Downtown Chapel Hill’s Holiday Gift Guide

Taylor McLean takes you shopping through downtown Chapel Hill, picking holiday gifts for every beloved person on your nice list this year!

By Taylor McLean, for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership

If you are a last minute Christmas shopper, this local gift guide will make your life easier. The ongoing pandemic means that holiday shopping looks different this year, luckily Downtown Chapel Hill is filled with many gems that offer online, in-store, experience, and gift card options! You are guaranteed to find something awesome for everyone on your list.

— @TaylorHopeMcLean

Top Picks for the Bar Enthusiast

Chapel Hill has a number of small businesses where you can grab your favorite drinks — beer, wine, cider, and seltzers, it’s all covered. Beer Study and db Sutton‘s have the largest variety I’ve seen!

db Sutton & Co. Wine Shop currently has a wine & pasta gift bundle available for $45 that you can pick up in their store. The bundle includes a bottle of wine, Tuscan pasta sauce, Fusilli, and Farro Perlato. This is a great gift to give your partner or parents!

Top Picks for Best in Beauty

I did not realize just how many awesome beauty shops and salons there are in Downtown Chapel Hill! Each has their own character and offers quality products and services. 

db Sutton & Co. Hair Salon sells Bumble and Bumble products, which I love because they have products for every hair type and color. If you are looking for moisturizing, volume boosting, or finishing sprays, give them a visit.

Looking for candles, styling tools, and other brand products? Try Syd’s Hair Shop at Midway on N. Graham St.!

Speaking of self care gifts, you also NEED to pick up the Atlantic Folk Overdid The Cocktails Kit from Uniquities for your friends who love taking baths.

Remember that you can always gift a service to any of these salons via gift card to be used at a later time!

Top Picks for the Coffee Lover

Downtown has a few really awesome local coffee shops. Epilogue Books & Cafe, and Summit Coffee are a couple of the most popular coffee shops! Both offer gift packs and boxes that are perfect for the coffee lovers in your life!

Epilogue has a surprise gift box available that is filled with local coffee goodies. Add their house made syrups and you’ll be golden!

Summit Coffee has the cutest holiday gift bundle available that includes a mug and their famous Alpine coffee.

Top Picks for the Experience Seeker

If some of the special people on your gift list love collecting experiences more than things. Here are a few of ideas for local, safe experiences you could surprise a loved one with!

  1. Staycation at the Graduate. Order breakfast in bed, or walk over to the Carolina Coffee Shop for brunch.
  2. If you have a partner that’s tired of working from home, sign them up for a Carolina Coworking Membership so they can have a change of scenery every so often. Purchase a gift card to their favorite downtown lunch spot that they can use on their self scheduled lunch break!
  3. Schedule a Beer Study Zoom Tasting. This makes a fun date night activity, or something you could do virtually with your best buds!
  4. Father & Son Barber Shop Experience at Arrow. Son’s love nothing more than getting to spend time with their dads.
  5. If you have a parent, sibling, or close friend that is getting tired of following YouTube workouts at home, get them the Chapel Hill Training On Demand app that has over 50 workouts available. I’ve used this app for a couple of months and it has been super helpful!

Top Picks for the Fashionista

Boutique shopping on Franklin Street is about the quality, not quantity, of shopping available! We have some SUPER CUTE boutiques full of trendy items (that I personally hope to unwrap on Christmas morning 😉 ).

Uniquities has the perfect winter clothes. Their Free People Teddy Swing Jacket paired with the Faux Leather Jogger will keep the women in your life looking cozy and stylish! 

Normally I am not a hat person, but I would definitely wear the NC Knit Beanie from Shrunken Head Boutique. The style and color are just too good — a great option for your teen or young adult!

As we all know, accessories complete any outfit. Light Years Jewelry is one of Downtown Chapel Hill’s oldest residents, and has the prettiest jewelry at the best boutique prices I’ve seen in the Triangle! I highly recommend the Matte Tube Hoops and Sliding Bar Choker Necklace. Both pieces are minimal, yet make a bold statement on their own.

Top Picks for the Health Enthusiast

At some point this year we’ve all hopped on the health train, right? Sometimes the best part of a new fitness habit is new workout clothes! Here are some options to motivate you to exercise those new healthy lifestyle habits, or just keep good ones going for your mental health in 2021!

For the dads, husbands, boyfriends, and brothers, I recommend grabbing the 2020 Nike College Zoom Pegasus running shoes from Chapel Hill Sportswear. I got these for my husband for his birthday and I’m happy to report that they’ve proven to be great running shoes!

For the ladies in your life, check out Pūrvelo Cycling’s leggings and tops. My top choice is this satin tracksuit

Kids are very easy to please when it comes to Christmas, thankfully. The classic shiny new bike is the perfect gift (especially when we’re all looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors more) and the Bicycle Chain has plenty of options at different price points to choose from.

