Five Things To Do During Your Santa Fe Thanksgiving Weekend
Thanksgiving always brings an opportunity to take a deep breath and be thankful for the wonders of the year. Here in Santa Fe, we are grateful for the scenic beauty of our mountains and the many unique experiences that are available for you. From dining in our world class restaurants to the festivities on the Plaza to kick off of the holiday season, Santa Fe is filled with fun. Discover what you can do during the Thanksgiving weekend in the City Different. You’ll be thankful you did.
Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a holiday that has been celebrated on November 1–2 in Mexico for many years and has gained a following recently in New Mexico. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed on, and help support their spiritual journey.
Note: In September 2017, we invited several bloggers to experience Santa Fe for the first time. This week we are sharing a blog post from that trip, written by Ashley of Surf and Sunshine. We hope Ashley’s blog gives you new ideas for your next Santa Fe weekend getaway itinerary.
Before touching down I can tell you I knew all of two things about Santa Fe: it was in New Mexico and I would definitely be eating tamales at some point during my 3 day Santa Fe weekend itinerary. I slowly opened the shade and blinked blindly into the full New Mexico sun. I waited for my eyes to adjust first taking in miles of flat red landscape against the Sandia Mountains jutting from the earth. I had 72 hours in New Mexico and we were about to hit the ground running.
Now that Old Man Winter has passed his snowy fingers over the Santa Fe mountains, the recent white frosting reminds us of Old St. Nick’s snowy beard and his generous bag of goodies. I’ve often wondered what Mrs. Claus gifts to her “Mr. Has Everything,” which reminds me to ponder how to surprise all Mr.’s in my life as the holiday season approaches. A tour of Santa Fe’s treasure trove of shops and galleries makes my masculine gift list come together pretty quickly, and I don’t mind sharing some hints. (Check out my recent blog post on gift ideas for gals.)
Help Him Buckle Up in Style
Some guys simply won’t wear much jewelry — personal experience has made me admit defeat on that front. But how about a beautiful handmade silver belt buckle for your fellow? Randall D. Moore has been honing an aesthetic approach to dressing up a man’s daily look for decades, and it shows in the skillful artistry of his classic designs.
You can pick up a single belt buckle to start with, but we Westerners are partial to a full ranger belt buckle set, complete with a pair of keepers and a shining silver tip. Modest men may prefer the slim and elegant style of the Metro design, but if your fella is a bit more daring, a touch of turquoise or some braided edging add a look that is unmistakably Santa Fe. The wide assortment available in person (by appointment only) or online means the real issue is choosing what best complements your guy’s sartorial style. If he loves your thoughtful stylish gift, then it’s easy to follow up next year with cufflinks, a bolo tie, a tie tack, or other accessories to match.
Speaking of bolo ties, I thought you’d like to know that right here in our capitol city, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declared the bolo as the state’s official tie. So feel free to get one for all the men in your life as a souvenir of your trip, and for him to wear when he’s here instead of one of those stuffy traditional ties. My guy hasn’t tied a knot around his neck in years!
Something One-of-a-Kind for Your One-in-a-Million Man
Even though my guy chooses a watch over a bracelet, I love the look of a beautiful chunk of silver on a well-muscled forearm. There’s also something to be said for simple jewelry on a man. Maybe your guy welcomes a bit more adornment in the jewelry department and you luckily get to shop accordingly. If that’s the case, every day is a good day for finding a signature piece under the portal at the Palace of the Governors, where Native American artisans set up to sell their creations daily. Scoring a spot along the covered portal means the artist has been vetted for authenticity, so you know that the seller or someone in the family is truly a Native craftsperson, and that means a lot in this age of knock-offs. And of course, it’s not just cuff bracelets — we’re talking leather bracelets for your family’s millennial men, and silver watchbands for their granddaddies. Just remember that if you see it today, it may not be there tomorrow, since the cast of characters changes according to who gets up and at it early.
Create New Memories with Old Things
If your gentleman friend is the type who loves quirky, vintage statement pieces like a garden folly or an old railroad sign, head for the southern part of the Santa Fe Railyard. Yes, there is another part of the Railyard, and it has quickly developed into yet another spot for the city’s talented retailers to curate old and new collections. Recollections, located on Cerrillos Road at the Baca Railyard, has been pure shopping enjoyment ever since it opened. Chock-full of curios, cabinets, cutlery, and curiosities, this antiques and consignment shop showcases diverse city tastes spread over 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. I’ve never walked in without snagging a terrific deal to dress up my domicile, and although I can’t promise you’ll find a garden gnome, don’t be surprised if you do!
