Natalia Perez and Amanda Ellis
The magic of the holidays looks and feels different this year. It's more difficult to hold our loved ones as closely or be present in the way we'd like. Despite the gloom and doom of this year, the upcoming holidays make for an especially important time to celebrate family, the close people in our lives and the love and support that have gotten us through this year.
As you figure out how to nurture the special people in your life this season, we've got you covered with some virtual experiences and warm, thoughtful gifts to give your loved ones this socially- distanced holiday season. With our guide, you'll also support small local businesses and give back to our community.
Unique Virtual Bonding Experiences
Women Repair Zone workshops offer the perfect gift for the hands-on women in your life. Their live home repair and home improvement workshops for women and girls are also taught by women in a warm and supportive environment, allowing participants to work on projects right alongside the instructors. Since many of us are working remotely, it's the perfect time to take on fun home projects, and even more so with a loved one. Private workshops available.
Chef JoAnna suggests a video cooking lesson for a festive bonding experience with food. Gather your friends together for an online cooking class for a delicious and memorable experience. Chef JoAnna partners with local markets and grocery stores to help you find specialty ingredients all over the city.
Chattanooga School of Language offers a thoughtful gift experience for the culture and language lovers in your world. Gift cards are available and can be used for any class offerings, including group classes and private lessons. Treat your loved ones to an interactive learning experience with a team of passionate, dedicated language teachers who are excited to share their love of language and culture with you.
Thoughtful Stocking Stuffers
Plum Nelly helps use your holiday shopping to support local and regional artists as we close out a year that has been difficult for many creatives. Gifts made by your neighbors are extra special during this era of social distancing.
In addition to jewelry and plenty of classy giftware, Plum Nelly offers lovely customizable stationery for anyone who developed renewed appreciation for classic ways of keeping in touch during the pandemic year.
Natural Affinity Soap: Everyone enjoys personal, handmade body products. These Dunlap-based goods range from natural deodorant to body oil and lotions. Natural Affinity's most popular items of late include their 9Thieves' Hand Sanitizer made with essential oils, oil cleaners without harsh chemicals and mask refresher spray. You probably never thought you'd be stuffing stockings with hand sanitizer, but hey, that's 2020 for you.
For the Seasoned Quarantine Hobbyists
The Bitter Bottle offers the perfect selection for cocktail enthusiasts, home bartenders, professional bartenders and home cooks. For the holiday season, they're offering sample packs of all of their bitters, stocking stuffer options and packs of three seasonal bitters flavors perfect to get your holiday started off with delicious drinks.
I Go Tokyo has unique gifts for everyone on your list, including a stocking stuffer we never would've predicted pre-2020: masks in plenty of fun prints. Their Japanese notebooks, pens and washi tape offer a great option for holiday cards and quarantine hobbies. You can also keep warm with their tea cups, ramen bowls or sake cups while doing a fun puzzle or enjoying a Japanese book.
River City Kites: Getting outside is one of the few pleasures unaffected by the pandemic, and River City Kites can help you enjoy it. River City s has s for kids of all ages, plus whirligigs and windsocks for your garden friend, Innova sports discs, yo-yos, tops and other fun toys.
By request, owner Chuck Jones hosts kite creation workshops limited to six people with masks mandatory.
Shop startups for the holidays! On Friday, Dec. 4, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., the INC, Chatt*Lab and LAUNCH startups pop up at the Moxy Hotel selling the perfect gifts. Masks are required. If you'd prefer to support from the comfort of your home, check out this year's vendors and their online shops!
- Cocoa Asante: pure, authentic, ethically sourced chocolate from Ghana
- Cumberland Canvas & Upholstery: specialize in Marine, Fleet Truck and Airplane canvas and upholstery applications but welcome any inquiry for projects not listed on their website.
- Cypris Bodywork & Wellness: therapeutic massage treatments, cosmetic surgery care and culinary services
- Daisy and Dukes Gifts: Southern lifestyle brand offering kitchen and soy goods as well as gift baskets, wedding favors and much more.
- Forget Me Not Candles: naturally scented soy wax candles.
- Jacquie Leavitt Studio: whimsical illustrator and painter
- Limited Edition Rise: daily affirmations for women.
- The August Sisters: two sisters offering fun accesories and product and photography services
- The Bitter Bottle: cocktail solutions company that focuses on bringing quality herbal products, sustainable practices, and inspiring education to the hospitality industry.
- The Local Juicery and Kitchen: cold-pressed juice, smoothies, acai bowls, plant-based foods and pastries.
- Two Ridges Pottery: nature-inspired ceramics.
- Yellow Door Merchants: specialize in laser cut and engraved local goods for home decor, businesses, and gifts.
The State of Retail This Holiday Season
While some consumer spending has recovered since earlier in the pandemic, retail holiday spending may not meet pre-pandemic levels in a year rife with job loss.
The National Retail Federation says 59% of shoppers plan to shop online more than last year.
In an extensive survey from PowerReviews of more than 5,000 consumers, 30% weren’t concerned about visiting stores.
While both online and brick- and-mortar-based shopping experiences have a place, a third of PowerReviews survey respondents said their shopping habits have changed forever. They’re more comfortable shopping online and may never return to shopping in stores as much as they did pre-COVID.
Despite changes in shopping habits, 73% indicated that their holiday spending will stay the same or increase from last year.
The bottom line? Shoppers will still be spending this holiday season, but the pandemic will unsurprisingly have an impact.
The Gift of Giving Back
In March 2020, the Community Foundation assembled a cross-sector coalition of partners to launch the Community Response and Resilience Fund (CRRF). This fund was designed to provide flexible resources to organizations serving low-income workers, families and vulnerable communities most impacted by COVID-19 and its economic consequences.
Since then, the Fund has raised more than $1.5 million and provided support for organizations that have deep roots and experience working within vulnerable communities and that are on the frontlines of this crisis. To date, nearly $1.1 million has been awarded to 26 local nonprofits and government agencies.
The need created by the coronavirus pandemic is both immediate and long-term. Need for housing, food and financial assistance among low-income families will increase. While many Tennesseans have returned to work, the unemployment rate remains high. Many Chattanooga-area renters and those across the country are unable to pay full rent and at risk of eviction, and Tennessee ranked 10th highest in the U.S. for projected food insecurity per information from Feeding America.
To support CRRF this holiday season and help meet these needs, donate at cfgc.org.