With only 25 days left until Christmas, the challenge is on to find that perfect present for those on your holiday shopping list. If you want a gift that will stir memories of Columbia County, there are plenty to choose from.
While this is not a complete list, we found a broad sampling of local gift items with a distinct Columbia County flavor:
- Brush up on your local history with To Seek a Newer World: A History of Columbia County, Georgia by Gerald J. Smith, Ph.D. The book costs $25, and is available from any historical society member, at Kay's Pharmacy in Harlem or Strictly Country in Evans. It's also available by calling Bill Blackard at 541-2356. Blackard's illustration is on the cover of the paperback.
- For the history buff on your list, you can sign them up for membership in the Columbia County Historical Society, $10 per year, or $100 for a family lifetime membership. Call Bill Blackard at 541-2356.
- Wrap yourself in school spirit with a Greenbrier, Lakeside, Evans or Harlem High School spirit blanket, available at Wal-Mart for $19.62.
- Popular gifts for years, the last of them are going like hot-cakes. Strictly County has about four of the black and white afghans available with scenes from Columbia County for $45 each. Reach the store at 868-1348.
- Sing in the season with Brookwood Elementary School's compact disc I'm Gonna Sing. The voices of 700 Brookwood Elementary School students and staff sing 15 traditional African-American spirituals. It is available at the school or in local stores for $10.
- Serve up great holiday fare with Karin Calloway's Quick Cooking II: A Second Serving, a compilation of the Columbia County resident's best recipes from her weekly column in The Augusta Chronicle. It is available at The Columbia County News-Times' office for $16.95.
- Ride your way into the new year on a Club Car golf car, available at Transportation Solutions of Augusta, 692 Commerce Court,Evans. $950 to $5,000. The vehicles are manufactured in Evans.
- Turn those lawn chores into mulch with a John Deere tractor or lawn mower; some models of the famed green tractors are made in the company's Grovetown plant. Starting at $1,499, they are available from Augusta Turf & Tractor, 2804 Wylds Road, or call 737-9191.
- Immortalize a Lakeside High School student with a memory bricks. Two sizes are available: 4-by-8 inch for $45 that can be engraved up to three lines with 14 characters on each line; or 8-by-8 inch for $65 that can be engraved up to five lines. Order at Lakeside High's front office. For information, call 863-0027.
- Cook up a holiday feast with Stevens Creek Elementary School's cookbook, A Spoonful of Excellence. The hardback cookbook features 400 recipes submitted by Stevens Creek staff members, families and students, and is available for $13. Call Susan Proctor at 863-2489.
- For the coffee lover on your list, there's Abbi's Coffee Mill and Roastery, 408 Fury's Ferry Road. The local company has four decaffeinated, 15 blends, 14 single origin (country of origin) coffees and 12 flavors of fresh roasted coffee available for $9.74 a pound. Call 651-9111.
- Need something that will inform and entertain? An annual subscription for $38 to The Columbia County News-Times is the perfect gift - especially for family members who've moved out of town. Call 868-1222.
- Wear your school spirit. Hometown Sports features all area high schools on letter jackets, $128; ball caps, $14; athletic bags, $23 as well as shirts and wind-breakers, starting at $30. Call 651-8777.
- Do you have an artist or a person on your gift list who loves the arts? Give them a membership to Columbia County Arts Inc., an organization that supports the arts in the community. Members receive an Arts Talk newsletter, can apply for grants and donations, can link from the CCA Web site and be included in the arts calendar. The group also offers the opportunity for artists to network with colleagues. Memberships range from $5 for students and $15 for individuals to a patron sponsorship of $500 (or more, if you're feeling especially generous). For information, call secretary Wanda Duzenski, 868-5792, or visit www.columbiacountyarts.org.
- Can you buy friendship? Sure you can. A membership to Friends of Columbia County Libraries ranges from $10 individual, to best friend at $500. Membership supports the county's libraries, including the purchase of gifts and other materials. A bonus: Membership in Friends includes a 20 percent at Borders Books Music & Cafe.
- From Friends to your new best friend, donations to Columbia County's Humane Society make a great gift anytime, and are especially helpful to the organization as it raises money for its own facility near Appling. For more information, call 860-0751.
- No time to bake? Too tired from all that shopping to get dinner on the table? Lil' Dutch Bakery in West Town Shopping Center specializes in breads, cakes, pies and casseroles. A few of their offerings include lemon bread, poppy seed, honey wheat and sourdough breads, carrot cake, red velvet cake, Italian cream cake and yellow cake with chocolate icing, coconut cream pie, chocolate pie and peanut butter pie as well as brownies, lemon squares, cupcakes and cinnamon rolls. Some of the casseroles and vegetables include broccoli and rice, chicken pot pie, gourmet potatoes, lasagna, macaroni and cheese and sweet potatoes. Casseroles range from $14.25 to $5.99; cakes from $16.99 to $9.39, and pies are $7.99. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone 228-5336.
