Santa Loves Antiques Too

Santa Loves Antiques Too
This time of year, journalists throughout the land are assembling holiday gift guides to advise their readers of what they should buy. I know this because there's an online platform called HARO ("Help a Reporter Out") on which reporters post their writing assignments and plead for help from the public. HARO subscribers receive this list of forthcoming articles three times daily and it's fascinating to see what kind of stories are in the works. To be sure, many subjects are meaty but just as many are frivolous and some are downright ridiculous. Nonetheless, HARO postings in recent weeks have been dominated by requests for holiday shopping ideas. Insofar as I suspect most submissions are for some electronic gizmo made yesterday and available on Amazon along with a thousand other places, the following is an alternate view of what you might consider buying this year for friends and family. And yes, it's exactly the kind of stuff that antique stores sell.

For her, almost every vintage retailer in the valley offers a wide array of old jewelry. The delicate settings and workmanship inherent in many of these pieces are simply unavailable today and it's a near certainty you'll be paying a fraction of jewelry store prices. In particular, cosmetic jewelry has made a big comeback in recent years. It's colorful, creative, and can match any outfit or mood. As for the finer stuff, quality gold and diamond pieces are readily available at better dealers and they will authenticate your jewelry just as the specialty stores do. Forget the fancy box and give something with history and character!

Scarves made from vintage silks have also resonated with buyers this season, many made from old Indian saris. Each scarf will be unique in terms of print and feel, and the cost is little more than a good lunch.  They are ideal hostess gifts and you can be comforted in knowing yours will be unlike any other. To go back even further, consider lusterware, a richly hued glassware from the early 19th century. Lusterware originated in England and pieces in perfect condition from the mid-19th century can still be bought for the price of a tank of gas. Likewise, sterling silver is a bargain today, often available for little more than the melt value of the silver itself. Gorgeous sterling silver serving pieces are still pride-of-place objects in many homes and convey a value completely lacking in gifts of digital gimmickry.

For him, the choices are equally legion. Fine books, sporting collectibles, timepieces, military and maritime artifacts, leather accessories, western Americana, and things made with precision and craftsmanship will trump the thoughtless choices from catalogues. Yes, it will take some looking to find just the right thing that you know will resonate with him, but isn't that the whole idea of the holiday season? Gifting without prior consideration or thought is simply buying, but when gifts reflect the personality of the recipient they are far more meaningful to both parties.

As for mom and dad, consider surprising them with something from their past: old-time kitchen accessories, souvenirs reminiscent of past travel, posters from a long-ago rock concert, rotary dial telephones, a hood ornament from their first car, or maybe an antique birdcage for that parakeet they've been talking about for years. A good antique store will offer 10,000 or more choices and there's something for everyone if you look hard enough.

And despite their unfortunate tendency to sink into the online world, even millennials and their younger brethren can be swayed with gifts from yore. Old mechanical banks and toys can still fascinate kids of all ages, while paint-by-number sets and collector books of coins and stamps might get them started on at least one non-digital hobby.  Whether as Halloween costumes or daily wear, vintage clothing has become an increasingly hot category and antique stores are often a great place to look. Accessories like purses, bangles, necklaces, and hair bows make great stocking stuffers for girls, and boys will light up with pins, medals, cufflinks, and wallets.

The point here is that antique stores are an often-overlooked resource when it comes to unique holiday shopping. Even department stores can't touch the range of objects that are found there and you'll save big at the cash register every time. Better yet, you'll earn warm smiles of appreciation from those on your holiday list when it dawns on them that you actually gave some thought to picking out their gift.

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