Gift Guide: It's hard to think of the perfect holiday gift for everyone in your life. Edible Austin wants to help! Take a break, grab a cup of luxurious hot chocolate and peruse our list of local gifts that we'd personally love to unwrap this season (hint hint)
The Finer Things for Him or Her:
The newly opened Coterie Market has some uniquely stunning Austin-made pieces from artisans like Son of a Sailor and Fail.
For Her: If you're going to splurge, we quite like the beautiful brass Isis Two Tiered Necklace for $140 by Fail.
For Him: Canoe is sprucing up the classic Opinel knife–check out the Arrow Opinel No. 6 Pocket Knife for $38.
Their other holiday offerings are here, but use this online order form.
Thunderheart Bison isn't just a ranch, they also make cool leather goods including a Men's Wallet for $75.
Is the love of your life a thrifty baker? The Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer is often something almost every avid home cook lusts after and can be found at Breed & Co. (prices in-store only).
Any high rollers here? Nothing says "hot burning love" like a dream kitchen! Talk to the good people over at Texas Oven Co. for some wood burning oven ideas.
Things Your Drinking Buddy Might Like:
Save a friend from spending too much money on craft brews on the weekend. Austin Homebrew Supply sells a Brewing on a Budget set, $38, for those who want to try a hand at making their own beer.
We like to bring wine or beer to holiday parties as a host gift. Pick some up at The Austin Wine Merchant or Spec's Wine Spirits and Finer Foods. Make sure to ask about wines made in Texas from 4.0 Cellars, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyard and Wedding Oak Winery!
Tito's Handmade Vodka has an online store of Tito's swag and other fun goodies. We would love to make punch with Tito's Vodka and put it in this infusion jar. We bet other party-throwers would too, so it would probably be a good gift. At $29.50, it's not going to give your wallet the holiday blues. Wrap up a bottle of Paula's Texas Spirits too for the makings of a truly Texan libation.
UNDER $20: Simply because booze and games go together–Sorachi Ace Playing Cards from Brooklyn Brewery.
Make a Friend into a Stylish Cyclist:
Lots of bicyclists in Austin don't wear helmets. Perhaps because helmets aren't stylish enough to be seen in? Pish posh, we say to that! Check out this British Green helmet from Nutcase that you can get at Bicycle Sport Shop. It's the gift that lets someone special know that you respect their brain.
UNDER $20: Great for a stocking stuffer, secret santa, or just something for a friend, these Crane Bike Bells can be found at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop. It's a tough choice, but we vote Brass.
For a Proud New Houseowner/Renter:
Callahan's General Store is a great place to peruse aisles and stumble upon the perfect gift you didn't know you were looking for. From kitchen ware to western wear, it's fun to just go in that place to check out what they're selling. We also quite like dropping in on South Austin's The Herb Bar, which has an assortment of incense, herbs, teas, soaps, and body care products and a knowledgeable, friendly staff to make your holiday-buying experience easy.
Succulents are easy to take care of and that's why they make great gifts. We're also obsessed with these succulent planters from Oh Laszlo that you can order here from Coterie Market's online order form.
UNDER $20: Hate succulents for a strange, inexplicable reason? That's okay, we don't judge. Potted herbs also make cool, not-too-pricey gifts.
See what cactii and herbs are available at local garden stores The Great Outdoors Nursery, It's About Thyme Garden Center, and Natural Gardener.
UNDER $20: Help a girl out with some cost effective decorating and design tips from Kate Payne with The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, which you can order online at BookPeople. Let's be honest, guys should read this too.
No proud houseowners amongst your friends? Be the first (and then maybe you'll be getting some succulents)! Real estate in Austin is quickly getting more and more expensive, so think of a house as aninvestment gift for your future partner or kids. Or maybe just a new start for 2013. We like Green Mango Real Estate. Please invite us to the housewarming party.
Things a Home Cook Needs:
The best dinners start with a well-stocked pantry. For a considerate, thought out gift, think about creating your own gift basket of local products for someone to get adventurous with in the kitchen. Great things to add in might be:
Fancy olive oils and vinegars from Con 'Olio orTexas Olive Ranch
Cheese, samuli, jams or artisanal beer from Antonelli's Cheese Shop
House-made artisan sea salt from LENOIR Restaurant
Smoke Dried Tomatoes by Larry at Boggy Creek Farm
...and any other tasty treats you might find at your favorite farmers market.
