We all come equipped with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Some of us can run a marathon in three hours, while many could never fathom signing up for such torture. Some of us can cook up an unbelievably delicious meal, while others struggle with grilled cheese.
And some of us are rockstars at giving thoughtful gifts, while some fumble around for any sort of gift idea and panic buy something in front of us at the last minute.
While the marathon training would take months, a speedy gift-giving solution lies at a lovely pink shop in West Seattle. Alair Seattle opened in 2016, thanks to the talent of owner Shandon Armstrong who's always had an exceptional eye for giving great gifts. She's woven this expertise with sourcing local goods to fill boxes and baskets that are perfect for any holiday, birthday or celebration.
"Gift-giving has always been my love language," Armstrong said. "One of my favorite things to do is go into a little shop and find a present for someone whose birthday isn't even for six months, but this is so perfect for them that I can't wait to see the look on their face."
Alair specializes in thoughtful gifts, from a one-off birthday present to the "Alair Favorite Things Gift Boxes," a subscription box filled with small-batch maker items. With each customized gift, Armstrong asks for some specifics: does the recipient love coffee, dogs, hiking or "Schitt's Creek"? Each box will reflect their personalized taste.
The shop also expanded into offering curated Easter baskets in 2020 when the pandemic was just ramping up, and many of us weren't shopping in-store.
"We realized that most Easter basket materials come from like 10 different stores," Armstrong said. "One for the basket, one for the grass, the candy, and another for the rest."
But Alair had it all on hand under one roof, and the production has only expanded since then. Choose an age range from newborn to "like, adult-adult," and a size of regular, deluxe or extra-extra and the Alair team will get to work on the perfect holiday basket.
"We have eggs that we fill with candy and all the classics like Peeps and then fill in the other half of the basket with stuff that's really custom, which is more like toys, gifts, and activities," Armstrong said.
During the ordering process, customers can fill in details about likes, dislikes, and allergies of the recipient.
"Then we wrap it up, and we have these really cute wooden Peep gift tags that we put their name on, and it’s ready to go," she said.
The same process goes for gift boxes for birthdays, anniversaries and all other holidays. Armstrong's thoughtfulness goes beyond the gift box, though. With an emphasis on a community feel, the shop keeps notes of which gifts went to whom, so that lucky gift recipients aren't getting the same gift twice. Armstrong also keeps notes on file if someone comes in and comments on something they especially love so that if a partner, friend or kid comes in, Armstrong has the perfect gift recommendation.
"Some people aren't that great at gift-giving, but we are, and we're really good at it," Armstrong said. "It's really fun for us to get the perfect gift together for this person that's gonna make their day, and it's gonna make your day, and it makes everybody's life easier."
Aside from finding the perfect gift, Alair also specializes in home decor and offers a quarterly subscription box filled with decorations of whichever holiday is coming up.
Armstrong has lived in 10 cities across the country and always looks for ways to stay in touch with friends, and this was part of the inspiration for opening Alair Seattle.
"Sometimes we just get really busy, and it's nice to send a card or a little gift that says, 'I still love you, and I'm still here, even though we're adults and a day turns into six months really fast,'" Armstrong said.
For Mother's Day, Father's Day, that one friend's birthday that always sneaks up or to make the next holiday better than all that have come before it, Alair Seattle's gift-giving mastery is truly a present to the entire Seattle community.
Alair Seattle is located at 3270 California Ave SW in West Seattle and is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Curated gift boxes, subscription boxes, and Easter baskets can also be ordered online for delivery or pickup.
Lauren Allain is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. See more of her work here.