When Casa Nova opened in 2004 the focus was on African art. Owner Natalie Fitz-Gerald, who hailed from South Africa, wanted to bring both antique and new art from her home continent to Santa Fe. Much of the tribal art offered was both colorful and whimsical. Over the last 10 years the shop has evolved. The inventory, now sourced from around the world, is much more eclectic. Shoppers will find a wide range of items including furniture, custom bedding, one-of-a-kind cushions, unusual imported textiles, home décor, jewelry, fashion accessories and "world class" African art. There are even some Santa Fe designers in the mix. The shop is always adding new items discovered as they scour the world for the unusual. Want something truly unique? The shop sells its own designs; not found anywhere else. While shopping for gifts, treat yourself to something special. You deserve it!
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Casa Nova offers a range of unique gift items priced from a reasonable $3 to a high of $80,000 with lots in between.
Billie's expert tip: What's hot at Casa Nova at the moment? The hand-beaded dolls from Cameroon embellished with glass beads and cowry shells are catching customers' attention. Prices on the handmade figures range from $120 to $850.
Do you have a chef on your holiday gift list or someone who loves Spanish foods? Head to The Spanish Table. The shop is filled with all the essentials to cook the foods of Spain at home. Need a paella pan that will serve from two to 200? Look no further. They even have special paella burners and all the ingredients. Other cookware includes copper Cataplanas (hinged, domed pans), clay Cazuelas, ollas and tagines as well as a selection of ceramic pieces. Grocery shelves are stocked with imported foods including olives, capers, oils, vinegars, nuts, sauces and spreads. The refrigerator and freezer cases offer a selection of imported cheeses, hams and chorizo. There's also fish including Portuguese mackerel and sardines. There's also an interesting selection of cookbooks as well, with recipes ranging from paella to tapas and other traditional and contemporary foods from that Iberian nation and even beyond.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Everyone's list has someone who loves food and cooking on it. The Spanish Table offers some unique gift options for food lovers.
Billie's expert tip: If you can't get to Santa Fe to shop, not only does The Spanish Table have an online presence, they have three other shops, all on the west coast. You can find them in Seattle, Washington as well as Berkeley and Mill Valley, California.
ChocolateSmith opened their modern, antiseptically clean shop on Cerrillos Road in 2003. They now have two additional Santa Fe locations: one at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market and one in the Plaza Galleria on San Francisco Street. The shop's specialty is chocolate pâté. Ganache is shaped, chilled and then hand-dipped ten times in the same European-style wax that coats Gouda cheese. It comes in a variety of shapes and flavors. The secret to their chocolates is they're handmade daily using premium ingredients including locally sourced and organic when they can. Bestsellers include Don Juan Pecan Caramel, Green Chile Pistachio Bark and Toffee Almond Bark. New this year: craft caramels in a range of flavors including Tequila Lime, Maple Coconut, PB & C (peanut butter and chile), Lemon Thyme and Chocolate Crème. Candy gift items run from $4.95 to $35. Of course, you can spend more!
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Candy is a great gift for just about anyone on your list. ChocolateSmith offers a wide selection of handmade treats.
Billie's expert tip: Shop owner Jeff Keenen (who owns the shop with his wife Kari, recommends the Winter Mint Bark. The layered treat, only available during the holiday season, features layered white and dark chocolate "bark." According to Keenan, 'it's really about the cool minty tones' created by four different kinds of mint.
The Zuni Pueblo in western New Mexico is known for its distinctive handcrafts. Keshi, subtitled "The Zuni Connection," is the place to go in Santa Fe for Zuni handcrafts. They're knowledgable about both Zuni art and the people who create it. They've worked closely with the Pueblo since 1981. The shop, which began as an artist's co-op, is now privately owned. Robin Dunlap who taught at the Pueblo and helped start the shop became the owner in 1988. In 2002, she passed the reins to her daughter Bronwyn. The shop is packed with carefully selected pieces representing the Zuni artistic tradition. The pueblo is known for fetishes (carvings of animals, primarily made from stone); fetish necklaces; inlay and petit point jewelry as well as contemporary pottery, paintings and Katsina dolls. Over 500 Pueblo artists are represented at Keshi.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Keshi is packed with unique Zuni art and handcrafts that will make great gifts for special people.
Billie's expert tip: It's a great place for kids looking for a subsidized gift for parents or others. The staff patiently works with each child, explaining the wares, and helps them select the perfect gift. Children love the attention and feel great when they finally make a decision.
Rainbow Man, just steps from the Plaza, has offered Native American, Spanish Colonial, New Mexican and Mexican art and handcrafts since 1945. The shop is packed with antique, vintage and contemporary handmade treasures. Knowledgable staff is on hand to help you choose the perfect gift. The shop is known for its Pendleton blankets, its huge selection of antique and old pawn Navajo and other tribal jewelry and its collection of the work of renowned photographer Edward S. Curtis' Native American photos. New Mexican folk artists represented here include Tesuque wood-carver Ron Archuleta Rodriguez and Hispanic santera and painter Marie Romero Cash as well as the work of her son Gregory Lomayesva whose colorful wood carvings pay homage to his Hopi ancestry. Shoppers will find a range of items from $10 Mexican tchotchkes to $50,000 for Curtis photos or a spectacular 19th century concho belt, with lots in between.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Rainbow Man offers one of the most extensive collections of Native American, Spanish Colonial, New Mexican and Mexican art and handcrafts in Santa Fe.
Billie's expert tip: Even if you're not actively shopping, stop by Rainbow Man. Some of their collection is museum worthy. Unlike a museum, if you like one of these treasures (and can afford it) you can take it home with you. It not, there are plenty of affordable items in their huge inventory.
