Raise your hand if you've finished your Christmas shopping...that's what we thought. Not many hands went up.

The Christmas shopping season can be pretty stressful. It's not always easy to come up with gifts that are appreciated, let alone enjoyed. In fact, it hardly ever happens.

We've been kicking around some ideas in the office about gifts that you can only get in Hannibal (or around the Hannibal area). Here's what we've come up with, so far. Feel free to comment below if you have additional ideas.

Ayers Pottery

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Steve Ayers has been a professional potter for over 30 years. He's an artist that not only makes work that is beautiful, but is also functional. You'll find everything from coffee mugs, to dinnerware, to the most popular gift at Ayers Pottery, their world-famous bread baker (check out this useful pamphlet '101 Uses for the Bread Baker').

You can visit Ayers Pottery at 308 North 3rd in downtown Hannibal. If you come at the right time, you might just catch Steve as he's throwing pots, which is a lot of fun to watch.

 

Cave-aged cheese

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The Mark Twain Cave is known world-wide. In fiction, it's where Tom and Becky got lost. It's where Injun Joe finally got what was coming to him. In real life, a mad doctor kept the corpse of his deceased daughter preserved in a cylinder that hung in the cave for a time (go on a Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour, you'll find out all about it).

These days, in addition to hosting tourists from all over the world, it's also used to age cheese. Award-winning cheese, no less, from Heartland Creamery.

 

 

Alpaca fleece

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

Alpaca fiber makes not only for great Christmas gifts (because it's usually cold around Christmastime), but they are truly home-grown.

Just down the road from Hannibal, in New London, is the Starlight Alpaca Ranch. If you're not sure what an alpaca is, it's sort of like a llama. Alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic, and is used in a variety of ways.

The Starlight Alpaca Ranch store includes sweaters, hats, mittens, blankets, socks, and even toys made from the silky fiber.

 

 

Art

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In recent years, Hannibal has become home to a thriving arts community, and is an anchor city on the 50 Miles of Art.

Within those 50 miles, you'll find fine artists and craftsmen that create everything from hand-made jewelry, paintings, furniture, sculpture and just about any other sort of art you can imagine.

The Hannibal Arts Council also sponsors a sale, '99 Bucks or Less,' every year during the Christmas season. A variety of area artists offer one-of-a-kind originals for less than $100. You can sometimes even find items for as low as $5 or $10. It's worth stopping by the Arts Council's gallery and taking a look.

 

Mark Twain Riverboat Cruise

Kurt Parsons

Yes, there are a lot of riverboats that offer cruises. But the Mark Twain Riverboat in Hannibal is the only one that shares Mark Twain's hometown.

The boat was built in 1964. It's 120ft. long,33ft. wide, and can hold 400 passengers!

The riverboat season has ended for 2012, but for the holidays, the Mark Twain Riverboat does offer gift certificates a cruise in the spring. If it's been a while since you've taken a cruise, or if you've never been, you should consider an outing on one of Hannibal's top attractions.

 

Goat's Milk Soap

 

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Sweet Spirits Farm in Hannibal makes soap out of lard bought locally, coconut oil (which helps it lather), fresh whole goat’s milk, lye, essential oils, and in some recipes, herbs and flowers.

According to the Sweet Spirits Farm website, "goat milk contains over 50 nutrients, minerals, acids and enzymes that help nourish and revitalize dehydrated skin. Modern science has discovered that goat milk soap has a pH level similar to healthy human skin and hair."

Instead of giving another prepackaged basket of soaps and lotions this year, consider this option and help support local business.

 

Custom Clock

rallscountyclockcompany.com

Clock making, and clock repair, is almost a lost art. Luckily, Hannibal is home to a business that can do both.

If your family heirlooms include an old clock in disrepair, how great would it be to have that clock back in working order, so that you can pass it along to future generations? Or maybe you'd like to have a custom clock built.

Ralls County Clock Company, at 207 North Main in Hannibal, can repair, restore, or build a custom clock just for you. You'll also be impressed by their selection of antique and antique reproduction clocks.