Holiday Guide 2009: Shop locally without even leaving your house 

It's no secret that the holidays can be a stressful time. The onslaught of relatives and the overwhelming pressure to monetarily express your love can be exhausting. And the shopping! Have you been to a mall lately? "Ah-ha!" you say, "I will shop online!" But what about Liberal Guilt? How can you feel like a conscientious consumer when you're buying online gifts from big-box stores like everyone else? Local businesses deserve the extra influx of holiday dollars much more than a faceless, giant corporation. Believe it or not, you can still shop locally from the sloth-like comfort of your own home! Slide into your Snuggie, pour yourself a hot chocolate (or toddy) and grab the computer: This is going to be easier than you think.

The first stop is Unlike eBay, Etsy isn't an auction site; it's primarily a forum for crafters to sell their products directly across the country. Search by location, and over 100 sellers in the Nashville area will appear, ready to go. Though primarily stocked with vintage wares, a few minutes of searching can turn up very nifty handmade products.

The Etsy page for Wood Elements has a variety of biscuit-cutters, rolling pins and pepper mills for the earthy and discriminating chef you're tasked to impress. Each item featured provides details about the wood used, and the simple, elegant items are made right here in Nashville. Artisan shop Brazan Design (located in Spring Hill) also has an Etsy page: their sleek and modern art deco-inspired night lights are too cool for school, and perfect for the grown-up scaredy-cat in your life.

Even more clever crafts are available outside the Etsy circle. Local chocolatier Colt's ( is the site to visit for decadent stocking stuffers, and the treat to try is Colt's Bolts, an amped-up peanut butter cup of palm-sized proportions. Gobs of sweet peanut butter are mixed with roasted almonds and wedged between two sheets of either milk or dark chocolate. They can be ordered directly from their website in either a 15-piece tin or 24-piece box. Two for the kids, 20 for you!

Let's be honest: Gift-buying time will run out, and you will panic and buy the first soap basket you see for at least one woman in your life. Rather than throw her the typical Bath & Body Works grab bag (the gift that says "Not Thinking of You"), try Earthwind Botanicals ( for handmade, natural toiletries and soaps. Bars, balls and baskets of soap and scrubs are all available for crazy cheap: a relaxing and exfoliating lavender bud soap bar is only $3.50 (plus shipping).

Local artist Lesley Patterson-Marx's site ( sells beautifully conceived handmade blank journals and craft boxes, as well as original prints and mixed-media works. She'll ship her stuff right to your house, or you can make an appointment to visit her studio to commission a special request. That might not be a bad idea; it's good to get out in the fresh air sometimes.


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