Winter in Metro Vancouver often has plenty of cold and rainy days. And while raincoats or toques (or both) might be required when you’re hunting locally for great present, heading into a warm, covered mall can be an even better idea.

Richmond has a shopping bag full of indoor gift-buying options. But one of the most popular is CF Richmond Centre. Handily located across the street from the Richmond-Brighouse Canada Line Station, its 200+ stores offer a wide array of choices—from big box shops to popular boutiques to rare brands that have their only local branches right here.

But dropping into Richmond Centre at this time of year isn't only about one-stop gift shopping. Add some extra time to your visit and you can also snap a few festive photos with some sparkling Christmas decorations. And you can even meet Santa himself, who is holding court at CF Richmond Centre from now until Christmas Eve (December 24).

CF Richmond Centre
Santa is in the house at Richmond Centre until December 24. | Photo: John Lee

Festive decorations

CF Richmond Centre's new holiday decorations were a huge hit last year, so they've brought them back for 2019. The standout is a towering moose sculpture—created from thousands of twinkling lights—that stands resplendent in the mall’s main concourse. Looking like it could shake its antlers and start walking around at any moment (we think that’s exactly what it does when the mall is closed), it regularly stops shoppers in their tracks.

But it’s not the only decoration to focus your camera on here. Don’t miss the glittering deer light sculpture near Hudson’s Bay. Or the oversized walk-through Christmas bauble that shimmers outside H&M—this one is very popular with camera-happy kids and couples.

CF Richmond Centre
The mall's towering, twinkling moose. | Photo: John Lee

Shopping for everyone

Once you’ve marveled at the sights, it’ll be time to shop. It’s not hard to find gifts for everyone on your list when the stores range from high-end to bargain-priced. Looking for jewelry presents? You’ll find everything from deluxe Asian brand Lukfook to locally-owned Blue Ruby and even APM Monaco—a fashionable, French-influenced brand which has its only Western Canada branch at CF Richmond Centre.

Looking for additional gifts? The mall also has a L’Occitane store studded with beautifully packaged bath and body products. And there’s an OAK + FORT here as well: the Vancouver-based label stocks cool clothes for both men and women. Not sure what to buy here? Pick-up a gift card instead.

Men’s and women’s luxury and designer apparel also fills the well-curated racks at Colton’s Couture—check out the top-end denim here—while children are also catered to at The Children’s Place, a colourful store peppered with cute but functional clothes for kids from newborn to age 14. And if you don’t want to wrap all your new items, there will also be a Gift Wrap Valet service at the mall from December 7 - 24, with a portion of the proceeds directed to youth empowerment programs.

CF Richmond Centre
There are plenty of potential gift items to buy here. | Photo: John Lee

Stocking stuffers

CF Richmond Centre has lots of options if you need to get a little extra something for everyone you know. Old Navy is great for festive socks and ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters; Indigo Spirit is ideal for gift books; and both Muji and Uniqlo—two highly popular Japanese brands—have well-priced items such as slippers, scarves, and gloves.

And don't forget to drop into Calendar Club. This shop has games and jigsaw puzzles as well as hundreds of calendars covering themes from haikus to herb gardens. And both Purdys Chocolatier and DAVIDsTEA have plenty of tempting treats that make perfect stocking stuffers.

CF Richmond Centre
The stroll-through Christmas bauble at CF Richmond Centre. | Photo: John Lee

Festive decor

Check out the Christmas department at the Hudson’s Bay store—it’s packed with everything from tree ornaments to fashionable door wreaths. And don’t miss the mall’s Hallmark store as well: it’s bursting with holiday cheer, with items ranging from cool 3D cards to collectible Santa ornaments.

Visiting Santa

You and your kids can have your very own Hallmark moment by checking in with CF Richmond Centre’s rosy-cheeked resident Santa. The Jolly Old Elf has brought his own gable-roofed North Pole lodge with him this year. And he’ll be there every day until December 24 to wave at passersby with a twinkle in his eye, and sit for smiling photos in his plush throne (book your timeslot here). We had a quick chat with him when we visited and he’s definitely the real deal!

CF Richmond Centre
Don't miss visiting Santa! | Photo: John Lee

If you go:

CF Richmond Centre opens from 10:00am to 9:00pm Monday to Saturday and from 11:00am to 7:00pm Sunday. The mall will close at 5:00pm on Christmas Eve (December 24) and reopen for Boxing Day sales at 8:00am on December 26. The mall is located at 6551 No. 3 Road, across from the Richmond-Brighouse Canada Line Station. There are also 3,000 stalls of free, four-hour parking.