By Sharon Gittleman
You don’t have to plow through crowded malls or spend hours paging catalogues and clicking web pages, praying your holiday gifts arrive on time. Often, overlooked gift treasure chests like city halls, community recreation departments, local museums and post offices have unique presents everyone on your gift list is sure to enjoy.
In Birmingham, your first Santa stop might be the central parking office. At the office, you can buy your friends and family members who live or work in downtown Birmingham one month of peace of mind and leave them with some extra change jingling in their pocket after the holidays. Monthly city parking passes are available for between $30 and $50, with a $20 deposit for the card. The charge varies depending on the rate plan you select.
To purchase a pass, you’ll have to do a little sleuthing – parking authorities will need to know the plate number and type of car your giftee drives. They’ll also ask for your recipient’s address.
You can pick up a pass at the central parking office located inside the Chester street garage, between Chester and Maple.
Your next stop could be the Birmingham Post Office, located on Bowers and Adams. In the lobby you’ll see a host of gifts that are perfect for youngsters and adults. Little ones would love the ten inch tall soft plush stuffed bears dressed in historic and mythic costumes, from a John Paul Jones look alike to a character from the tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Several of the $10 bears come with an extra present – ten percent of the price will be donated to fund breast cancer research.
The stamp-patterned key chains and lapel pins make perfect stocking stuffers at $3-$5, while a tote bag with a large stamp displaying a bright stylized view of the downtown Detroit waterfront, seen from the vantage point of a boat on the river, will only set you back $13.
Sports fans will love a framed plaque with action shots of the 2004 NBA champion Pistons, available for just $25.
Before you leave, you may want to pick up some gifts for yourself, like a set of holiday cards with a big red Santa ornament stamp on the cover for $8, or a phone card, valued at $10-$24.
Antique-lovers and devotees of times gone by will enjoy a year-long membership to the Birmingham Historical Society. Your recipient will receive the society’s newsletter five times a year and can attend special members-only events including historic home tours, an annual dinner at the Birmingham Historical Museum and overnight trips to other museums and antique exhibits.
Memberships start at $25 for individuals and families.
The gift shop inside the Birmingham Historical Museum, located in Allen House at 556 West Maple, offers history books, posters and note cards ranging from $3 to $22.
For the sportsman or woman on your list, a series of ten open skating sessions for adults or children could be highly appreciated. You can purchase a gift certificate for the one and a half hour sessions for $27 to $45, with the charge varying by the age and residence of the recipient. You’ll pay $96 to $116 for a nine-week skating course for your giftee. For more information, visit the Birmingham Ice Sports Arena, located on East Lincoln.
These non-traditional gifts offer one extra benefit to your recipients – a financial boost to your friends’ and family’s hometowns.
By Sharon Gittleman