Here comes Santa Claus...
Except for one excursion to a Point Roberts gallery, Im doing all my Christmas shopping in Blaine - thats right, all of it.
First of all, I really want to win a hundred bucks and with the Shop Blaine First program, I just might.
The second bonus is a completely stress-free shopping experience. I have not once been viciously elbowed by a competing shopper angling for the same pair of on-sale gloves. There have been no terrifying drives home from far-off malls in dark and sleet and wind. I havent waited in a single line, unless you count the one at the border on my way to work. Instead Ive strolled along Peace Portal Drive and watched the singing public works crew put up lights, stopped for a chat and a coffee. I bought Sunday dinner and stocking stuffers without moving the car.
Finally, everyone on my list is getting something unique - the creations of local artists or craftspeople, a donation to a local charity, the work of a local professional or a bargain at a local retailer sniffed out at a trade show. Im giving my friends and family a piece of myself, of my home. I cant think of a better way to celebrate the holidays.
of a kind
A gift of art lasts a lifetime, said Richard Kukan at the Blaine Art Center on Peace Portal Drive. Its special, personal. Whatcom County is home to a dizzying variety of visual artists and Blaine is home to studios and galleries that feature their work.
Blaine Art Center and the Blaine Open Studio both offer combine a gallery with space for artists to work. A portraitist is working out of the Art Center three days a week, who will immortalize you in oils so a loved one can always see you smile.
Art isnt only what you expect in a museum the creations of local crafters are just as unique, and combine practicality with beauty.
him or her
Winter means chapped skin and work means sore tired muscles. Banish the frown from your beloveds brow with a little TLC. Resort Semiahmoo offers gift certificates for a full line of spa services, New Edge and Bayside Beauty in downtown Blaine offer everything from tans to manicures and massage therapists at Birch Bay Healing Arts or Blaine Chiropractic will work out the kinks for a relaxed holiday.
Every family has at least one Christmas addict, dont they? The ones who take up half the garage with boxes out of which, the minute Thanksgiving is over, erupt with years of carefully collected seasonal treasures?
Blaine and Birch Bay are home to a cluster of stores that glow with seasonal spirit. Some, like Bid Thyme Return on Birch Bay-Lynden Road specialize in the holidays and others, like the C-Shop, specially tailor their products for the holidays.
Ironstone china (the kind Martha Stewart likes), a dutch oven your grandmother would use, a metal wind-up bird and lace curtains. Theyre all in Blaine, or they were before I bought them. Blaine is home to antique stores and second-hand stores that have treasures on their shelves if you take the time to look for them. You snooze, you lose.
Downtown, a store identified only as Antiques on the corner of 3rd and H streets has an intriguing collection of Asian items and Ashleys Attic on Peace Portal has a history of cookware lining its shelves. Less tidy but no less bountiful are the pair of second hand stores at Peace Portal Way and Hughes Avenue.
Whether youre after the crowning glory to a stocking, inexpensive gifts for all your co-workers, or youre just broke, theres no shortage of local options. A special holiday treat from Cost Cutter, sparkly eye-shadow from Rite Aid, a nifty toolbox addition from Coast to Coast... it seems every business in town can offer something under ten dollars...
Sometimes the best gift you can give is a good feeling. Think of making a donation to a local charity or program in someones name.
The Blaine Food Bank is always under pressure this time of year to make sure all members of our community are assured a celebration. Pack up a hamper and take its picture as you bring it to the food bank to donate, then slip it into a generous souls card for Christmas.
The Peace Arch Ministerial Association and the city of Blaine are looking for donations for their Warm House fund, which helps local families with a utility bill they cant pay because of hard times.
Consider boosting the chamber of commerce goal of a Peace Portal Drive lined with Old Glory by purchasing a complete flag and pole in someones name through Pam Christianson at the Pacific Building Center.