Christmas shopping is a breezy adventure at the annual Yellow Point Holiday Tour in the Cedar Valley.

A relaxed Christmas shopping trip in the country in late November sure beats the prospect of competing for a parking spot at a crowded mall in December.

The Yellow Point Country Christmas Tour, November 22 -25, 2018, is a delightfully stress-free and slow-paced way to usher in the holiday season and check off your Christmas gift list at the same time.

Make a weekend of it and, with Christmas gift list in hand, download the trail map to find the shops, farms, boutiques, and galleries around the valley. At the 15 stops between Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, you’ll discover one-of-a-kind jewellery, pottery, quilts, knitted goods, tasty specialty foods, and other hand-made bath products.

You can get to the region easily from Nanaimo by heading 15 minutes south on the Trans-Canada Highway to Cedar Road. If you’re coming from Victoria, it’s just a little more than an hour north. From Vancouver, you can hop on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in central Nanaimo or from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal over to Duke Point, just south of Nanaimo.

Each stop has its own charm and personality and you’re sure to meet some of the many talented folks behind the specialty items they make. Here are some places not to miss, plus some suggestions of where to have lunch, dinner or a coffee break.

 Download the Cedar Yellow Point Country Christmas Tour Map here.

Hazelwood Herb Farm

Breathe in the heady herbal aromas of the products created at this family-run organic herb farm. You can take a self-guided tour around the farm’s pastoral setting, sample herbal teas and take your time browsing around the Herbal Heaven Gift Shoppe. If you have an extra special gift in mind for someone, the shop will create custom gift baskets if you call ahead.

Fredrich’s Honey

Anyone who lives on Vancouver Island knows this is the place for stocking up on all-natural honey and bee-related products. The patriarch of the family has been beekeeping for 60 years and has passed along his passion to his son, who now helps run the bee farm. Not only does the honey make a nice gift, but so do the soaps and candles.

Yonder Wood Country Store

You’re sure to spend some time in this lovely shop on Yellow Point Road. You might have a tough time deciding between the Western Maple cutting board or pizza paddle for your friend who likes to cook, or one of the gorgeous wood-turned bowls. Yonder Wood has gained quite a name for creating special items, like its custom secret compartment for stashing valuables. They also accept custom orders, but leave plenty of time for requests.

Coco Café

Whether you’re just beginning the day or need a mid-day break, Coco Café is a place for breakfast, lunch or snack. Not only does it serve wonderful fresh baked goods and meals, it’s also a place with heart. For nearly 10 years, the café has hired local people with developmental disabilities, giving them a chance to learn a skill and get job training. As for the menu, you can choose from a wide range of sandwiches, salads and light to hearty breakfasts.

Crow and Gate English Public House

You might feel as if you’ve just walked into a pub in the south of England. Set on 10 pretty treed acres the exposed timber and plaster pub with and large stone fireplaces has cosy vibe, perfect on a late fall day. The menu is extensive with chilly day comfort foods like chili and toast or pub faves like steak and leek pie or a ploughman’s lunch.

When the weekend’s over, all you’ll have to do is wrap your gifts, leaving plenty of time to do the things that make the Christmas holidays so special – like baking, visiting or just putting your feet up.

All images by Nancy Shields