The older I get, the more I like to buy gifts that will surprise family members and friends. In other words, don’t tell me you need socks, or new cookware. I’m won’t pitch in for new skis or add to your Denver Bronco football collection. And I’m certainly not giving you a gift card or straight cash. Yep, that’s just the type of accommodating gift-giver I am. So you won’t find me at the mall or the big box stores. My gift quests are much more likely to take me to the many museums, galleries, niche shops and craft shows where I can browse to my heart’s delight while waiting for some eye-catching item to strike my imagination. Whether my imagination ends up with the purchase of a gift hit or a gift miss – well, I just have to hope for the best, and so do those who are hopefully happy – or perhaps alarmed – to find themselves on my gift list. Here’s some of the places I often find a few of my favorite things:
- The Journey Museum Store: Beautiful holiday decorations and ornaments, an extensive inventory of local books, unique jewelry and craft items, leather goods, elegant scarves, gourmet temptations – and best of all, very reasonable prices as well as some great holiday sales. This week’s special through Dec. 13 is 30 percent off Santas. Coming up Dec. 14 is Bling It On Ladies Night, with scarves and jewelry 30% off through Dec. 20, and Count Down to Christmas Men’s Night on Dec. 21 with personal shoppers, free gift wrap and in-store specials.
- Jon Crane Gallery: If someone on your gift list has a favorite beauty spot or historic landscape in the Black Hills, it’s very possible that noted artist Jon Crane has painted it. Professionally framed prints in a variety of sizes and price ranges are available at either his Hill City gallery or his shop in downtown Rapid City.
- Everything Prehistoric: If fossils, rocks and minerals, dinosaur toys and science-related collections are likely to please someone on your gift list, this Hill City gift shop at the Black Hills Institute needs to be a stop on your shopping excursion. There’s also lots of jewelry and stoneware, plus a large selection of books about paleontology, geology and natural history.
- Dahl Art Center Gift Shop: If a little music helps you get in the shopping mood, check out the free noon Holiday Concerts at the Dahl. I was one of an audience of about 150 who thoroughly enjoyed the New Horizons Band this past Wednesday before picking out a few Christmas ornaments in the gift shop. Original artwork, unique holiday cards, glasswork, pottery, wearable art and more round out the selection. Upcoming music is Sugar Free Jazz on Dec. 12 and Starting Over & Friends on Dec. 19.
- Winter Market at Main Street Square: Cold weather has finally arrived, so the best thing about Main Street Square is watching the ice skaters go round and round. The Winter Market has a native herbalist selling various skin remedies and soothers, booths with holiday crafts, popcorn treats, canned delicacies, sausages and jerky, dip mixes, woolen goods – all locally homemade. There’s a good choice, and if you need to warm up, the Shops At Main Street offer more unique gift selections.
- Termesphere Gallery: Even an actual Termesphere, signed by artist Dick Termes, isn’t totally out of the normal price range for extra special gift-giving. But you can also find an intriguing mix of art/science-type gifts and books that kids and adults with inventive minds will be happy to find under the Christmas tree. The gallery is in Spearfish, so out-of-towners can check out other shopping opportunities, too.
- House of Scandinavia: South Dakota has a pretty big population of folks whose families came from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. But anyone looking for authentic sweaters, pewterware, imported food delicacies, traditional craft items and ornaments, bakeware for pastries and cookies, cookbooks, lacework, decorative wooden figurines and more should take time to meander through this homey little shop along Hwy. 16 on the way to Mount Rushmore. You’ll see nothing that isn’t the real deal, and that includes the prices.