To get anything accomplished, it is best to have a plan… and getting ready for Christmas – especially if you want it to be fun, rather than stressful — you need a good plan. So I’m gonna help you out! To enjoy your Christmas shopping to the fullest, may I suggest 4 simple steps: 1. Bird. 2. Kids. 3. Downtown Almonte. 4. And beyond!
Are you hosting Christmas this year? Call Don’s Meat Market to pre-order your turkey and/or ham (256-6801), or plan to drop in while shopping.
Sometimes you want to get some shopping done without the kids slowing you down. Why not sign them up for an arts and crafts workshop at JB Arts, right on Mill Street?! On December 7 and 8, pairs can book 90 minutes on the pottery wheel (for ages 6 and up). On December 20 (a PA day), Jeff’s offering present-oriented projects between 9am and 5pm. In case you fancy doing some art yourself, he also offers a couple of classes for adults. You can also pick up some arts supplies for your artistic friends, while you are there. And on the evenings of December 5 and 12, kids (only!) are invited to the annual Blackbird Kids Only Shopping Nights from 5–9pm, at 79 Mill Street.
With shops of all kinds located on one central street, you can park at an end or in the middle and see everything at once — kind of like a mall but without the parking-jousting and claustrophobic crowds. Plus, as you are often dealing with the owner or manager, you get more efficient and helpful customer service. Whether you have an itemized list, or are feeling more “I’ve gotta get something, but what?!”, they are here to help. And help is what they do best. The salesfolk here evoke memories of Kris Kringle in A Miracle on 34th Street. Remember when he is working as the Macy’s Santa yet telling people they can find certain items at Gimbel’s? Well, if you are looking for an item and can’t find it in one store, the shopkeepers will often point you to other potential purveyors.
We have too many shops for me to list every one, but here are some tips on what you can find where. For women’s clothing there are many options — a good idea is to walk into your woman’s favourite shop (The White Lilly, Ooo La La, doree’s habit, Crush Marketplace and Vamos Outdoors all come to mind) and ask the staff there if they know what she would like. As for men’s clothing, you are more limited, but Vamos Outdoors has a nice selection.
There’s a good variety of jewellery too, from the funky to the elegant. Me, I go for funky elegance… but I guess you knew that by looking at me, eh?
For folks who are hard to buy for, I always think: food! Whether that amounts to gift certificates to their favourite restos or coffeeshops, a special salsa or jam, or high quality chocolate, you’re sure to find just the right thing to give… or treat yourself to. Go into Pêches et Poivre at the right time and you can taste test some chocolate or dulce de leche caramel sauce!
If you really don’t have any ideas, I recommend walking into Mill Street Books and asking their advice. You know, like “My friend loves Mississippi Mills and the colour blue and puppets… What would you suggest?” Mary and Terry are full of good ideas!
You can find a lot of stuff for kids at the bookstore too, or try Keepsakes — they have a section with some cool puzzles. Check out Kentfield Kids for the younger set too!
Almonte is known for its antiques, which some folks may not think of as Christmas gifts, but take a look around. You may find just the perfect thing — perhaps a memento of times shared. And we’re also known for art, so don’t miss the galleries — General Fine Craft, Art & Design, Phil Wood Framing and Tony Mihok’s Studio, to name but a few.
If all you know about your giftee is that she knits or quilts, might I suggest Textile Traditions or Quilting Quarters — those ladies are bound to come up with something. For the uncle who prefers birds to people, the folks at Gilligallou Bird will help you find just the right thing to make him actually smile at you for a second! And for your new age friend… talk to the nice ladies at Soul Scents. Angel cards, candles, chakra jewellery — don’t be scared — they’ll lead you through.
Now to music! If your giftee likes to play, then drive up to Musicworks and they’ll set you up. Maybe some sheet music or lessons? If they prefer to attend concerts, then check out theHumm’s listings and pick up some tickets — perhaps for Folkus or Almonte in Concert?
Ok. Great job! You have picked up some gifts that are sure to be loved — especially the ones you bought for yourself 😉 — and likely made some friends along the way. You deserve a reward! Yes, in addition to the gifts you bought yourself. Perhaps dinner out… or a latte or a brownie or some pizza or…
Sure, downtown Almonte is the most concentrated area of shops, but there other places that are well worth a side trip, such as the aforementioned Musicworks (conveniently located near Equator Coffee Roasters). Over in Pakenham there’s a new shop — Olde Crow Creek — which has some lovely and funky home décor items. Don’t forget to stop in at the Pakenham General Store for more gifts (and cinnamon buns!). And speaking of Pakenham, if you have any skiers or boarders on your list, you might want to consider visiting Mount Pakenham for some passes or goggles etc.
You might say there are a Mississippi Million options for local gifts… Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go shopping!!
Humm Columnist: Miss Mills, Puppet Reporter