pack that give everyone an option," she says. 

Check out the wide selection of beers, wines, and spirits available online or in store at the NSLC. 

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Atlantic Canadian Books

Give local books to your family and friends so they can snuggle up with this holiday season. 

Neil Terry with the independent bookstore Bookmark on Spring Garden Road says a local book always makes for a good present. 

“These are people and places Nova Scotians know about and they want to read it because they can relate to it,” Terry says. 

While there is an endless list of good reads coming out of the Maritimes, Halifax Nocturne by Steven Laffoley comes to Terry’s mind. It was launched this past October. 

“We have been selling a lot of that one,” he says. “It deals with Halifax in the mid-1950s." 

A Pocket of Time by Rita Wilson and illustrated by Emma FitzGerald is another local book suitable for young readers, according to Terry. It’s about the childhood of Nova Scotian poet Elizabeth Bishop, and was published in November. 

“Books make a good gift because they don’t have a single use,” he says. “You can read it one, or one hundred times, then pass it along to someone else.”

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Pottery Plates and Pigs

Clayton Dickson has been making pottery with his wife Susan for more than 35 years. 

“It’s all completely handmade and glazed by us in our little Halifax studio,” he says. 

This time of year, he says an awful lot of Christmas ornaments are going out the door. 

“We have different themed ornaments, like whales, seahorses, octopuses, and pigs,” he says. “Oh the pigs are good. Some of them have scarves, some have hats, and some have wings.”

Dickson also uses a low fire earthenware clay to create mugs, bowls and platters with all sorts of themes, including coastal scenes. 

His line of pottery can be found in retailers like Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia and Made in the Maritimes.


Katie Hartai

About the Author: Katie Hartai

In addition to being a reporter for NEWS 95.7 and HalifaxToday.ca, Katie is the producer of The Rick Howe Show
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