Colorado gifts: Local businesses to support while buying Christmas presents

So it’s already December and you have yet to make a dent in your holiday gift list — trust us, you’re not alone. This year, instead of relying on sites like Amazon and stressing over holiday shipping delays, give more thoughtfully with help from some of the Colorado retailers on our list.

After all, the Coloradans you love deserve nothing but the best — and yes, that includes your four-legged family members.

Apparel and accessories

Sustainable fashion

$12-$200, wearpact.com

If you’re shopping for someone who likes quality, eco-friendly clothing, check out Pact. The Boulder-based company makes clothing, bedding and bath towels with organic cotton made in a Fair Trade Certified factory. Pact even allows shoppers to offset the carbon footprint of their shipment. The socks would make perfect stocking stuffers, while the 100% cotton robes or knit sweaters would be a welcome surprise under the tree. — Tynin Fries 

Denver’s favorite fanny pack

$49-$55, topodesigns.com

Give the gift of the bag Denver can’t get enough of: Topo Designs’ Mini Quick Pack, a modern take on the utilitarian fanny pack that we spotted almost everyone toting this summer. Equally useful at a concert or on the trail, Topo makes the pack in multiple sizes and materials, making it customizable to your giftee’s needs. While we love this Denver brand’s outdoor gear and clothing, Topo’s sizing is quite limited — but luckily, the straps on their Quick Packs are adjustable, making it a pretty universal gift. For something a bit more rugged, upgrade to the Mountain Hip Pack ($59) for the more adventurous outdoorsmen on your gift list. — Beth Rankin

A Denver T-shirt they’ll actually want to wear

Denver jumble T, $21.60, abstractdenver.com

Next time you’re looking for the perfect Colorado-themed gift for a new-to-Denver friend, skip the gift shops on the 16th Street Mall and head, instead, to a streetwear store in the Art District on Santa Fe. Abstract sells some of our favorite Denver apparel, from “Denver against the world” Ts to a shirt by local artist Alex Taylor that depicts Blucifer and Big Blue Bear engaged in epic battle. Abstract also sells hoodies, prints and bags, a lot of which come with Colorado-themed imagery that’s way more interesting — and edgy — than what you typically find in mountain town gift shops. — Beth Rankin

Fourteener T-shirts that aren’t cheesy (and support good causes)

$25-$26, reinrespects.com/product-tag/14ers-series

If you have friends or family members who love climbing fourteeners, they probably would love a T-shirt to commemorate their climbs. Let’s face it, though, most fourteener shirts are awfully cheesy. Fortunately, a family-owned business in Louisville called Rein Designs makes fourteener shirts with really cool graphics. And through its Rein Respects line, 10% of your fourteener shirt purchase will go to outdoor advocacy groups. Choices include Longs Peak, Mount of the Holy Cross, Mount Bierstadt, Mount Elbert, Pikes Peak, Quandary Peak and the four-peak Decalibron loop (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross). For each there are two graphic designs and you can choose from multiple colors. Rein Designs does custom T-shirt printing for hundreds of companies, but you can order direct through their website. — John Meyer

Gifts for the Colorado cannabis consumer

Seed & Smith Dart vape pen

$42.50-$70; seedandsmith.com

Forget the round batteries and vape cartridges. If you’re in the market for a new weed pen, few compare to Seed & Smith’s Dart. The oblong battery takes unique cartridges, or pods as the company calls them, which magnetically connect to the battery. The biggest reason to love this pen: It rarely ever gets clogged. And the strains Seed & Smith grows are mighty tasty. Battery ($15) and pods ($27.50-$55) are sold separately and may vary in price if you buy them anywhere other than a Seed & Smith dispensary. — Tiney Ricciardi

The Sauce by Veritas Fine Cannabis

$40, veritascannabis.com/find-us

With its squat, color-coded glass jars and hoity-toity marketing, Denver’s Veritas Fine Cannabis stands out on the shelf. But its flower backs up the sizzle with crisp aromas and flavors — and as-advertised effects.

Though I’ve been enjoyed their dreamy indicas (Unicorn Poop = video game heaven) and their rocking First Cut of the mouth-watering Peking Duck strain, Vertias’ version of The Sauce has risen above the rest.