Top Picks for the Foodie

If it isn’t inherently obvious, this is my favorite category. Speaking foodie to foodies — the recommendations below WILL get you the smiles you are looking for on Christmas morning!

First up is Brandwein’s Bagels. These are the best NY style bagels you can find not only in Chapel Hill, but in the entire Triangle area. Create your own “Brandwein’s bundle” for your bagel loving friend by picking up a sweatshirt, everything bagel seasoning, coffee, a hat, and a gift card from their shop!

Cha House has the best boba tea around! They also sell coffee and other specialty drinks. The tumbler and a gift card is a fail-proof gift idea. Every time you bring in the tumbler, Cha House gives you 10% off your order. That’s the gift that keeps on giving!

For the foodie who likes to show off their love for food — add a little spice to your holiday gifts with the Chili Pepper Dangles from Light Years Jewelry.

If you have time, wander around Mediterranean Deli Market. Pick up some delicious ingredients and snacks to build a gift basket for your favorite chef!

Top Picks for the Homebody

You cannot deny that if you weren’t a homebody before, you definitely are now! Life under COVID precautions has us all ramping up our at-home luxuries. Here are a few items that you can give your (life-long or newly-converted) homebody friends to keep them happy this winter.

The UNC Frosty Fleece Blanket from Alumni Hall

This super cute Sweatshirt & Jogger Set from Uniquities. Add the Tyler Hooded Jacket for extra coziness.

You can’t go wrong with a Paddywax Candle from Syd’s Hair Shop.

Top Picks Masks 😷

I firmly believe that masks need to be color coordinated and be replaced every season! 

I love these Floral Masks and Z Supply Animal Instinct Mask (4 Pack).

Patterns not your thing? Try out the new mask from Chapel Hill Training, or the Champion UNC Mask from Chapel Hill Sportswear. Johnny’s T-shirt has a very cool North Carolina Mask (with the state outline).

Stop in at Rumors on Graham St. for locally made masks! The stock rotates patterns, here’s a look at some of the newest mask options they had available last week.

Top Picks: Stocking Stuffers

I’m so excited about stockings this year — it’s the first time we are doing them since my husband and I got married. Here are a few suggestions that are fun, useful, and won’t break the bank!

The Rumors statement earrings, scrunchies, sunnies, and pins are ideal for little girls and teens! They also have beanies and socks anyone can enjoy and snuggle up in.

Anything and everything from Light Years Jewelry. Other than jewelry, they have masks, magnets, mugs, pins, ornaments, jewelry holders, and more!

Salon Products! db Sutton‘s has a Bb Glimmer finishing spray that would be so fun to add to everyone’s hair on New Year’s Eve — make at-home NYE fun!

Go with a classic UNC Old Well Ornament from Shrunken Head Boutique.

The Cashmere Blended Shearling Trimmed Ribbon Gloves are a classy idea for mom! 

Corded Hair Ties Shrunken Head Boutique are crucial for all the long hair family members.

Top Picks for the Tar Heel Fan

If you live in Chapel Hill, there’s a good chance you love the Heels! Even as a transplant, I totally get it. North Carolina is an incredible University with great sports programs, and yes that Carolina blue is unmatched. It just looks good on everyone, especially on my one year old.

Here’s all the UNC gear I’d get for every single UNC fan I know!

For Adults

UNC Basketball Alumni Hall
Tar Heel State Mask Classic Carolina
Blue Navy Tie Chapel Hill Sportswear
UNC Sweatpants  Shrunken Head Boutique
Navy Old Well Ball Cap Julian’s

Women’s Pressbox Fuzzy Quarter Zip Chapel Hill Sportswear
UNC Women’s Sweatpants Alumni Hall
Ladies Racer Trucker Hat Johnnys T-Shirt
UNC Scrunchies Shrunken Head Boutique

For Kids

Kids Carolina Hoodie Classic Carolina
Kid’s All-over Print 2-Piece Pajama Set Johnny T-shirt
Tar Heels Kids Hat Classic Carolina
Rameses Mascot Pillow Pet Shrunken Head

For Babies

Infant Onesie 3-Pack Johnny T-Shirt
Infant Shadow Bucket Hat Johnny T-shirt
Newborn Baby Booties Johnny T-shirt
UNC Mascot Baby Outfit Shrunken Head

Taylor McLean is the contributing author of this gift guide, her recommendations and selected favorites were not chosen by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. This list only includes items from businesses within our defined business district, however.

More about Taylor:

Hi there neighbors! I’m Taylor, a North Carolina content creator based right here in Chapel Hill! My family and I moved here in 2019 and I instantly fell in love with our new home. I started an Instagram account devoted to sharing my favorite things to do here in the Triangle! 

These last few months I’ve been putting most of my time and energy into pushing my audience to shop small. Local small businesses are struggling more than ever, especially in Downtown Chapel Hill since the students went home early. In an effort to help the Downtown Chapel Hill businesses make it through 2020, I’ve created this small business gift guide that includes my top picks for gifts you can purchase for your loved ones this month.