Cruise through Christmas with gifts that disappear 

Go local and go home this holiday season

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - local beans Whistler roasting co. coffee.
  • photo submitted
  • local beans Whistler roasting co. coffee.

Psssst. Have you noticed? It's ho-ho-holiday time. And if you're like me, it's kind of snuck up on us with these awfully short days and long winter nights that lull us so easily into la-la-land.

But panic not. You can still keep the jolly in the holly season and avoid the ever-ludicrous junk that plagues this time of year. What do you mean you don't want a giant wine rack in the shape of a stand-up bass that takes up half your kitchen or that robo vacuum cleaner for only $700?

In lieu of all the well-meaning disasters you've given, and gotten, over the years that eventually got re-gifted or made the next garage sale, here are my annual offerings that are easy on you, easy on your giftees and easy on the planet. Gifts that melt in your mouth, in your bathtub or otherwise disappear. Gifts that are all heart from the heart of Sea to Sky makers and bakers, or simply from your heart, given with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of love to those you love.

YOUR 2014 GUIDE TO GIFTS THAT DISAPPEAR

One of the last places people seem to look for gifts this time of year also happens to be your best friend for gift giving — your favourite Sea to Sky grocery store.

If you haven't been buying up and stashing away future Christmas gifts from farmers' markets as they happened (an old family tradition in our house) or you missed Bizarre Bazaar with all its local offerings, then Nesters Market in Whistler is for you.

Yes, Olives Community Market, Creekside Market, Whistler IGA, The Grocery Store and even Whistler Hardware have some of these splendid local products and other gifts that disappear, too. But Nesters reigns when it comes to a wide selection of Sea to Sky gift ideas.

So get out your paints and decorate a box with your finest Christmas "graffiti" or pick up a basket at a second-hand store and load it up with wonderful local goodies that won't dent your wallet. Otherwise, says manager Bruce Stewart, for any amount from $25 to $100 you can arrange for Nesters to make up a gift basket themed to your giftee's tastes. Go for a body line, delectables sweet or savoury, or a mixture of all.

Start with a bag of beans from Pemberton Valley Coffee Co. or Whistler Roasting Company and some Whistler Chocolate Bars — 100 per cent certified organic!; and a bottle or three of Whistler Cooks vinaigrettes and sauces (for a dinner or brunch party on the house, add a gift certificate for their catering services) and Nonna Pia's fine balsamic reductions, now famous after bounding to success on Dragons' Den (the chili/lime is still my fave).

Add some lovely non-GMO soy wax candles from Gib & Nimm or some yummy fruit punch or plumeria soap from Howe Sound Soapworks. Both businesses are based in Squamish; the latter will deliver free in Squamish just about anytime and in Whistler on Wednesdays.

Also on the body side, Whistler Bums (as in ski bums and beach bums) makes wonderful natural salves that smell good enough to eat, while Whistler's Lips natural balms — Peak to Peach or Lost Lake Lemon, anyone? — will take care of your luscious lips.

And here's an idea that won't fit any gift box but might be useful for disposing of some. If your giftees have a fireplace, or even if they don't, Nesters has bundles of firewood and kindling from Smart Wood Products out of Owl Creek in Pemberton. (Check them out when you want a custom picnic table for next summer.) Add a bag of fresh Italian chestnuts for roasting over an open fire and you've got Christmas.

If you're feeling extra posh, include a fresh cedar wreath from Bathtub Gardens, also in Pemberton, or make that a one-off gift on its own. Be a secret Santa and leave it on your good neighbour's front porch with a mysterious card.

If you want to leave it all up to your giftee or if you need to tuck a little something into a special Christmas card, how about a gift certificate for any of these great local products or just about any local business around town?

That works at Purebread or pick your own gift ideas from all kinds of delicious "season's eatings" (check out their hip new outlet on Hastings near Cambie Street in Vancouver). Ditto for another favourite, Peaked Pies on Main Street at Whistler, where you can choose from a selection of traditional Aussie meat pies and treats that go a long way to nourishing good Christmas relations.

A gift certificate can do just as well or even better for fresh and healthy frozen Whistler offerings such as Lucia Gelato — half the calories of ice cream! — and Whistler Perogies, hand made with absolutely no preservatives from traditional Polish recipes. What a gift for a busy skier or boarder!

Don't tell anyone, but Pemberton's Amanda "Chocohappy" Sandahl at The General Chocolate Store just might make the best chocolate ever. Her Pembie neighbour, Nidhi Raina, makes the equivalent in chutneys and more. Try her Nidhi's Cuisine fig and ginger chutney — to die for!

Beyond the food and body zone, give your pet-loving giftees a home-made certificate saying you'll dog-sit or walk Toby every day for a week of their choosing.

Who couldn't use some "sewing done well and done fast"? For your friend with legs shorter than the standard jeans or a daughter who keeps breaking those nuisance zippers, how about a gift certificate from long-time resident and master sewer and mender, Christine Wilding? A gift certificate for hemming a pair of pants is only $15.

But who especially couldn't use a little of your extra Christmas generosity this holiday season? There are more than a few souls among us who are Christmas "orphans" no matter how old they are — those hard-working "kids" away from home for the first time who keep the resort wheels turning as liftees and waiters; those neighbours alone for the season; elders and international students whose families are afar.

Any would love a box of your own home-made cookies shared over an afternoon visit or a seat at your Christmas table, whether you serve up a traditional holiday turkey or not. After all, it's the season of giving and the best gift of all is love and kindness — especially when it's least expected.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who plans to have a simple family Christmas.

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