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Holiday shopping in eclectic downtown Olympia

Everything you need for gift-giving

There are many potential holiday gift ideas to be found at Downtown Olympia’s Captain Little. Photo credit: Torrey Kemp

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As magical as gathering ‘round the tree on Christmas morning is, the weeks spent shopping beforehand can be somewhat daunting and stressful. Thankfully, venturing to downtown Olympia for this year's holiday shopping is sure to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

Located on lively 5th Avenue, the Captain Little toy store, 121 5th Ave. SE, beckons patrons with large, clear windows showcasing toys and baubles of every color, shape and size imaginable. Although the store carries the classics like toy trucks, dolls and building blocks, it also stocks a wide variety of unique finds like spy gadgets, crafting kits, and oversized fluffy pillows shaped like giant cupcakes or cuddly foxes.

There is also an impressive selection of science-related merchandise, with countless kits designed to inspire interactive learning for kids of all ages. Nearly one full wall of the store is dedicated to books of diversified topics, which the store bundles into sets during the holidays for targeted age ranges to take the guesswork out of shopping. Here you will also find plenty of puzzles, board games, art supplies, costumes and pretty puppets that come in an assortment of different animals. Additionally, Captain Little offers many eco-friendly, handmade and locally made toys for children to enjoy.

For the home chef or baker on your list, consider heading a few doors down to Buck's Fifth Avenue, 209 5th Ave. SE, where you can find rare spices and difficult-to-procure ingredients. Mason jars are filled with an array of colorful, fragrant and exotic seasonings, and if you can't find what you're looking for (which is highly unlikely), the store will find or concoct it right there in the store for you.

For the music enthusiast, stop by Rainy Day Records, 301 5th Ave. SE, where the selection of vinyl records is varied and extensive. You'll find artists suited for any musical taste, from jazz to country, to classic rock ‘n roll and everything in between. Here you will also find vintage turntables, posters, vinyl box sets and T-shirts. For those who haven't hopped on the vinyl resurgence bandwagon, Rainy Day has plenty of CDs for sale and even offers DVD rentals.

On Capitol Way, Compass Rose, 416 Capitol Way S., with its incredible selection of whimsical and interesting finds, awaits. With a befitting slogan, "the daily gift store," finding a unique present at this location will prove too easy. In addition to charming handmade jewelry, candles, and beautifully illustrated cards and stationery, the store displays a table with every possible item needed for cocktail making (and drinking!)

Perhaps the store's most alluring aspect is its near-endless amount of cooking and kitchen gadgets. Ranging from practical pieces like ceramic cookware, French press coffee systems and utensils to tongue-in-cheek items like ice cube trays in the shape of robots or woodland creatures, there is an item for foodies of every personality. Compass Rose also has a splendid assortment of cookbooks, with topics varying from veganism and appetizers to how-tos for beloved favorites like tacos, pretzels and ramen.

When thinking of relaxation and pampering, keep Archibald Sisters, 460 Capitol Way S., in mind for friends and family members who are into bath and beauty products. The back of the store is solely dedicated to bodily beauty, and its large assortment of lotions, perfumes and oils is reminiscent of an apothecary. Since many of its products are customizable, you'll be able to concoct a personalized scent perfect for one of your loved ones.

When making your list for the 2015 holiday season, consider traveling to downtown Olympia for your gifting needs. You will find that shopping there isn't just shopping, but a fun experience as well.

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