I love this Christmas-y, hazy, holly-dazey, roly-poly time of year. Caveat: I love it as long as I don't get whipped up into a frenzy of doing-doing, buying-buying. I also love it when I find gifts that don't suck up a lot of energy (mine or the Earth's) and support things I believe in, like struggling artists and local entrepreneurs. And they have to delight the recipients as much as they delight me.
So every year around this time I gather ideas from near and far and turn into the Queen of Gifts that Disappear — gifts that won't end up in a garage sale; gifts that disappear the stress that can creep stealthily in like a winter's chill; gifts that feel as magical as the season itself.
So take a breath, and a sip of good hot chocolate, and hop onboard for some gift ideas good enough to give year-round.
The gifts of time and experience
The most common gift idea from people this year was the gift of time. My friend, Pauline Wiebe, says it all: "Time. It's precious and often in short supply. Lots of people need your time. Give it."
So take time for a long walk and a good visit with someone you love, or someone you barely know. Offer to babysit without being paid. Take a child out for a hot chocolate and give the parents a break. A lot of people would appreciate that, not only at Christmas.
If they're newcomers, like so many of Whistler's young service providers, show them your favourite hangout whether it's a snowy meadow or a good café. Invite "orphans" for Christmas dinner.
And give the gift of experience. Better experiential gifts that create memories to last a lifetime, rather than crap that's forgotten in months but lives on forever in our landfills and oceans, says fellow Pique columnist Feet Banks. His top tip: a day skiing with Extremely Canadian.
"Their backcountry clinics are amazing but even the on-mountain guiding is all-time and will get you into some super-secret pow stashes that very few people experience," Feet says.
Give lessons at Meadow Park Sports Centre. Or tickets to a Millennium Place performance. This holiday season's hot ticket: the latest production by the great Chairlift Revue.
In the mid-'90s, fellow Pique columnist G.D. "Max" Maxwell (like Inspector Morse, no one except him and his mom know his real first name) started up the Chairlift Revue with a bunch of Whistler writers and actors. Their productions are a mash-up of local culture and locals, with plenty of cheeky bits. After all, it's Whistler.
This year's Christmas Special, Dave Brownlie's Day Off (Dec. 17 and 18), features Dave himself onstage along with other local faves like Joey Gibbons, Beckie Skene, and fellow Pique-er, Brandon Barrett. Tickets are available at the door or on Whistler Arts Council's website.
It doesn't get any more holiday-ish than this
What better way to spend the holidays than curled up with a good book. So give a gift by local writers, says Whistler Writers Festival organizer, Stella Harvey. (Santa note: she longs for a gift certificate for house cleaning.)
Also, "write a Good Reads Review or an Amazon.com or Amazon.ca review and make a local author's day," she suggests. "It's tough to make a living writing books, but these notes and reviews and comments from friends and strangers alike really make an author's day."
Local authors include Stella herself, Katherine Fawcett, Sarah Leach, Stephen Vogler, Sue Oakey-Baker, Nancy Routley and fellow columnist, Leslie Anthony. And don't forget to buy their books locally at Whistler's own Armchair Books.
It doesn't get any more Whistler than this
Make up a gift basket or wee box wrapped up in homemade paper and fill it with locally-produced favourites. Some yummy Whistler Pierogies (no additives!). A box of Namasthé Tea Company's delicious organic teas. Or some of Julia Murray's super breakfast food, Jules' Fuel. Wonderful fresh-baked goods from a local bakery, like Purebread. (Check out their stollen. Yum!) Or try a gift certificate from Alpine Café and Catering to take care of a holiday meal.
You can never go wrong with chocolate. Whistler Chocolate bars make for wonderful gifts anytime, plus they're easy to mail to friends and family afar along with your Christmas wishes.
For long-lasting goodness, (a bottle of either seems to last forever!) toss in one or two of these long-time faves: A bottle of Nonna Pia's Gourmet Balsamic Reductions, so versatile for cooking or simply dipping veggie sticks into. Same goes for Whistler Cooks dressings and sauces. It only takes a drizzle to go from "whatever" to "pow."
If your giftees have kids, give organic fruit purees and snacks from Love Child Organics. Or a good rub with Whistler Bums all-natural salves, perfect for young bums, beach bums and ski bums alike.
If your pals have a fireplace, grab a bundle of Smart Wood Products firewood from Nesters Market. Add soy candles from Howe Sound Soapworks (their soaps are great, too) and a local brew from Whistler Brewing Company for a cozy holiday evening around the fire.
Though not an exhaustive list, a lot of these lovingly made, local products are available in Vancouver and beyond. Just check out their websites for real-time locations or to order online. Happy giving!
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who reminds you to give a good gift to your local food bank, too.
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