Seems like a lot of work to get holiday shopping done, isn’t it? I have noticed more and more (as I get older and older), that stuff doesn’t mean quite as much as family time. It seems like a trend for people my age (a..hem…29) and older feel the same. Personally, I live in an older house that, when built, people didn’t have more than 3 sets of clothes and 2 pairs of shoes. My closet space is valuable and at this stage of the game, I would so rather not receive a craptastic gift from a box store (unless of course you’ve heard me talk about how I REALLY need to get new underwear and toilet paper). I would so RATHER spend time with my family eating, drinking and being silly. So, in this thrilling episode of Shop Local, Tampa! we are going to explore how to make your holidays mean something a little more than who gives the most and best gifts (that would be anyone who shops at Hogan Made) and more about giving.
So, you might be ‘that’ family where mom goes COMPLETELY overboard with gifts and food while dad sits in the living room sucking down scotch on the recliner as the dog paws at his face to get those damned reindeer antlers off. You might be ‘that’ family who competes for who brings the most gifts, spends the most on those gifts and spends more on the wrapping than I do on a crappy pair of flip flops from CVS. Maybe you USED to be that family, but you are all entering the stages of your lives where you realize that you don’t NEED all that shit to have an AWESOME holiday. Maybe things need to change and YOU can BE the change this holiday season.
Here is my AbFab idea to change any family holiday into a feel good, charitable scene:
Sometime before the actual holiday, team up when you have everyone cornered…I mean together. Start talking about what charities people give to and why. Maybe ask Uncle Frank why he writes a $12 check to the American Fund for Children, Veterans, and Pathetic Dog Pictures. Maybe you could suggest something FUN! What if everyone around the table chose their favorite charity they’d like to support and put in $50? Maybe on Christmas day you could plan a tournament of some kind (board games, darts, egg nog style Olympics) and everyone had to play. Let’s say the winner is Aunt Jolene and she just LOOOVES her some big cat. Aunt Jolene can take all the money and donate it Big Cat Rescue. Or, maybe Cousin Bob is a veteran and wants to support a local VFW post or an awesome organization like The Stano Foundation. Suppose Auntie Clara recently had surgery on her eyes and after FINALLY seeing the neighbor’s pool boy clearly for the first time, wants to donate to the Lion’s Eye Institute. What if your brother, Joe, is a big fan of rescuing dogs, but after Hurricane Michael has one shy of being featured on Animal Hoarders: Buried Alive in Animal Poop. He’ll probably want to give to an organization like Love From Luke Dog Sanctuary.
Whichever team you’re playing for, should you choose this route, you will all be winners! Well, except for the ones that lose….you all will be losers. This is just ONE way to get down with the charity game for the holidays. Maybe you have a tradition of the big Trivial Pursuit game with that really close family friend that you’re not sure you should call an Aunt or Grandma. Just incorporate the grand prize as giving to charity. You might have an Uncle Tony that likes a good game of poker and cigar after stuffing his face with baked ziti, or maybe you take bets on when Aunt Patty will get drunk and end up face first in her soup. All of these things you can still do, while giving.
Another way to share the love at the holidays is to adopt a family from Metropolitan Ministries. Cater a meal for their family, grab some gifts, gift cards and games for the kids and maybe a spa day for mom, sports tickets for dads and spend your money where it will REALLY make a difference in someone’s life. You’d be surprised at how humble you become and how happy it makes you to do something like this. Now, we don’t want to go getting them a big ass frozen turkey if they don’t have an oven, or give them homemade food (because people are just weird about stuff like that from strangers). Find out specifics, like the age and interests of the kids, sizes of shoes, pants and shirts. Many times families will need simple things like backpacks, notebooks and pencils for school. If Metro Ministries doesn’t do it for you, check out the Salvation Army or even talk to your teacher friends. There are SO many families out there that would NEVER in million ask for help, but need it. And often times they have been saving since last year to make sure the kids have just a few toys each to open. There are a LOT of fortunate people out there that can help a family out. Maybe yours could be one this year?
So, go, little givers, and feel GOOD about the holidays for once in your life!
