Appetizers included

Published 12:27 am Thursday, November 10, 2011

It’s getting to be that season … again. As fall days take on winter’s chill and Thanksgiving slides by in a haze of food, the mulling over what Brother what’s-his-name and Aunt so-and-so could possibly want for Christmas begins.

The shopping commences. But the weeks pass, too quickly, and suddenly you’re in a car driving frantically toward a mall in Greenville, or Raleigh. No luck. At zero hour, with shopping options limited to overnight delivery, the “perfect gift” is ordered online, sight unseen, with a heartfelt plea to UPS and a prayer that everything will turn out for the best.

Or, maybe you’re one of those people who do their Christmas shopping in June.

But for those of us who 1) prefer to live in the moment (read: not so very organized) and 2) think that the only real way to truly immerse one’s self in holiday spirit is to shop in crowded, holly decked malls filled with stressed-out moms and tired, Santa-hungry chirren’ (also known as procrastination), trying to find the “perfect gift” often means patronizing big, box stores with corporate headquarters somewhere far, far away, or shooting cash down a fiber-optic cable to who-knows-where into a nameless/faceless person’s hands.

Either way, hard-earned Beaufort County dollars are leaving Beaufort County, never to return.

That’s just not right. It’s not right, but it’s preventable. Tonight brings the ideal opportunity to launch yourself into the holiday spirit with some no-pressure, Christmas window shopping at downtown’s Art Walk.

The galleries participating in Art Walk may feature watercolors, oils and photography in colorful, and pricey, display, but look a little closer and you’ll find works of Christmas art — “perfect gift” material that falls into your holiday price range. At River Walk Gallery, you’ll find Carolyn Sleeper’s ethereal ceramic angels ($24-38) and her new deviled-egg plates, a whimsical design of little chickies ($42). “Plate and Palette,” the Beaufort County Arts Council’s cookbook ($25) and Otto Florshutz’s carved duck decoys ($57.50) are bestsellers at the BCAC’s Lane Gift Shop. At Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, you can find everything from acoustic guitars and sheet music to Bill Burke’s exquisitely carved birdhouse ornaments ($20-25) and potter Cindy Reed’s colorful saltcellars ($14). A trip to Lone Leaf Gallery can brighten anyone’s Christmas with Sydney Hale candles ($26) in alluring scents — fig and vanilla, fir and blue sage, mint and geranium — as well as its cutely ironic crocheted jellyfish ornaments ($10).

Tonight’s Art Walk? It’s a way to keep Beaufort County money in Beaufort County, but it’s also a great way to spend an evening Christmas shopping — appetizers included.