If you're psyched about gift baskets, but not about making your own, these shops in town are putting together holiday-themed gift baskets for you: Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Con 'Olio Oils & Vinegars, The Great Outdoor Nursery, Texas Coffee Traders, and Zhi Tea. Feeling zany and want to send something original? I bet most people haven't gotten a giftbasket of meat before. Fortunately for your carivorous friends, Lone Star Foodservice will put one together for you.
Everyone loves a little inspiration when cooking, so grab a copy of Jesse Griffith's Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing Wild Game and Fish or The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love from our favorite local bookstore, BookPeople. Other wonderful book to consider are A Family Farm in Tuscany by Shearer Publishing for a lover of all things Italian, and Lovable Confections From the Lone Star State: Sweet On Texas from Chronicle Books (and while you're ordering, we highly recommend you throw in Darth Vader and Son just for fun).
For Lovers of Hot Beverages:
Look at These! Coffee drinkers need a way to get to a cup of coffee fast and then a cup holder to put it in–Austin Subaru has got you covered. Hi, Darling!
Okay, okay, no more self-serving hinting here... let's continue.
UNDER $20: Texas Coffee Traders has a wonderful selection of coffees to use as stocking stuffers, host gifts, or otherwise. They also sell Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Hot Chocolate by Sip Chocolate, a delicious treat during the colder months.
UNDER $20: Aside from their incredible selection of teas (from black to herbal to dessert teas), Zhi Tea also sells an adorable single-cup tea infuser shaped like a beehive.
Give an Experience:
Because incredible memories are often more meaningful than material goods, think about ways to give cool experiences to your loved ones. One option is an individual membership to an amazing space like AMOA-Arthouse ($45), the Blanton Museum of Art ($50), Lady Bird Wildflower Center ($45) which includes free admission and other perks.
Take someone on a foodie adventure to spots that are a little bit farther out of town than your usual haunts:
Head out toward Fredericksburg for some wine tastings–stop at 4.0 Cellars, Pedernales Cellars and Texas Hills Vineyard. Stop at Navajo Grill in Fredericksburg for dinner.
UNDER $20: A fun, low-budget choice for people who live in South Austin, buy an adventurous friend lunch at the hip Noble Pig by Anderson Mill West which serves famously yummy sandwiches, one of which is made with beef tongue. For North Austinites, take someone down south to try LICK Honest Ice Creams with flavors like Roasted Beets & Mint, Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey, and dairy–free options like Coconut & Avocado Curd.
For a more intimate and romantic gift, take a loved one out to Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm in Dripping Springs where you can rent a cabin, take a cooking class together or just relax and enjoy the stunning Hill Country views. Only have one night free? A trip to the Bastrop Opera House could be a fun change in your Friday night routine.
Other great dinner spots out of town are 18 Oaks at JW Marriott in San Antonio, The Leaning Pear in Wimberley, The Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood, and Uptown Blanco in Blanco. Explore other out of town adventures at these cities' Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau pages: Brenham, Comanche, Fredericksburg, Marble Falls.
Have growing teenagers that just eat and eat and eat? Teach them how to cook their own darn meals (but also have a bonding experience in the process) with the gift of cooking classes with Natural Epicurean or Make It Sweet.
And lastly, who doesn't love a gift certificate? Quick, easy, and no-wrapping-necessary, restarant gift certificates guarantee a fun night out for the recipient. Check out these local restaurants for a wide range in affordability: Beets Living Food Cafe, Buenos Aires Cafe, Chez Nous, Cipollina West Austin Bistro, East Side Pies,FABI+ROSI, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar, Fonda San Miguel, Green Pastures, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Kerbey Lane Cafe, LENOIR, Magnolia Cafe, Papi Tino's, Peoples Rx, Snack Bar, Texas French Bread, ThunderCloud Subs, Tacos and Tequila, Wink Restaurant & Wine Bar. Put a few in envelopes and you're set!
