Welcome to the very first Savannah Sideways Holiday Gift Guide!
Now, I recognize that this year has been another dizzying doozy of chaos and confusion for many of us. It may be challenging to get into the holiday spirit, what with new party-pooper variants, the looming extirpation of reproductive rights, and the corrupt nationalistic autocracy masking as patriotism.
No one needs another list of stuff to buy, but I’m trying to spread some cheer on this apocalyptic sandwich, OK? I did entertain some alternate themes, though I figured “What to Give As Democracy Dissolves” and “Top 10 Accessories for the Coming Anarchy” just aren’t the boosts we need along with our booster shots.
‘Tis the season to bestow prezzies upon the people you love that you hope they won’t hate, and I’m here to help. Thanks to the wonky lunar calendar, Chanukah has already been and gone, leaving me the rest of December with nothing else to do but pick wax out of the carpet and beg candy canes while readying my 2022 bingo card for whatever wild weirdness is coming our way.
In the meantime, here’s a clumsily collected (can we cancel the word “curated” in 2022?) selection of local offerings and experiences that won’t add to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or exploit child labor in Saipan. I betcha no one will want to trade them at a white elephant exchange.
1. Georgia State Parks Pass
For $50, you can buy entrance to any of Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources’ lovely state parks for a year, some of which are located in extremely remote places should it become necessary to go off grid and restart civilization. Of course, an annual ParkPass can be put to plenty of good use in non-cataclysmic times, presenting nearby opportunities to stroll through Skidaway Island’s maritime forests and kayak through the cypress groves at George L. Smith State Park. With historic military outposts, ancient mounds built by indigenous people, and crumbling Gilded Age mansions on the map, there’s an area of interest for every member of the family, even if they are no longer on speaking terms with each other.
2. Awesome Art by Your Neighbors
Savannah’s artists express the complex beauty of living in the South’s most interesting city with all kinds of media in every possible mixture—if all of them did a requisite rendering of the Talmadge Bridge, every view would be remarkable and unique. Location Gallery has a tremendous showing of local talent for $300 and under right now, including enthralling work by Rubi McGrory, Lisa D. Watson, Stacie Jean Albano, Troy Wandzel, Angela Burson, Heather Young, and a whole lot of other collectible characters.
Find unique, affordable artsy items at the new shop at Sulfur Studios and Laney Contemporary’s pop-up this Friday, Dec. 10. Dicky Stone, Daniel E. Smith and other renowned Savannah artists continue to anchor Kobo Gallery on Ellis Square, and Brian MacGregor’s dreamscapes make a case for braving City Market during the Christmas crush. Support independent artistry at its source from Isak Dove, who vends her divine mermaidia in Forsyth Park.
3. Giggles and Shivers
Now that it’s (mostly) safe to congregate in closed rooms again, there’s no better gift than hysterical laughter among strangers. The wonderful maniacs of Front Porch Improv put on a class act most every weekend, from stand-up comedy shows to full-length, made-up-on-the-spot farces starring the full troupe. Some content may inappropriate for children, but that’s never stopped us from taking ours.
Speaking of closed rooms, the original Escape Savannah will lock up the people of your choice for an hour while they plot to solve the puzzle that leads their liberation. You can choose for them to be chased by ghosts or pirates, but not both, because Ghost Pirates play hockey. Obviously.
4. Funeral Plot in a Historic Cemetery
Some may think it macabre, but I say nothing says “I love you” like a final resting place with a view. Old timers will tell you you’re not a real Savannahian until you own dirt for your dead, but unless your ancestors have already secured real estate in Bonaventure and Laurel Grove North or South cemeteries, your sepulchral options are limited. The city still has plots for sale in Greenwich Cemetery, which in my humble mortal opinion, is a pretty fabulous place—even the storied Seiler family agrees. Overlooking the Wilmington River in Thunderbolt, it’s the former site of a tea plantation and the ruins of one of South’s most stupendous mansions, with a charming park and plenty of shade. Rates run $2410 for a double earth berth, $6,020 for six relatives, up to $11540 for a herd of 12. Plus, your descendants will have a prime picnicking spot for eternity. Contact the Dept. of Cemeteries for info.
