Shopping online and in the big department stores is all well and good, but, when it comes to the holidays, sometimes nothing will do but the personal – and the local – touch. Here are some ideas for gifts that are uniquely Aiken County.
2012 Aiken Medallion
The Aiken Downtown Development Association has a series of these brass ornaments, one a year for the past 17 years, commemorating Aiken landmarks such as the Laurens Street fountain, the Aiken Community Playhouse, the courthouse and many more. This year's subject, chosen in a contest, is Aiken Preparatory School.
Medallions are available at the ADDA office in The Alley for $30. Past years' medallions are also available, and the ADDA is currently running a buy three different medallions and get a fourth different one free special.
Birds & Butterflies 2013 photo contest calendar
This year's calendar is on sale now at the Laurens Street garden and nature shop Birds and Butterflies for $8. The calendar features more than 20 high-quality color images of scenery and animals from across South Carolina submitted to the shop for the 2012 Nature Photography Contest by Aiken shutterbugs.
“As I See It: 12 Months of Aiken” calendar
Mike Enloe of Plum Pudding produced this 2013 calendar with photographs of local scenes. The calendar is $15, and is on sale at Plum Pudding.
“The Hidden History of Aiken County”
USC Aiken professor Dr. Tom Mack's latest book delves a little deeper into local history, revealing more than the stories even lifelong residents have always known and loved. The paperback is $19.99.
Aiken theme T-shirts
Aiken Drug, the Screenprint Factory, Unique Expressions and many other local gift shops offer specialty T-shirts with Aiken logos, slogans and emblems such as the Whiskey and Easy street sign. Other designs reference Aiken's equestrian and fox hunting communities.
The Aiken Center for the Arts' gift shop, Tea Garden Gifts and M. Smart framing offer works by local artists and photographers. A star of M. Smart's gallery is photographer Ginny Southworth's prints of Aiken landscapes and scenes of local life, available framed and unframed. Prices vary.
“When I Think of Aiken”
Aiken Standard columnist Mike Gibbons wrote essays, and local artist Betsy Wilson-Mahoney provided illustrations on a selection of topics of local interest. The duo merged their efforts into the paperback “When I Think of Aiken.”
Simply Joy soaps
Tea Garden Gifts carries this line of Southern Grits handmade soaps from Blythewood, S.C., in a variety of scents including “sweet tea and magnolia,” “Carolina summer farm” and “champagne brunch,” among others.
Dancing with the Aiken Stars
ASTV has produced a DVD of last month's local dance competition staged as a fundraiser for the Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County and the Aiken Child Advocacy Center. The two-disc set is $20 and is available at the offices of the Aiken Standard or online at www.aikenstandard.com.
Drinkware and housewares
Many gift shops, including the Aiken County Visitors' Center in the Holley Building on Laurens Street, offer an assortment of coffee mugs, travel cups, plastic and glass tumblers with Aiken logos and emblems. The Screenprint Factory designs some of its own custom images, such as the horse silhouette.
“Stories of the Rich and Famous: Aiken's Winter Colony in the Gilded Age”
Dave Tavernier began exploring local history for an Aiken Standard essay contest, and enjoyed the process so much he just kept going after the contest ended. The result is this paperback, with narratives, fun facts and photographs of the Yankee philanthropists who made Aiken their part-time home at the turn of the 20th century. The book is $9.95.
Editor's note:A clarification of the buy three different medallions and get a fourth different one free special has been added.
Aiken Standard file photo. ASTV is offering DVDs of this year's Dancing with the Aiken Stars competition for $20.×
Staff photo by Suzanne Stone. Southern Grits Soaps by Simply Joy of Blythewood are one of the local and regional products offered at Tea Garden Gifts.×
Staff photo by Suzanne Stone. The Screenprint Factory offers a variety of Aiken logo and slogan t-shirts.×
Staff photo by Suzanne Stone. Tea Garden Gifts and M.Smart Framing offer framed and unframed prints of quintessential Aiken scenes by photographer Ginny Southworth.×
Staff photo by Suzanne Stone. The Screenprint Factory offers custom and Aiken theme designs such as this steeplechase-themed straw hat.×
Staff photo by Chris Walsh. Mead Hall/Aiken Preparatory School is the subject of the newest Aiken medallion available at the Aiken Downtown Development Association.×