It isn’t too late to find a last-minute gift in Merrimack

Christmas is almost here, and the time for shopping is running short.

But don’t despair. There is no need to brave the lines at the malls, listening to “The Little Drummer Boy” for the hundredth time this season.

Right in the center of Bedford in the historic Oliver Kendall House, there is a local shop with an impressive selection of handcrafted items that make unusual gifts.

Not only that, money spent at the nonprofit, community-based Craftsworkers’ Guild Holiday Craft Shop goes to good causes.

More than 60 artisans and craftspeople have their work on display – pottery and ceramics, woodenware, art glass, jewelry, children’s items, fiber arts, cards and paper crafts, painting and photography, soaps, lotions and candles.

The other day, Roxanne Mann, the guild’s vice president, was working behind the counter, one way the guild keeps overhead down.

“We all take shifts,” she said. But if someone is unable to work in the shop, there other ways to help.

The Craftsworkers’ Guild is the oldest craft group in the state, and all of its profits go to grants for schools and other causes, Mann said.

Guild President Carol Davis was there, too. She said business this year has been steady, with customers coming in every day.

Davis makes and sells what she calls tribal jewelry – pins made of copper wire, beads and leather.

Carol McKinney was there with her hats, leg warmers and mittens knit in soft, warm colors, using “upcycled” wool from old sweaters.

All of the items in the shop are juried, meaning they must meet high standards of craftsmanship.

It’s wonderful to “see what people are capable of doing,” McKinney said – and none of the items are from China.

The guild shop is open seasonally, for the spring, fall and the holiday shows. Earlier this month, the guild held a Gourmet and Goodie Weekend with homemade treats.

Karen Blouin, of Sunapee, was there last week, excited to find a hand-painted Merry Christmas panel for a family gift swap and handcrafted earrings.

The Holiday Shop is open every day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Monday, Dec. 22. It is located at 5 Meetinghouse Road behind the library.

In Hollis

More one-of-a-kind gifts can be found at Wild Salamander,
an art studio on Ash Street in Hollis that just opened a shop in November.

All arts and crafts sold here are created by local people within a radius of 30 miles, owner K.C. Morgan said.

“A lot of local moms are coming out with hidden talents,” she said.

There are hand-carved, block-printed cards by Anna Birch, crocheted and knit hats by Shannon Lane, stained glass by Catherine Eisenberg and wood-burning on bark creations by Noble Farrow.

From Sinead Cleary, there is jewelry made from the 11th-century Korean technique of keum-boo, in which gold is fused to silver to create beautiful patterns.

Hollis artist Suzanne Binnie has some of her zentangle work here. Zentangle is a method of creating images from repetitive patterns that is said to put the mind in a meditative state. Binnie also teaches classes here on Saturdays.

“The artists are good at keeping their prices reasonable,” said Morgan, who owns the studio and shop with her husband, Charlie.

The shop is part of the Morgans’ Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center, whose mission “is to bring together the arts, artists and community members through education, explorations and gatherings.” They offer classes and workshops for children and adults taught by local artists and educators.

The shop is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m.-noon and 4-8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more traditions gifts, there is Brookdale Fruit Farm, just down the road on Broad Street, where you can find poinsettia, wreaths, potted amaryllis, little Christmas trees made from holly.

There are several rooms filled with ornaments and other holiday decorations, as well as a greenhouse, and a wide assortment of foods that make great gifts, including salsas, preserves, pickled vegetables and candy.

In Merrimack

If your holiday isn’t complete without a visit to a mall, there is the Merrimack Premium Outlets, with its 100 stores, selling everything from clothing, shoes, children’s clothes, leather and luggage, jewelry and home furnishings.

Under the category of specialty items, there are two new shops: Go Games & Toys and The Winemaker’s Kitchen, a line of culinary products from LaBelle Winery in Amherst that includes honey, jams and jellies, savory cooking wines, and coffee. They join Perfumania, Lindt Chocolate, Crabtree & Evelyn, and other gift and speciality shops, located at 80 Premium Outlets Boulevard.

Outlet hours until Christmas are Saturday, Dec. 20, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 21, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Monday-Tuesday, Dec. 22-23, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Christmas Eve, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.