The sparkling sativa hybrid of Green Ribbon Bx and Gorilla Glue sports a piney, punchy aroma and taste, and a delightful social high that pairs well with chatty winter nights (but doesn’t weld you to the couch by 8 p.m.). The $40-and-up bottles contain 3.5 grams, or about an 1/8 of an ounce, of cannabis flower. Available at various Colorado rec and medical dispensaries. — John Wenzel

A new edible that won’t get you stoned

$26 at LiveWell Enlightened Health, livwell.com, with 21 dispensaries across Colorado

This fall, edible brand Wana released a fascinating new product: Wana Optimals, a line of wellness-minded gummies that use various cannabinoids to achieve purported results such as better sleep. The Wana Fit gummy caught our attention particularly because, with only .1mg THC, this edible isn’t likely to make you feel high. But with 10mg CBD and .5mg THCV — a cannabinoid that, unlike THC, is actually thought to suppress appetite rather than increase it — Wana markets Fit as a “plant-derived way to take back control of your diet” with “no ‘high’ and no unpleasant jitters.”

THCV’s effects have been described as more alert and energizing than its cousin THC, which means we like to pop one of these edibles before a good workout or before taking classic edibles, which usually lead to a serious case of the munchies. Wana Fit helped us keep our late-night snacking in check, which makes it a great gift for the fitness-minded cannabis user on your gift list. — Beth Rankin

For food lovers

Sweet stocking stuffers from Hammond’s

$10+, hammondscandies.com

Need another stocking stuffer? Or even something to tape a gift card to? Head to Hammond’s for handmade chocolate bars, candies, popcorn and more. Hammond’s has been making candy in Denver for over 100 years. They have seasonal and year-round offerings starting at under $10. Shop online or visit the factory at 5735 Washington St., Denver. — Tynin Fries

Splurge-worthy caramels

$10 each, tablemountainfarm.com

A small family farm in Longmont creates these decadent goat milk caramel sauces in six flavors — vanilla bean, salted dark chocolate, cinnamon vanilla, whiskey, lavender vanilla and Irish coffee. They are made with minimal ingredients, including fresh goat milk, cane sugar and spices. And they’re meant to be poured over ice cream, pie and more desserts (but can also be eaten by the occasional spoonful). Order individual 5-ounce jars of a favorite flavor or start with a sample pack of four 2-ounce stocking stuffers. — Josie Sexton

Local spirits to keep things merry and bright

$49.99-$139.99, donaloca.com

Renowned Denver chef Dana Rodriguez, a.k.a. “Loca,” during the pandemic began bottling and selling her own brand of mezcal and tequila. She and her Colorado-based business partners have teamed up with a family of agave growers and spirits producers in Oaxaca to make three different mezcals — espadín, tobalá and tepeztate — that range in maturity, complexity and flavor. These small-batch spirits are made using a traditional pit cooking technique that separates out any burnt agave, which leaves the mezcal smoother, less blatantly smoky and perfect for sipping. — Josie Sexton

Stunning tableware for that friend who loves to entertain

$28-$948, fenwayclayworks.com

Denver artisan Sean VanderVliet wants people to consider how they consume food. His ceramics — including mugs, trays and tumblers — are one part of the larger local movement. You will start to spot these understated beauties around town at restaurants, coffee shops and boutique stores. And you’ll notice that they’re functional, elegant and sometimes raw in their finishes, with signature Fenway design touches. Check out the Snowmass, Bloomington and Crested Butte lines for gift inspiration. Ramekins and cups run for $28-$48, while handmade lamps reach up to and above $900. — Josie Sexton

Sports and entertainment

Fantasy role-playing, tabletop-style

$10, occupiedhex.com

Tabletop role-playing games — think “Dungeons & Dragons,” for starters — can seem arcane to non-fans, but sales have boomed during the pandemic as new players found the time to learn their unique style of interactive storytelling.

Occupied Hex, an independent game publisher from Denver comic and writer Andrew Orvedahl (The Grawlix, truTV’s “Those Who Can’t”) has made a quiet splash with its successful Kickstarters and perks for backers — hardcover color books, printed gameboards — but its stock-in-trade are the digital concepts, strategies and lore of its games.

