Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gifts That Really Give

The madness that is known as Black Friday has passed, officially kicking off the Christmas shopping season. Unfortunately, the world financial situation has induced our own local shopkeepers and comune to go alla Americana, bedecking the piazzas and shop windows a lot earlier than normal this year. I admit it's disappointing; I liked the respite and shorter season that we've experienced here the past two years.

I'm not a "mall person". I definitely dislike the "canned" feeling, and prefer the open-air atmosphere of the mercato, and the personalized experience of small, individually-owned shops. But shopping and shipping gifts to the States can be a hassle; I mean, who wants to subject herself to the Poste Italiane if she doesn't have to? Offering prayers for Christmas miracles that the gifts will arrive at their intended destinations takes a lot of faith.

We have also decided in recent years to scale back our gift-giving and refocus our thoughts, energies and resources on the true spirit of the holiday. The gifts we are giving we sanely opted to order online.

In doing so I came across some great sites where you can buy fun, meaningful, or pretty gifts...many of which will keep on giving. Over the next few posts I'll share my finds with you. Today we'll start with "normal" gift sites, whose goods are anything but ordinary.

First off...sites for Traditional Gifts

Sometimes you just want to give something pretty and unusual. That's why I love these sites:

My friend Elizabeth scours Italy to find these gorgeous scarves in luxurious fabrics. Every hue, texture, length and style are just waiting to be snuggled into or draped upon you. There is something for everyone's taste in her offerings. Call me funky but I *love* the silk number with suede fringe!

I couldn't consider myself a good New Mexican if I didn't spread the word about these beautiful and yet practical housewares. The original metal alloy molded into inspired shapes for bowls, platters, candlesticks and vases are perennial favorites (in case anyone is wondering what to buy me, look no further! ;) But the crystal designs are striking, too, and they've recently added porcelain to their line-up.

1000 Markets
I love this site! It brings together independent, talented artists and artisans to market and sell their hand-produced, unique wares. There is so much variety and inspiration here that you could easily spend half a day perusing the offerings. Don't say I didn't warn you.

La Cucina dello Zio Giorgio
I've talked often about my friend Giorgio. He is a chef who owned a restaurant in Rome for many years. Now "retired" (I put it in quotes because he just can't stay out of the kitchen and can't keep himself from concocting new recipes), Giorgio started a private label to produce and distribute foods made from his own recipes. Everything is produced in small batches to his standards. You can order them to be shipped from Rome to your door. Particularly tasty is his Pesto alla Romana and Crema ai Noci e Tartufo.

In the "great minds think alike" category, Texas Espresso compiled a nice gift list, too. Check it out!


janie said...

Thanks for the links! Also wanted to thank you for the memory of Ascoli Piceno and Cafe Meletti in the Italian Notebook.

Texas Espresso said...

cool! I just posted gift ideas as well. I am definitely checking out the links. love to find new sources!

Valerie said...

Janie - Glad you like the links, and had a nice stroll down memory lane, too. When are you coming back to Ascoli? ;)

Tex - Cool, will have to compare shopping notes!

Lost in Sicily said...

These are such great tips, thanks for sharing!

joe@italyville said...

I'm always getting stuck on gift ideas this time of year... any other time of year and it's easy. Ohhh the pressure! Thanks.