Last Minute Holiday Shopping and Gift Ideas in Vancouver

Photo credit: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport

Raise a guilty hand if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet. If that’s you, don’t panic. Vancouver has plenty of shopping centres and retail districts where you can find a gift for everyone on your list. As well, there are plenty of stellar experiences in town that you can purchase for those giftees who already have everything.

Shopping Centres

Fleurs de Villes’ NOEL floral displays (Dec 8-17, 2023); Photo credit: CF Pacific Centre

Vancouver has numerous extensive shopping centres for meeting all your gifting needs. In the heart of downtown, you’ll find CF Pacific Centre, which has transformed itself into CF Winterville in the spirit of the holidays. They’ll also be offering live musical performances on December 21 and 22 from 5 to 7pm. In addition to department stores like the Hudson’s Bay and high-end Holt Renfrew, you’ll find a range of places to shop, ranging from Sephora to Apple. From now until January 31, 2024, Stay Vancouver Hotels is featuring a Stay and Shop promotion. Book through them and you get a $100 CF Shop! Card for CF Pacific Centre. Limited quantities available.

As the province’s biggest shopping centre (over 330 stores), Metropolis at Metrotown is full of holiday buzz at this time of year. Not only is the mall all decked out with festive décor, but it also has numerous holiday promotions that will get you in the spirit. Metropolis at Metrotown is being visited by diverse Santas from now until December 23 and then from December 27 to 30: Father Christmas, Global Santa, Kris Kringle, and Tropical Santa. You make a reservation for a photo with Santa, with partial proceeds going to the Burnaby Christmas Bureau. The shopping centre is also running a charity gift wrap until December 24 in support of Burnaby Neighbourhod House.

Visiting Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver is always a lovely experience, with plenty of indoor and outdoor shopping areas to explore, as well as cafes and restaurants for fueling up in between your shopping. This holidays, they’re hosting Photos with Santa by The North Pole Picture Co. in Park Royal South by H&M. It takes place until December 24, with reservations recommended.

If you’re looking for designer brands and discounted prices, visit McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport to shop at stores like BOSS, Coach, and Ted Baker. The outlet centre is at its sparkly best this holiday season, with a 52-foot tall tree for you to admire.

Other shopping centres in the Lower Mainland include Richmond Centre, Tsawwassen Mills, The Amazing Brentwood in Burnaby, and Aberdeen Centre in Richmond (Asian specialty stores).

Shopping Neighbourhoods/Streets

Photo credit: Robson Street Business Association

The three blocks of Robson Street between Burrard and Jervis Street have become iconic for shopping in Vancouver. With over 150 businesses located along this stretch, there is an abundance of shops to visit, including many local and international fashion and beauty flagships (e.g., Aritzia, Banana Republic, Herschel, and Indigo), as well as cafes and restaurants to enjoy good food and drink. Stop by PAUL for one of their decadent croissants or go to one of the city’s top Italian restaurants—CinCin—to escape the busyness of Robson Street over a lovely meal of fresh pastas and mains from their grill and rotisserie.

Mount Pleasant is also a shopping destination, with retail shops and cafes and restaurants located along Main Street, from roughly 8th Avenue all the way past King Edward Avenue. Along the way you’ll find plenty of fashion and lifestyle stores, such as Much & Little, Front & Company, and The Corner Store.

Meanwhile, West 4th Avenue in picturesque Kitsilano (roughly from Burrard westward) not only has tons of shopping options, but also has numerous special promotions for the holiday season, which they call Kitsmas. They’re running their annual Kitsmas Advent on their IG @shopwest4th with giveaways by West 4th establishments. The street is decorated with lights and mistletoe, and the Kits Wings wall mural on Burrard Street is all set for festival photo opportunities. They’re particularly excited about their Peace on Earth campaign with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders, BC SPCA Vancouver, and Covenant House Vancouver. Get a Peace on Earth button or tote bag in the Maple plaza or from participating retailers by donation.

Other shopping neighbourhoods to explore for your last-minute shopping include West Broadway, South Granville, Gastown, Kerrisdale, Commercial Drive, Chinatown, Granville Island, and North Vancouver’s Shipyard District.

Or, for those giftees who would prefer an experiential gift, here are 5 #VeryVancouver ideas:

Passes for Attractions in the City

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown, Vancouver; Photo credit: Destination BC/Grant Harder;

If your giftee adores getting out in the city and experiencing new things, consider getting them a pass to a local attraction or gift cards/tickets. Families would particularly like family memberships to the Vancouver Aquarium and Science World but there are also couple memberships as well as individual ones. The H.R. Macmillan Space Centre also sells standard and enhanced memberships.

Meanwhile, those who like art and culture would appreciate a membership or annual pass to the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), the Chinese Canadian Museum, the Chinatown Storytelling Museum, Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, or the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.