Pachamama is THE place in Santa Fe for Spanish Colonial antiques and Latin American folk art. The name means "Mother Earth" or more literally "Mother World" in the ancient Incan culture. The shop, opened in 1974, opening moved to its current Canyon Road digs in 1994. Owner Martha Egan began importing one-of-a-kind art from Mexico and Central and South America upon her return to the States after a stint with the Peace Corps. She still travels to the area seeking new items for the shop. The small two-room boutique is a mix of old and new. Shoppers will find hand-carved saints that are hundreds of years old just feet from quirky Day of the Dead muertos. The shop is known for milagros (religious folk charms traditionally used for healing or as offerings). They stock hundreds of them from cast to handmade. Also on offer: unique Christmas stocking stuffers.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Pachamama is packed with fabulous gift items from Latin American in a wide price range from $1.50 to thousands of dollars.
Billie's expert tip: Pachamama, known for its milagro collection, stocks both traditional and contemporary examples of these religious offerings. They're priced from $3.50 for votives made by a family of 4th generation milagro-makers to several hundred dollars for antiques and handmade,-one-of-a-kind pieces from Mexico, Peru, Greece and Italy.
The gift shops at Santa Fe's museums are great options for holiday shopping. The colorful, packed Museum of International Folk Art Shop is no exception. Shoppers will find folk art from around the world. Enterprising artists from impoverished communities are experts at recycling. Some of the "upcycled" treasures here include whimsical animals made from discarded flip-flops in Kenya, South African telephone wire baskets, horn jewelry from Vietnam, seed pod birds from Zimbabwe as well as recycled oil drum wall art from Haiti and Indian animals created from steel drums. Pottery includes the prized Mata Ortiz pots from Mexico and Brazilian pots. There's collection of clothing and textiles from around the globe including Guatemalan huipiles, wool ponchos from Nepal and an extensive scarf collection as well as.nesting dolls from Russia and Poland, Peruvian retablos and Dio de los Muertos art. For the holidays there are lots of ornaments on offer.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The International Folk Art Museum Shop has a colorful selection of well-priced gifts from around the world.
Billie's expert tip: The shop always stocks folk art in conjunction with current exhibitions. This season shoppers will find pottery from Brazil as well as examples from the Southern United States. While you're there, check out the museum's book shop
Looking for an unusual gift that will make the recipient smile? Head for Doodlet's, a Santa Fe institution since 1955. The tiny shop is packed with goodies that run from whimsical to the reverent and even irreverent. It's broken into 10 "departments" including: kitchen (offering locally-made retro aprons and potholders); folk art featuring Mexican Day of the Dead pieces as well as Aguilar pottery figures from Oaxaca and New Mexico-made angels; miniatures which offers tiny treasures including mini-ristras; books from delightful kid-appropriate options to the raunchy Pop-up Kama Sutra and novelties (check out the rude gnome that whistles when you pass by). Want a slinky or some retro candy (remember those dots on paper and Necco Wafers you ate as a kid) you'll find them here. There is a wide selection of tree ornaments including a wooden box of gnomes. There's also an extensive collection of stocking stuffers.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: A Santa Fe holiday shopping list wouldn't be complete without Doodlet's.
Billie's expert tip: Need stocking stuffers? Head to Doodlet's; they have one of the widest selections in Santa Fe. You'll find miniature wind-up toys, retro (and current) sweets as well as Flying Screaming Slingshot Monkeys, Selfie Wands (retractable poles to capture the perfect selfie) and Yodeling Pickles and Bacon.
The aptly-named Things Finer specializes in vintage, antique and estate items such as jewelry and silver. In addition, they carry a carefully curated selection of new items. Opened in La Fonda on the Plaza in 1978, they opened a second shop at La Fonda in 2011. Robert Pettus, the original owner and his wife Elizabeth travel the world searching for unique items for their discerning clientele. Prices run from $8 to $80,000. On the lower end, shoppers will find things such as Christmas ornaments, stationery and candles. Shoppers will discover time-honored gifts such as writing instruments (Visconti and Montegrappa pens), cuff links and watches. There's also a selection of "niche" fragrances including Jardin d'Orient (they're the exclusive U.S. dealer). The hot thing this season: limited-edition Loup Noir scarves; they're flying out the door. Both shops are packed with fabulous finds for those special people on your list.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Things Finer has been offering unique and often one-of-a- kind gift items to Santa Feans for over 35 years.
Billie's expert tip: Can't make it to the shop? Send them your gift list. They'll consult with you and pick the perfect presents and ship them. It's a great way to get those special somethings without leaving the comfort of your home.
Want that special gift? Head for Array in the Santa Fe Design Center. The shop, subtitling itself "Objects for the Home and Gifting," offers a collection of gifts ranging in price from a few dollars for a greeting card to runs to $3,000 for original art. The spacious boutique showcases an eclectic selection of gifts such as home décor items, antiques and artifacts; locally-made lotions and slaves and other body products; original art from antique (some pieces date to the 18th century) to contemporary; candles (including beeswax ones from a local beekeeper) and candle holders; pottery; glassware and gourmet foods. Women's accessories include tote bags, scarves and whimsical hand knit caps from Canada. Want unique gifts for the youngsters on your list? Check out the selection from Maileg, a Danish toymaker. New items arrive all the time.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Array offers a wide selection for everyone on your shopping list from kids to the most discerning adults.
Billie's expert tip: Check out the handcrafted Santa Rosa candles from San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Array is one of the biggest retailers of these in the world. Prices run from $2.75 for a small votive to $152 for a 12" high by 6" in diameter pillar.