Before I decided to start my own business, I never really paid much attention to Small Business Saturday. Yeah, I saw the ads on TV that American Express pushed. Woopty doo. I was like, “Wow. Thanks AMEX.” Now that I AM a small business, boy does it ever mean something completely different to me! To combat big box stores, e-commerce, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, American Express started the holiday in 2010 and really has done some good things to promote shopping small. You’re welcome. History lesson complete. Now, let’s get to good stuff….SHOPPING!
Shop Small Saturday is November 24th this year (the day after Black Friday). So, rather than getting into fist fights with complete strangers at 4am outside Best Buy because their big door-busting, body crushing sale offers you $100 off an iPad, let’s be reasonable. Take your $500 that you were going to spend on that iPad that nobody really needs, and take it to the streets, people! Putting $500 into a small business only does one thing: It keeps small businesses IN BUSINESS! And let me tell you, $500 to a small business is like winning the damned lottery. $500 to Best Buy is like meh…we do that in a minute here *gum smacking sales associate in an ill-fitting, stained Best Buy shirt*. You can find some GREAT deals on Shop Small Saturday, because a lot of small businesses offer discounts, savings and incentives to shop small.
Shopping is hard, I know. Shopping requires a little thought and a little effort no matter where you shop or what you’re shopping for. You don’t go to the grocery store without a list, do you? NO! That is a recipe for disaster and you know it. You’d get there and you’d be hungry and you’d buy all kinds of weird things and get home and be like, “Shit….I don’t have any food in the house. I guess its Swedish Fish and wine for dinner again!”
So, let’s plan this out and think about 1) who you are buying for and 2) how much you want to spend on each person. Ok. Got it? Good. Let’s go. Scratch all the box stores off your list and let’s find some local shops that can handle all your holiday shopping needs!
One of my absolute faves is the Shop Hop – Seminole Heights:
‘Skip the madness that is Black Friday, and come out to support your local Seminole Heights businesses at the annual Shop Hop. Come get all your holiday shopping done, and then celebrate the holiday season at the after party with prize giveaways, live music, bogo ice cream, wine tastings, and much more.
Shop from 10-6pm at any one of the participating Shops, and they’ll give you a Bingo card to start participating. Then from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. go to The Graham Building for the after party at 6701 Florida Ave. The Grand Prize of (one of the many raffles) is a CRUISE FOR 2 from Graham Global Getaways!! We will also be having a Canned Food Drive for New Seasons Apostolic Ministries: Ronnie Felton Food Pantry. Most needed items: canned green beans, corn, yams, sweat peas. Please bring those to The Graham Building anytime that day!
For a chance to win big on Small Business Saturday, shoppers and diners must visit at least ten of these participating businesses on Nov. 24th during the 2018 Holiday Shop Hop: 2 Broke Spokes, Awoke @ Frank Albert Realty, Cleanse Apothecary, D & D Antiques and more, Forever Beautiful Salon & Wine Spa, Frolic Exchange, Health Mutt, Heights Meat Market, Jet City, Local Art @ Revolution Ice cream, Phoenix Glass Studio, Seminole Heights City Wine Bar, Seminole Heights Antiques, Seminole Heights Spa, Smoke Signals, Thrive: Garden and Water, Urban Bungalow, Valhalla Resale, Velo Champ Cycle Sport and Vintage Post Marketplace.’
You can find hundreds of local businesses at the Carrollwood Area Business Association’s website, as well. You can search from their directory to find just the right place for just the right gift! You can visit many of Tampa Bay’s local markets for unique, handmade, gifts as well. Try the Ybor City Saturday Market (Every Saturday 9-3pm), Tampa Indie Flea at Armature Works (Every Third Sunday 11-3p), Holiday Makers Marketplace (Every Weekend starting Friday, Nov. 24th through Monday Dec. 23rd during mall hours at Westshore Mall) and Tampa Market for Makers (Dec. 8th and 9th at The Cuban Club).
So, set your sights high this year for shopping small. Get out there and SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES! You will come away feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and freaking WIN the holidays at the same time. You’ll be supporting our local economy, making small business owners do crazy happy dances at the end of their days and you know you are SO gonna get yourself a gift for being such a good little consumer. EVERYBODY WINS. You’re welcome.
