Maybe it’s pride of place or just a nice way to share a slice of Austin with loved ones at the holidays, but every year I challenge myself to find an array of gifts that best represent our rocking little town. While gift certificates to Waterloo Records and BookPeople are a great choice for folks who live in town, here are some suggestions for some of my favorite Austin things that make for great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for friends and family who aren’t lucky enough to live here.
For the Foodie:
- The South Congress location of Jo’s Coffee sports a now-iconic bit of public art that is now the hallmark of Austin-based engagement and family pictures. Now you can purchase that image on Jo’s “I Love You So Much” t-shirt. This, paired with a bag of locally roasted Cuvee coffee, makes for a perfectly stimulating gift for the person you love who also loves joe.
- Barrie Cullinan, in the form of Amity Bakery, specializes in artisanal sweets like kolaches, monkey bread, and tender pain au lait. She’s offering a lovely selection of holiday treats including a gift box of shortbread stars and honey caramels and gift bags of pistachio brittle.
- Another favorite small-batch artisan I love is Stephanie McClenny of Confituras, who sources local, seasonal ingredients and turns them into succulent jams (perfect for spreading on some goodies from Amity Bakery, of course). My favorite flavor is the salted caramel pear butter, but some lucky family members will also be receiving her new line of citrus salts. You can grab gift boxes at area farmers’ markets (as well as adorable teacher’s gifts including a four-ounce jar of jam and a wee packet of shortbread stars), or if you really want to splash out, you can order your loved one a jam share.
- My husband is a total cheese hound, so I have given him many gifts from our local cheese shop, Antonelli’s. Now that they’re offering shipping on gift baskets, how about sending someone special the gift of cheese?
For the Responsible Drinker:
- Austin and the surrounding area is host to a number of top-notch distilleries of various spirits. One of my absolute favorites is Dripping Springs vodka, which is light and crisp and perfect for mixing with some Maine Root ginger brew and lime for a Moscow Mule. It cools you in the summer and warms you in the winter! Available at Spec’s.
- Last year, Treaty Oak distillery introduced Waterloo gin, an entirely Texas-made spirit. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that drinking gin made with Texas juniper berries will help allergy sufferers, like local honey does. And if not, well, you haven’t had a gin made with grapefruit before, have you? Available at Twin Liquors.
- If you’re shopping for a wine drinker, look no further than Pedernales Cellars wines. Co-owners Dave and Heather Kuhlken gifted me with two bottles, one of their Tempranillo and one of their 2012 Viognier, which just won Best in Texas at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I have really enjoyed the Tempranillo; it’s silky and warm and would pair nicely with a soft cheese or pork chops, but is also smooth enough to drink on its own. Individual bottles are available for purchase at Whole Foods and also at East End Wines.
- Hands down the best source for sewing (and quilting and embroidery and screenprinting and knitting) classes, fabric, and notions is Stitch Lab, where I learned to sew and where, if I had more time, I would just hang out and play with fabric all day. I simply adore the selection of quilting cottons in modern prints, and the ladies who teach there are super friendly, helpful, and eager to share their expertise.
- If you aren’t into sewing but like the results, how about some beautiful quilty things handmade by Claire at Sewing Over Pins?
- Have a home improvement nut in your family? Crestview Doors offers a DIY doorlite kit that turns your drab front door into a fab modern centerpiece. Instant curb appeal!
- Contigo is probably the closest thing I’ll have to a local in my lifetime, and part of the reason I love it is the hand soap in the ladies’ restroom. I’m not even kidding; when the restaurant first opened, they had a problem with people stealing the soap. I don’t blame the thieves: the soap is an elegant citrus-floral blend that drives me to make multiple handwashing trips to the loo. Fortunately, the super-smart proprietors have made the ladies’ hand soap available for purchase. (You should also go to Contigo and have the pigs in blankets at happy hour, or the cinnamon roll and jelly donut at brunch. SUPER YUM. And wash your hands while you’re there.)
- I recently discovered South Austin Gallery and their collection of ceramic coasters depicting iconic Austin images. An ingenious idea that I wish I’d had! Perfect for the Austin lover whose sad lot in life is to live in not-Austin.
- I can’t get enough of these adorable animal and moustache earrings from Vinca jewelry (available at The Burlap Bag).
- Do you know a family that likes to get out and enjoy all of the exciting things Austin has to offer nearly every day of the year? How about a 2013 Austin Events calendar? This priceless document informs me that in January alone, we can partake of the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, FronteraFest at Hyde Park Theatre, and get free admission to the Wildflower Center all month long. SERIOUSLY PRICELESS. Available at HEB.
Well, there you have it. An exhaustive (yet far from comprehensive) list of my Favorite Austin Things. Here’s hoping it will help you finish up your holiday shopping while also Keeping Austin Weird. And guess what?! We’re giving THREE lucky winners* selected items from this list! Leave a comment below to win one of the following:
- One bottle of Pedernales Cellars Viognier, two jars of Confituras jam, and a sweet surprise from Amity Bakery! (The winner must be local as we are unable to ship these items.)
- One 2013 Austin Events calendar and a ceramic coaster from South Austin Gallery!
- A DIY doorlite kit courtesy of Crestview Doors! (Winner will collect from Crestview Doors.)
What do you have to do to win? Leave a comment or fill out the form below for your chance to win. All entries must be received by 10:00am CST on Sunday, December 16, 2012.The winners will be chosen by Random.org and contacted via email with 24 hours to respond. You must be 18 years or older to enter. The giveaway holds no cash value. By leaving a comment or submitting the form below, you agree to the above terms and conditions.