The first couple titles are affordable, light on rules and jargon (BYO dice and paper) and sold as PDFs. Like an e-book, it’s not about the product but the ideas inside, as these games are designed for accessibility, despite their impressive depth.

Occupied Hex’s latest, “Duster,” will see release early next year as an apocalyptic western-survival game, following “Streets,” where you play as a stray cat or dog ($10 to download) and the free-to-download “Steel & Sword.” Sample and sign up for news at occupiedhex.com. — John Wenzel

The perfect journal for adventurers

$9.99, shop.feralmountainco.com/feral-basecamp-journal-paperback.html

Feral Mountain Co. is an independent Denver outdoor gear store — and one of our favorite purveyors of used gear. The staff there put together an adventure journal which they designed and printed locally. Called “Basecamp Journal,” it’s designed to encourage people to journal about their outdoor activities. It has plenty of mostly blank pages for that, but it also has pages full of tips, packing lists for nine outdoor activities, a checklist of national parks, the seven “Leave No Trace” principles and the 10 essentials for safe adventure. “It was a coalescence of brainpower on how we inspire people to get outdoors, how we give them ideas of new kinds of adventure, and how we prompt them to journal those adventures in a way they can go back and relive those experiences,” said Feral owner Jimmy Funkhouser. “It’s actually been one of our more popular Christmas gifts this holiday season.” — John Meyer

Hit ’em straight

If you’ve got a golfer on your gift list, you’ve probably already bought her gift cards and pro shop merch galore over the years. (Tip: The “City” hats at the City Park golf course’s pro shop — for $25 — are a hot item.) Or, with the number of golfers in Colorado jumping 20% during the pandemic, chances are you need a gift for a wannabe. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pay for his play at any one of the more than 300 public golf courses in Colorado. All offer gift cards to wrap up and gift. For gorgeous views and terrain, check out Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction, Arrowhead in Littleton, The Ridge at Castle Pines or Fossil Trace. One of my favorites: The Golf Club at Bear Dance in Larkspur, home to the Colorado PGA. It’s a picturesque course on 753 tree-filled acres — which allow for a truly tranquil round — with an average elevation of 6,800 feet. Rates range from $69 for some off-season weekday tee times up to $150. (beardancegolf.com)
  • Bear Dance also is part of the Mile High Golf Trail Fore Pack. The program includes one round (with exclusions and limitations) each at Colorado National, Riverdale, Plum Creek and Bear Dance. The 2021 pack was $249; the 2022 pack will be going on sale soon. The best part: Proceeds help fund a mortgage-free home for a Colorado wounded veteran. (milehighgolftrail.com)
  • Call a local course and schedule a lesson with a pro. At City of Denver courses, private lessons start at $60 for 30 minutes and go up. Group rates and packages are available. (cityofdenvergolf.com)
  • For families, City of Denver Golf offers Come Learn & Play ($175) and Family Fun passes ($159) through its First Tee program. (denvergolfpasses.com)
  • Finally, for the first time, Denver Golf is charging for its loyalty program. The $40 fee gives you two-week advance tee-time access and access to a reward program. (cityofdenvergolf.com)

Gifts for pets

Rocky Mountain Hound’s bandanas and bow ties

$8; rockymountainhound.

When it comes to puppy products, fashion is equally important as function. Accessorize your dog for any occasion with bandanas and bow ties from Western Slope-based Rocky Mountain Hound. The festive accouterments are designed to slip over a dog’s collar, rather than being tied around the animal’s neck, so they are comfortable and stay securely attached. And with a selection of holiday patterns, your pooch can look trendy year-round. — Tiney Ricciardi

Tiny Tents’ Basecamp Dome Tent

$39.99, rei.com

What to get for the (small) Colorado pet who has everything? Their own tiny tent that matches your own, of course. Tiny Tents makes fully functional miniature replicas of human-sized tents —  you know, the 12-inch miniatures you see on display at outdoor retailers. If your cat gets jealous of all the attention your Half Dome 2 is getting this summer, buy her her own — complete with tiny carrying case and everything. Aww. — Beth Rankin

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