Thursday, December 2, 2010

Knock Knock. Who's There? The Holidays.

The holidays are upon us. I feel more like the holidays are UP ON me, but semantics schmantics. I am not a holiday hater, but I have also never been one of those people that gets really into decorating or sets up a gift wrapping station in the guest bedroom. This year I did put up some little trees. Both artificial and one is black, so take from that what you will.

I know this is not a new or original sentiment, but my main "issue" with the holidays is that the year-round consumer culture that is so prevalent in America, is greatly magnified during the holidays. In year's past, I have participated in Buy Nothing Christmas and made gifts for friends and family. This year has been pretty busy and I can already tell that my approach to my holiday gift giving is going to be less handmade than in year's past. That got me to thinking about ways to shop locally and support the efforts of local artists, craftspeople and really, any business/person doing something unique or socially relevant. I have come up with a few recommendations that I think are worth sharing. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, PLEASE post them in the comments.
Places to Shop
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar  has been around awhile and now over 300 artists have their wares on display. Lots of variety. I got a small painting of a cupcake here once and it was a big hit with the recepient---who loves cupcakes.
  • Community Renaissance Market   I just read about this place recently in my neighborhood newspaper. The concept is that this place is a "microbusiness incubator for people who want to start a business, but don't have a great deal of money to do so". It is located in what used to be the Albertson's on Westgate.  So, not only are they working to help small business, but they are making use of a space that sat unused for MONTHS! Also, this was started by a lady. Go lady business!
  • Cherrywood Art Fair  will have work by 80 artists and a portion of the proceeds go to beautifaction projects in East Austin.
    Giving the Experiential Gift
  • Check out Not That Martha. Local lovely, Martha Pincoffs is writing about food, catering it up and also teaching cooking classes! Cooking classes would be a fun group gift type deal. I can speak from experience...this girl can cook and she is super cool and fun to be around.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse is running a deal right now where if you buy $100 in gift cards, you get a $20 credit for yourself. Be a hero to that film geek on your list that loves to quote along to Roadhouse and drink $5 milkshakes.
  • Farmhouse Delivery offers local produce, meat, dairy, eggs and local artisinal products to customers in Austin. They will deliver to your house or office. Sustainability on your doorstep AND they are another lady owned and operated business! 
Charitable Gift Giving
  • HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) is an organization that helps uninsured musicians in our area obtain affordable healthcare. Their affililate the SIMS Foundation also does great work for the working musician community. We all love to hear live music, and by donating to HAAM/SIMS you can prove it!
  • Since 1974 SafePlace has been working to eliminate sexual and domestic violence. They provide services for men, women and children. SafePlace often needs volunteers as well---so there are multiple ways to give!
  • Communitites in Schools work to keep kids in school AT school. They work directly within the public school system to teach life skills and to provide alternatives to dropping out. They are also looking for volunteers and mentors in addition to donations.
We can define the holidays and gift giving on our own terms by opting out of the consumer frenzy that is all too common for many during this time of year and in doing so hopefully set good examples for our kids and our friends and our families.

Again, if anyone reading this has suggestions for unique gift giving, please share!