It sneaks up on you. Before you know it, Thanksgiving is over, and while you're nursing the turkey hangover, another week or two rolls by. And then, suddenly, as if without warning — even though commercials are splayed out on TV and radio stations are drowning in Christmas songs 24/7 — the tree is up and you haven't touched your shopping list yet.
No fear, we're here to help you. And we're here to help you with a gift guide to dazzle everyone on your Nice List with Cleveland goods, many of which come from Cleveland makers you can learn more about in this week's feature back on page 30, if you missed it.
Warm Woolies: With a name like Crochet 'til Death, you can bet the cozy creations coming from this one-woman, Lakewood-based operation are made with love (not to mention a whole boatload of yarn). We reckon this year's arctic temperatures will seem downright balmy with the proper stash of wooly wolf hoods (ears included), Katniss-inspired cowls, and gender-neutral glittens, all of which can be ordered online at etsy.com/shop/CrochetTilDeath or picked up at Ashley Ross' booth at the upcoming Cleveland Bazaar 10th Anniversary Show, Dec. 13 and 14.
Furry Friends: Don't be a heartless bastard this holiday season; give one of Cleveland's rescued animals a warm and loving home. The Cleveland Animal Protective League has dozens of puppies and kittens, as well as fully grown cats and dogs, just itchin' to go home with a new human friend. Think about it: Spot could be sprawled out under your Christmas tree by dinnertime. Wouldn't your fiancé love that? Visit clevelandapl.org for more info or stop in at 729 Willey Ave. in Tremont.
Jewelry: Born in southern France, jewelry artist Anne Harrill moved to Cleveland in 2002 where she launched Oceanne, a line of nature-inspired body accessories that range from whimsical and delicate to bold and refined. Each piece is hand-designed — that means Anne hammers, torches, and files every item herself — and crafted from brass, copper, silver, gold or recycled metals. Browse her collection online at www.oceanne.net, on Etsy, and seek out her booth at an upcoming Cleveland Flea.
Bike Gear: The community of local bikers who continue their two-wheeled commute all winter long deserve some serious applause, and probably some new bike gear. Head over to Blazing Saddle Cycle at 7427 Detroit Ave. or at 2190 Murray Hill Rd., to stock up on winter riding accessories like thick tires, reflective tape, and new fenders, as well as some helpful tips on riding through ice, sleet, and snow from the staff. Visit blazingsaddlecleveland.com for more info.
Leatherwear: Leather is in this season dontcha know, and Fount, a Cleveland-based leather design and production house, offers a lovely line of his and her items. For the gals, pick up a dark expresso turban or a hair-on-hide tote (which were going fast, last we checked), while an Americana wallet or penny pouch are perfect for the gents. Browse the collection at fountleather.com.
Apparel: Cleveland is in a renaissance in all sorts of ways, not least of which is in the apparel realm. Stock up on T-shirts from CLE Clothing, Made by Superior, I Love the Hype, Fresh Brewed Tees and others. We wear our pride on our sleeves. Now go wear some Cleveland sleeves on your sleeves.
Homegoods: Billed as a "General Store for a new generation," Yellow Door Goods boasts a bounty of antique and vintage goods, perfect for that crafty aunt or DIY uncle. Twice a month, you'll find the Yellow Door crew camped out at the Cleveland Flea toting old-fashioned egg incubators, retro card catalogs, funky lamps, wooden crates, old license plates, and Mason jars galore. Visit yellowdoorgoods.com and their various social sites to keep tabs on their latest acquisitions.
Ski Lessons: You used to ski when you were a kid and then you stopped. Why? Get back on the slopes this season and bring your best buds too. Day passes at Boston Mills are $43 for adults and equipment rentals are just $30. Seasonal passes start at $459. Visit bmbw.com for additional details.
Cleveland Christmas Tunes: We know everyone's sick of Mariah Carey's Christmas album by now, so why not serve up some local seasonal tunes by the Ohio City Singers? Their holiday album, A Town Called Christmas, features a boatload of catchy jingles like "Gingerbread Girl," "Winter's on the Run," and "Coming Back to Christmas." Visit ohiocitysingers.com for more info and buy the album on iTunes now.
Beer Glasses: The husband/wife duo behind Fizz Creative likes to say that their design studio began over a pint of beer, and perhaps that's why the pair has created a clever line of Ohio-inspired alcohol accessories, such beer glasses, koozies and coasters, perfect for that relative just shvitzing state pride. Take a look at the collection online at hellofizz.com or hellofizz.etsy.com.
Good Reads: Skip the feel-good reads from Amazon this year and head over to one of Cleveland's neighborhood bookstores instead: Mac's Backs, Loganberry Books, or Carol and John's, to name a few. Here, you'll find plenty of New York Times' best sellers, as well as a selection of locally-authored reads, such as The Family Hightower by Brian Francis Slattery or Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix.
Bow Ties: You already know your pals' affinity for Christmas Ale, so why not outfit your whole gang with Great Lakes Brewing Company's seasonal bow ties which sport the same timeless red baubles as the labels. Find them today in the brew house gift shop, which, by the way, you can peruse with a beer in hand. Stop in at 2516 Market Ave in Ohio City.
The Getaway: We love Cleveland, but we also love packing up the car and slipping out of town for a few days. Give your gal a weekend at the Lakehouse Inn and Winery, located in Geneva-on-the-Lake, and enjoy two-person Jacuzzis, couples massages, and breakfast in bed. Or, head south with your guy for a weekend of hiking, ice fishing, and birding at Hocking Hills in Logan. Cabin rentals start at $169 per night.
Booze: Only recently released, Tom's Foolery's Ohio Straight Bourbon is a labor of love from Tom Herbruck, who you probably know from his applejack, which comes from the same small distillery on his property in Geauga County. The bourbon is three years in the making, at least, and Herbruck and his wife have been filling one barrel of whiskey each day. The waiting is over, and you won't spend a better $39.95 this year. Thank us later.