5. Savannah Stopover Tickets
For those whom the only tonic for alleviating acute postmodern angst is live music, an all access pass to the 2022 Savannah Stopover Festival is where it’s at. Post-COVID Stopover takes place March 11-12—two days instead of three—with all shows contained at the Georgia Railroad Museum instead of multiple venues. Those who remember Revival Fest know the bricked grounds are an ultra cool place to lounge, and though I will treasure the memories of pre-pandemic bar-hopping, I will not miss schlepping all over downtown dodging wasted bridesmaids. Single day passes start at $54, and a full festival VIP badge is $184.
Sure, most of us olds have never heard of the bands beyond headliners Soccer Mommy and Of Montreal and that’s the point—when the Gen Z children start gushing over Hotel Fiction next year you can drop how you saw ‘em first. Prime up by listening to the playlist.
6. A Laser Wood Map Of Anywhere
Yep, this is a plug for my friends down at Get Gifty With It on the riverfront, where you can snap up locally-crafted, laser-etched wall decor of cool places, original patents, and anatomical designs that fit any wall and smell like a cozy campfire. The Savannah Whimsical Waterways starts at $45 and is a wonderfully neutral gift to give your in-laws or a Secret Santa coworker, and how about a Gray’s Anatomy spine to thank your favorite chiropractor for keeping you upright through *all this*? It’s not too late to turn around one of GGWI’s custom jobbies before Christmas if you hurry, and in the future these elves can burn a map of absolutely anywhere and add all kinds of personal flourishes. Ordering online is super easy, and I’ll be at the shop doing the River Street Hustle Wednesdays for the rest of December—come on down and snicker at badly-dressed tourists with me.
7. Drink Outside the Box
With all respect to the sober among us, drinking wine remains one of the most enjoyable ways to maintain a civil society—to a certain point, of course; no one likes a debate partner who can’t handle their sauce. For those in your circle who like to pair a bottle or two with dinner or a plate of cheese (no judgment if dinner IS a plate of cheese), entrée to the Savannah Wine Cellar’s Explorer’s Club is an excellent choice, madame. For less than $33 a month, members receive two bottles of well-chosen vintages from SWC’s pantheon of small family vineyards, plus deep discounts on the rest of the store. You can go month-to-month, three months or ante up for a year’s membership, which gives recipients plenty of time to stock their doomsday prepper pantry.
8. Snacks Snacks Snacks
The holidays are for snarfing handfuls of delicious things out of adorable bowls shaped like poinsettias. Locally-harvested Alake’s Georgia Pecans at the Forsyth Farmers Market look particularly cute in such festiveware and come in 54 flavors (oh my GOD Butter Pound Cake!) While you’re there, pick up a bag or three of Palmetto Kettle Corn and be the hero of every gathering you attend.
If you really wanted to impress a client or you’re trying to get laid, a sexy silver box of Chocolat by Adam Turoni will surely pave the way—or invite them to the club if it’s a long-term relationship. For the frenemy you sort of want to punish, buy a Leopold’s Ice Cream gift card and make them stand in that long line.
9. Give Savannah Sideways
Someone you know really wants a subscription the musings from your favorite adopted Southern witchy weirdo, and things are only going to get wilder around here in 2022. Choose a monthly or yearly plan for fresh, hot tea spilled and bittersweet jam spread all over those inboxes!
For the analog types, Savannah Sideways The Book makes for an adorable, if awkwardly-shaped, stocking stuffer. Pick up signed copies at The Book Lady, E. Shaver, or Sulfur Studios—or directly from the trunk of my car. Make your way down to River Street some Wednesday before Christmas where I’ll have a stack available to sign with the personal inscription of your choice, post-materialism doomsday dialectic optional. Huzzah!
Safe, sane tidings to all ~ JLL
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