City Week: Weekly Picks

Editor's Note: With COVID-19 widespread and the holiday season up on us, City Week is looking at safe ways to shop local rather than guiding you to live, in-person events this week.

Chicago Music Store. Do you know someone who's used all of their stay-at-home order time to pick up a new musical instrument? Or maybe someone who's been talking about doing so? Pick them up a gift at this family-owned store which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year! They're running a 15 percent off sale on all used gear, including amps, guitars, band and orchestra instruments through Christmas Eve. We don't care if it's cheesy to say that the gift of music is one of the most meaningful ones you can give!

Virtual Patronato's Christmas at San Xavier. Maybe your sister is one of those people who is always going on about how "she likes experiences, not things." Tough year for her! But if you want to treat her to something besides a material object, there are options. For example, this year, you can give the virtual gift of this beloved holiday concert to your loved ones anywhere in the world. It features performances by the local boys and girls choruses, woven together with gorgeous drone shots of the Mission interior. You'll even get to see parts of the Mission usually closed to the public, like the choir loft, the belfry and the sacristy. It's also a great way to support the Patronato, the nonprofit dedicated to preserving the Mission—which is a National Historic Landmark. Tickets for the live event normally start at $100, but this year you can make a donation of any amount for access to the concert.

The Scented Leaf. Don't you just love living in a city that has a tea house? During the summer (at least the normal summers), there's nothing like stopping in to get one of your favorite iced teas on tap. But, if you ask me, wintertime is the best time for tea. Treat a loved one to the Scented Leaf's Holiday Sampler, a set of loose leaf teas including apple cinnamon, chai and Earl Grey crème. Or just get them one kind of tea you know they'll love, plus some tea filters to go along with it. If you're really not sure, you can never go wrong with a gift card. They're running some sweet December sales, too: 20 percent off your entire order, and 25 percent off e-gift cards!

Tucson Meet Yourself Online Marketplace. Tucson Meet Yourself might be most famous for its food, but it is also usually home to a wide array of artists and other makers—particularly Indigenous ones. The first-ever TMY online marketplace will feature artists who have been demonstrating on the pavilion for years, like Mata Ortiz potter Porfirio Mora and Congolese seamstress Charlotte Nsabaka. From Tohono O'odham Pottery to Navajo beadwork, from Turkish Ebru to Yaqui Pascola masks, you'll find tons of beautiful work to buy as holiday gifts or to treat yourself to. Shop online through Jan. 1.

Downtown Tucson gift card. Let's be honest: Sometimes gift cards are a convenient cop-out, for the nephew you don't know all that well, your kids' teacher you've only met over Zoom, or the coworker you don't even really like. But when it gives the recipient the chance to support local businesses and treat themselves to something handmade, yummy or super comfy, then it's kind of the perfect gift, actually. The gift card is good at dozens of businesses, including restaurants, boutiques, galleries and other services, and can be purchased in any domination from $10 to $500. See to purchase and for a full list of participating businesses.

The Book Stop. Has there ever been another year where we've wished quite so much to go back to "a simpler time?" The Book Stop is the sort of place that gives you that warm, peaceful cocoon-y feeling, like the outside world can't harm you while you're moving up and down the aisles. It's also a great place to pick up a gift. Buying someone a book you think they'll like is such a thoughtful gesture, especially with many people working to make more time to read since we're all home so much more often. Support this local, woman-owned business this holiday season, and enjoy the unmatched feeling of strolling through a used bookshop.

MSA Annex. Ah, to take a leisurely stroll through the shops at the MSA Annex, without worrying about masks or the crowds of people. It's a far-out thing to imagine right now, we know, but we hope it will be a possibility again sometime in the near future. For now, consider making a quick stop in to one of the boutiques or stores on site. There's the local handmade furniture at Mesa, the bikes and accessories at Transit Cycle and the cute clothes and home goods at Avenue Boutique, for starters. You should be able to check off the last few people on your list here.

Woops! Bake Shop. I've never been to Paris, or France at all, actually. But sometimes I forget that that's true, because every time I've ever been in Woops! In Main Gate Square, I've felt like I'm in Paris. While now's not the time to sit in this cozy café with your laptop and a latte, you can still drop in to pick up a drink, a yummy sandwich, a fresh croissant or (perhaps most importantly) a French macaron (or two or three or 12). An assortment of sweet, colorful macarons make a perfect gift, and they come in cute little boxes so you don't even have to wrap them. In a year where so many people are missing travel, a treat from, or a gift card to, Woops makes for a perfect little slice of Europe.

Midtown Mercantile Merchants. Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift to match this (well, hopefully) one-of-a-kind year? This beloved antique mall is a fantastic place to check out. It's packed to the brim with quirky vintage gifts including—but not limited to—cookware, furniture, jewelry clothing, books, sheet music, home décor, holiday decorations, comic books, clocks, vases and lighting fixtures. Right now, they're doing a "Merry Mid-Mod Mash-Up, featuring an extra helping of mid-century modern décor. Pick up something for even the pickiest people on your list here.

Harlow Gardens. If you haven't hopped on the 2020 houseplant craze yet, there's still time to do so, or to force someone else to jump on it by buying them a houseplant. They're just such pleasant, sweet little things to have around, whether they're brightening up your work from home space or just giving you a reason to get out of bed because they need water. Or maybe you're looking to start a garden, to feel like you have control over one tiny, beautiful corner of the world. Whether you're picking up your first pothos, adding to your herb garden or planting a new tree, Harlow Gardens can meet your needs in a setting that is as full of whimsy as it is great gift ideas.

Buffalo Exchange. When I first moved to Tucson, I was delighted to realize that Buffalo Exchange, which is now hugely popular in locations across the country, was founded right here in the Old Pueblo. But when I thought about it for a moment, I realized I absolutely shouldn't have been surprised. Of course this sweet little desert city would be the place where sustainability and style would come together in one beautiful, bohemian building. Pick up some clothing, jewelry or a gift card for your favorite fashionista here.

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