Gifts for the Holiday-Phobic

My dad was a good father, the primary wage earner and a generous man, so he was always a bit unclear why, on certain days of the year, he was societally compelled to go out and buy something for all the important people in his life. He’d deal with this by making craft items to dole out, but the absolute perigee of his orbit around Planet Christmas was the year he bought a dozen bottles each of perfume and aftershave at a drug store. Then Dad gift-wrapped them to have a handy batch of generic gifts to offer in response to anything he might receive from coworkers and friends.

While I share some of my dad’s reservations about the economy-stimulating holidays, I do enjoy that feeling I get when I’ve found a gift that will prove I care about some person as a nongeneric individual. Such “thoughtful” gifts do not need to be expensive, but it helps to know where to look.

Here are four suggestions for local target-rich shopping zones for the holiday-phobic.

Deadwick'sINSIDER KNOWLEDGE: If you can’t find the perfect item, you can often get away with simply purchasing something from the perfect place. “Sure, it’s just a letter opener with a skeleton finger for a handle, but you should see the place I got it,” you might say when you give a gift from Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium, the spooky Gothic sidekick to Pickwick’s Mercantile in Portsmouth. If you are sharing your secret shopping spot with the recipient, you are showing how much you care.

Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium


RANDOM ANTIQUARIA: When hunting for an inspired gift, the roadside “junque” store allows a gift-seeker to turn off their minds, relax and float downstream through a phantasmagoria of cultural and historical associations reflecting every sort of passion or weakness. It’s in my hometown, so I’m biased, but I highly recommend Concord Antiques on Storrs Street.

Concord Antiques


Wicked JoyfulCLOSE TO THE EDGE: If you have a friend with a twisted sense of humor, turn ’em on with a gift from Wicked Joyful in Manchester. This locally based idea factory takes pop culture icons (or obscurities) and turns them into collectible items, complete with satiric packaging, that will either delight (or, fair warning, offend) someone in a way that shows you know what turns them on (or off) with deadly precision.

Wicked Joyful


LOCAL PRIDE: When Granite Staters gift someone with a local product, it’s a way to include a flatlander friend or relative with a taste of the joys of living in the best state on Earth. The shops (one at the I-95 N NH State Liquor Store exit and a new one just opened in Portsmouth) and website of NH Made are jam-packed with local goods, each with a local person on the other end of the purchase. Or just drop by the gift shop at the New Hampshire Statehouse for a curated batch of Granite State objects that will shout “Live Free or Die” with boughs of holly.

NH Made



Categories: Guide to Holidays, Holiday Gift Guide Ideas