We probably all know, at least intellectually, that it’s better to shop local. Here in the heart of the Golden State, you can find so much in your own backyard. Behold, your local gift guide for Christmas shopping.
Let’s start with foodstuffs. In our consumer age, a lot of people have more than they need and a lot of people we love spent decades acquiring their collections of possessions and do not need one more teacup or tie from us. Consumable items to the rescue!
Jars of Delicious
You cannot do better for canned preserves than buying from Jars of Delicious. Feeling feisty? Try her cactus pear jam. Feeling traditional? Strawberry Rhubarb. Want to pretend you are on a private island? Pineapple Mango. The list goes on and on. Basically, every flavor is delicious (a whole jar of delicious, really) and I particularly fancy her jar of cherry pie filling because when it comes to pitting that many cherries, as they say, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Her regular-size jars cost $7.
Jam is great for your scones, morning yogurt, or fancy latticework pie, but if you’re buying for a child, consider this, who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly? That’s right, these core ingredients come at a premium for my children. Consider a loaf of bread, a jar of delicious and a $5 jar of nut butter from Nutty Gourmet. The sky’s the limit when it comes to flavors and, like Jars of Delicious, it’s a Hughson-born business and we like to support our own.
J.J. Ramos Farms
But maybe you need to be a little fancier than a PB&J gift basket (but why? I ask). Head over to J.J. Ramos Farms for a truly impressive selection of locally made items from olive oils, dried fruits, nuts, meat, eggs, milk— oh sorry, thought I was making my grocery list. You get the idea. And as I understand it, you might just get a little help putting together your fabulous gift box or basket from their staff. They’re located at the corner of Whitmore and Geer in Hughson.
Still among the list of consumable items, as in, items you use up, are the adorable sheep milk soaps by M&J Farms. Milk-based soaps are basically the best. You can wash your hands over and over again without cracking your skin and make hand-washing less a chore than a healthy ritual and moment of silence away from the chaos of the world. $6.
Miss Potts Attic
If your gift recipient is a collector and not a minimalist, visit Miss Potts Attic on Tully Rd for a wide variety of items from antique to relatively new pieces on consignment. I stopped by to buy a ring for my daughter’s birthday and left with four very well-priced vintage rings, a jewelry box to hold them, and a $4 chandelier. The staff was amazing at helping me shop and find the best item for her. Whether artwork, glassware, furniture, novelty items, there really is something for everyone. Help the environment by not buying new or shipping from Amazon; help a local business by giving them business, help yourself with a one-stop shop and the joy that comes with finding the perfect gift via serendipity rather than an algorithm. Win-win-win-win.
Lightly Used Books
Buying for a book bug? You could go to Yesterday’s Books in Modesto (new and used books), which is excellent, but I prefer to go to the slightly closer Lightly Used Books in Turlock. Used book stores can often special order new books from publishers so you can avoid Amazon altogether and thus support authors and local bookshops in one fell swoop.
There really is so much more out there. For high-end items, see Shoebridge & Co. on Etsy for handmade furniture (made locally near Hughson)
or wind chimes by Casey Music Service for perfectly tuned custom chimes (full disclosure, this Casey is my husband). The Harry Potter chimes are a favorite but I am personally fond of my F9 chord set.
Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!
Let’s bring the joy back to gift-giving by making the shopping experience itself a treat for ourselves and others because as you may have heard, every time you purchase from a small business, the owner of that business does a happy dance.
Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.
P.S. I know not all readers here are from or near Hughson, CA. You can use these sellers’ websites or visit your local vendor events to see whose selling what in your area.