Can you believe the holidays are almost here? It seems like just yesterday we were basking in the sunshine of summer and now another holiday season is upon us. It’s a very exciting time of the year in Haywood County as our towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde begin to kick off their annual holiday traditions. Decorating the towns, lighting the community Christmas trees, festive parades, holiday events, and much more are just around the corner and I can not wait!
If you’re like me, there is one yearly tradition I take the utmost pride in – selecting the perfect holiday gifts for my family and friends. To me, giving gifts during the holidays is not just a yearly obligation – it is a way to individually thank the ones you love for all they do throughout the year and it is an opportunity to put a joyful smile on their face. I also like putting smiles on the faces of local business owners and one of the ways I do that is by shopping locally. Sure, it’s easiest just to pick up a few gift cards to online retailers, but when possible, I try to support as many local businesses as I can and encourage you to also give the gift of local this holiday season.
Haywood County is home to a wide range of locally owned and operated businesses that offer the perfect selections for your holiday gift giving. Each of our five towns is home to a variety of unique shops that will appeal to every person on your list. You’ll find shops catering to outdoor adventure junkies, farm to table foodies, wine lovers and craft beer connoisseurs, fashionistas, avid art collectors, inquisitive children, four-legged family members, and much more. To take a gander at these amazing shops and boutiques head over to our Smoky Mountain Shopping page. Will it be a new pair of hiking boots from Mast General Store, vintage comics or toys for the kids from the Not So Old Toys and Comics, a few growlers from our four microbreweries, an original print from TPennington Art Gallery, handmade doggie treats from the Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery, sugar scrub from Hazelwood Soap Company, a selection of culinary treats from Sunburst Market, a unique piece of jewelry from Seven Silver Seas, or another great selection from one of our many local retailers? And since these are all locally owned you’ll not only be giving a one of kind gift that you won’t find at a big box store, you’re supporting one of our hard working merchants and their families.
The gift of local doesn’t just stop at our fantastic retail shops. Give the gift of an experience! Give your husband a fly-fishing trip on the Pigeon River guided by Hunter Banks or make your teenager’s day with snowboarding lessons at Cataloochee Ski Area. How about a gift certificate to dine at one of Haywood County’s many independent restaurants or a relaxing weekend getaway? Maybe even tickets to see Haywood County’s own award-winning bluegrass band, Balsam Range (accompanied by a copy of their new album “Mountain Voodoo”) or an eco-tour with Cataloochee Valley Tours to learn more about our wild elk population. There are so many one of kind experiences available in Haywood County that the hardest part may be deciding which ones to give and which ones to enjoy for yourself!
Many people are also giving the gift of charity in honor of a friend or family member and we’ve definitely got ways to do that. Help out with the continued preservation and conservation of our two national parks – the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – with a donation to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation or the Friends of the Smokies. There are also tons of local Haywood County based non-profits that would gratefully accept your donation on someone’s behalf like the Haywood Waterways Association, Friends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter, and The Community Kitchen, just to name a few.
Regardless of how your spend your money this holiday season, we hope you’ll consider giving the gift of local from right here in Haywood County. Don’t forget our Visitor Center in Maggie Valley is chocked full of awesome Haywood County related gifts like plush animals for the kids, fun tees, local books, and much more. If you’re a Haywood County Quilt Trail enthusiast, you can even purchase a cat or dog designed block with proceeds going to towards to construction of the new Haywood County Animal Shelter!
Or you can just treat yourself with the gift of a visit to our beautiful mountains. We’re pretty sure that’s one gift you won’t be returning to the store.
If you like this story, also check out the Smoky Mountain Shopping page and start planning your holiday shopping in Haywood County!