The holiday season sometimes gets me down. I mean, I love the sentimental aspect of it, and the spirit of giving. But I hate the rampant consumerism of it all, as evidenced this year by Black Friday actually starting right after the turkey leftovers were put away on Thanksgiving night. So I sometimes wait until the last minute to buy gifts, and by then I feel totally uninspired by whatever this year's "must-have" item is.
So if I must participate in the consumerist machine, I prefer to give small, thoughtful handmade gifts. Unfortunately, though I am crafty, I do not have the leisure time to have such gifts for all of my loved ones. My skills are also limited to things that can be done with needles (sewing, knitting, etc), which doesn't always work for everyone on my list.
Luckily, Houston has seen an explosion in shops and boutiques catering to handmade goods, many of them made in this great, giant state. And several of those shops are participating in open house-style sales in the next couple of weeks.
Below, our favorite Texas-centric boutiques, along with those offering holiday specials.
Whole Earth Provisions This Austin-based outdoorsy outfitter carries a wide variety of books and items created by Texans and is the perfect source for gifts for the athlete or adventurer you know. They carry quirky jewelry and fun stocking stuffers, plus lots of guide to Texas adventures. On my wishlist? This book about paddling Houston's waterways. There are two locations in Houston, one conveniently located near the Galleria so you can hit all your shopping destinations at once.
The Community Cloth The Community Cloth is a micro-business run by refugees living in Houston. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the artists as a way to help them make a better life in their new home. Items for sale are all handmade and based on indigenous handicrafts, including scarves, embroidery, basketry and even baby clothing. Community Cloth will be having a trunk sale at the Houston Museum of Natural Science's gift shop on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., including 2-% off all items. Community Cloth items are also sold at The Tinderbox and Kuhl-Linscomb.
Space Montrose If you missed Pop Shop Houston or Spacetaker's Winter Holiday Art Market last month, have no fear. Space Montrose is here to meet your needs. The shop carries photography and art prints, pottery (including locally-made tiki mugs), gift cards, belt buckles and a huge selection of items for babies and kids.
Sparrow and The Nest If you're looking for artwork or body products, Sparrow and the Nest is the place to go. The tiny Heights bungalow somehow manages to stuff works from 30-plus local artists into its displays, in addition to hosting workshops on things like hat-making and terrarium-building. Sparrow and the Nest also offers Insta-Print, which allows you to print your own Instagram and Flickr images onto items like T-shirts, pillows and tote bags.
Myth & Symbol This Rice Village boutique is tucked away on Times Boulevard near Kirby and can be easy to miss. But inside there is a wealth of high-fashion clothing and jewelry, including works by Houston-based metal worker Sal Miel. The shop often hosts trunk sales and in-store parties, and will be a part of Rice Village's Indie Holiday Crawl this evening from 5-8 p.m., during which prices will be 15 percent off (cocktails complimentary).
Hello Lucky Houston's original locally-sourced boutique, Hello Lucky sells those gotta-have-it Houston and Texas pride t-shirts, upcycled vintage ties for men and other cool Texas-themed items, like this armadillo necklace.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft HCCC's gift shop boasts wares made by the museum's artists-in-residence, and includes the usuals: jewelry, metalworks, fiber arts and ceramics, but in addition to art, the store also carries some practical home items, like vases and glass juicers, and wood items such as cutting boards, bowls, and adorable rustic-looking wooden drinking mugs.
Kuhl-Linscomb I could easily lose hours in Kuhl-Linscomb's sprawling campus. For men, Kuhl-Linscomb carries items from Houston's own Manready Merchantile, including sexy leather accessories and simple but practical toiletries. Kuhl-Linscomb also carries items from The Community Cloth.
Cactus Music Pretty much THE place to shop for any kind of music by Texan bands and musicians. But Cactus also hosts several art shows a year, so it's a good source of locally-made sculptures and paintings. Also a great place to look for stocking stuffers.
The Tinderbox Like Sparrow and the Nest, Tinderbox offers both workshops and retail items, and it's one of the best places to go for locally-made jewelry. I especially love Abbie Drue's designs. Tinderbox also carries a wide range of handmade cosmetics, leather purses and plenty more. On Sunday, Tinderbox will be part of the MidMain Holiday Bizarre, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.