Get inventive with these gifts this COVID Christmas season
by Aldona Bird
For The Dominion Post
As with so much else, Christmas shopping changed with COVID-19. Artists and artisans who rely on meeting customers at seasonal fairs and festivals have been hard hit by lockdowns and cancellations, which have also limited shopper flow through small businesses that carry their wares.
Shoppers who wish to add extra meaning to gifts by gifting handmade, local items and patronizing local venues — including restaurants — during holiday activities are facing the same limitations.
Creatives are still creating, and with some alteration of shopping and celebratory habits, shoppers can have a local Christmas this year.
Shoppers can check nice lists twice, don masks and head for indoor, and outdoor store pick-up — or stay comfy at home and browse and buy from local vendors online.
Potter Hannah Lenhart, owner and creator at Hannah’s Clay Creations in Fairmont, had to shift her strategy to commissions and online sales, as craft show after craft show canceled this year.
She said the change of pace gave her time to step out of her comfort zone and work on larger pieces and sculptures while she built up her website. “It kind of forced me to rethink who I am as an artist,” she said.
Enjoying flexibility with her time, Lenhart does miss seeing customers. She noticed new online customers tend to buy small pieces such as bud vases while returning customers are comfortable purchasing larger items.
Lenhart suggested an easy gift this holiday season: A mug and a gift card to a local coffee shop to give as a set.
To take Lenhart’s suggestion, check out her selection online at www.hannahsclaycreations.com or at Hoot and Howl downtown.
Other local potters to check out for mugs:
- Angela Awesome Pants, available at Zenclay, and Hoot and Howl, is the perfect gift for the person who loves cute and quirky. Mugs feature goofy faces and snowmen; other items feature cat faces.
- Jen Allen Ceramics, available at www.jenniferallenceramics.com, features clay showing through white glaze.
- Lock House Studio’s signature look is bright blues and reds in white, available by direct message at www.facebook.com/lockhousestudiollc.
- 5 Oaks Studio, available at Hoot and Howl and at the holiday pop-up at Lockhouse Studio, features a mix of natural clay finishes with simple glazes and decal.
- Ridgetop Pottery, available at Preston County Arts Center, is precise and elegant, in muted tones and refined shape.
- Jon Lily, whose work is inspired by organic, natural themes. Available at Appalachian Gallery, The Plant Cult and Earth Magic.
Mug half full
Pair a mug with a gift card or coffee beans or grounds from Quantum Bean, the Blue Moose Cafe or The Grind. While picking up these gifts, shoppers can also get a latte or espresso to go for fortification through continued shopping.
For the tea lover, local and regional teas are available at Hoot and Howl and Smoke Camp Crafts herbal tea and jams are available at Arthurdale Heritage. The Old Stone House Gift Shop offers its seasonal signature blend of orange spice tea.
For an especially festive addition to a mug, consider hot chocolate cocoa bombs by Danielle Bakes Cakes, available online and at Hoot and Howl. Drop the decorated bomb into a mug and dissolve with hot water or milk for a flavored drink on a cold winter stay-at-home day.
Adult beverage, anyone?
Consider an exclusively adult pairing with a mug: A bottle of Melomel, the unusual and exceptional wine produced by Shields Demesne Winery in Spraggs, Pa. It can be mulled for a hot drink or cold. Pair it with a handblown wine glass by Ron Hinkle, who’s work is available at Appalachian Gallery or at website: www.ronhinkleglass.com.
A handcrafted wine glass or two pairs well with other local wines from Forks of Cheat Winery in Morgantown, Mountain Dragon Mazery in Fairmont, or Findley Martin in Morgantown.
Favors for your foodies
For foodies, there are many options via gift cards, gift baskets or individual items. Hoot and Howl carries West Virginia-made chocolates.
A box of locally baked cookies or other sweets makes a thoughtful gift.
The Tea Shoppe makes exceptional biscotti. Treats are available from local bakers, including Love, LC, Danielle Bakes Cakes, Farmhouse Sweets, Morgantown House Church (at Whipporwill Woods and Waters gift shop), Cassandra’s Cookie Creations, Honeycomb Baking, Shark Bites, Bee Run Bakes and Phoenix Bakery.
The Old Stone House Gift Shop carries a fine selection of locally made foods to make up a gift basket; jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, mustards, salsa, caramel sauce and more, as well as baked goods.
Vendors at the Morgantown Farmers market (next market is from
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 19) sell their jellies, honey, maple syrup, salsa, bloody mary mix, and more.
For those who like to cook and bake, the Arthurdale Heritage Cookbook is available online and in the center’s gift shop.
Kitchen accessories, such as locally woven tea towels, table runners and handmade wooden rolling pins, are also available at Arthurdale Heritage.
Allegheny Treenware offers a plethora of beautiful wooden tools for the kitchen, including measuring cups, spoons, less common tools such as spurtles, jurtles and batter beaters — everything from stocking stuffers, diminutive spoons that could be added to a mug-themed gift, to luxury artisan kitchenware sets.
Other local woodworkers include Wood Mountain Dreams — selling unique trivets and coasters — as well as Michael Strawser from Terra Alta, and Caddell Mountain Rustic Woodworks.
Ceramic studios selling mugs also sell kitchenware, such as egg trays, spoon-rests, lemon juicers and more.
The Old Stone House carries locally made “mommy and me” aprons for cooks and helpers.
For the sewer’s or quilter’s stocking stuffer, Arthurdale Heritage sells a handmade wood handled seam ripper.
Fab fiber art
For fiber craft creatives, the new local Morgantown yarn shop, Free Spirit Fibers, carries regionally produced yarns.
Crimson Shamrock Ranch produces and sells alpaca and Wensleydale sheep fibers. Evans Knob Farm sells wool spun from its sheep flock.
Evans Knob Farm sells felted, hand-knit and woven hats, scarves, rugs and accessories, made from fleece of its sheep flock, sold directly or at the Morgantown Farmers Market, Hoot and Howl and Arthurdale Heritage sells locally made wraps and shawls for the fashionista.
For a special luxury treat, check out the handwoven silk shawl at the Arthurdale Heritage gift shop.