Holiday shoppers looking for low-commitment, last-minute gifts still have a chance this week at Blue Genie Art Bazaar, the twice-yearly seasonal local goods and arts market. Through this Friday, Christmas Eve, the Bazaar will be open for in-store and online browsing.
Unlike most art markets, the booths are unmanned, with one checkout at the front of the storefront. It sacrifices interesting conversations with Austin artists, but it makes for a much smoother, faster shopping experience for a get-in-and-get-out approach in between other plans for the busy week. For especially busy procrastinators, Blue Genie will appoint a personal shopper.
Austin is a burgeoning community for food lovers, and it’s hard to go wrong with gifts in this category. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I already have a wooden spoon”? Kitchen gifts are great for grannies with houses full of truly everything, as well as for white elephant gift swaps and partners who know that cutting board is for both of you.
This year at Blue Genie, we saw six trends foodies will go wild for, from prices that range from “Nothing is too good for you” to “It’s fine that I have to make dinner, I guess.” Have fun and don’t forget to grab something for the most important person in your life: you.
Wooden creations are impossible to miss when wandering around the showroom. Booths in earthy all-wood tones show off artisanal cutting boards as the main attraction and are surrounded by matching knickknacks that blend perfectly into a rustic kitchen or warm up an ultra-modern one. Coulbury Design stands out from similar board makers, offering elegant single-piece boards that are run through along the flow of the grain with curving contrasting stripes (starting at $70). Kookaburra Woodworks sells striped boards in brighter colors with resin inlays in floral designs ($64), plus adorably tiny 6-inch-by-4-inch serving boards ($22).
These little table protectors are great companions for a matching cutting board, are practical ways to sneak art into any space, and are affordable options for buying in bulk. South Austin Gallery prints photos of familiar Austin scenes on ceramic tiles with cork linings to protect surfaces (four for $35). Bright Beam Goods brings smiles to the table with “Mistaken Lyrics Coasters” featuring phrases such as the classic, “Hold me closer Tony Danza” ($28 per set of six). The same booth offers “basically impossible” wood and plastic puzzles that look cute, could function as coasters, and will definitely confound when that glass is empty ($30).
An underrated kitchen decoration ready to change with the season or every wash: tea towels. Victrola Design brings the most stylish prints in repeating patterns featuring boldly colored cacti, dragonflies, and more (two for $30). They’d look great with matching wall prints (starting at $28). For more literal decorators who love a clear tea towel narrative — and really, who doesn’t? — Rainy Day Illustrations prints watercolor works on white cotton flour sack rectangles to hang elegantly from oven and drawer handles. They’re adorned with cute cattle, local flora, and festive scenes (three for $48).
Not everyone wants a gift they’ll have to store forever. There are plenty of edible options at Blue Genie that may expand a taster’s culinary horizons. Madhu Chocolate crafts bars with sophisticated flavor combinations, including “Idukki Black Pepper” and “Vanilla Fennel” (starting at $9). White Cloud World Teas stocks a wide range of imaginative mixes and curates a “Texas Tea Sampler” box ($29.95). To sweeten that deal, add raw honey ($8) from the locally acclaimed Two Hives Honey. The beekeepers offer a tour of the hives, with the redemption code wrapped up in a brown paper package tied up with string ($90). Aww.
For cooks who would never pick up anything but their holy grail tools, or foodies who never pick up kitchen tools at all, wall art feeds the passion without getting in the way. Watercolorist Jim Koehn focuses on “Backroads and Main Streets of Texas,” including local classics like Top Notch Hamburgers and the Mean Eyed Cat Bar (starting at $20). Rhyno Clayworks sculpts colorful glazed wall planters ($48) that bring a little greenery in while matching its own crackle mugs, vases, oil pourers, and more. The classic designs should look great with any stoneware that’s already in the kitchen.
Dinner, bar, and tableware
It’s the nice stuff we constantly use but don’t always think to buy ourselves. Elevated tools and decor bring a meal together, or make takeout feel extra fancy. Ghost Pepper Glass offers some of the most visually arresting goods at the market, especially its abstract “UpCups,” upcycled glassware from its “Zero Waste” line ($35). Candy cane cocktail stirrers look suspiciously edible and adorably festive ($15). Chaos Woods packs a dizzying assortment of twisty wooden spoons straight out of a mysterious crone’s cottage. They’re not ergonomic, but they’re irresistible (prices vary, starting around $40).