Think local talent when planning Christmas gifts

Think local talent when planning Christmas gifts

HodgePodge, By Charlie Hodge

The House of Hodge has become semi-dependent with online shopping the past two years, due to the various complications of COVID-19.

At first we begrudgingly turned to the internet for groceries and needed household items, often doing a drive-by pickup or having products delivered. We quickly realized; however, that when it came Christmas shopping online present purchases were particularly easy and safe via the web. It soon became an enjoyable, stress reducing, helpful tool in our Christmas toolbox.

While online shopping comes with the nasty potential of catching a vile computer virus – damage done to an inanimate machine is far less concerning than catching a personal fatal virus. For many folks (especially those with a compromised immune system) there is no reboot or memory chip replacement after catching the pandemic.

In addition, online shopping allows for a far more relaxed shopping experience than battling the throngs at Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire.

I quickly discovered the numerous positives for shopping from my desk and cozy chair versus verses mall mayhem. At the click of a mouse I can price compare a product from a variety of sources, quickly peruse similar products offered at different stores, and often find a product online that is not available or sold out at the physical store in town. While shopping I can collect my goods in an online ‘cart’ instead of pushing a metal one heavily loaded down with goods – which I also need a loony to utilize.

Hodgepodge by Charlie HodgeDuring my online shopping quest should I feel the urge to visit a washroom or take a rest and put my feet up, I can simply ‘save’ and take a break. It’s the perfect fit for an old, indecisive hermit such as myself.

Best of all though, I’d far rather ‘browse’ through my Christmas shopping list wearing fuzzy warm pajamas, slippers and perhaps sipping on a hot chocolate (bailey’s optional) in the comfort of my own home.

This year, I plan on combining my recently gained online shopping savvy with supporting local businesses, particularly arts related.

As part of a necessary adapt or die approach to COVID-19 many Okanagan painters, musicians, carvers, sculptors, writers… also learned to market themselves online.

Several such as Papa Thom, Jimmy LeGuilloux, and  Dirt Road Opera held online concerts which thousands of isolated or quarantined residents ate up as stress relievers. While such a venue will never replace playing a live gig it at least allowed some joy and satisfaction for both artist and fan alike.

So, this year, I intend to do a lot of my gift buying for family and friends combining my love and support of local talent and businesses with online ordering. There are a number of talented artists with products to offer including CDs, t-shirts, hats, videos, pictures, books or other merchandise to sell. As well several artists or musicians are hosting concerts, showings, or events to either sell tickets for or promote. Most are worthy of you considering.

If you buy products soon you’ll still have time to mail them to friends and family as gifts.

Here is a starter list of artists and their products or web sites, including upcoming concerts and events you may wish to support for your own enjoyment or as gifts.

First on the list is a delightful, just released children’s book titled Noises of the Night – A Canadian Lullaby by Kelowna writer Alana PidwerbeskiNoises is a 21-page, cleverly written, beautifully illustrated poem guaranteed to be a hit with your youngster. Pidwerbeski uses bright, exciting colours on each illustrated page with scenes depicting various Canadian provinces. It’s Alana’s first published work and it is wonderful. You can find it at Mosaic Books.

There are several superb musical products available as gifts as well and certainly high on the list is the smoking hot CD Nowheresville by Dirt Road Opera. Featuring the amazing harmonies of Barry Mathers, Rachel Matkin and Jim Ryan this roots genre album is already turning heads in the Canadian music industry and is a tremendous album worthy of purchasing. DTO have also just recorded a new single to be released in early January along with a video. The band’s CD and t-shirts are available from their website

Kelowna’s Deb Stone has a stunning voice and it’s aptly displayed in two of her albums Written in Stone – all excellent originals – and Tribute to Patsy – filled with hits written by Patsy Cline. To purchase a copy email Stone at I guarantee you will not be disappointed. (I maintain Deb sings Patsy better than Patsy- lol).

Dan Thiessen has been singing and writing songs since he was a teenager. Like many artists he often mirrors what’s going on in the world around him. However Dan was overwhelmed by the stress and chaos impacting the world with COVID-19 and concerned with the lack of tenderness being shown. So he decided to try and kindle some kindness through his music. Dan invited all kinds of local musicians to help him with his solution. The result is an album titled The Kindness Project with 25 local artists participating.

In order to spread the word to all, Dan provides it free to download from his website. He invites you to do so at:

Now that is the loving, giving spirit of Christmas.

Meanwhile, I shamelessly remind readers that my recently release novel Lost Souls of Lakewood – the History and Mystery of Blaylock’s Mansion might make a great gift for someone you know who loves historical fiction. It is available at Mosaic Books or Amazon online.

More events and gift ideas next week including info on Teena Gowdy Rob Schaefer, Keith Thom, my website and more.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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