Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Local and Sustainable Holiday Shopping Ideas

I am not really a fan of Christmas. I'm not a Christian and the holiday doesn't hold much meaning for me. I'd rather give someone a present on a random Tuesday and share greetings and good times throughout the year than try to pack it all in to one hymn-laden, over-scheduled month.

I'm not a total Grinch or anything. I still believe in getting presents for kids and letting them experience the magic of Santa Claus and all that. I like having a big meal with loved ones, singing a few carols and watching the 1951 version of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) with the brilliant Alastair "I-don't-deserve-to-be-so-happy!" Sim.

But I'm perfectly happy not to get any presents.

However, I know not everyone chooses to opt out of the season to the extent I do. And if you are shopping around for holiday treats, I happen to have some great local, indie and/or sustainable gift ideas, in Nova Scotia, in Toronto, and, as things go these days, online, too.

Nova Scotia/online:
  1. My new record Blackbirds, of course. It's available for sale at The Biscuit Eater Cafe and Bookstore in Mahone Bay, The Power House Gallery in Lunenburg and this Saturday only, from 1-6pm at the Holiday Artist's Market that is taking place at the Lunenburg Cultural Centre (I'll also be playing music there, swapping sets with brilliant finger-style guitarist Bob Ardern). It's also available online, shipping physical copies from Canada (i.e. my house) through Bandcamp, from the US through CDBaby, and digital copies through those two - and through iTunes (did you know you can gift music through iTunes? You just need to know the e-mail address the recipient uses for their iTunes account.)
  2. My Mom, Janet Barkhouse's picture book version of my Nana's novel, Pit Pony. (Mom will be reading and signing books at The Biscuit Eater Cafe and Bookstore in Mahone Bay this Sunday, December 2).
  3. My cousin Nancy's awesome handbags. Check 'em out here at NPK designs on Facebook:
  4. Art from Power House Gallery in Lunenburg, especially art by Lynn Misner, the genius artist who painted, "The Caretaker", the piece that graces the cover of my new CD:
  5. The Ark (655 King Street, Bridgewater): a great place to buy gifts and support a community of physically and mentally challenged adults at the same time. I love the things made by the folks at The Ark, especially their handcrafted rugs, cushions and woodworking. 

  1. Firefly Creative writing's on-site and on-line writing workshops, especially The Blog Shop, a weekend on-line workshop for aspiring and stuck bloggers.
  2. A Nia Dance Party with Jenn Hicks. Fun, uplifting, good times dancing with your friends.
  3. Creativity coaching with Danette Relic at The Radical Creative Sanctuary.
  4. Life coaching from Jamie Ridler. And, while you're there shopping, make sure to sign up for Jamie's motivating free newsletter yourself.

  1. Reflections: an inspiration journal from Paper Bag Press: an art journal to inspire artistic creativity.
  2. Feeling a little frisky? For those intimate friends, how about something from Kim at Ecosex.ca?
Oh, so many wonderful ideas—gifts you can feel good about giving and that your recipients will love!

Happy holidays!


  1. Great list Alex!
    Funny how many circles cross Jamie Ridler's path..I get her newsletter but only since I have three other very diverse friends who seem to be connected to her somehow..one a friend from boarding school way back when who now lives in TO, one a fellow soul coach, my classmate who I met in California and lives in Atlanta, and one a friend at Wentzell Lake! I think I'd better pay more attention. And I love the image on your album cover by Lynn Misner! ~Mary

    1. Isn't it a small world, Mary?!? How lovely that you're connected with Jamie - through several different people! And I'm glad you love Lynn's painting, too. I'm totally in love with it myself. :-)

  2. Dear Alex,

    This is a brilliant idea for a blog post.
    Thank you for shining your light on so many people's amazing work!


  3. Well thanks, m'dear! It's lovely to be on such an illustrious list! You have given me a few holiday shopping ideas also...

  4. Thanks Alex. I totally appreciate this. I've been having lots of thoughts lately(more so than past years) of why people only "do" or "feel" or "think" about charity and gift-giving and kindness during this season. There's a lot more going on in that thought there, but I did actually feel something in my chest kind of release a bit as I read your first paragraph. We had already decided not to exchange this year, except for the kiddos, but, in the words of Arlo Guthrie... "And if two people, two people do it, in harmony..." We can hope :)

    1. Oh, I LOVE that Arlo Guthrie song. Yes, the non-gift-giving-presence-sharing-massacreeeic movement and all you've got to do is sing it the next time it comes around on the gi-tar.