Wednesday, 7 December 2011

scimetalvegan holiday guide for the last-minute shopper (2011 edition)

I have mixed feelings about this whole Christmas/xmas thing. I enjoy celebrations, excuses to get together with people, maybe dress up, and eat and drink decadent things. And I'm a sucker for things with schnazzy lights (even if I cringe at the energy getting sucked up into strings of plugged-in xmas decorations). But sometimes it's all a bit much in too short a time.

It's a similar deal with the xmas gift exchange. I get a kick out of the challenge of finding the right present for the people I care about, but there are more people I care about than my time/money budget can cope with. And, like many folks, I take issue with the uber-consumerist insanity that this time of year has a tendency to perpetuate.

In a lot of cases, I just try to see people, share some good food and drink, and enjoy the company. But there are still a few people I need (and want) to buy for, which raises a whole string of related quandaries... How do I satisfy several important, but often competing criteria, while on the quest to find the right gift?

My main goals:
  • support local and independent businesses, especially socially-conscious and vegan-friendly ones (or use gift-giving as a way of supporting important charities)
  • get people something they can actually use, need and appreciate (and avoid contributing to unnecessary clutter or waste)
  • be generous but thrifty (and I don't have any particular talent for making gifts)
I can't check off all these ideals with every gift, but I make an effort. So, in the spirit of ethical giving, here are some holiday shopping resources it can't hurt to keep in mind.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: neat, usually handmade stuff, much of it vegan-friendly. The holiday version takes place in Toronto on December 11.
  • Vegan Etsy: discovered this through Sick on Sin. The worldwide shipping might be a turn-off for the greener shoppers, but there's also a chance there's a member nearby, wherever you may be.
  • Local farmer's market (Hamilton version): aside from the usual fruits and veggies, local markets tend to be a go-to source for delicious baked and prepared treats, but they often feature great homemade crafts as well.
  • Artists' co-ops and galleries: Hamilton features at least a couple of stores run by or supporting local artists and filled with their unique creations, and I expect this is true of many cities. I've happily perused the goodies at Textures and AllSorts Gallery.
  • Simply Zen: begun as an online business, this eco- and vegan-friendly shop in Hamilton has an amazing array of gift-giving possibilities packed into a relatively small space. Smells good too!
  • Animal shelters and wildlife protection: as a Burlington Humane Society volunteer I came home with several gift baskets designed for friends' and family members' pets. But there are other ways to support groups that care for animals while working through your xmas shopping list, and donations are only the start! (but giving someone a surprise pet is NOT recommended)
  • Metal: how could I complete any list of gift giving suggestions without at least one shout-out to metal? From a heavy-metal playlist designed with someone's particular tastes in mind, to an independent/underground artist's merch, to concert tickets or a music DVD, it's hard to go wrong with metal (well, as far as I'm concerned, anyway). A few potential sources - Sonic Unyon Metal, Catacombs, Dr. Disc.
This list (just a start! - there are many more deserving places for your holiday business!) comes a bit late for online shoppers (many small online businesses have to set a fairly early xmas order deadline). Maybe next year?

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