Keep it real. Shop Local, Tampa!
Ok, so … we’ve gotten through family (moms, dads, siblings and bff’s), we’ve talked about bosses. Now, let’s get to the REALLY annoying circle from the Circle of Gifts….Acquaintances and Co-Workers. This is THE most annoying group to buy for because a) it’s a damned GROUP and b) you really don’t know them that well (nor do you like most of them). It causes little pangs of anxiety to know you have to buy things in multiples, battle the box store parking lot and spend more money than you REALLY want to over the holidays.
We’ve budgeted about $7-12 for this category. Let’s say you have 10 people to buy for at work. That’s only $70 (and in the grand scheme of things, really not that much). Depending on their likes and dislikes, you can easily pick up some meaningful but inexpensive (that’s a big word for cheap-ass) gifts. Generally, you want to keep the playing field even in these situations because A-holes like Stan at the office might get offended if you buy something great for Greg, but Stan only gets the $5 AMC gift card with a puppy Christmas card you got free in the mail for donating to that dog rescue. While that’s fine and Stan might just deserve that, you know it’s going to cause all kinds of office dramatics once he starts bitching to Shelly in the design department.
While I am not a big fan of splitting things into “Girls” and “Boys”, sometimes you have to when the situation calls for it, so let’s just do it. For Lady co-workers, you might think about something along the lines of soap, lotions, lip balms and the like. For the Man co-workers, you could easily pick up things like say, food or gift certificates to kick ass places. Dudes don’t want your pinterestified coffee cup with the spoon dipped in chocolate that you stayed up all night assembling to spice up his coffee in the morning with a bit of milk chocolate. They don’t want stupid crap for their desks and they certainly don’t want soap (even though you probably have someone you work with who REALLY needs it). They want practical crap they can use or eat.
One thing no co-worker dude can really balk at is an ornament. This is a good gift for lady co-workers, too. Not just any ornament, though. You can pick up some great Ybor/Tampa themed ornaments at the Ybor Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center and Gift Shop for $12.99. They’ve got your basic cigar, the trolley and a host of other ornaments that represent Tampa. Another FAB gift that literally anyone would want (unless they have a gluten free, sugar free, cookie free diet) is a tin with delicious cookies inside with a super fantastic Ybor City light post design on it that was designed by yours truly! You can pick these tins of cookies up at the Visitor Center for $12. Ever been to the Columbia Restaurant and had their sangria? You can get the Sangria mix at the Visitor Center for $5. Stick this in cheap wine glass with a homemade card (that you can pick up at the Ybor City Saturday Market from Hogan Made for only $3.50) and your alcohol loving co-workers will tell you that you officially won the holidays. What about the 1905 Salad dressing that you would like lick off the bottom of the bowl after eating? You can grab a bottle of that and some all-purpose seasoning from the Columbia, too!
For the Lady co-works, let’s start with candles. What lady co-worker do you know does NOT like a good candle? Candles are a dime a dozen, but homemade soy candles could be just the ticket! Get a handful of them at the Visitor Center (made by the Seventh Avenue Apothecary) for $8 each. Get a bunch of different flavors and then once you give them to the ladies at work, they can feel free to trade up for the favorite flavors. Everyone is treated evenly and equally, so nobody’s going to pulling anyone’s weave out and HR won’t have to get involved. Soap is basically the same. You can pick up handmade soap at a host of places around town, but why not stop by the Ybor City Saturday Market and visit Jeannie at Soap Handmade by Jeannie? You can get so many yummy smelling soaps from her! For $6 each, you can get the entire office done! You simply can’t go wrong with soap. Another place to get great soaps is A Peace of Plant City. Jayme stocks the mother UP with some fine-ass soaps. You can get goat’s milk soap with a piece of Tarpon Springs sponge for $7.50 or without the sponge for $5. Either way, you’re going to LOVE these so much, you’ll walk out with an extra for yourself. Another fantastic and amazeballs gift you can get at the Ybor City Saturday Market is Hogan Made’s very own Tea Towel. You can get them for $10 with all your favorite Hogan Made designs. This might actually be the best idea. Scrap everything else I’ve talked about and just do this. Of course you are going to have that special someone at work that you like a lot more than all the other jackbags. You’ll have to work that outside the office for the best protection from prying eyes (Stan).
