If you're half the Scrooge I am, the chore of holiday gift buying is right behind a trip to the dentist and dinner with Gilbert Gottfried on your list of Least Favorite Things to Do. I'm not talking about presents for your significant other, whose tastes and preferences you (hopefully) know well enough by now. But what about those friends, relatives, co-workers or business colleagues? Do you really want to spend hours searching through stores or online catalogs trying to find some meaningless trinket or silly gag item that'll be knee-deep in a landfill by mid-January? (To my sister Sandy, if you're reading: Please don't take this the wrong way. I really loved that life-size cardboard cutout of Elvis you sent a couple of years ago. It's in the living room, right next to the gumball machine from 2005 and the Furby from 2007. Really.)
So to help you shop in a more socially conscious fashion, here are a few gift ideas that won't be infecting Mother Earth anytime soon — and that have the added benefit of either bettering the world, healing the body or expanding the mind.
Thistle Farms products Operated by the women of Magdalene — a residential program for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction — Thistle Farms sells all natural soaps, lip balm, hand lotion, lavender healing oils and other bath and body products. Proceeds directly benefit the women who make the products. One Scene writer dubbed Thistle Farms Lip Smoothie the Best Lip Gloss in our 2010 Best of Nashville issue. (thistlefarms.org)
A Halcyon Bike Shop gift certificate Not only do they breathe new life into old, discarded bikes, they also provide a workshop (in partnership with Oasis Center) that teaches at-risk kids how to build and repair bicycles, and sends them home with their own bikes. Encourage a healthy hobby while supporting an organization that turns trash into treasures and gives back to the community. (halcyonbike.com)
Community Supported Agriculture Buy the health-conscious loved one in your life a half or full share in one of Middle Tennessee's many CSAs, which provide weekly baskets of fresh, locally grown organic produce (and in some cases, locally raised meats). This gift won't come cheap, so it's best suited for only the most significant of others. And best of all, you can say, "I bought it — you cook it." (Visit nashfof.wordpress.com/csa for a list of area CSAs.)
A tayst gift certificate Jeremy Barlow's fabulous eatery in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood is Nashville's first and only restaurant to be green-certified, meaning that tayst has met the Green Restaurant Association's standards for water efficiency, waste reduction/recycling, sustainable foods, energy consumption and more. Who says being socially conscious can't be fun? (taystrestaurant.com)
MADE boutique There's no shortage of options to buy locally made products, among them Local Honey (clothes by Nashville designers), Green Wagon (environmentally friendly products), Imogene + Willie (handcrafted raw-denim jeans) and the new kid on the block, MADE, Ashley Sheehan's lovely new boutique at 717 Porter Road in East Nashville. The vast majority of MADE's stock is produced locally, including candles, jewelry, soaps, greeting cards, pillows and Meg Giuffrida's popular Beeline A-Line skirts. (Phone: 262-8863; MADE Nashville on Facebook)
Humphreys Street Coffee Co. Not only do the Humphreys Street folks provide freshly roasted fair-trade coffee beans, they work with Harvest Hands Community Development Corporation to mentor and provide jobs to at-risk youth in their South Nashville neighborhood. (humphreysstreetcoffee.com)
Nashville Handmade Craft Fair This fundraiser for Harris-Hillman Special Education School, which provides a safe and appropriate learning environment for students with multiple disabilities, will feature the wares of over 30 vendors selling jewelry, new and vintage clothing, artwork and more. Double your good karma by supporting a worthy cause and buying a locally made gift. The fair takes place 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 at Harris-Hillman, 1706 26th Ave. S.
Red Cross gifts The American Red Cross has a great 2010 Holiday Giving Catalog, where you can buy phone cards or meals for U.S. troops, infant care kits, bicycles, blankets, even vaccinations. For your loved ones who've got way too much junk cluttering their lives already, why not buy a gift in their honor for someone far more needy. (redcross.org/gifts)
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