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CATALYST readers are an exceptional group when it comes to holiday gift giving (good for you). They avoid big-box, big-mall, black-Friday shopping experiences. They enjoy selecting gifts that are authentic, exotic, creative, healthy, conscious and educational. They prefer to spend their dollars and time, whenever possible, on local products and businesses.
This year, we canvassed the CATALYST community to get some experts' best ideas for gifts that readers would appreciate giving and getting this season. They came up with interesting, artistic and unique suggestions in a range of prices and practicalities.
Have you or someone on your gift list ever wanted to become premium winemaker? The Beer Nut believes the best presents are homemade. The nice folks there are taking pre-order deposits through Dec. 5 for Winexpert's Limited Edition Wine Making Kits. The kits feature varietals from world-renowned wine-growing regions such as Argentina, Italy and Portugal. Give a kit to someone close at hand, and reap the benefits! Kits start at $146. (http://beernut.com)
The experts at Caffe Ibis suggest artisanal coffee equipment for your coffee loving friends, a present for every day of the year. They explain that even the most extraordinary Ibis coffee will taste flat if ground and brewed in poor equipment, so Caffe Ibis is now stocking both non-electric (manual) and electric, "artisanal approach" coffee grinders and coffee brewers to ensure the perfect cup. Check out the handsome, functionally designed Chemex and Hario brands for instance.
The perfect cup can be piping hot and all-day perfect with the popular Caffe Ibis Thermos/Nissan Travel Cups. Super insulated with triple-wall stainless steel, they are spill- and drip-proof, and will last a lifetime. Select models include a belt/bike/backpack carabiner clip for foot/ski-powered commutes. Find locations at http://caffeibis.com
For your beef lovers, try local. Canyon Meadows Ranch raises natural Utah grass-fed beef using sound land stewardship practices. You can order 10-, 20- and 30-pound variety boxes of tasty, healthy, local Canyon Meadows beef, or design your own box. Canyon Meadows' grass-fed beef jerky in Teriyaki, Sweet Pepper and Original flavors are popular, too.
How about an exotic dining experience? A gift certificate to Takashi invites your recipient to savor award-winning chef Takashi Gibo's tantalizing sushi, sashimi, small plates and hot dishes in his nationally known restaurant at 18 W. Market Street in downtown Salt Lake. Stop by to enjoy the modern Asian ambiance, gawk at the amazing menu and get enough gift certificates for your best friends —and hope they invite you!
Liberty Heights Fresh has elegant gift food baskets of some of Salt Lake's finest provisions—guaranteed to impress—for the budding chef, the lover of fine chocolates, the global gourmand, the connoisseur bartender and more. For your holiday hostess, or any lover of fine cheese, it designs custom cheese platters from local artisanal cheeses and world-class international selections.
Give the gift of good health and fine food with a gift subscription to Liberty Heights' weekly basket of organic fruits and vegetables. Your grateful recipient will enjoy a bounty of fresh-from-the-farm local and regional produce each week; choose six or 13 weeks of sumptuous edibles. See http://libertyheightsfresh.com for information on delivery, costs and options.
Gift certificates for a relaxing massage are always welcome. Knead a Massage, located in Salt Lake and Park City, offers a variety of affordable session lengths, starting at 30 minutes, every day of the week (http://kneadamassage.com).
Healing Mountain Massage School Day Spa in Salt Lake suggests the gift of its popular 30-minute Eucalyptus Steam Bath and 50-minute Swedish Massage Spa Package to help lung congestion and to relax aches and pains away (http://healingmountain.org).
Both of these options start at under $50. Healing Mountain Massage Day Spa and crystal store also offers gift certificates, lotions, soaps, crystals, gems and jewelry to fit any budget.
For a soul-nourishing wellness weekend trip, wrap up a pass to the Sun Valley Wellness Festival, happening Memorial Day 2013 weekend (http://sunvalleywellness.org). What better way to spend the winter than planning together which of the many presentations, workshops and movement classes to attend when the snow finally melts? The perfect weekend get-away, all within driving distance.
Urgyen Samten Ling Gonpa—Tibetan Buddhist Temple offers a gift that brings peace of mind and heart. They have available beautiful precious stone malas (prayer beads) infused with blessings, along with mala bags from Nepal. http://urgyensamtenling.org
Our friends at Blue Boutique came up with suggestions for hot holiday gifts guaranteed to light up the ol' Christmas tree, available at all four shop locations (http://blueboutique.com). The first is Bondaids: Furry hand cuffs that come with a silk gift bag are certain to spice up romance. They come in black, pink and red faux fur. Also check out the Massage Candle: Edible massage candles that come in a variety of flavors (grape, strawberry, vanilla, peach, chocolate, cherry, peppermint, watermelon)— discreet, but intimate, gift that is all natural and vegan (and a great source of vitamin E for your skin).
A very different romantic present would be tickets to the Coleman Barks performance of Rumi, February 28, 2013, at 7 pm. Presented by the Boulder Mountain Zen Center, the Rumi Club and the Jung Society of Utah, acclaimed poet and translator Barks will present the poetry of Rumi, along with Grammy award-winning cellist David Darling. Tickets to the event held at Libby Gardner Hall on the U of U campus are already going fast. Contact Kingsbury Hall at 801-581-7100 or go to http://kingtix.com.