Treat Him to Holiday Spirits
The City Different feels the same about fine spirits as it does about our renowned cuisine: we like it homemade. Santa Fe Spirits saw that niche and filled it in 2010 when Colin Keegan opened his distillery to create premium spirits right here in town. This ex-pat Englishman knew what he was after, and his stable of artisanal Scotch whiskies and Calvados-style apple brandy has been joined by his Expedition Vodka and Wheeler’s Gin, so your guy can sip his preference.
Gift your man with an experience on the Distillery tours on Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3–5 pm. A tour is an engaging and educational way to spend an afternoon, and cocktail hour follows from 5–9pm if the fellows want to linger on for fun. And the Tasting Room, open Mondays through Saturday from 3–5 pm in the heart of downtown, is a great place to meet and mingle with friends over a signature cocktail. I’m partial to the Sunset Coyote, but further exploration is definitely on my agenda … care to join?
Cooking Up a Christmas Gift Can Be Creative
A gift that keeps on giving – an experience – has additional benefits, so that even the partners who don’t cook find joy at the stove. How to make that happen? Gifting him with a chile-making workshop at the Santa Fe School of Cooking creates inventive chefs out of everyone. These “education in eating” experiences come in Christmas colors, meaning red chile or green, and a 2-hour class should arm him with all the knowledge he’ll need to pull together an enchilada dinner on football night while you laze on the couch and call out the score. He’ll come away able to discuss the merits of red versus green, and the history and varieties of New Mexico chile, and — if he’s a keen learner — with the skill to create a tasty homemade tortilla with his own two hands. And just as important, he’ll learn how to handle our spicy, potent ingredients safely and efficiently.
If the king of your castle considers the grill a critical feature of his domain, chefs/authors Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison’s 100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without: A Lifelong Companion should definitely be under the tree. Renowned food experts who have made Santa Fe their home, this talented culinary couple has assembled a mouth-watering compendium of classic grilling delights. In addition to their 100 original recipes, the book is peppered with fascinating anecdotes, cooking tips and trivia, and barbecue lore from the ages. The book is available from the School of Cooking’s online market, along with some intriguing ingredients to make him drool while he dreams about a winter barbecue.
Sometimes all it takes is feeling good to make the holiday a great one, and a relaxing spa treatment is just as appealing to those of the X chromosome. He may not admit it, but he’ll be glad you did it when you surprise him with a gift certificate for a spa treatment. While Santa Fe’s Ten Thousand Waves, located up in the mountains, is justifiably well-known for both spa services and fabulous outdoor hot tubs, there are also many places in town to get a great massage or a facial treatment to soothe the chapped skin of a diehard skier. And if you and he are taking your Santa Fe getaway in a hotel with a spa, how much easier that will be
Buy the Boy a Southwest Memory
Be he a well-loved companion of many years or a new flame, a fledging just learning to leave the nest, or Dear Old Dad, the men in your life will appreciate the effort you put into finding a singularly Santa Fe gift. Between now and the holidays, super Santa Fe deals abound, so a quick trip in person or an online exploration will ensure your holiday shopping success. Body, mind, or soul, the guys deserve a reward just as fabulous as the ladies, and you’ll share in the delight when he opens that package to find a unique surprise that’s truly City Different.
It’s true the early bird catches the worm, and that goes double when you’re searching for absolutely perfect gifts for the special ladies in your life. Be it Mom, sister, or BFF, you love her, and you want to make her holidays happy with a unique treat. With that in mind, I hereby submit there is no better place for finding a one-of-a-kind treasure than Santa Fe, with its historic position on the colonial trade route from Mexico to the U.S., and its reputation as a legendary shopping hub for settlers traveling west on the Santa Fe Trail. Stylish shops and wonderful galleries line our streets, and your early-bird attention to the hunt will help you score with plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the holiday festivities yourself. (Check back here in a couple weeks for my tips on where to holiday shop for the men in your life.)
These Boots Are Made for Walking Anywhere
Whether she’ll be sashaying onto a dance floor or stepping up to collect a prize for her rendition of “Oklahoma” at the local talent show, any glamour gal looks the part in a pair of signature cowboy boots from Back at the Ranch, tucked in a classic old home, set back from the sidewalk on East Marcy Street. The shape and style of a great pair of boots put a different swing in her step, and she can be dressed up or down as the occasion demands. My black boots and my brown ones serve just fine for every day, but that red snakeskin pair just puts me in a holiday frame of mind. Your lady friend might feel the same when Susan La Pointe shows you how hand tooling and a favorite color can combine to make an artistic custom piece that says “made in Santa Fe.” The wise purchase of a quality pair of boots ensures they’ll fit perfectly and age well. But if your cowgirl is the type who prefers that already-aged look, Kowboyz on West Manhattan ponies up a selection of vintage boots that will make her feel ready to ride – and consignment shopping is an adventure in its own right!
