As the Christmas season rolls out before us in a gigantic swoop of holiday merry-making, here's one last call to get ready, set... and go, straight into this special time of year that, really, is all about time. Time to think of loved ones and strangers who need love. Time to break out of the darkness and celebrate the return of longer days. Time to reflect on a year almost past.
Even if you haven't started and have a gift list as long as a gondola lineup, relax! Time is still on your side.
Here's my gift to you: my annual Gifts that Disappear list, with thanks to Whistler friends near and far who shared ideas for simple, easy gifts that aren't made in China and won't end up in the landfill, but will deliver some love. Gifts that will disappear as your giftees use them, eat or drink them up, leaving only good vibes as traces. And because we're all about local, all have a Whistler spin that won't leave you spinning your wheels in some shiny mall.
Don't stop at Christmas — these gifts have the power to go year-round. But for now, let's get hopping without too much shopping, starting with the gift of time itself.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holly-days, Have a Cool Yule...
The gift of time
Got a friend or neighbour who's injured or aging? Give them the gift of shovelling their driveway or walk. A cousin or buddy with kids? They'd love a free night's babysitting. A gardening pal who could use a hand? How about a day's labour next fall when a garden can be more demanding than Christmas? A friend or colleague from away? Gift them some help navigating the local scene.
Offer to walk a friend's dog. Offer to walk your friend, period, in a Whistler winter wonderland. Offer them dinner or lunch — by you and with you. You make it. And you spend time with them eating it. Tuck a handmade note into a Christmas card explaining your gift, and deliver it in person with a hug. The hug is the best part.
Go for experiences or go home!
Give your giftee something they'd love to do, or something they think they'd never do. Often it's the latter that sneaks up and surprises — delightfully, gorgeously, unforgettably.
Whistler Sliding Centre offers amazing public programs until April 2. Yes, you, too, along with someone you love, can hurtle down the fastest ice course in the world in a skeleton or bobsleigh, as long as you're over 14 and ready for a strenuous ride.
As well, Blackcomb Snowmobile offers snowshoe tours that include your entry fee to the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, another great local experience with a unique twist. Tickets to Whistler's award-winning First Nations cultural centre start at $5. For that price you can include lunch at the Thunderbird Café, plus their gift shop has beautiful gifts.
Whistler also offers a host of other gifts along cultural lines. What better place to start than the Whistler Museum and Archives? Offer your giftees an afternoon at the museum (entry is by donation, with a suggested amount of only $5!), then stop by a local favourite, like the Great Glass Elevator Candy Shop for an all-you-can-eat treat.
If they're more an artsy type, how about a pass to the grand new Audain Art Museum? Or double down and gift them one of Arts Whistler's many offerings, from arts workshops to concert events. Figure-drawing classes, anyone? Or what's more Christmassy than the 33rd annual Christmas Eve concert with Whistler Singers and Whistler Children's Chorus (entry by donation)?
Pure Whistler spirit
If you've got an animal lover on your list, a membership to WAG, Whistler's animal shelter, includes a bag of swag your giftee will love as much as the pets who benefit.
Or give a gift that gives so much — make a donation in someone's honour to Whistler's much-appreciated food bank. Just email manager Sara Jennings at email@example.com. You'll receive a certificate explaining to your giftee how many "baskets" of food you've donated in their name.
If you call Whistler home, a subscription to Pique itself makes a great gift for loved ones who live on the other side of the world. Or give them a genuine taste of "home" with a copy of Pique's own Chefs' Choice, the No. 1 Whistler cookbook. And don't forget the many Whistler products that will help you cook and more, from Nonna Pia's Gourmet Balsamic Reductions to Namasthé Tea Company's delicious organic teas and Love Child Organics baby food.
Finally, here's a unique gift that keeps on giving and bridges one of the richest postal codes in the nation — Whistler's — with the poorest. For the first 10 people who order, creative wizard Eileen Keenan of Birken House Bakery will deliver free to your door anywhere in Sea to Sky Country a fabulous gift "basket" that's really a reusable bag overflowing with delicious, specially selected, sustainable goodies. It all benefits Vancouver's much-appreciated Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by Dec. 16 to order.
Now that's the spirit of Christmas.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who wishes you the best of the giving season.