Holiday Guide

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to get for that special someone with particular tastes. But before you pony up for yet another Amazon gift card or Dog Treat of the Month Club membership (yes, it exists), we’ve rounded up a bunch of locally made and/or sourced gifts geared toward discriminating tastes.

The bookworm

Booksellers from Malaprop's Bookstore/Café and Spellbound Children's Bookstore suggest some of their favorite locally written titles from 2010. (Check out WNC's many locally owned bookstores for other literary ideas.)

• For readers ages 6-9, try Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci written by Asheville resident Joseph D'Agnese and illustrated by John O'Brien. (It's the bio of an influential mathematician who discovered a pattern in natural things like pine cones, flower petals and seashell spirals.)

Creative is a Verb: If You're Alive, You're Creative by Patti Digh is a colorful, inspirational workbook for firing up the inner muse. Also inspirational: Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by N.C. author Rosie Molinary offers a year's worth of ideas, exercises and techniques for empowering women "to regain a healthy self-image."

• For something that says North Carolina through and through, pick up a copy of Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France by Daniel Pierce. The author "offers a revealing new look at the sport from its postwar beginnings on Daytona Beach and Piedmont dirt tracks through the early 1970s when the sport spread beyond its southern roots and gained national recognition."

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb is called "a ballad novel." The premise, according to Publisher's Weekly is that "in 1935, the case of an Appalachian schoolteacher arrested for murdering her father becomes a national news story, seized on by the press for its sensationalism and the opportunity to mock the rural inhabitants involved."

• Burning Bright by Ron Rash follows on the heels of his highly successful novel Serena. But this book is different — a collection of short stories set from the Depression era to modern times.

The tree hugger

• Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway, by WNC-based author/journalist Randy Johnson, was revised and updated for 2010 (also the 75th anniversary of the Parkway). Learn more about the book ($9.95) at

• Kayakers at Liquid Logic Kayaks in Flat Rock, have created a rescue throw rope for kayakers that can be quickly reloaded for a second throw — a life-saving device for any boater. Read about the 75-foot Speedloader Throwbag at

• WNC publishing company Brushy Mountain puts out yoga videos and river guidebooks including the indispensable (according to our sources) North Carolina Rivers and Creeks by Leland Davis. The book is described as "A full color guide to 101 Whitewater runs and playspots in Western North Carolina and the surrounding area." ($29.95)

• Though world peace might still be a tall order, a cleaner environment is possible with a special-edition NC GreenPower Holiday Gift Card. Says the company, "Your recipient will receive a special announcement informing them of your Renewable Energy or Carbon Offset purchase and the environmental benefits that your gift has provided them." (Minimum $24.)

• For your favorite outdoors enthusiast/daredevil, how about a trip to Navitat Canopy Adventures? Located in Barnardsville, the facility offers 10 zip lines, two rappelling experiences, two suspended sky bridges and three short hikes. A three-and-a-half hour tour covers more than a mile of suspended cable. ($85 adults/$75 youth.)

The artsy-crafter

• A class at The Drygoods Shop. From book binding to card-making, there's a lot to be learned at this recently opened West Asheville crafting spot.

A couple ideas from AshevilleEtsy — a group of local designers who sell their wares on crafter site Search to discover must-have gifts, or check out our finds:
• Handmade pencil pouch ($9) by M. Ranae Designs. Vinatge-y fabric, plenty of panache, seconds as a clutch. 
• Beam Weekly Planner ($26) by Rockpile Bindery. A hand-bound, hand-stitched calendar book covered in colorful fabric.

A flea market, specialty booths, crafter stalls, homemade foods and vintage clothing can all be found at the Downtown Market. The One Bazaar Holiday adds extra incentive to browse, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 18 (find a schedule of musical accompaniment at Offerings include:
• Bottlecap earrings by Bella Boutique (also at
• A six-pack of red and green floating soy star candles by Me Candles (also at

The techy

• Carry all of your gadgets in style. Highland Leather ($79 at makes a handsome “UniBag” that could be carried by a man or a woman and can fit an iPad or PDA. Local maker Asheville Purse Creations designs the “Marin,” a lightweight leather shoulder bag promised to “work great as a case for those little mini laptops and netbooks” ($40/$50 at

•  On the heels of Moogfest, who doesn’t want to own something Moog-made? The company promises its gear to be “superior quality, accessible user interface, outstanding design, incredible sound, lasts a lifetime, is an inspiration to the creative process” — and its manufactured in Asheville. Customize your own Earthware Theremin with a DIY kit ($359); rock out with Moog’s most portable synthesizer, the Slim Phatty ($849); or treat a Moog user to an accessory (a Voyager dust cover runs $49).

• Mountain Area Information Network, or M@IN, is a local cooperative internet service provider and web host. Give your tech geek a locally hosted website through M@IN for $75 a year. Info at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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