By Friday, shoppers will be out en masse, all trying to score the perfect gifts for those special people on their holiday lists.
How about having an art experience while you are shopping, or giving one to that perfect friend, either through a theater event, art class or piece of work, large or small?
We have fine crafts and sculptures, gift shops in several of the museums that produce items based on local architecture and history, and more painting and print galleries than you could possibly cover in a day, or two.
So here's a short list of some favorite ideas that can yield treasures.
Shop and stroll
There are museum shops within a short distance of each other, and you can stroll around Charleston as you travel to them.
At the Charleston Museum, memberships start at $40 and include admission to the museum and invitations to special openings and classes throughout the year. A favorite is the $60 grandparent membership that allows two adults and all children in the family under 18 admission for a year. And the gift shop's holiday sale begins Friday, with members receiving 30 percent off items until Dec. 17. It's an opportunity to give the gift of membership and choose from items such as "Charleston Silver," a book about the museum's fine silver collection, the Charleston Coloring and Activity Book or "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" on DVD.
The Charleston Museum is at 360 Meeting St. No admission is required for the gift shop.
In the Historic Charleston Foundation gift shop at 108 Meeting St., there is a line of pins, charms and necklaces that are based on Charleston's ironwork. They come in silver or gold and reproduce the delicate filigree that can be seen on many of the city's streets. One line of charms even includes a tiny anvil and hammer, representing the blacksmiths who create the ironwork, and it bears a hallmark of the local silversmith who created it.
At the Gibbes Museum of Art, the gift shop holds some small treasures for art lovers. Favorites are notecards of some of the paintings in the museum. A box of cards from Alice Ravenel Huger Smith's popular "Rice Plantation of the Fifties" series makes a wonderful gift for teachers, and it won't break the bank. Also, it's a great time to look at the art classes that will be taught after the new year. The Gibbes is returning to one of its original missions of training local artists.
The Gibbes Museum of Art is at 135 Meeting St., and there is no admission charge for the gift store.
Tickets as gifts
For the gift of live theater, here's an easy way to let the recipient pick the plays and times they want. Theatre Charleston's gift certificates are available in amounts of $25, $50 or $100. They work like cash for any of their nine participating theaters. They will even personalize the gift certificate with a note and mail it for you. Go to www.theatrecharleston.com to order. Or you can buy the sampler card for $80 and attend five shows on their list. That works out to $16 per show.
CD and a show
Looking for something more contemporary? Darius Rucker's latest album was released in 2010, but it is appropriately titled "Charleston, SC 1966." The CD is easy to locate, and would appeal to anyone who loves country with a pop overtone. He's also playing in February at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, so you could purchase tickets and the CD together for that music lover who's a fan.
Crafts as art
For fine crafts made by local artists, the Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan's Island carries a nice collection of artists who work in glass, metal, paint and clay. You never know what you will find there, and it's a great excuse to go out to the beach. If you want a preview of some of the artists, go to www.sandpipergallery.net.
And then there are the paintings. There are so many choices that you really have to look for yourself. The French Quarter around State and Broad streets has about 30 galleries, and there are more scattered throughout the city. You just might have to come back the following weekend for the Charleston Christmas events and the French Quarter Art Walk on Dec. 2.