And for individuals who like exploring outdoors, membership/annual passes to places like Capilano Suspension Bridge, VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and the UBC Botanical Garden would be an ideal present.

Dining Gift Certificates

Photo credit: Ask for Luigi

Foodies would appreciate a gift certificate to their favourite restaurant or to a place on their must-visit list. Vancouver’s extensive Michelin Guide, which features 9 restaurants with a Michelin star, numerous Michelin-recommended restaurants, and Bib Gourmand options is a good starting point when you’re deciding on restaurants.

Many restaurants are offering promotions when purchasing gift cards. For example, Hawksworth Group will give a free $25 digital gift card for every $100 digital gift card bought from now until December 31. The cards are good at Hawksworth Restaurant, Nightingale, and Bel Café. Kitchen Table Group, which operates all sorts of fabulous establishments (e.g., Carlino, Pourhouse, Bacaro, Ask for Luigi), is giving a $20 promo card (valid January 1 to March 30, 2024) with every $100 gift card purchase. And the Sequoia Company of Restaurants (The Teahouse, Sandbar, Cardero’s, Seasons in the Park) has a gift card promotion until December 31, 2023, where you get a $25 complimentary gift card (valid January 2 to April 30, 2024) for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

Or, for something more interactive, you could get them a ticket to Go Shuck Yourself, an oyster shucking class ($100) at Smitty’s Oyster House on Main Street, which includes a lesson on oyster tasting notes, varieties, and shucking; in addition to wine and tapas. Your giftee will also receive a $25 gift card for their next visit.

Theatre and Arts Tickets

Pictured (L-R): Natalie Shaw (Cady Heron), Kristen Amanda Smith (Gretchen Wieners), Maya
Petropoulos (Regina George), Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith), Alexys Morera (Janis Sarkisian),
and the Tour Company of Mean Girls; Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023

A gift of a night out is sure to be a memorable experience. Vancouver has a vibrant theatre scene, with many lively productions coming up. Broadway Across Canada’s current season features Mean Girls (January 23-28), Hairspray (April 2-7), and Disney’s Frozen (July 9-21). Meanwhile, The Cultch is celebrating their 50th Anniversary Season with shows like Juliet: A Revenge Comedy (February 8-18), The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunger Becomes (February 1-3), You Used to Call Me Marie… (April 18-28), and Homecoming (May 2-12).

The Arts Club Theatre Company is presenting Choir Boy January 25 to February 25, Red Velvet March 21 to April 21, and Guys and Dolls May 16 to June 30 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Meanwhile, Pacific Theatre in South Granville has some really interesting shows in 2024, including CHILD-ish (February 16-March 9), based on interviews with 40 kids, and The Way to the River with Nadleh Whut’en musician and storyteller Cheryl Bear (March 21-24).

For giftees who are opera fans, consider buying them Vancouver Opera tickets to Don Pasquale (February 10, 15, 18) or the beloved Carmen (April 27, 28, May 2, 4, 5), or get them tickets to UBC Opera’s production of Cendrillon (February 1-4) at The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, which also has a very full concert schedule for the New Year. Finally, the VSO has some exciting concerts coming up this winter, including one featuring guest conductor Nicolas Ellis and Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski (January 26-28), Black Panther in Concert (February 9-10), and Spanish Adventures: Don Quixote (March 8-10) with conductor Leonard Slatkin and Principal Cello Henry Shapard and Principal Viola Hung-Wei Huang.

Spa Treatments

Photo credit: Fairmont Pacific Rim

Give them the gift of relaxation, Vancouver-style. Numerous spas in the city offer treatments that are West Coast-inspired. For instance, Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim offers a Coastal Mountain Cleanse (90 minutes), which encompasses a detoxifying body wrap, a dry brush exfoliation, and a blue green algae body mask, followed by a steam treatment, a purifying massage, and a facial mask. CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, has a West Coast Healing Massage (90 minutes), which features a eucalyptus steam before a flow massage using local CBD. And Spa by JW in Parq Vancouver has a Spirit of the Mountains Body treatment, which begins with an evergreen body exfoliation before moving on to a body wrap.

A Stay at a Downtown Hotel

Photo credit: Azur Legacy Collection Hotel

For those who live in Vancouver, a staycation in one of downtown’s luxurious hotels might be the perfect gift; or this is a great opportunity to introduce the city to your out-of-town family and friends. Stay Vancouver Hotels has numerous promotions right now, including up to a $250 Mastercard gift card with a 2-night booking (stay from now until March 31, 2024); the Stay and Shop promotion mentioned above; and free FlyOver Canada tickets (stay from now until March 31, 2024). You also might want to consider booking your giftees a night or two at one of the newer hotels in the city, like the Azur Legacy Collection Hotel, which features gorgeous Art Deco-inspired boutique accommodation. Combine their stay with a gift certificate for a restaurant or tickets to a show, and your giftee has the ultimate Vancouver getaway.

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