It happens every year. The holidays come rolling along right after Halloween and every person
in America asks, “This soon?” as if they haven’t lived in this country of capitalism and marketing mayhem more than one day.
Well, here we are! The holidays are upon us. In less than a week we’ll be supping with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Many folks will already have all their winter holiday decorating done. The holiday music will be playing softly in the background. The day after, the real madness begins: Shopping.
Q-Notes staff took a drive, surfed the web and called businesses around the Carolinas trying to find unique and fun gifts for the holidays. We’ve put together this guide to help make your holiday shopping just a bit easier.
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a piece of art for a holiday present. I’m sure plenty of people have, but a painting or sculpture might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a gift. Here are some ideas.
A taste of Africa — House of Africa in Charlotte (704-376-6160) is a wonderful little store filled to the brim with the most unique, colorful and delightful pieces of art, clothing and sculptures. The various products come from every part of the African continent.
What we loved most was a large, handmade ballaphone ($250), a xylophone-type instrument from Senegal made of wood and other hard, natural materials. It would make a perfect gift for any musically-inclined person. If the price is just a bit too steep, don’t worry. House of Africa has pieces of art and other items for as low a $5. Our other favorites were the many small, wooden sculptures (approx. $20 and up) and the great selection of Kwanzaa decorations.
Deck the Halls —When Q-Notes went to the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall (704-529-6369) in Charlotte, we were astonished with just how much was there. We could hardly believe our eyes when we walked around! What stood out most were the unique, one-of -a-kind paintings and other artistic pieces we found all over the place, including an antique, stained glass Star of David ($75) perfect for any Chanukah gift.
• “February” ($750) is a painting almost five feet long and at least three feet tall by North Carolina artist Natalie Bork. The deep blues and gray hues swirl together to make the painting take on the shape of the ocean in February.
• We found an original 1920s early French poster print ($1,000), about five feet tall and three feet long. Featuring a beautiful lady in a 1920s-era dress. The poster (framed) is a wonderful addition to any person’s art collection, especially if they are interested in historic or period pieces.
• On a more moderately priced scale, we found some beautiful modern-looking paintings from MAD studio. Displayed on one of the mall’s back walls, the paintings feature mostly pets and other animals, although a few portraits appear along with a painting of the Statue of Liberty ($80 and up).
Stylish Pups — Village Paws and Claws in Huntersville, N.C. (704-655-7297) offers some fabulous gifts for your lovable, huggable pet. The store is selling jewelry lines for your pet, with matching jewelry pieces for you! The more expensive line is the Northern Moods collars from The Netherlands. They are handcrafted by an artist with various stones, brass fixtures and various leathers from cowhide to ostrich. They are a high dollar line you’d want for your dog for years to come ($60-$120). No two are alike and some are actually custom designed for us. Another jewelry line comes from Lisa Welsch Designs. Welsch’s high-end, heavy silver pieces are interchangeable for you or your dog!
Take a break — Do you have a friend, family member or significant other who just seems to spend all their time with their pet… instead of you? Buy them some time away from their puppy or kitty and use it to catch up on all you’ve missed! Watchful Owl Pet Sitters in Columbia (www.watchfulowlpetsitters.com) offers pet-sitting and home-sitting for when you (or your loved one) needs a break or when it is time for a work trip or vacation. Rates are customized to each client’s needs and include feeding, watering, walking or exercise as needed, litter care for cats, playtime if your animal(s) would want it, (safe) administering of medications, newspaper and mail collection, garbage and recycling roll-out, houseplant and garden care (basic watering, etc.) and a pet transport to a vet in an emergency.
Women — Hey ladies, get that special woman in your life some sexy lingerie. At Adam and Eve stores scattered across North Carolina (locations: www.adamevestores.com, online shopping: www.adameve.com), you can find that perfect show-some-skin gift that both of you can enjoy! Prices range from $20s and up.
Men — At White Rabbit in Raleigh (919-856-1429) and Charlotte (704-377-4067), we found some beautiful brief and boxer-brief underwear for men. Made by Ginch Gonch, the pieces range in price from about $25 and up. With their unique and stylish print designs, this is the perfect gift for your boyfriend or partner.
Jewelry — If you are looking for that one special gift that will be treasured for a lifetime, look no further than Hamilton Hill International Designer Jewelry (919-683-1474) in Durham. Hamilton Hill has gifts and fine jewelry for every size budget and has a wonderful sale just in time for the holidays. Among the items on sale, we found some brilliant platinum bands with yellow diamonds ($4,420, original; $1,810, sale) and blue sapphires ($3640, original; $1,630, sale). For a smaller budget, we found an attractive pair of earrings from Majoral (under $150).
Ornaments — In case you’re in the mood for giving that special someone an early holiday gift they can use, we found some finely crafted winter holiday ornaments from Morrison Smith Jewelers in Charlotte (704-332-1605, online shopping at www.morrisonsmith.com). At about $15 each, these silverplate ornaments are a perfect gift to honor a baby’s first Christmas or an anniversary!
European Christmas — What better way to celebrate a merry holiday season than experiencing the warmth and beauty of a European, Old World style getaway? We found two great places, one in Europe and on our own home turf. For a truly unique holiday getaway check out the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, Ireland (www.merrionhotel.com). The hotel, comprised of four Georgian townhomes built by Lord Charles Stanley Monck in the 1760s, features Old World amenities at rates starting at 470 Euros ($660). Congress Hall in Cape May, N.J. (www.congresshall.com) offers luxurious Old World, European style without ever having to leave the country. Situated right on the Atlantic coast, the 19th century Congress Hall offers rates starting at $100 midweek and $125 on weekends.
Have a gay ole’ time. — If you are looking for safe and gay-friendly travel arrangements look no further than Rainbow Pride Tours (www.rainbowpridetours.com). This full service travel agency and tour operator offers package deals to Costa Rica, Mandalay and Tuscany. Clients can arrange their own custom vacations and tours.
Kilgor Trouts in Myrtle Beach (843-445-2800) is an eclectic shop offering pride items, collectible toys and other interesting gifts. What caught Q-Notes’ attention, you ask? Definitely, it was the “Star Wars” lightsaber ($25). Some other interesting gifts: robots, Grateful Dead stuff, a wide selection of jewelry and, of course, all the LGBT pride gifts you can imagine.
A short guide of Carolinas stores offering more grown-up items.
Fantasy Superstore, 2722 High Point Rd., Greensboro, 336-292-5305
Greensboro Video, 725 W. Lee St., Greensboro, 336-275-8366
Highway 74, 3514 Barry Dr., Charlotte, 704-399-7907
Monster Video, 3801 Wake Forest Hwy., Durham, 919-957-1070
Our Place Video, 327 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, 919-833-8968
Video Adventures, 3231 Wilkinson Blvd., Charlotte, 704-399-7187
Video Magic & Mags, 6300 White Horse Rd., Greenville, S.C., 864-294-0022
Online Antique ‘Malls’