think local, buy local: a procrastinator's gift guide

It's crunch time, folks!
In less than three weeks, the 2012 holiday season will merely be a memory. And despite all the exclamation points peppering the circulars, those pages are leaving you uninspired. We feel your pain. To help, we've stitched together a provocative assortment of gift ideas that should knock out your list in no time flat.
This year, keep it fresh, keep it tasty, keep it local.
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
If you need to distance yourself from the mall -- both culturally and geographically -- head to University Circle. In addition to being fonts of refinement, the museums are pure gold when it comes to gifts. Pick up a set of stylish shatterproof wineglasses at MOCA, home and garden accessories for the green thumb on your list at the Botanical Garden, or a plushy "Evolution Happens" chimp at the Museum of Natural History. The gorgeous new shopping digs at the Cleveland Museum of Art offers fine arts-themed trinkets like an Andy Warhol sticker book or a mini-Le Penseur (apologies to Rodin). Be sure to check out the jaw-dropping new atrium before departing. Why, you just enjoyed a sublime break from the holiday madness while shopping. Who says there are no such things as miracles?
Bikers, bikers everywhere. But where to gear up on gifts?
Start by knocking up the kickstand and heading to Blicksbags (online only) for a handmade chain link necklace or rugged commuter bag from the Cleveland-based company. Then cruise on over to Ohio City and hit Fridrich's -- one of the oldest bike shops in the country -- for tandems, trikes and toboggans. Only custom will do? Roll on by Joy Machines for bespoke bikes. Eastsiders can choose from Cain Park Bicycle ("Your Neighborhood Bicycle Shop") or B&K Bicycle, where you can take that trike for a test spin around the 8,000-square-foot store before you tie a bow around the handlebars.
Never mind the white stuff; bring on the green!
From the Blue Bag (online only, with occasional studio dates) transforms glass trash from local bars into a host of decorative items, including stylish serving trays and soap dishes. The offerings are so popular that this homegrown, local biz has diverted more than 350 tons of waste from landfills. On the softer side, it's hard to believe that the nationally beloved bags, pouches and wristlets from zjayne (online only) once were t-shirts, but one look at these affordable, adorable, handmade accessories and their previous existence will evaporate. Guys love tools, sure. But what if your guy is a green freak? Amble over to the ReStore, operated by Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, to purchase gently used tools of all kinds that have been donated by contractors and others. The money, of course, goes to a great and worthy cause.
First-class art for last-minute shoppers
You may be running out of time, but you're not out of luck -- yet. Your saviors hark from the Lakewood Screw Factory (Lake Erie Building), where local artisans will hold a Last Minute Market on Saturday, December 15. Over at the sprawling 78th Street Studios, support comes in the form of the monthly Third Friday events, with the last of the year taking place December 21. For Eastsiders, Heights Arts Gallery will be hosting its annual arts-filled holiday store through December 30.

Get crafty
Give the gift of artisan yarns and you might just get a cozy scarf or sweater out of the deal. For the best of the fuzzy stuff, head over to River Colors Studio (west) or Fine Points Yarns (east). If those on your list prefer paint brushes to knitting sticks, stop on by Utrecht on Coventry or Prism on Mayfield to pick up perfect gifts for the canvas/charcoal/oil/watercolor set. Teach a man to craft by gifting one of the myriad classes offered at Zygote Press, from letterpress to woodcutting.
Wear your pride, share your pride
Cleveland's stock is rising, and nowhere is that more visible than on the bodies of the living. CLE-themed t-shirts, hats, buttons and jewelry all are selling like mad, and there is no shortage of places to score them. Start downtown at The Only Cleveland Store, where plenty of nostalgic items line the shelves. Hit CLE Clothing Co. for a great selection of t-shirts, books, and more. In Ohio City, shop back-to-back gems Salty Not Sweet and Room Service for all kinds of Cleve-centric gifts. Also in the OC is the Ohio Knitting Mills Pop-up, where items inspired from historical illustrations, photos, and maps are offered for sale. Swing over to Gordon Square and drop into Two Girls from Cleveland/The Foundry for vintage CLE photo art. In Collinwood, visit Native Cleveland for more 216 paraphernalia. Strhess Clothing (online only) sells hoodies to undies with unique designs by legendary local artist Derek Hess. For the sports fans, pick up a Tribe jersey or Browns cap or some (non-LeBron) Cavs wear. Try Johnnyville Slugger for personalized lumber.
For those with no e-reader, we have an app for that. It's called a bookstore.
These indie booknooks all have great new releases, but they each have something special as well. Peruse the eclectic used-book stacks in the basement of Mac's Backs for one-of-a-kind finds. Browse Otis' Old Curiosity Shop at Loganberry's (careful, cats crossing) for a quirky wind-up robot or books folded into paper art. Enjoy the unique book displays and eye-popping prices at Horizontal Books, and then marvel at proprietress Jane Kessler (aged ninety-something) of Appletree after you've poured over the shop's collection of trade paperbacks. Finally, shop then sip a merlot at the wine bar inside Visible Voice Books.

Now for some sweet treats -- handmade in the 216
Move over Hickory Farms, Pretzables (online only) offers gourmet chocolate covered pretzels. For the dainty set, treats from Tremont-based Lilly Handmade Chocolates truly are tasty works of art. For nieces and nephews, you can never go wrong with a bucket of popcorn from Campbell's Sweets Factory. You pick a trio of flavors. (Try vanilla butter and nut, caramel apple and hot smoky cheddar.)
Stacking the deck for the restaurant obsessed
Imagine a stack of 52 crisp $10 bills, good for use at your favorite Cleveland restaurants. That's essentially what The Deck (online only) from Cleveland Independents is. These cards might never best a full house, but they are flush with deals redeemable at tasty eateries like Bistro 185, Bruno's, Flying Fig, Spice and many more. With 52 cards featuring $10-off deals, the $29.95 price tag is the perfect ending for your 2012 holiday shopping -- and this list.

Photos Bob Perkoski except where noted

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.
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