Best Gifts For Social Distancing Friends and Family | Phoenix New Times

Phoenix Holiday Gift Guide: What to Get Your Social-Distancing Friends and Family

Ten ways to make hunkering down at home more enjoyable this holiday season.
Feeling the cocktail love at Frances.
Feeling the cocktail love at Frances. Lynn Trimble
Share this:

It's tough to choose gifts for people who’ve decided to spend most of their time at home. Odds are, they’re not looking for statement jewelry for fancy events, and they’ve probably stocked up on loungewear already. So we’ve put together some other options you can find at local shops around town, assuming you tackle your list before the good stuff is all gone.

Bar Basics

Whether they’re into cocktails or alcohol-free fare, friends always appreciate gifts that make drinking feel a bit more fun. We love the cocktail and rocks glasses at Frances, and the chrome bottle openers and corkscrews at the museum store for Phoenix Art Museum. For the bartending novice, the store at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts has a set of four glasses printed with tips for mixing four popular cocktails, from Bloody Marys to Mojitos.

click to enlarge
Find a fun assortment of Strawberry Hedgehog soaps at the Socially Distanced Holiday Market.
Strawberry Hedgehog

Bath Essentials

Showering doesn’t feel nearly as important when you’re hunkering down at home, living a solitary life devoid of crowded nightclubs or music festivals. Even so, your friends might enjoy pampering themselves with handmade vegan soaps by Strawberry Hedgehog, which has some intriguing choices from Witchy Woman to Five Spice Beer Soap. We’re also partial to the Creosote Bath Bomb at Desert Crafted.

click to enlarge
Galeana 39 specializes in natural soy candles.
Galena 39

Candles and Infusers

There’s more time for peaceful candlelit moments now that the sun is setting so much earlier every night. Help your friends make the most of it with natural soy candles poured by hand in Phoenix, which you can get from Galeana 39. Their candles are infused with essential oils and fragrance oils. Our favorites include the Bourbon + Vanilla, Frankincense + Myrrh, and Tobacco Leaf. Find more candles and infusers at Local Nomad, where scents include Sweet Fig and Fresh Garland.

click to enlarge
These small works by Cindy Dach are perfectly sized for sitting on desktops.
Lynn Trimble

Desk Accessories

Help your friends freshen up their desks or other home work spaces with a time hourglass from For The People. They come in different sizes and colors, and they actually help to measure time. We love the 15-minute version, because you can flip it over when you just need to take a small break to grab a snack or perfect your yoga poses. Look for whimsical objects to spice up desks and bookshelves at MADE Art Boutique, where our favorites include small embroidered artworks by Phoenix artist Cindy Dach.

click to enlarge
We love the selection of wooden kitchen wares at Practical Art.
Lynn Trimble

Kitchen Tools

Some people went off the cooking deep end during early pandemic days, making sourdough bread starters and such. But others are just now discovering the joys of cooking. Either way, you can treat them to a beautiful wooden rolling pin crafted by Paul Porter. It’s available at Practical Art, which also carries artisan-made cheese boards. For cookbooks, you’ve got plenty of ways to shop local, from book shops to kitchen stores.

click to enlarge
Carrie Marill's masks channel her facility with color and line.

Masks and Sanitizer

Even friends who aren't going out much need masks for things like quick runs to get groceries or take-out food from local restaurants. Phoenix General created its own small bottles of hand sanitizer in unscented varieties and scents such as bergamot, cedar, and lemon — which make a fun pairing with their artist-made masks. Several local artists, including Carrie Marill, make masks you can purchase online.

click to enlarge
Consider instruments if your social distancing friends are into music.
Musical Instrument Museum

Musical Fare

Some people made a long list of things they wanted to accomplish during the pandemic, figuring they might finally have free time to learn a new language or play a musical instrument. For those still living the dream, you can find a fun assortment of musical instruments at the museum store for the Musical Instrument Museum. Look for cowbells, ukuleles, small drums, and harmonicas, along with singing bowls for friends seeking a bit more harmony in their life. If vinyl is more their style, you have several great options from Stinkweeds to Zia Records.

click to enlarge
Checking out the new Pueblo plant shop on Grand Avenue.

Plant Life

Plants bring a bit of nature inside, helping to create relaxing spaces filled with color and life. The Pueblo plant shop that opened recently on Grand Avenue has a vast array of plants, containers, and other gift items, and they’re full of helpful tips on how to actually keep all those green things alive. For friends with outdoor spaces, consider wind chimes from Changing Hands Bookstore or Paolo Soleri bells from Cosanti.

click to enlarge
We love hunting for art and music books at Changing Hands Bookstore.
Lynn Trimble

Reading Essentials

Some friends and family members spend entirely too much time doom-scrolling. Remind them of the joys of reading books instead of online fodder with titles from local bookshops like Changing Hands Bookstore, where you can also snag creative bookmarks and journals. They’ve got warm wraps for readers who like to get cozy, and lots of magazines to choose from. Buy a big stack of magazines on a favorite topic, from hiking to photography, then tie it with a big ribbon for a creative gift with a practical spin.

click to enlarge
The puzzle selection is always changing at Phoenix Art Museum.
Lynn Trimble

Fun and Games

Retro games may be making a comeback, but it’s a bad time to break out the Twister mat. Try going with a pack of origami paper or a fat sketchpad and colored pencils instead, which you can find at Arizona Art Supply, Blick Art Materials, or Jerry’s Artarama. Find decks of tarot cards at Fantasia Crystals, or shop for art-themed playing cards and puzzles at the museum store for Phoenix Art Museum. Or go for a puzzle at Zia Records with text-based artwork by Wayne White and a title that pretty much sums up the whole year: Fanfuckingtastic.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Phoenix New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.