Ho, ho, ho! Time for the jolly holly-daze. Not ready? No worries. Here's my annual list of gifts that disappear — wonderful edibles, drinkables and other good ideas with gentle eco-footprints that "disappear" after the Christmas season. This year's list is steeped in Whistler, with lots of locals chipping in ideas.
First, a quick stop at Olives Community Market, with all that organic produce. Buy a bunch of fresh greens, tie it up with red yarn and add your favourite recipe. A gift certificate from any grocery store is brilliant — you could up the ante with one from Olives. Or go with cashier Kristi Collins' pick: Kricklewood Farm garlic/lemon sunflower oil, great on salads or just drizzled on bread.
As for her "disappearing" gift idea, "Do a favour for someone," she says. "One year my friend was moving and he had no one to help him. It was on Christmas Day." They finished by 2 p.m. and still had time to celebrate! (BTW, Kristi needs a place to live. Make her Christmas special by offering her one.)
Over at Creekside Market, it's totally in the bag for gifts that disappear.
"Whenever I go back to Ontario to my parents, I always try to give stuff from Whistler or B.C. in general. So it's all kind of perishable foods, and I get a Creekside Market bag to wrap it up in," says front end manager Joanna Legasto. Her mom loves Creekside's reusable bags, which feature scenic shots of Blackcomb.
What to pop inside? Coffee beans from Galileo Coffee Company at Britannia Beach. Whistler Chocolate bars. Nonna Pia's balsamic reduction. Some of those great Temptations raw energy bars by local baker, Maria del Pilar. Pouches of Jules Fuel —healthy, energy-rich breakfast food, courtesy of Olympian skier, Julia Murray. If your giftee has a baby, go for Love Child Organics. And if they have a four-legged friend, it will go bananas for those nutrient-rich Dooshi sushi treats made from up-cycled ingredients from local juice bars and sushi bars, compliments of Jeff Anderson and Koji Miyagawa. But check out the product websites for all these wonderful gift ideas — they're also available in lots of other outlets.
Beyond the grocery store, try filling a bag with your intended's favourites from The Great Glass Elevator Candy Shop. Go retro — like Pez or Pop Rocks — or classic, like Terry's Orange Chocolate. For the limeys on your list, they've got British treats like mushy peas, and one of my faves, Divine chocolate bars. They're fair trade plus their pretty wrappers feature traditional Adinkra symbols. For instance, the snowflake-like symbols mean "democracy, shared destiny."
Whistler's legendary Namasthé teas is another all-time fave with pretty, holiday-ready packaging — a sprig of greenery will set off the white paper with red flourishes. The company was started years ago by Isabelle Ranger, local herbalist and forager extraordinaire. My pick is one of her first teas, Mountain Mint. It's so "pow" with peppermint, spearmint and wild mint grown in Pemberton it's worth giving for the fabulous aroma alone.
Eateries at Whistler and beyond, including Alpine Cafe, Purebread and Peaked Pies, serve Namasthé teas, so treat your giftee to a cup of heart-warming tea and add a package for them to take home. Available at many locations, from Nesters Markets to The Grocery Store, or get a full selection on-line.
In fact, a gift certificate from a favourite eating spot could be just the ticket. Just add a handmade card or personal note. My pick would be a place like Elements Tapas Parlour, a comfortable spot that's perfect for sharing. For something holiday-ish, Squamish resident Andrew Pelletier, who busses and keeps Element's front end running smoothly, recommends the yam and quinoa croquettes. But his own idea for a gift that disappears is way more expansive than that.
"Cook a huge meal, so you basically host a festive party and have everyone over. It's like a big gift to all your friends and people like that," he says. "You can make it as fancy, basically, as you want to make it... but the important part is getting people together."
For entertainment before or after your feast, plan it around one of the local concerts directed by professional musician and teacher, Alison Hunter. Whistler Children's Chorus has its annual holiday concert that supports the food bank at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church at 5 p.m. on Dec. 10. On Dec. 15, enjoy a concert by Whistler Singers at Meadow Park to benefit the skating club. Then on Dec. 22, the chorus and singers will come together for a concert at the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre.
As for Alison's gift idea, "Sometimes it's just giving your time to let someone sit down and give them an hour of peace," she says.
You'll find lots more original gifts by some of Whistler's youngest makers at the Children's Craft Fair on Dec. 9, from noon to 3 p.m. at Whistler Waldorf School. For a nominal fee, kids young and old can make a gift "that's easily returned to the Earth," like beeswax candles or a fragrant orange and clove pomander. Plus you'll find gifts for sale made by students, including Christmas sweet treats by 10-year-old Maya Coleman.
"Every kid can come to the Waldorf school and make their own special gift," Maya noted via email.
"Getting homemade gifts makes people happier because it is more like a gift from you instead of a factory in China."
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who still makes Christmas cards.