Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Merry gifting that keeps on giving

Thoughtful holiday "presence" with a warm Whistler touch



It's that time of year again, folks, and I have to say, yikes! How did that happen so fast!?

But take heart if, like me, you're cramped for time, crimped for money and seriously believe in the genuine ever-green side of the holiday season, I've scoured around and come up with some great ideas for staying out of the malls and steering clear of Amazon's too-E-Z retailing.

As EcoWatch reminds us, we're still buying way too much stuff, and even "green" consumerism is part of the problem, as in, does your bloke really need that new Hydro Flask, or will his old water bottle do fine?

Bottom line is, if you hit the pause button for a minute and consider what it is you want to convey with your gift, rather than what you think you need to buy, you're on the right track.

For years now, I've been singing my annual "gifts that disappear" holiday theme song, spreading the word about thoughtful gifts that say "love" not "landfill." Gifts your giftees can eat, drink and otherwise be merry with, and you get to give them with a full and happy conscience.

Think great local treats from our great local grocery stores; edibles or incredibles like handmade soaps and lotions. Your own magical homemade potions, along with the recipe for making them. A load of firewood you chopped yourself (legally, of course!) and delivered with an anonymous note. Or the best gift of all, the gift of time, like offering to babysit for free, or clear a driveway of snow for someone who can't.

Building on those concepts, here's a whole new theme: Gifts that give back exponentially, all of them very Whistler with their own unique angles. After all, that's what the spirit of Christmas, and this special time of year, are all about.

Give it again, Sam

It's official! Thrift is in again. After falling somewhat out of favour since the halcyon hippie days, has declared second-hand shopping totally "in" again.

Fortunately, Whistler has some second-hand outlets perfect for your Christmas shopping. Two are operated by Whistler Community Services Society so all proceeds support 22 local services they run.

At the Re-Use-It Centre on Nesters Road, you'll find everything from kitchenware to cozy winter scarves and computers. They even sell used skis and boards. With some Whistler visitors figuring it's cheaper to buy equipment for awhile and then take it to the centre when they're done, you might find some super bargains. Choose carefully, wrap them beautifully, and who will know?

At the WCSS Re-Build-It Centre in Function Junction, you'll find all kinds of household treasures, tools and building materials. How about a finely engraved wooden armchair for only $40? Or a hand-painted sink featuring a golfer hitting the golf ball right down the drain ($20).

Better and more sustainable yet, I bet someone you know would love an annual membership ($50 for an individual; $75 for a family) in the Re-Build-It Centre's popular tool lending library. "There's no limit on the number of memberships," says Re-Build-It staffer, Shane Hutman, who nicely guided me through the inventory. "The more the merrier."

Members can borrow any tool for a week—everything from jig saws to hammer drills and tools to repair your bike or board. They've even got snow shovels. Plus the tool library website displays the full inventory so you know what's in and what's out.

Chill with Chili

Chili Thom is a legend—a creative, bright spark well-loved at Whistler, and not just for his brilliant paintings and images. If you want to give a vibrant slice of Whistler magic, a Chili print is it.

Unfortunately, Chili passed away far too young, but not before making arrangements so his artwork would continue to be available for people who appreciated his view of the natural world and local landscapes. His online studio, which family and friends still run, features his powerful paintings available as high-quality prints. Bonus: three new ones have just been released—Tantalus Range (seen from the west side of Whistler Mountain), A Cool Fifty (inspired by his friend Brett Carlson), and the lovely, optimistic Things are Looking Up.

All proceeds from Chili's artworks go into a trust fund for his six-year-old daughter, Poppy Pepper, a budding artist herself.

Reach wide with your gifts

For gifts with a super-wide reach, check out UNICEF's Survival Gifts program, where you can donate in the name of your giftee for warm winter clothing ($34), a writing and sketching pack ($16) or Plumpy'Nut bars for malnourished kids ($10). Or the excellent Kiva micro-loan program, where your recipients can re-lend their initial loans again and again to people in need. Both send acknowledgement cards to your giftees.

For a long gift reach with a Whistler twist, there's World Bicycle Relief, a great cause championed by longtime friends of Whistler, Bob Wyckham and Stan Greenfield, and Bicycles for Humanity, started years ago by Whistlerites Pat and Brenda Montani. Both programs deliver much-needed bikes around the world. Donations to great local causes, like WAG (Whistler Animal Shelter), Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, Sea to Sky Community Hospice or the local food bank all guarantee gifts will give, and give again, locally.

If you still want to buy something new that will do some good, join the annual Mountain FM Westin Christmas Breakfast and Toy Drive on Dec. 5, 6 to 9 a.m., at the Westin Resort & Spa. Bring a new, unwrapped toy; non-perishable food item; or cash donation and enjoy a full-breakfast buffet in return.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who likes to see less shopping, and more consideration.