General wisdom and an all-local shopping guide from BlogAsheville co-admin Jennifer S.
Three words: handmade, perishable, secondhand. You could stop there, that’s the gist of my holiday tirade.
Why is Christmas about (the hassle and expense of) buying gifts? Several years ago I read an article on Christmas gift-buying that’s stuck with me and taken root deep in my heart. Here’s my paraphrase of its wisdom:
First, why blow out all your gift love at Christmastime? The writer of the article I loved said, shift the big gifts to birthdays. I’ve found when I do that for the people on my list, it gets easier.
When a loved person’s birthday time comes, I have no one to think of but them, no one to budget for but them, no one to love with my wallet but them. I try to take that day to lavish my people with gifts from the heart (a shared meal, drinks, presents, cake!). Contrast that with trying to lavish 15 people on the same day.
Could we take Christmastime back for spiritual and religious tradition, time together, and love and food shared, and move the big gifts to birthdays? I’m trying to. I like buying presents that make people smile and bring them pleasure, but not for everyone I love all at once.
For Christmas buying for friends and family, I try hard to have all my gifts be one of these things:
HANDMADE: If you are a maker, make something. Or check out Etsy, craft fairs, holiday tailgate markets, craft stores and shops that carry homemade items or local art (the Drygoods Shop and 444 Gallery Cafe come to mind).
WHY?: Because a gift from the hand is a gift from the heart, and to give a quality, one-of-a-kind gift that supports individual creativity.
PERISHABLE: If you can cook, cook something. If you can’t or don’t have time, consider local artisan bakeries, tailgate markets, artisan chocolatiers, and local beers. Make cookies or candies (if you make buckeyes, don’t forget about me). Make a meal or casserole. Buy local artisan soaps from tailgate markets, Greenlife and Earth Fare.
WHY: Because a gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart, and presents you can eat are always lovely, don’t end up re-gifted or collecting dust, and break the Cycle of Stuff.
SECONDHAND: Yes, secondhand. Why not? A used book from a local bookstore is going to be just as good to your friend in a warm bed on a cold night as a shiny, flawlessly dust-jacketed book from the big box. Secondhand has its own shabby chic, its own tang of the antique, the unusual, of the welcome good sense of not spending more than one must. Shop used bookstores. Shop antique and vintage stores. Shop one of the many lovely venues on Lexington Ave and Haywood Rd (Twice Round is a personal favorite) for holiday bargains that not only break the Cycle of Stuff, but that cost less. Downtown Books and News is another favorite for the reader in your life: cookbooks, graphic novels, first editions, autographed books, cards, calendars, great stuff!
WHY: Because finding secondhand gifts can be a fun adventure that introduces you to local independent business, they cost less, they have more charm than new gifts, and they break the Cycle of Stuff.
Where to shop:
church and neighborhood craft fairs
West End Bakery
Short Street Cakes
The Chocolate Fetish
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
for secondhand and vintage goods
Downtown Books and News
for local beer
local soaps, perfumes & lotions, etc.
2010 holiday tailgate markets
Asheville City Market: Downtown: December 18 (Holiday markets December 4, 11, and 18; holiday market hours will change from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature live music as well as a holiday bike drive in December to collect unwanted bikes or parts for recycling; the bike drive will also feature bike repair demos and used bikes for sale.)
North Asheville Tailgate Market: December 18 (The 9th Annual Holiday Bazaar will be held December 4, 11, and 18 at the North Asheville Tailgate Market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The market will feature produce, crafts, gifts, meats, cheeses, baked goods, chocolate, cider, coffee, and more.)
West Asheville Tailgate Market: (Holiday event Tuesday, December 7 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.)
If we missed your favorite place to shop local, handmade, perishable or secondhand, please comment!