Dovecote Cafe: Dovecote Café in Reservoir Hill is lowkey a great place to pick up last minute gifts that don’t seem last minute at all. If you look over to the right of the cash register, there are all kinds of thoughtful, made-in-Baltimore items you can grab while you’re getting your coffee or peach cake to go. Look out for locally made t-shirts, books, body butters, and more. The lovely art hanging on the walls is for sale too. 2501 Madison Ave. #1F, (443) 961-8677, dovecote.strikingly.com.
Beauty Plus: Sometimes you just want bundles for Christmas. And when that happens, you direct your family and friends to Beauty Plus in Old Goucher. The friendly and helpful staff will tell them everything they need to know about how many inches of hair you need and how many packs of hair to buy, and point them to some good deep conditioners, nourishing oils, and butters to boot. 2107 N. Charles St., (410) 685-0955, facebook.com/Beauty-Plus-127929257848030
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. is great, but getting tickets isn’t easy—and we’ve already got an amazing museum focused on black arts and culture right here in Baltimore. So give the gift of membership to the Lewis Museum. With membership, you get free general admission for one year, a 15 percent discount in the museum gift shop, entry into exclusive members-only programs, and more. Prices for basic memberships range from $20 for students to $55 for a family of four. 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, lewismuseum.org.
RegalClothes: The first time I learned about RegalClothes, it was at a headwrap workshop owner Akos “Sunday” Regal was running early one Saturday morning at Oyin Handmade’s Old Goucher shop. I watched her create beautiful, elaborate head dressings with colorful cloths imported from different parts of Africa, and even purchased one for myself (it’s a thinner strip of cloth, made to be worn like a headband, with swirls of blue, green, and gray). Since then, I’ve learned that Regal also makes clothes and handbags using the same fabric. You can buy her stuff online or at Neighborhood Goods in Hampden. My next purchase will be the red, green, and black African Print Fold Over Clutch Purse ($45). Or maybe you can buy it for me? Neighborhood Goods, 1021 W. 36th St. (upstairs from DoubleDutch Boutique), regalclothes.com.
Kids Books with Non-White People: It is frustratingly difficult to find children’s books featuring people of color—at least, if you are shopping at a big national store like Barnes and Noble. And making sure that my kids have access to books, and especially ones depicting people who look like them, has always been a high priority for me.
When my kids were tiny and I didn’t know any better, I solved this problem by buying them a lot of books featuring animals (no people are better than just white people, I supposed). Now that I know and do better, I have a few places that my husband and I hit up every year for kids’ books featuring black and brown people. There’s Everyone’s Place African Cultural Center (1356 W. North Ave., facebook.com/Everyones-Place-107917832575771). Red Emma’s (30 W. North Ave., (443) 602-7611, redemmas.org) is also a mainstay for us—last year we picked up a book on Rosa Parks that teaches how she was an organizer long before she refused to move from her seat on the bus. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum (830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, lewismuseum.org) is also a great place to buy books specifically featuring black people (on my last visit, I picked up a beautifully illustrated hardback all about Josephine Baker).
Keepers Vintage: You know that one friend you have who is always pulled together all the time, no matter what? Buy her something from Keepers. Their vintage apparel and accessories are thoughtfully curated and super cute—and they share a space with Knits, Soy & Metal, which offers vegan-friendly scented candles, body products, and hand-made jewelry and knitwear. 229 W. Read St., (443) 421-3757, keepersvintage.com.
Oyin Handmade: We are well into dry skin season and Oyin has you covered. Grab a bunch of their whipped shea butters ($17.99) for a bunch of quick and easy office and teacher gifts. Oyin also has five-piece “snack packs” of smaller sizes of hair and body products, so your loved ones can sample and figure out what works best for them. Oyin also offers gift certificates. 2103 N. Charles St., (888) 243-6922, oyinsalon.com.
Maryland Science Center: I think I speak for parents everywhere when I say thank you for the thought, but my children have more than enough toys. I seriously can’t take anymore toys in my house. I have not been able to prove it yet, but I’m positive that the Legos have figured out a way to reproduce. Instead of buying your niece or god kid or whoever yet another piece of cheap plastic, get them a membership to the Maryland Science Center. Prices start at $100, and get you free admission to the Science Center for a year, discounted admission to the IMAX Theater, and more. Plus, if you really need to buy a toy, there’s lots of fun and educational items in the Science Center’s gift shop. Parents love educational stuff. 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, tickets.marylandsciencecenter.org/giftvouchers.