Finding Finery at Daniella Boutique
Once you’ve scoped out the boot market for the holiday hoedown, maybe it’s time to rustle up some party clothes for a late-night holiday affair. Fashion-forward types here head down to the Market Station in the Santa Fe Railyard where Daniella Fox has curated a classy collection of women’s clothing. The exclusive designer lines featured include premium denim J Brand jeans, which will certainly pair nicely with the aforementioned cowboy boots. The bi-coastal flair on display at Daniella, recognized as one of Lucky Magazine’s Top U.S. Stores, paints an up-to-the-minute picture of Santa Fe style that works day or night, especially with some tasteful accessorizing, upon which Daniella will competently advise.
And if you slip a super-stylish Rebecca Minkoff handbag under the tree, your chic credentials will be confirmed!
Signature Jewelry Adds Sparkle All Year Long
I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t spend just as much time and effort on her jewelry selection as she does on her clothing. And a statement piece is definitely the one thing that can turn the elegant simplicity of a holiday outfit from stark to stunning. While Santa Fe boutiques can satisfy a jewelry yen, for something special I suggest taking the time to peruse the cases at a Patina Gallery on West Palace Avenue to add the wow factor to your gift. With over 75 jewelry designers in owners Allison and Ivan Barnett’s gallery roster, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something that she or you (because face it, shopping = temptation) can’t live without.
Covering Heads and Hands Warms the Heart
By the time our holiday lights are shining, winter winds are blowing too, and that means outer accessories are a welcome option to any wardrobe. Wool, and in particular the alpaca wool from Bolivia and Peru, is such a friendly fabric. It’s soft and warm, and ever so agreeable to any number of hues. Hats, scarves, and gloves make an appearance on the annual holiday gift list precisely because they are so well-used that replacement occurs yearly. And alpaca is a no-kill product, which makes for an extra-warm feeling. Chapare, Chris Meyer’s Montezuma Street shop, has your holiday shopping needs and your lady’s extremities covered with finely-woven accessories to ward away winter’s chill. Keep her feeling cozy as she admires the ancient traditions of a Pueblo holiday dance or toasts her toes by a bonfire on the Christmas Eve farolito walk.
Cook Up a Holiday Surprise
Maybe you’ve learned from experience that your gal pal is the type who prefers to shop for herself. Not a problem, since experience is the operative word when you give a gift certificate for a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Much of what makes Santa Fe so special comes in the form of memorable food experiences, and bringing those recipes home means the memory can be renewed annually at a holiday dinner. The New Mexico holiday foods classes at the School are always a hit, but if her winter holiday always takes place at home, she can schedule a class at any time of year from the School’s huge roster since classes run year-round. A gift certificate applies at the Market’s online store too. So many tasty and fun options for her to choose from: traditional New Mexican classes, chile workshops, Native American dinners, a salsa series, and of course, the holiday tamale class.
One-stop Shopping Is One-of-a-Kind
Festival shopping puts everything in one location, so if you have the good fortune to be here November 30-December 1 on the weekend after Thanksgiving, you’d best mosey over to the SWAIA Winter Indian Market at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. From turquoise jewelry, to hand-woven Navajo rugs, and handspun wools, to beautiful beadwork and handmade ornaments, this is shopping at its best — and it’s easiest, because it’s all in one place. Since November 30 is Small Biz Saturday, this is an ideal opportunity to buy from the artisans who support their families though talent and dedication. Two days give you plenty of time to browse, but since many of the pieces by 200+ Native American artists are truly one-offs, don’t take a second chance for granted on the go-around.
Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot, T’will be Renewed as Art
And the SWAIA Market is not the only holiday happening offering the unique, since the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival returns for its 15th appearance at the Convention Center November 15-17. When unique meets sustainable, you can rest assured that your gift will tickle the fancy of a conservation-minded coed. I have seen cool lamps created from old tin signs that would fit perfectly in a hallway alcove. And there’s no mistaking the fact that jewelry repurposed from vintage beads is literally hand-crafted.
Artistry like this makes you feel great about patronizing those who dreamed it up out of the leftovers of our day-to-day life — that’s multi-dimensional gift giving!
Make Her Holidays Happy While You Enjoy the Shopping Experience
Are you feeling tempted to zip on over to our legendary trading center to make your holiday gift-giving a singular experience? Many local hotels offer great last-minute deals and holiday packages, so when you add the charm of holiday lights and the taste of our renowned cuisine, it’s a winning proposition for you too. Holiday shopping should be just as rewarding as seeing the smiles when you give the gift. And Santa Fe makes that holiday wish come true.