Christmas is barrelling down faster than the Grinch whipping into Whoville to join in a chorus of "Welcome Christmas." The Boney M. Christmas album is on a continuous loop at half the retail outlets you walk into, the scent of peppermint is pervasive and calendars are bursting with social events.
This is truly an exciting, joy-filled time for the few among us who have all our gifts wrapped, baking securely stored in freezers and homes decorated to rival anything Martha Stewart has ever whipped up. For the rest of us though, these last few days left between now and the Big Event are as anxiety-producing as in-laws visiting for the entire Christmas season. The reason? Math.
Take the number of days left before Christmas, divide by the number of gifts you have left to buy and then multiple that number by the hours you will likely spend in dazed confusion lurching from store to store in search of something perfect — or at least something that is marginally suitable — for everyone remaining on your list. And as the shopping days evaporate, it really does look like everyone is on your list. Even as you make a last-ditch effort to trim the fat on your gift list things tend to go awry. It's inevitable that every time you add up the number of people on the list, the number will be different and new names will have mysteriously appeared. Again, this is some sort of Christmas math/Voodoo thing. I don't pretend to understand it.
With too many gifts to buy, too little time to buy them and a very human tendency to overspend when feeling under pressure to purchase, a trip to the city for that last push of Christmas-induced consumer madness is not advisable. Besides, do you really want to spend your time fighting angry West Van housewives (the ones that were too mean to make the cut for The Real Housewives of Vancouver) for the last parking spots at Park Royal? You know you don't.
So how do you accumulate those last gifts on your list? Sure, you could run into the next gas station you stop at and buy fistful of gift cards, but unless you're buying for teenagers, an iTunes card is really the gift that says, "I put zero effort into this. Enjoy!" So what do you do?
First off, you make a commitment to shop local. If you can't get it here, you don't need it. Make this your mantra. Do not give in to the urge to head south — it will not increase your Christmas goodwill, it will not be any fun at all and you will likely end up eating in a food court. Besides, since the village is up late these days you can easily sneak in a little après before hitting the stores (The village also has the advantage of being familiar and pedestrian only — which in turn makes indulging in après safer).
With so many creative entrepreneurs, service providers, artists and artisans in town, you can easily find unique gifts that are locally produced. From Vincent Massey's gorgeous pottery to custom-made Prior snowboards and skis, there is no shortage of homegrown Whistler gift ideas. Of course, if you're still paying off that Turkey Sale binge-shopping fiasco, you can get crafty and make your own gifts.
It's a little late in the game for making organic, Fair Trade, cinnamon-scented soy candles, but you can still create a perfectly great gift in about an hour. All it takes is grabbing a digital camera, finding a suitable vista and taking a few pictures. Once you've printed your favourite, find the last framed photo of you and your ex, remove the offending image and replace it with the piece of Canadian Nirvana you and a borrowed Nikon managed to capture. Voila! A thoughtful, personalized gift that will not only delight the recipient(s), it will help you gain closure with your ex.