Last week I launched Chapter One of my annual suggestions for Gifts That Disappear — or at least won't make it into the landfill in a few months. So many good ideas popped up, they spilled over into this week's column. Even so, I'm sure you'll come up with your own ideas for gifts that express love and appreciation and leave a small footprint but, just in case, here are a few more concepts to inspire you plucked from my "alphabet soup" of gifting. For even more inspiration, check out Pique's feature gift-giving guide this week as well.
F & G are for good food
Sharing food that's good lies at the heart of the holidays. If you're not big on baking more traditional — and elaborate — goodies for gifts, try whipping up something simple, say, a batch of homemade granola or salsa. Funky canning jars tied up with string and a sprig of greens make for cool, reusable packaging, even for non-food items. Family recipes rule so tuck in a card with that recipe for your cousin's truffles. The ultimate food-sharing gift, of course, is to take friends and family out. Sure, you can wow them at a place like Araxi, Rimrock Café or Bearfoot Bistro, but don't underestimate the casual side of the good cheer spectrum à la Alpine Meadows Café, Peaked Pies, Southside Deli or, in Pemberton, Mile One or Pony Expresso.
H is for home
Home is where the hearth is, especially at Christmas, so if your circle includes some "orphans" — people far from family and friends — invite them into your home over the holidays. That can be the most-welcome gift of all.
K is for Kiva
Spread the good cheer of goodness worldwide with a credit in the name of your beloved giftee at Kiva. Part of the microfinance movement, Kiva's $25 loans literally change lives. Your giftee can chose the recipient, whether it's a taxi driver in Mongolia or a shopkeeper in Palestine. Once the loan is repaid, she or he can re-lend it again and again...
L is for libraries
There's more to life than books — but not much more, sing The Smiths in "Handsome Devil." And they're pretty right on. For a young 'un, or even a not-so-young one, their own card for Whistler's beautiful public library, or whichever neighbourhood library is yours, can open worlds inside of worlds. Add your own personal guided tour of your favourite library assets and you'll end up spending a great afternoon together instead of more money. If there's a special book you want to share, too, pick it up at Armchair Books, the most comfortable little bookstore this side of the Rockies. (See this week's gift-giving feature for some select titles.)
M is for Meadow Park Sports Centre
Give the gift that's a blast — a ticket to the best sports centre in the corridor. A drop-in adult pass is as little as six bucks off-hours; $4.25 for kids. It's worth it just to use the steam room. Or sign them up for a little zumba or squash. Don't miss the Skate with Santa Dec. 22.
N is for Namasthé Tea & New Internationalist
As Namasthé's Isabelle Ranger says, give the gift of love this season — in this case a beautiful "tea" break with one of her lovely blends or single-source teas. Find them in Whistler (Nesters Market) and Vancouver (at a range of outlets, including Drive Organics on Commercial and Whole Foods). Extend that love and check out one of the best on-line shops in the world. New Internationalist has appealing, quirky items and, best, they follow one of the most ethical buying policies I've ever seen for their products, including fair-trade items and materials from sustainable sources.
O is for orchid
In the dead of winter, a beautiful potted flowering plant is just the ticket. Poinsettias are classic, but how about a deliciously fragrant paper white narcissus or a little potted orchid instead that can last almost until spring flowers start blooming. Check out Senka Florist near IGA in marketplace for more flowery ideas.
P is for Pique & Peak 2 Peak
Yes, Pique Newsmagazine itself is a great gift option, especially if you are from "away." What better way to keep your mom and dad in touch with the community you live in than with a subscription — unless, of course, you make the police blotter. In that case, take them — or anyone you want to impress — on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to totally distract them. Foot passengers sans skis are fine.
R is for Rootables & Rain Checks
Hands down Whistler Conference Centre chef Neal Harkins has rightfully earned the title "Chip Champ" for his addicting Rootables chips. No. 1: his hallmark potato chips made with distinctive Kennebec potatoes dusted with truffle oil. They're available right now at the Winter Farmers' Market held every Saturday at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, where you'll also find Purebread's wonderful breads and baked goods trucked fresh from Whistler. A box full of Rootables would make a righteous gift, as would a box of Purebreads. Or give a rain check to be collected later — in the New Year, Rootables are going commercial big time.
S is for Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre
Tuck a couple of tickets to the unique Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre into a bouquet of greens or add them to a package of smoked salmon for an uplifting gift.
T is for time
Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is the gift of time. Make up some "gift coupons" that say you'll give your best friends 10 hours of condo clean-up or 20 hours of free babysitting. Or simply give the gift of spending time with them.
W is for everything "Whistler"
From Whistler Chocolate to tickets to Whistler Museum or a day pass with lessons on Whistler Blackcomb, you'll discover such great ideas for Gifts that Disappear that start with "W" you'll wonder what we ever did without them.
X, Y, Z are for all the rest
There are so many innovative gift ideas that support local businesses, respect the environment, and don't break the bank they could fill this entire newsmagazine. So don't stop here. Dig around for more E-Z concepts that will keep your seasonal stress levels down and raise the love and happiness index. After all, that's what Christmas is all about.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who wishes you and yours a very happy and peaceful Christmastime.