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Party Guide: Sometimes holiday stress isn't about gift–giving, it's about that holiday party you're planning to throw but have no idea how. Don't worry, we're watching out for you here too. Maybe get a pen and paper now to jot down names of some local businesses that could help out.
Where to Shop:
There are local stores all around town that have a great selection of Austin goods and produce. Look to larger groceries like Wheatsville Food Co-op or Whole Foods Market for stocking up on harder to find things on your list, and head to Royal Blue Grocery or Farm to Market to grab staple items when you realize you've run out of them.
There are farmers markets on many days of the week now in Austin, so don't miss those. You can grocery-shop and gift-shop at the same time!
Sundays: F2M Texas at Mueller, HOPE Farmers Market at Pine Street Station*, Lakeway Commons Farmers Market
Tuesdays: SFC Farmers' Market East* **
Wednesdays: SFC Farmers' Market at the Triangle*
Saturdays: SFC Farmers' Market Downtown* and Sunset Valley* **
*These markets accept SNAP Lone Star Card
**SFC Farmers' Market East and Sunset Valley both have the Double Dollar Incentive Program, making food more afforable for those on SNAP and WIC benefits. Double the amount of money you can spend on fruits and veggies at the market as they match dollar for dollar up to $10 each week. Visit the blue Information Booth at the markets to learn more.
Another option is to avoid holiday grocery shopping all together by using delivery services like Greenling and Farmhouse Delivery, both amazing local companies that provide organic, sustainable, and artisanal foods with a side of ease.
No matter what you're planning on cooking, make sure to support your local Texan farms not only for produce but meat too! Look into Broken Arrow Ranch (venison, antelope, wild boar, quail) Indian Hills Farm (beef), Richardson Farms (chicken and hog), and Twin County Dorpers (lamb) among others.
Help in the Kitchen:
Just because you're a good cook doesn't necessarily mean you need to personally provide food for a large party. Fortunately there are things like potlucks and caterers. Pink Avocado and Spoon & Co. are both great choices for Austin catering. Blue Baker can arrange great savory or sweet party trays and deliver them if you're in charge of the office holiday party.
Dishalicious has been known to provide great party food, but primarily does meal delivery. So if you're too busy this season not just to cook for a party but even to cook for yourself, give them a holler.
If you only plan on providing some light hors d'oeuvres, here's an easy plan for you: pick up some veggies from a local farmstand like Boggy Creek Farm (Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9–1) and then head on over to Tom's Tabooley to pick up some locally made hummus. Most importantly, almost everyone loves veggies and hummus, but it's also vegetarian and vegan-friendly, as well as gluten-free. For the omnivores, cut up cubes of Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese, which is so good it can stand alone, but also goes great with sliced salumi. If you run out of conversation at the cocktail party, you can chat about how great it is that all the food is local. Win all around.
Let Someone Else Do Dessert:
A couple of us at Edible Austin are dessert fanatics and can barely contain our inner child from eating all the pies in the kitchen before they even hit the dinner table (...or is that just me?). For this reason and obvious others, sometimes it's nice to let pros do the baking. We're quite keen on Amity Bakery for French madeleines or pastries, Texas French Bread for delicious classics, and Blue Note Bakery for themed cakes.
Skip Out on Clean Up:
Contact Hummingbird EcoCleaning for eco–friendly lawn and house care. No one really likes to clean.
Local Businesses/Markets to Shop at Outside of Austin
For Artisanal Goods and Other Gifts:
Art Connections, Bastrop
Austin Gourmet Imports, Spicewood
1832 Farmers Market, Bastrop
Bountiful Sprout, Fredericksburg
Elements, The Rug Queen, La Ti Da, Marble Falls
F2M Texas, Cedar Park
Lakeway Commons Farmers Market, Lakeway
Lost Pines Art Bazaar, Bastrop
Marta Stafford Fine Art, Marble Falls
Sunset Canyon Pottery, Dripping Springs
For Holiday Party Needs:
2tarts Bakery & Catering, New Braunfels
Red Oak Bakery, New Braunfels (Gluten-Free)
TASTE Wine + Art, Johnson City