2020 has been a rough one for so many, but I think about how kids have experienced the pandemic. Their school is on a screen, birthday parties canceled, and opportunities for socialization seriously curtailed. We all know that to be safe, our holidays have to look a lot different this year. That doesn’t mean you can’t ensure that the young people in your life have fun during the winter holidays.

Here’s your buy local gift guide for kids:

When you want to give the gift of inspiration

We all want things to look forward to. Downtown bookstore Epilogue Books’ monthly career exploration box delivers a hands-on STEAM activity and a book. Flyleaf Books down the road can put together an at-home library for your remote learner—just send age, likes/dislikes, and budget to info@flyleafbooks.com and have it shipped or picked up curbside. Is your child inspired to get more involved after witnessing this year’s protests and election? Check out Wonder Crate’s Activist Series, which uses books and interactive activities to introduce young people to  activists who changed the world. This Launch-birthed startup has subscriptions for young artists and innovators too.

When you want the benefits of retail therapy but stay safe

Retail therapy is real -- and gift shopping is a time-honored tradition for many adults. We’re so fortunate to have retail shops committed to safe shopping. Both Ali Cat and South offer shopping by appointment, providing peace of mind for the COVID-cautious. Not quite ready to shop in-store? I’ve perused from a distance by picking out items from these Meadowmont and Carr Mill Mall destinations from my laptop.

When a bicycle is on the list

A teal colored Diamond Back from The Clean Machine goes down as one of my most memorable Christmas gifts. In addition to toilet paper, did you know there’s been a run on bikes? Luckily our local stores like the Bicycle Chain and Back Alley Bikes can get your whole family on pedaling for joy., Ali Cat has some sweet and steady scooters, and SOUTH has balance bikes

When you need to multi-task

You might be headed to an outdoor gathering or the U.S. Post Office and don’t have time for multiple stops. Glee Kids and SallyMack have gifts for ages 0 to 100, both with perfect party favors and options to shop in person, in private or via Facebook or FaceTime. Plus University Place and Midtown Market (Hunam, Kitchen, Lucha Tigre, and Root Cellar) have delicious offerings if you want to grab takeout to take home while getting gifts for others.

When you want to shop local favorites one last time

This holiday season, we are sadly saying goodbye to two Carrboro retail legends and wish a happy retirement to Balloons and Tunes and Townsend Bertram. Send both off with a bang by shopping their sales: Balloons & Tunes is allowing two in the store at a time to get 50% off all merchandise, and TB&C also is offering deep discounts until Nov. 25. 

When you want a gift that gives all year long

Though our museums and Carolina Athletics have put plans on pause, slowly but surely  -- and safely -- they are preparing to resume activities next year. Consider a gift membership to Carolina Kids Club, Kidzu, or the recently renovated Morehead Planetarium for virtual and distanced fun in the very near future.

This Small Business Saturday and beyond, we hope you’ll consider keeping it local this holiday season and every day to support our favorite retailers through these tough times.

p.s. Want to have a Christmas experience rather than gifts for your kids? Count on Me NC-certified Carolina Inn is hosting both safe events with limited attendees and take-home cookies and tea. Be sure to check out their 12 Days of Christmas.

(Header photo Kidzu Discovery Packs, Kidzu Children's Museum)