An A-to-E of goodly gift giving 

Shopping ideas that are easy to swallow

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Here comes that holly-jolly time of year — Christmas for some, not for others. Still, with the exception of a few straggly Scrooges and Grinches out there, it pretty much translates into some form of gift giving and merriment all round, whatever tradition you follow, all to keep winter’s dark and coldness at bay.

If you know me, or this food column, you also know that every year round about now I morph into the Queen of Gifts That Disappear, or at least gifts that won’t make it into the landfill or garage sale a few months from now. Gifts that express your joy and appreciation of others, as we are wont to do at Christmastime, but lead you out of the overlit mall and electronic wasteland to ideas that are, well, a little more authentic and a little less plastic, literally. (I’ve got a thing about all that plastic waste, too.)

So here we go with the Chapter One of 2013’s gifts that are easy to give and, for the most part, disappear.

Speaking of disappearing acts, ideally your shopping stamina and goodwill to all people — including underpaid sales clerks — won’t. In the meantime, stand by for more gift-giving alphabet soup next week.

A is for 'art'

If you’re an artsy type, you’ve probably already potted, woven, painted, sculpted or photoshopped at least a few wonderful gifts for those dear and near to your art, I mean heart. If you’re not so artsy and missed the ever-wonderful artsy-craftsy fairs like Whistler’s Bizarre Bazaar and the Circle Craft extravaganza in Vancouver, check out your favourite local artists. New to town? Whistler Arts Council can link you in with a host of independent artists more than worthy of your patronage. Think of it: you — a patron of the arts, giving a fine creation to someone you love. No denying, it has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. But why stop there? Arts council memberships, at Whistler or wherever you reside, make wonderful gifts. Throw in a couple of tickets to a local arts council event and you have a gift that really will keep on giving. By the way, if you still have a jones for interesting craft fairs, check out one of my favourites, the Shiny Fuzzy Muddy show held the second weekend in December every year at Heritage Hall at Main and 15th in Vancouver. Pemberton’s own Frances Dickinson is a founding member of the SFM collective, which does a bang-up job of curating fine artists working in shiny (metal and glass), fuzzy (textile) and muddy (ceramic) materials.

B is for 'brown is beautiful'

Brown paper bags; brown shopping bags; brown jute string; brown cardboard boxes — they all make for wonderful gift wrap that’s funky and fun and easy to recycle (glittery or plasticized gift wrap can’t be). Brown is beautiful on its own, and even better with a sprig of live cedar or holly and a handmade gift tag. If you’re feeling more indulgent, brown paper and cardboard are hip these days when duded up with your own pen and ink doodlings — anything from a Sharpie or a nice Micron pen to nib pens with lovely black Holbein ink will do. If you insist on white, Michaels Stores sell a roll of white paper with a tiny rib that makes for cool gift wrap but costs much less on all counts. Find it next to the brown parcel wrap you’ve now reconsidered as excellent gift wrap.


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