Leah O'Connell

local, personal

Charlottesville VA gift guide

I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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As I poked around online to get some gift ideas for my own family for the holidays, I couldn’t wait to share what I found! This Charlottesville, VA gift guide is full of some of my favorite items on shelves in our area to help narrow your hunt and shop local for the holidays.

*Most of these ideas are under $100, but if you’re looking for gifts with more even more impact at a higher investment, look to the experiences and artists section at the end!

charlottesville, va gift guide ideas for small business shopping in local businesses

Charlottesville, VA Gift Ideas for Women

Oh Suzanah

This adorable shop is curated by color – like how fun, right? I love so many little giftable items in here for friends, sisters, neighbors, you name it. They include categories for home and garden, games, comfort and care, apparel, and more.

A few favorites:

Bluebird and Co

This is a shop you just have to go in. It’s quaint and homey with the sweetest little kids corner. Grab a festive coffee at Mudhouse Crozet and walk on over to peruse the great books, candles, apparel, and other local lovey goods.

Cake bloom

Cake Bloom offers the sweetest options for tea time events and sampler kits that would make for a festive date night at home. They also offer gift bundles already made up for a more refined gift of local food and bubbly! This would make such a unique and fun treat for a spouse or couples gift.

Emily Ruth Prints

This nature inspired artist creates lovely wearable items and housewares, a lovely wall calendar, and beautiful textiles. I love this crossbody bag that feels like it could be the perfect functional go-to for an outing with kids (but a lot more stylish than a giant diaper bag). In several custom patterns, I can also see it used an elevated but casual look for working at the coffee shop or a day trip with friends.

Darling Boutique

This shop is a Charlottesville, VA favorite for artisan jewelry and housewares with a fun and funky twist. I love these earrings, this cute ceramic mug, and shower steamers (I meeeean does that sound luxurious or what?) that would all make great stocking stuffers. They also have bundled gift packages with curated goods for specific people or needs.

Rock Paper Scissors

This shop on the downtown mall has walls of cute cards and little giftable items for the paper-lover in your life. I’m also obsessed with these cute Charlottesville ornaments that would be perfect for a neighbor or friend who’s new to the area.

Squirrel Mountain Flowers

This service is a new hidden gem! The owner, Elizabeth, offers a month-by-month subscription service for fresh, seasonal bouquets. All the flowers are grown in her backyard – which happens to be right next door to mine! Reach out to her on instagram for details on how to sprinkle some delight into your loved ones lives throughout the whole year.

Local Gift Ideas for Men in Charlottesville

A good Charlottesville, VA gift guide wouldn’t be complete without a few local options for the men!


This lovely little shop is packed with fun and quirky finds for men, women, and kids, but a few things really stood out to me for the guys. Like this duffel bag that would make a great travel upgrade with a masculine edge. I also love this Mexican hot chocolate set – combine with a cozy blanket for a nod to a cute home date night!


Locally founded sports apparel company Rhoback has several curated gifts guides specifically for the men and women athletes in the family. Their style is classic and high quality, but their mission to drive activity, play, fun, and living with soul is what really gets me. (I’ve gotten to photograph newborn sessions twice with the founders and they are the just the best!)

Grit Coffee

For the one working-from-home, Grit coffee has some awesome gift options like a coffee subscription with local delivery or this Tandem package that includes a bag of their signature blend beans + two campfire mugs.

ideas for charlottesville, va gift guide for stocking stuffers, men, women, and kids

Charlottesville, VA Gift guide for Babies and Kids

We have some seriously awesome toy stores in Charlottesville to find great gifts for kids of all personalities. I’ve pulled just a few fun things I’m considering for my own bunch, but the options are truly endless. The best part about shopping locally is the knowledge and willingness of shop owners to help you find the perfect gift.

gift ideas to shop local in charlottesville, va


This store on the downtown mall has an adorable selection for all ages, but I’m obsessed with these canoe buddies for baby. Also, my oldest daughter received this Stella doll as her first doll at age 1 and it’s still in the rotation of well-loved favorites 7 years later. They have a great section for quirky stocking stuffers, legos, games, and a priority for diverse makers and representation within their selection which I really admire.


Another fun shop for all the things, but I was so excited to see they carry our family favorite – Storytime Chess. I taught my daughter (and ok, myself, too) how to play chess in 2020 using this game and it made the experience of learning both fun and memorable! And you basically can’t live in Charlottesville without playing Chicapig, created by Dave Matthews!


This cute little shop in Stonefield Plaza is known for its boutique clothing, but they also have a great selection of gifts across price points, include fun stocking stuffers like these brush markers my art-loving daughter will be obsessed with and pirate puzzle that’s perfect for a budding preschooler.

They have the softest lovies and sweet bath toys for the little babes, too!

Green Bean Baby Boutique

This is where it’s at for all things adorable baby gear. And if you’re looking for matching pj’s from a local Charlottesville shop, Green Bean Boutique has the cutest selections in big kid and baby sizes like these Burts Bees hot cocoa prints. Come on, so cute.

small businesses in virginia with unique gifts for kids as part of the charlottesville, va gift guide

Local Experience gifts and Artist gifts

Along with the amazing local shops in Charlottesville, there are also so many beautiful, fun, and special gifts from local service providers. I wanted to include some of awesome experiences and options on this Charlottesville, VA gift guide for memories that will last well beyond the holidays.

gifts from local artists in charlottesville va

Indian Summer Guide Service

This local business offers horseback riding experiences through some of the most gorgeous local vineyards and breweries. With equal parts adventure and romance, this would be such a special gift for a spouse or couple.

A concert at one of our amazing local venues

Charlottesville is home to so many fun concert venues. View the concert line-up from big name bands at JPJ to more low-key events like a comedy shows at The Southern. The Paramount, The Jefferson, and Ting Pavillion also bring talented artists throughout the year and tickets or a gift certificate to enjoy a show would make for a really fun gift!

Family Yearbooks

Get your family photos off your phone and into a beautiful keepsake without a million overwhelming decisions. These yearbooks are a simple collaboration that I’m only offering over the holiday season to make personal albums for everything from special vacations to wedding photos that are gathering dust on old CD’s.

A photo session with me!

While we’re exploring gifts with meaning, could heartfelt family photos be the thing that would really light your heart up? Book a session as a gift to yourself or purchase a gift certificate to bless someone you love.

You can view more info about family or newborn photography gift certificates and purchase one online here.

Custom paintings by Charlottesville artists

Check out collections by the talented Brit Davis who includes words of meaning or encouragement hidden in the layers of her work or the nature-inspired paintings of Kelly Johns with Terra Ethos (with brand photos by yours truly!).

gifts from local artists in charlottesville, va

Shop local!

There’s nothing quite like perusing the shelves, scrolling local options online, or connecting one on one with a shop owner for thoughtful, well-crafted gifts. In our home, we try to do a majority of our Christmas shopping locally to support small businesses and our community as a ripple effect of the giving spirit.

I hope these ideas sparked some excitement for you to find the perfect local gifts that spread love a little further this holiday season.

family and newborn photography gift certificates for charlottesville, va photographer

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.