- Better than home cooking, entrees, side dishes and desserts are available every day for pickup from Good to Go, 3937 Washington Road in Martinez. Complete meals range from $6.25 for one to $51 for a family of 6. Store hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Call 854-9400.
- Just like Mama used to make, if Mama was from Greece: Dino's Chicago Express, 500 Fury's Ferry Road in the Bi-Lo shopping center, custom-makes platters of authentic Greek pastries. Call 228-4476 for prices and availability.
- You don't have to go to France to find fine cheeses for those on your gift list. Blue Moon Goat Cheese, which is made at Country Plum Farm in Harlem, is available for $4.50 for 4 ounces at Delmonico's, 139 Davis Road. Delmonico's, Columbia County's newest fine foods and meat shop, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- You can even call your spouse "Honey" when you fill his or her coffee mug from Evans Diner, 4429 Washington Road. The generous-size mugs are $5, and include the restaurant's name and smiling logo. Call 210-9636.
- Deck the halls with scenes from Columbia County by artist Lynell Widener, who has become a local legend for her renderings of street scenes and notable landmarks, such as the courthouse, downtown Harlem, Appling and local churches. Call Mrs. Widener at 863-2914. Black and white and color prints are available; prices vary. Some of her originals may be viewed inside Georgia Bank & Trust Co. at 4109 Columbia Road, Martinez - but those aren't for sale.
- Give your little dragon one for Christmas. North Columbia Elementary School has T-shirts, Frisbees and little stuffed dragons, the school's mascot. Most area schools have T-shirts and sweat shirts with school logos available from the school, parent organizations or booster clubs; call the schools for details, but remember their last shopping day is Dec. 19 - the last day of school before the holiday break.
- Sleep through the holidays on a new Serta mattress manufactured in Grovetown. They are available at Columbia County's newest furniture store, Renaissance Fine Furnishings, located in West Town Shopping Center. The store has a full Serta gallery. Hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Prices range from $399 to $2,500. Call 650-2005.
- Give the gift of relaxation from Heaven Scent Candles & Creations, 114 E. Robinson Ave., Grovetown. The store makes its own candles and specializes in natural votives ($1.50) and natural wax melts ($1.50 for pack of two). And if you are trying to watch your waistline, you can substitute real cakes for candle ones. The store has candle bunt cakes ($35), strawberry shortcakes ($8.75) and brownies with ice-cream scoops ($8.75), to name a few. The store also carries all natural bath and body products - lotions, sprays, perfumes, sea salt - starting at $5. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- For the movie buff on your list, The Laurel and Hardy Museum of Harlem sells VHS movies, mouse pads, T-shirts, DVDs, coffee mugs, Laurel and Hardy books, baseball caps, key chains and other good stocking-stuffers. Items range from $3 to $10, and shipping is available. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 556-0401.
- Your house will be alive with the sound of music when you purchase Josh Kelley's major-label debut, "For the Ride Home", Hollywood Records. He has an adult-contemporary hit with the album's first single, Amazing. The 23-year-old former Martinez resident who was a member of Lakeside High School's 1999 state championship golf team, now stands on the cusp of music stardom. The CD is $12.99 at the Evans Wal-Mart, and also is available at Borders or other local music stores.
- Holidays driving you nutty? Head to Kay's Pharmacy in Harlem where the story now carries carry Tracy-Luckey pecans, processed right across the street at the Tracy-Luckey factory. A 1-pound bag is $8.50; an 8-ounce bag is $4.95. Flavors include praline, roasted and salted, plain baking halves and pieces, chocolate covered, angel honey, creamy white and butterscotch. They also have gift tins: a 64-ounce tin with four flavors is $29.95; a medium 24-ounce tin is $17.50; and a one-variety tin is $9.99. A 5-pound box of baking halves or pieces is $29.95. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 556-6231.
- Brush up on your church history with A History of the Kiokee Baptist Church in Georgia, Georgia's First Continuing Baptist Church, by Waldo P. Harris III and James Mosteller. The history of Georgia's oldest Baptist congregation is available at the church's office in Appling for $30, or $35 if mailed. Make checks to Kiokee Baptist Church, P.O. Box 430, Appling, Ga. 30802. Call 541-1086.
- Outfit the golfer on your list with a shirt from Jones Creek Golf Club, starting at $36 to $72 (860-6657); West Lake Country Club, from $49 to $75 (863-4642); or Harlem's Three Oaks Golf Course, $13.95, $25 and $35 (556-1400).
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