But, now we’ve discussed these smaller, less expensive gifts, right? You’re thinking ok, this seems a little skimpy, right? No. It’s not skimpy damn it, it’s a locally handcrafted gift for Christ’s sake! Make sure you grab a business card from whomever you are purchasing from and include it in the gift. This will a) show your co-workers you didn’t just go to Starbucks and get them a gift card while rolling your eyes and b) will spread the good will of small business throughout the city! There are lots of ways to spruce up a smaller gift. You could get a cool soap holder, a handmade wash cloth/scrubby or an awesome book of matches for the candles. You can also stop by Hogan Made’s booth at the market and grab some blank notecards with all your favorite Hogan Made designs. Who knows, if you are really super nice maybe the owner will give you a discount … maybe tell that witch you read her blog….just sayin’
Ok, we started talking about Christmakwanzukkah a few posts back, and now we’re getting back to it. Every year, you want to get together with your friends regardless of their holiday affiliation, to celebrate with lots of food, drink and laughter, right? Of COURSE you do. You’ve probably got a bunch of ‘couple friends,’ so, splurging on a nice bottle of wine per couple is easy, even and nice. Everyone gets approximately the same thing for the same price and slap that puppy in a wine bag and BOOM! But, why just zone out in the wine aisle pushing a giant shopping cart full of wine and having Mary the checkout lady raise a judgy eyebrow at you? Let’s get back to shopping local.
Nowadays, it seems like everyone is into art. There are literally hundreds of artists within a 5 mile radius anywhere in Tampa. Check out your friends’ houses. Check out their style and figure out what they like. There are so many cool home décor items that people make that fit nice and easy into this budget of the Circle of Gifts (not sure what that is? Start from post one and catch up. We don’t have time for this).
Home décor can be a great, personal and fun thing to give as a gift. Wood signs are all the rage and will likely never go out of style. I’m going to put this one in the category of Wood Sign Art….well, because that’s what it is. Check out The Pickle Shop! They have hilarious, beautifully crafted (and sometimes custom) works that are super reasonably priced. You can easily spend $35 and get THE perfect sign for your super inappropriate friends.
Unique Necessities can spruce up just about ANY room with some fabulously fun throw pillows. Catherine makes THE best pillows in town. They are fun, bright, and handmade! She also makes earrings that are simply to die for! You can find her at local markets around town, so that will give you one more reason to get out and Shop Local, Tampa!
You live in Florida. You love Florida. You love supporting our local artist community. Why not buy that special someone in your life a beautiful piece of art? Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate those artists who TRULY capture what Florida is all about. From our swampy waters of the Everglades, the crystal clear waters of our rivers and our unique wildlife to the simplicity of a Live Oak, our community is bursting with fantastic artists! I’m listing just a FEW of my favorites below, but these are just a FEW of my faves:
If you’re thinking none of these fit the interior décor of Bob and Linda’s new SoHo apartment, then just do a quick google search for local artists…you’ll find something! A few more you can check out (that are some of my faves), would be Diane Valerius Radel,
Now, you know there is always a chance a rando’s gonna show up at something like this and Rando Rhonda is going to come baring some fabulous homemade, gourmet olive oil she pressed herself with fresh rosemary and some other shit in it. You don’t want to be upstaged by Rando Rhonda. Nope. This is a competition, right? Ok, so you’ve got to arm yourself with the right weapons. Make sure you’ve got enough Rando Rhonda gifts laying around that you can throw the most vomit inducing cuteness together in a jiff and make it look like you spent thousands of dollars AND hours on it.
Gift basket ideas for couples could include anything from wine and fancy pants wine glasses, to beer and cheese or even some movie tickets. It’s always good to have these fine items around for the Rando Rhondas that show up. Just have one at the ready by the door, so that when you go to one of your many holiday shindigs, you’ll be armed with all the right tools. We’ll go into more detail about where you can find some fine, local and ultra-tasty treats next time, but you can use your imagination and start getting some ideas.
Until next time, Shop Local, Tampa!