Sick of corporate Christmas? Try shopping local. Hair Balls presents a 12-part series highlighting ideas for holiday gifts made and sold in Texas.
Houston's known for its restaurant scene, but there's also a small but thriving community of local businesses that make and sell food instead of serving it. If you're shopping for an Epicurean, some good ol' Texas vittles make a nice gift basket.
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Pair San Leon-distilled Railean rum (Hair Balls is a full-on rummy, and the Reserve is surprisingly good considering it's not from the Caribbean) with some artisanal cheeses, available at the Midtown Farmer's Market every Saturday. You might even be able to pick up limes for cuba librés while there. Pola Cheese is apparently made in Houston (as opposed to the Hill Country) but you'll have to step into a big national chain to get a block of it. Antidote Coffee in the Heights sells Texas-made cheese in large quantities too.
Hit the Bluebonnet Wine Trail for a couple of bottles of vino from local wineries (some of whom grow their own grapes), and wrap it up with some sweet truffles from Kegg's Candies, on - get this -- Beechnut Street. Kegg's had been making holiday-favorite chocolates for more than 50 years, many of which include Texas Pecans.
Houston's many farmers' markets are a good source for pre-packaged local treats like honey from area bees (good for allergies), salsas for your kids' teachers, handmade break and more. And don't forget, Etsy now sells foodstuffs too.
But if you really want to go all out for a foodie's festivities, sign them up for a community-supported agriculture plan. Basically subsidized farming on a super small scale, CSA members pay an annual fee in exchange for a mystery box of locally-grown produce every week or so. Home Sweet Farm offers CSA subscriptions for about $900 a year. But think of what you'll save on grocery bills!