The Best Gift Shops
In the age of Amazon, it’s completely feasible to cross everyone off your list from the comfort of your desk. That said, so long as you don’t find yourself somewhere too overcrowded, there’s really nothing that inspires holiday spirit more than a day spent picking up special, unique pieces for loved ones in person. Here, our favorite shops for perusing with an armful of shopping bags in tow and Christmas music playing in the background (plus a few online favorites for emergencies).
Totokaelo1523 10th Ave., Capitol Hill | 206.623.3582
This long-standing Seattle institution has been around for years—but it continues to march a bit ahead of the curve. While it originally launched in a small, subterranean space, it now boasts the breadth of a mini-department store offering labels like Rachel Comey, Dieppa Restrepo, and Raquel Allegra. In addition to the deep racks of clothing and accessories, Totokaelo is offering more and more in the way of home goods. There are ceramics from Michelle Quan, Doug Johnston baskets, and hand towels by Kontex. There's also a location in New York.
Frye Art Museum Store704 Terry Ave., Downtown | 206.622.9250
Taking the concept of a local museum shop one step further, not only does the Frye seek out cool design goods and jewelry, but their focus is on local, Northwestern artisans and makers. Should you buy one of their ceramic fortune cookies with fortunes told by a local psychic, say, or an Alice Noon bucket bag, or even an Iacoli & McAllister light fixture, you know you’re leaving Seattle with a real Seattle souvenir.
Martha E. Harris Flowers & Gifts4218 E. Madison St., Madison Park | 206.568.0347
Founded by the late Martha E. Harris, this flower/gift shop has been a Seattle fixture for 30-plus years. It's a great one-stop shop pre-housewarming or birthday party. They also design the loveliest bouquets and décor for weddings and events, and offer same-day delivery (if you're ordering online, do it before 10am).
Book Larder4252 Fremont Ave. N., Fremont | 206.397.4271
It goes without saying that a bookstore devoted entirely to the culinary arts is a bookstore after our own hearts. This is where you want to go to find every cookbook imaginable (both current and out of print) and it’s worth checking the calendar of events beforehand, too, as the cozy space often plays host to chef demos, signings, and cooking classes.
Essenza615 N. 35th St., Fremont | 206.547.4895
Much like sister store Les Amis, Essenza takes a decidedly editorial approach to its selection of home décor, bedding, fragrances, skincare, and jewelry: The plush bedding, Diptyque candles, Megan Thorne jewelry, Santa Maria Novella lotions and potions, and more are all thoughtfully handpicked (oftentimes from overseas) and merchandised in a way that feels both approachable and special. It’s the kind of place husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and friends can turn to for gifts when striking out isn’t an option.
Lucca Great Finds5332 Ballard Ave. N.W., Ballard | 206.782.7337
Lucca is packed from floor to chandelier-filled ceiling with an undeniably reliable assortment of giftables for any and all occasions: Astier de Villatte candles, piles of stationery both vintage-looking and modern, clean beauty favorites from Herbivore Essentials, and the kind of out-there, one-of-a-kind curios that make perfect presents for tough-to-shop-for friends.
Moorea Seal1012 1st Ave., Downtown | 206.728.2523
Other than the simple, feminine-but-not-prissy interior and robust but not-too-cluttered displays, Moorea Seal (its namesake owner/buyer has been running the place since 2013) has another major thing going for it: A good portion, 7% to be exact, of the offering—tons of dainty jewelry, accessories, home goods, stationery, and giftables—is backed by some sort of philanthropic mission. A gold-plated opal ring, for example, supports Best Friends Animal Society, while the purchase of a hand-forged brass serving set contributes to the Washington Trails Association.
Peter Miller304 Alaska Way, Pioneer Square | 206.441.4114
Seattle is home to a healthy roster of excellent bookshops, of which design-focused Peter Miller is arguably the most notable. In addition to a library of tomes that span all manner of topics from architecture to landscape design to interior decorating, the shop carries a tight selection of design-y home décor, drafting supplies, and other related goods.
Red Ticking2802 E. Madison St., Madison Park | 206.322.9890
This artfully cluttered home-goods shop and its stacks of fabrics (both current and vintage), piles of throw pillows, and rows of furniture and tabletop accessories are an interior decorators dream, whether professional or amateur. The mastermind behind the edit is Pam Robinson, who puts her fashion background to good use by sourcing the wares directly from Europe—particularly useful to anyone interested in vintage but not willing to do the legwork to find the good stuff themselves.
Prism5208 Ballard Ave. N.W., Ballard | 206.402.4706
Like so many Seattle mainstays, this little-bit-of-everything shop marches to the beat of its own drum. There’s clothing from obscure international labels, beautiful—and a little bit quirky—home goods, jewelry, gifts, and a generous assortment from Seattle-made fragrance line, Blackbird. It’s also the kind of shop where there’s plenty for dudes to rifle through (skater tees, hats, records, and Pendleton everything).
Paper Hammer1400 Second Ave., Downtown | 206.682.3820
Paper Hammer's amusing graphic cards are designed and handprinted in their warehouse studio in Tieton, Washington, a few hours outside of Seattle. You can find the cards in select stationery stores around the country but if you're in Seattle, go to their lovely shop downtown, which also carries gift-y items like coasters and letterpress tags with clever sayings.
KOBO602-608 S. Jackson St., Downtown | 206.381.3000
Part gallery, part shop, KOBO carries rare finds from the art and design world, i.e. vintage Japanese tableware, handmade birdhouses, landscape paintings, and special textiles. Their exhibits, which happen six times each year, highlight Japanese artists, as well as artists from the Northwest. The original KOBO location is in Capitol Hill. The second location downtown is located in the former space of the historic Higo Variety Store—and KOBO has kept many of the vintage furnishings in homage to the almost-century-old, family-run business.