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.