It’s December. If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, it’s time to decide what to do for the special people in your life.

Christmas shopping was stressful for me until I learned that I needed to avoid crowded malls and retail stores.

When I realized that local businesses and online shops offer both unique and special options, Christmas shopping became much more enjoyable!

So, my River Hills Traveler friends, for all of you who love the state of Missouri and the great outdoors, I have a few ideas that could help take your gift-giving experience to a better level for all parties involved!

1. Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Nature Shop at mdcnatureshop.com to see a variety of amazing gifts you can purchase this holiday season.

I personally enjoy the CD “Voices of the Hills” that recounts the history and music of Shannon County.

There are also books, such as “Cooking Wild in Missouri” and “A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri.” If you don’t like to order items online, they can often be purchased at Missouri Department of Conservation nature centers, like Powder Valley and Runge.

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2. You can send Christmas cards featuring photos taken in Missouri.

Kim Carr, a talented photographer from New Florence, Missouri, has a wide variety of greeting cards and notecards that can be purchased online or at local shops in Hermann, Columbia, St. Charles, etc.

She can also be contacted at kimcarrphotography.com.

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3. Wayfarer has fun products and apparel for those who love the outdoors. Simply visit wayfarerapparel.co and browse the site.

I am a huge fan of my “Respect Nature” T-shirt I ordered a few months ago and I’ve been tempted to order it as a sweatshirt. Their products are a modern and fun twist on the outdoors lifestyle.

From a basic stainless steel camping mug to an ultralight sleeping bag, they have you covered for your next outdoors adventure.

Nature lovers of all ages can appreciate a gift from Wayfarer.

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4. Speaking of camping, did you know that you could purchase gift cards from Missouri State Parks? The last time I checked, a gift card fits perfectly in any Christmas stocking!

So give the gift of camping, by calling 877-422-6766 to purchase a Missouri State Parks gift card.

When you order a gift card by telephone using a credit or debit card, a $25 minimum purchase is required.

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5. Do you know someone who could use a pocket notebook? For the people who like paper and prefer to jot down ideas, measurements, telephone numbers, and more – Field Notes is the perfect gift.

Visit fieldnotesbrand.com to learn more. Or, if you find yourself in downtown Washington, Missouri, anytime soon, swing by Fern and Sycamore.

They carry Field Notes and other unique items in their shop.

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6. Give the gift of trees. By going to the National Forest Foundation (NFF) website at nationalforests.org, you can click the “donate” button and then proceed to the “give a gift” area.

By donating online, you can have trees planted where they are most-needed in our National Forests in someone’s name.

The NFF can mail a card to the individual(s) you honor with this gift. Gifts starting at $35 include the tree planting option.

This past year I had 10 trees planted for my parents. It felt pretty good when my dad pointed out it was a “neat” and “thoughtful” present.

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7. One way to support our National Parks is by shopping at Parks Project. Located at www.parksproject.us, the Parks Project gives back a portion of all purchases to one of 30 different American conservancies that provide financial support for the ongoing care of our national parks.

If one of our readers wants to buy me the Vintage Conservation Corps sticker and a “Leave it Better Than You Found it” lapel pin, I wouldn’t stop you.

All jokes aside, this site has amazing gift items for any National Park fan on your shopping list.

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#8. Last, but certainly not least, you love reading the River Hills Traveler, right? Why not share your love of this publication with someone else?

Visit www.riverhillstraveler.com, and click the “shop” link to place an order. You can also subscribe by calling (800) 874-8423, ext. 1.

This is a gift that guarantees at least 12 good mail days a year for the recipient!

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I hope that these suggestions make your holiday gift-giving experience a bit more enjoyable, unique, and stress-free.

Too often in the hustle and bustle of the season, we forget to slow down and enjoy the process of giving gifts to those we love.

May your Christmas be peaceful this year, my River Hills Traveler friends!

(Michelle Turner lives in Union, Mo.)