The KISS principle is your friend this holiday season, and really, all year round. Before you struggle your way through finding some meaningless crap that takes up space in someone’s home, consider getting them a bouquet of flowers instead. It might not seem an obvious choice, but the simplest gifts are often the most appreciated. Nothing lights up the room better than a big bouquet of flowers. Flowers are perfect for occasions where you are expected to turn up with a gift, but have no idea what that gift should be. It works for any occasion or relation. Secret Santa? Flowers. Spouse’s aunt? Flowers. Neighbor’s party? Flowers. Modify your budget and style to fit the occasion. In Albuquerque, Trader Joe’s has the best deals going for consistency and price. If you are stuck for a specific flower selection, pick up three bunches of Oriental lilies for under $20 and march right into your boss’ holiday house party in style.
Your favorite (used) book
Around $5 to $10 Downtown Books 109 Eighth Street SW
Give a kid a book. Not a book that you think they might like now, not a kid’s book that is written to their age-appropriate reading level, not a cartoon book that they may read once and grow out of quickly, but a solid book that means something to you. Give a kid your favorite book. Think for a moment what books meant something to you. Is there a title that changed the course of your life or helped you to look at the world in a different way? If so, that is the book. Head on down to your favorite used (yes, used) bookstore and see if you can find a copy. I recommend Downtown Books, but there are quite a few excellent used bookshops around the city. Let your fingers do the walking if you have a title in mind or just take some time to browse around. You might even find something for yourself. When you have made your selection, write something thoughtful on the title page like, “This is a book I really liked and I thought that you would like it too.” One of my favorites that isn’t that tough to find is Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō’s classic The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It’s a true classic that’s not likely to be grouped in with a school reading list. The kid you give your book to might not care that much this holiday, but that book is now some small part of their life. Odds are it will be around a whole lot longer than some plastic toy that will be in the trash by Groundhog Day.
Various prices Ghostwolf Gallery 2043 South Plaza Street NW
The single best thing you can do to support the arts this holiday season in Albuquerque is to buy some. By my count, there are about a million (give or take) original works of art hanging on the walls of gallery spaces throughout this city that are for sale. They range in price from $20 on up and come in styles to match nearly any taste and budget. The advantage of buying a piece from a local artist is threefold: First, you can cross it off your gift-giving list (not an insignificant accomplishment). Second, if you give it somebody who hangs it up in their house, you get to enjoy it every time you come over. And, three, you’re paying a local artist which means they can continue doing the art that they do. That is a win for all involved. Stymied by the choices? A good place to start is Ghostwolf Gallery in Old Town which features a wide variety of local artists including paintings from Denise Weaver Ross’ I Ching Hexagrams series that can be had starting at $125.