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Holiday cheers 

Say what you will about holiday shopping (and how early you should start panicking). I despise Christmas music and blind consumerism. But can't we all agree that this is the time of year for strolling the streets with bags full of locally made masterpieces and cups full of hot cider? Who doesn't enjoy that? There is something so sweet and old fashioned about running into friends on the street, versus tagging them in a raunchy Facebook meme. Suddenly, social media feels stale and Grinchy. There is a sense of celebration and anticipation in the air that cheers even the sulkiest soul. Friends are meeting for locally roasted coffee and out-of-town relatives are exploring SLO County with fresh eyes. Join the masses for this magical time: Power down your laptop and make a beeline for downtown SLO, where tourists are few this time of year and local shops need your support dearly. Be sure to stop by Mint + Craft while on your merry way. Now through December, the artisanal deli will roll out a host of happenings featuring locally made goods like granola, honey, jujubes, beer, wine, cider, and more. Join in for happy hour each Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and extended breakfast hours until 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (for when you need to nurse your head after all those late-night holiday parties). This Nov. 3, stop by for Art After Dark featuring Cassie Idler Pottery; on Nov. 9, enjoy a "local table" family style dinner with Chef Michael Wood; and on Nov. 25, check out curated holiday gift boxes with custom in-store assembly of mercantile products. Do I even need to repeat? Many of those products are made proudly right here in SLO County, which will certainly get you in the running for this year's "nice" list. Δ

Hayley Thomas Cain encourages everyone to shop as local as humanly possible this holiday season. She can be reached at hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

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