It’s true the early bird catches the worm, and that goes double when you’re searching for absolutely perfect gifts for the special ladies in your life. Be it Mom, sister, or BFF, you love her, and you want to make her holidays happy with a unique treat. With that in mind, I hereby submit there is no better place for finding a one-of-a-kind treasure than Santa Fe, with its historic position on the colonial trade route from Mexico to the U.S., and its reputation as a legendary shopping hub for settlers traveling west on the Santa Fe Trail. Stylish shops and wonderful galleries line our streets, and your early-bird attention to the hunt will help you score with plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the holiday festivities yourself. (Check back here in a couple weeks for my tips on where to holiday shop for the men in your life.)
These Boots Are Made for Walking Anywhere
Whether she’ll be sashaying onto a dance floor or stepping up to collect a prize for her rendition of “Oklahoma” at the local talent show, any glamour gal looks the part in a pair of signature cowboy boots from Back at the Ranch, tucked in a classic old home, set back from the sidewalk on East Marcy Street. The shape and style of a great pair of boots put a different swing in her step, and she can be dressed up or down as the occasion demands. My black boots and my brown ones serve just fine for every day, but that red snakeskin pair just puts me in a holiday frame of mind. Your lady friend might feel the same when Susan La Pointe shows you how hand tooling and a favorite color can combine to make an artistic custom piece that says “made in Santa Fe.” The wise purchase of a quality pair of boots ensures they’ll fit perfectly and age well. But if your cowgirl is the type who prefers that already-aged look, Kowboyz on West Manhattan ponies up a selection of vintage boots that will make her feel ready to ride – and consignment shopping is an adventure in its own right!
Finding Finery at Daniella Boutique
Once you’ve scoped out the boot market for the holiday hoedown, maybe it’s time to rustle up some party clothes for a late-night holiday affair. Fashion-forward types here head down to the Market Station in the Santa Fe Railyard where Daniella Fox has curated a classy collection of women’s clothing. The exclusive designer lines featured include premium denim J Brand jeans, which will certainly pair nicely with the aforementioned cowboy boots. The bi-coastal flair on display at Daniella, recognized as one of Lucky Magazine's Top U.S. Stores, paints an up-to-the-minute picture of Santa Fe style that works day or night, especially with some tasteful accessorizing, upon which Daniella will competently advise.
And if you slip a super-stylish Rebecca Minkoff handbag under the tree, your chic credentials will be confirmed!
Signature Jewelry Adds Sparkle All Year Long
I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t spend just as much time and effort on her jewelry selection as she does on her clothing. And a statement piece is definitely the one thing that can turn the elegant simplicity of a holiday outfit from stark to stunning. While Santa Fe boutiques can satisfy a jewelry yen, for something special I suggest taking the time to peruse the cases at a Patina Gallery on West Palace Avenue to add the wow factor to your gift. With over 75 jewelry designers in owners Allison and Ivan Barnett’s gallery roster, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something that she or you (because face it, shopping = temptation) can’t live without.
Covering Heads and Hands Warms the Heart
By the time our holiday lights are shining, winter winds are blowing too, and that means outer accessories are a welcome option to any wardrobe. Wool, and in particular the alpaca wool from Bolivia and Peru, is such a friendly fabric. It’s soft and warm, and ever so agreeable to any number of hues. Hats, scarves, and gloves make an appearance on the annual holiday gift list precisely because they are so well-used that replacement occurs yearly. And alpaca is a no-kill product, which makes for an extra-warm feeling. Chapare, Chris Meyer’s Montezuma Street shop, has your holiday shopping needs and your lady’s extremities covered with finely-woven accessories to ward away winter’s chill. Keep her feeling cozy as she admires the ancient traditions of a Pueblo holiday dance or toasts her toes by a bonfire on the Christmas Eve farolito walk.
Cook Up a Holiday Surprise
Maybe you’ve learned from experience that your gal pal is the type who prefers to shop for herself. Not a problem, since experience is the operative word when you give a gift certificate for a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Much of what makes Santa Fe so special comes in the form of memorable food experiences, and bringing those recipes home means the memory can be renewed annually at a holiday dinner. The New Mexico holiday foods classes at the School are always a hit, but if her winter holiday always takes place at home, she can schedule a class at any time of year from the School’s huge roster since classes run year-round. A gift certificate applies at the Market’s online store too. So many tasty and fun options for her to choose from: traditional New Mexican classes, chile workshops, Native American dinners, a salsa series, and of course, the holiday tamale class.
One-stop Shopping Is One-of-a-Kind
Festival shopping puts everything in one location, so if you have the good fortune to be here November 30-December 1 on the weekend after Thanksgiving, you’d best mosey over to the SWAIA Winter Indian Market at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. From turquoise jewelry, to hand-woven Navajo rugs, and handspun wools, to beautiful beadwork and handmade ornaments, this is shopping at its best — and it’s easiest, because it’s all in one place. Since November 30 is Small Biz Saturday, this is an ideal opportunity to buy from the artisans who support their families though talent and dedication. Two days give you plenty of time to browse, but since many of the pieces by 200+ Native American artists are truly one-offs, don’t take a second chance for granted on the go-around.
Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot, T’will be Renewed as Art
And the SWAIA Market is not the only holiday happening offering the unique, since the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival returns for its 15th appearance at the Convention Center November 15-17. When unique meets sustainable, you can rest assured that your gift will tickle the fancy of a conservation-minded coed. I have seen cool lamps created from old tin signs that would fit perfectly in a hallway alcove. And there’s no mistaking the fact that jewelry repurposed from vintage beads is literally hand-crafted.
Artistry like this makes you feel great about patronizing those who dreamed it up out of the leftovers of our day-to-day life — that’s multi-dimensional gift giving!
Make Her Holidays Happy While You Enjoy the Shopping Experience
Are you feeling tempted to zip on over to our legendary trading center to make your holiday gift-giving a singular experience? Many local hotels offer great last-minute deals and holiday packages, so when you add the charm of holiday lights and the taste of our renowned cuisine, it’s a winning proposition for you too. Holiday shopping should be just as rewarding as seeing the smiles when you give the gift. And Santa Fe makes that holiday wish come true.