Best in Nelson
Many families and individuals have enough stuff in their lives, and it is tricky to avoid adding to this pile of consumer goods with just more stuff.
And for those who normally avoid having too much stuff, it's tricky to find a suitably sustainable gift idea. My short list of Christmas gift options considers the need for good family experiences and supporting local businesses. Wins-wins all round.
For little people, a voucher to make something is a fun idea. A bonus is that it is firstly a present, then secondly becomes a holiday activity - so it's a gift for the parents as well.
Both McMillan pottery in Richmond and Pottering About in the Nelson CBD offer opportunities for children to create with clay. You can make a bowl on the potter's wheel, or choose a piece of pre-made pottery to paint and glaze, including plates, dip dishes, bowls, vases, mugs, teapots, or child and animal figures.
For jewellery, the "go to" place has to be the Bead Gallery on Hardy St. For a recent birthday party we gave each child a $10 limit to make an item. They created beautiful necklaces, anklets, bracelets and bookmarks. The staff are incredibly relaxed and cope well with squeals of delight, and helping little fingers string little beads.
Another suggestion for little people is to purchase a second hand putter ($4) and golf balls (50c each) from the Nelson Recycle Centre. My 10-year-old son has had hours of fun hitting balls around our lawn, and then hours of fun finding them in the bushes. We finally put boards around the garden edges to reduce losses. A wee tip - don't use a tin can to form a hole in your green. A short section of plastic downpipe won't cut little hands when they retrieve their ball.
If you are looking for a group activity, how about a voucher for a family walk? This could equally be viewed as a punishment of course, but I hear that there are tadpoles near the transmitter on the Grampians, so a redeemable guarantee of a team expedition could be presented in a good light if there are herpetologists in the family.
Still on the exercise theme, biking in the Nelson Tasman region is getting better and better. Tasman's Great Taste Trail is suitable for novices, families as well as keen cyclists.
You can support the next stage of construction by buying a trail passport for $10. These are available from the Nelson and Motueka iSites, the Nelson Airport, Price's Pharmacy and most bike shops. The 36-page booklet has information and trail maps on biking in the Nelson Tasman region. If you want to spend more, buy a piece of virtual trail, at $40 per metre.
After exercise, people may want to be clean and smell nice again. Global Soap is made in Nelson and the gorgeous smelling shop on Nile St sells handmade natural soaps, butter baths, fizz bombs, massage bars, shaving soaps, lip smoothies and shampoo bars. The soap is also sold at the Nelson Market on Saturdays.
While at the market, check out other regional gift ideas for stocking fillers. With over 300 painters, sculptors, ceramic artists, potters, glass blowers, jewellers and creators working in the Nelson region you are bound to find a perfect gift. If you love your find too much, there is always the option of giving it to yourselves.
After Christmas you will have lots of spare time on your hands. How about a coffee voucher for two flat whites so you can have time with a friend? Sit down with a cup of the best - my favourites are 111 Bridge Street, Red Art Gallery & Cafe, Pomeroy's and La Gourmandise.
Or maybe you will need something stronger to drink. For a festive-looking drop try Old Mout's (rhymes with fruit), Cranberry Cider or Boysencider. These are a union of refreshing apple cider with succulent berry flavours; not too sweet and not too fizzy. Or try one of our great local beers from the Sprig and Fern or McCashin's.
My final, and hottest tip to help make a perfect Christmas is to focus on family, friends, and love.
As a parent, I want to make the most of the holidays and give my children excellent memories, without costing the earth.
With its local artists, producers, natural beauty and warm climate, Nelson offers plenty of choice.
My husband has said he is giving me a voucher for something which will probably be cheaper in the post-Christmas sales. And he wants a welding unit for making a new trolley for the 2014 Robertson's Collingwood Street Derby. He can buy that for himself, and my work is done.
Merry Christmas to you all.