Finding one-of-a-kind gifts of art and supporting local artists and students is challenging but satisfying. Polly Mottonen, 801-688-7060, offers holiday gift certificates toward stained glass designed especially for you.
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts' 2012 Holiday Art Market on December 8, from 11am-5pm, features gifts by select local artisans. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to meet the featured artists, and learn about their creation process. Jewelry, textiles, ceramics, letterpress, and other one-of-a-kind handmade gifts. Go to umfa.utah.edu for more.
For more unique creative gifts, (or something for yourself), stop by the Department of Art & Art History Holiday Sale where you can purchase student work in ceramics, printmaking, photography and painting and drawing. December 4-6, 9am-6pm, Alvin Gittins Gallery in the Art Building (http://art.utah.edu).
If your loved ones prefer creating their own works of art, Artisan yarns and fine needles from Blazing Needles could be just the thing. Cynthia offers gift certificates that may be used toward class as well. Learn to knit and make your own gifts! http://Blazing-needles.com
Repertory Dance Theatre offers a 10-class punchcard to its Community School for $100. Perfect for the dancer (or wannabe dancer), it is valid for six different styles ranging from African to Ballet. Tickets to 2013 RDT performances would be fun. Look for Charette on February 9, or Women of Valor...in the spirit of service, April 11-13 (http://rdtutah.org has the details).
Red Lotus School of Movement suggests a gift of a lifetime: adults, teens and youths can learn T'ai Chi or Wing chun Kung-fu. The gift certificates for 15-week session include a $10 discount (http://redlotusschool.com).
Still cannot decide? The Golden Braid Bookstore suggests checking out its wide selection of unique lamps that create an individual air to your personal and/or professional space. "Lighting makes a huge impact on your mood and these stunning lamps are fabulous gifts!" explains the GBB crew.
The Golden Braid also suggests its Bridgewater Candles collection: "A great new shape that not only enhances décor but also is perfect for a clean burn every time. Our natural soy blend is formulated for maximum fragrance and long burn times." Another reason for the idea is that this gift gives twice; for every jar candle sold, Bridgewater donates money to feed one orphaned child for one day (http://goldenbraidbooks.com).
Carlene Carlson, owner of Dancing Cranes Imports, recommends putting together themed items. For instance, you can give the gift of "Creating Sacred Space." Choose from dozens of singing bowls, statuary, wind chimes and bells, with the costs ranging from $3-$133, and put together a package that soothes the mind and elevates the spirit.
Another idea is "Celebrate the Culture & Spirit of the Orient" for your friend who has always wanted to go there. Group together Japanese tableware, incense, feng shui plants, fountains and more. The costs range from $9-$99. This would be fun to combine with a Takashi gift certificate! See http://dancingcranesimports.com for address and hours (and don't forget to stop for nourishing treats at the Café Solstice inside the store while shopping).
Open all year-round during regular Garden hours, the Red Butte Garden gift shop is featuring a large variety of local and garden-inspired gifts for nature lovers, garden enthusiasts and kids. In addition to gift cards and memberships, the shop has gardening books, concert chairs, and garden-inspired housewares and jewelry. Kids will love engaging gifts such as "Gardenopoly" and the famous "Potato Clock." http://redbuttegarden.org
A no-brainer for nature lovers on your list would be Diane Olson's curious and informative book "A Nature Lover's Almanac." Everyone loves learning amazing little known facts about the critters in their own yard — kinky bugs and all. Available at King's English, Weller Bookworks, Golden Braid, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. URL: http://www.kinkybugs.com
The Fun and Frolic Consignment Shop offers high-quality, gently used clothing, outdoor gear, travel accessories and gift certificates for recycle-minded fun-seekers on your list, too. 801-487-6393
Experience the Season
Sometimes the best gifts are that of time and shared experience. All Saints Episcopal Church, for instance, has several seasonal events to uplift spirits. Saint Nicholas visits December 23 at the 10 am service. Children are encouraged to place their shoes in the foyer so that St. Nicholas might leave them a surprise.
All Saints offers opportunities for a classic Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, too. On December 24 at 5pm, there is a family-oriented service with a children's pageant, Christmas carols and communion. At 7pm, a simple service of Holy Communion with Christmas carols. At 10:30pm, a Christmas Carol sing with the choir. A candlelight midnight service starts at 11pm with favorite carols and Holy Communion. For those who would like to worship on Christmas morning, there is a simple service of Holy Communion with Christmas carols at 10am.
Then there's the Zebra Mitt
Still musing? Consider the Zebra Ice Scraper Mitt from Golden Braid Bookstore. How good would we look doing our daily windshield scraping chore this winter in a nice Zebra stripe? I'm sure my neighbors will be envious.
So, if you are like me and have your heart set on that and other ideas here, you know what to do. Highlight, circle and clip multiple copies of this guide and make sure to leave in all the obvious places!