Christmas is less than a month away, but you don't need to stress to find that special gift. Take a walk on Laurens Street or drive on over to Whiskey Road. Either way, you will find stores lined up – awaiting your arrival.
Here's a few ideas to get you brainstorming:
You can use them to cheer for your favorite team or show off your favorite business. Whichever type of T-shirt you prefer, you are bound to find it around town. Visit the Aiken Railroad Depot to pick up a polo with its logo embroidered on. Looking to support your favorite high school team? Stop by Screenprint Factory. For more general Aiken-themed shirts, check out the Aiken County Visitors Center on Laurens Street.
Whether using them to hang up your kid's artwork or to stick up the week's grocery list, magnets come in different shapes and styles to accommodate all of your memo-keeping needs. The Aiken Center for the Arts is one place to check out not only some horse-themed ones, but some music instrument-styled ones, too.
Display your Aiken pride wherever you go with the car tags and decals some local stores offer. Images vary from horses to the intersection of Whiskey Road and Easy Street. Most of the car tags are plastic, although a couple are metal. Sport-themed decals are also available. Both accessories can be found at Aiken Drug Company or Unique Expressions on Whiskey Road.
Put it inside or out; either way, a doormat is a welcoming sign. They can greet you with a positive statement or a warm picture. They can even express your residential pride. For all you Aikenites who want to show off your city from the first step, there is a doormat just for you. Unique Expressions has mats of all sorts, like a multi-shade blue one with the words “Aiken, S.C.” written under the South Carolina state logo. Designs are by Maryland-based artist Patrick Reid O'Brien, and mats are made through the company MatMates.
A number of Aiken residents such as Marti Healy, Barbara Lawrence, James Osbon, Dr. Tom Mack and Cot Campbell have had their writings published. Some of these local authors have viewed and written about Aiken from a history standpoint to a more supernatural approach. Sure, most of these authors have websites or social media profiles, but, when you are out in town, why not stop by Aiken Office Supply, the Aiken County Historical Museum or 3 Monkeys? It will save you the delivery fee.
Ornaments help mark the holiday season.
For more than 10 years, the Aiken Downtown Development Association has helped residents do just that with its hanging medallions. This year, St. John's United Methodist Church was chosen to be represented. This medallion can be found at the association's office in the Alley until Christmas; it can also be found with former medallions at Lionel Smith Ltd.
However, this is not your only option. Ornaments like ones made out of sand dollars are available at places like the Aiken County Visitors Center and Unique Expressions.
The holidays are not quite the same without the classic children's gift – toys. Alyce Heffelfinger of AH Dolls is an example of a local crafter who can make up a teddy bear or a Raggedy Ann doll; she can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also pop into Pitter Patter Children's Boutique or Kid to Kid for items such as more stuffed animals and games.
Ginny Southworth, Amanda Carder Lovett, Tom McRee – the list goes on for miles of all of the artists Aiken has to offer. Whether crafters or painters, several stores support them.
Notecards, postcards or prints of these artists' works can be found at businesses such as Aiken Railroad Depot, Tea Gardens and Plum Pudding.
The Aiken Center for Arts' current 'Tis the Season exhibit is nothing but Aiken artists; the center also sells cards and prints.
Not only can you use a calendar to better organize your week, but you can also learn facts and/or see images from pop culture classic art monthly.
Local Joy E. Mason of “Inspired Inside” Southern Art Photography and Decor went out every month this year and took a photo. Those photos are now together in her 2014 “A Year in Aiken, …” calendar. She can be found at Antiques and More on East Pine Log Road.
Photos of bluebirds fill the pages of this year's S.C. Bluebird Society annual calendar. The society started in Aiken, and all of the calendar's photos were taken in South Carolina. These calendars can be found at Birds & Butterflies.
Denmark-based artist Jim Harrison also has his annual Coca-Cola calendar out now.
They carry a drink cold on the go or let you relax with a hot drink at night. From ceramic coffee mugs, insulated water cups and thermoses to wine and shot glasses, you can find them all at Aiken stores such as Elliott's Office Supply or Screenprint Factory. You might even be to grab a koozie or coaster to match.
Once you buy your mug, get some tea to go with it. The designer Sara Kinard moved to South Carolina from Germany, starting Sophie's Tea soon after. Her flavors include Angel Tea, Happy Birthday Tea and Punch Spice. There is one type, though, that stirs the flavors of flowers and passion fruit into an organic black tea. The result “brings the taste of Aiken home with you” – Aiken tea. To pick up this and other flavors up, stop by Unique Expressions.
With that mug and tea, grab a spoon to stir in that extra little bit of cream.
If you visit Aiken Drug Company, you'll be in luck; a metal Aiken-branded spoon that has a ridged palm tree-shaped handle will be waiting.
Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012.
She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Maryland-based artist Patrick Reid O’Brien creates regional artwork like the image on this door/place mat.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Aiken Woodcarvers member Marvin A. Zuelsdorf handcrafts figurines like this ornament.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Local artist Alyce Heffelfinger handmakes dolls and toys such as these.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner This Aiken-inspired tea is made by the South Carolina company Sophie’s Tea.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Tags like these are a way to decorate your car, Aiken style.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Local Tom McRee sandblasts his copyrighted Aiken image onto mugs, candy jars and more.×
Aiken Standard File Photo This is one painting by Aiken Artist Guild member Raymond Kent.×
Submitted Photo Marti Healy has written at least five books. This one features some of her Aiken Standard columns.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner These line of spoons can be found at Unique Expressions and Aiken Drug Company.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Hitchcock Woods is just one place that is advertised on local shop’s polos and T-shirts.×
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner Joy Mason of Inspired Inside Southern Art Photography and Decor designed this 2014 calendar with pictures she took in Aiken.×