Bells may be jingling this holiday season, but my bank account sure isnít.

So instead of writing and talking about buying local, I decided to walk the walk around the square and on Big Bend Trail and keep my money in Glen Rose this holiday season.

Fighting traffic and crowds at a shopping mall is not my idea of a fun way to buy Christmas gifts, anyway. And so often I find myself aimlessly wandering from department to department inside a store, overwhelmed and confused by the myriad choices and unexcited about the cookie-cutter quality of it all.

By the end of the day, I head zombie-like to the parking lot to see if I can find my car and regretting how much I spent.

Itís so much nicer to walk around the square or drive along U.S. Highway 67 without that holiday urgency of hurry, hurry, hurry.

With local merchants still hurting from the summerís heat wave, many are offering deals to attract shoppers to their stores. This weekendís Girls Night Out could give a boost to retailers and I plan to be out there hunting for bargains, too.

I not only save time, but also money shopping local. No need to buy a tank of gas and spend more than an hour driving to Fort Worth or Dallas.

Best of all, I found more interesting gifts than at a mall. And with some new venues to shop in Glen Rose, thereís more variety than ever.

First stop, Glen Roseís newest presence on the downtown square, Tonya Fonsecaís eclectic A Working Artist Studio & Gallery. The artist has hand-painted Christmas for sale, as well as unusual mobiles made from found objects and, of course, art in all sizes and media.

Also celebrating its first Christmas is Jeannie Laneís The White Buffalo Gallery. The fine art there is first-class, but if you canít afford a Robert Summers original, you certainly can find the special woman on your list some very affordable jewelry.

The retail veterans around the square - Country Peddler, Texas Treasures, Soul to Soul and the Caylor Boutique and Caylor Creek home interiors shop - are stocked up for Christmas.

Country Peddler still has authentic antiques and good buys on glassware, furniture and other items. I wish somebody would buy me the beautiful oak end table across from the counter (hint, hint).

Texas Treasures has my favorite candles, McCallís, which come in a rustic container and burn very cleanly. The ones that smell like hot buttered rum are my favorites at Christmas. The shopís chunky turquoise, red coral and silver jewelry also are on my wish list.

At Soul to Soul, I always find some unusual piece of clothing Iíve never seen anywhere else. I recently snapped up a gray turtleneck shoulder wrap that I can pull on anytime thereís a chill in the air and look stylish.

Caylorís boutique has cold weather boots in bright patterns and colors - make mine paisley - to cheer you up on a dreary cold, wet day. I love the rich colors and textures on the racks and the party clothes. Make mine satin and teal.

Greenís leather shop has all sorts of supplies for making leather items, as well as ready-made handbags and belts. Just walk in the door and breathe in that rich smell of leather. And save some money by bringing in a pair of shoes to be resoled.

Those Angels with Attitude offer some lovely faith-based gifts, as well as jewelry and handbags. Itís such a pretty shop, with its black, gold, silver and white theme, that itís sure to get you in the Christmas mood and in tune with the reason for the season.

The little ones on your list are sure to love anything from Dodieís Nest. Take them there and let them pick something out. It's one of the kid-friendly shops in town.

Next door, Kelly Hoodenpyleís Paluxy Trading Co. offers the coolest Glen Rose T-shirts and caps with her designs. Or send your far-flung friends a card with one of her photographs of Glen Rose and entice them for a visit.

I love Lisa Gusafson's Over the Hill shop for funky vintage kitchen items, painted furniture and electic lamps.

Itís often easy to forget that Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and Dinosaur Valley State Park have stellar gift shops. Last weekend we took my 3-year-old goddaughter, Addie Grace Howard, and her parents, who were visiting from Wimberley. By the time we left Addie Grace had a miniature version of a reticulated giraffe and had fallen in love with a toy red monkey.

On Big Bend Trail, Cheerful Hearts is the place for distinctive picture frames, faith-based gifts and clothes, clothes, clothes. I picked up my favorite scarf there, plus a pair of gray tights and some sandals for my niece. Yes, Iím thinking ahead.

Glen Rose Discount Drug has got to have the prettiest Christmas decorations in town, plus gifts for everyone. I like the wine bottle toppers in melted glass and the candle holders and bowls. Plus the cocktail napkins. Drop a package in my stocking and Iíll invite you over for a glass of wine.

Think of all the places to get your gardening friends something special. Petuniaís has such special vases and other containers for plants. For those without a green thumb, Wileyís Flowers and Gifts carries silk and dried arrangements that look so much like the real thing you bend down to smell them.

And who wouldnít love a metal yard ornament from the Katís Meow? Please bring me the horny toad, Santa!

Look ahead to spring with some vintage garden furniture at Tracks in Time.

Donít forget to stop by the Methodist Thrift Store for Christmas dťcor items, vases and containers for holiday goodies youíre baking or gift baskets.

Dollar General and Family Dollar are brimming with stocking stuffers - candy, personal care items, hair ornaments. They also sell some nice home dťcor items such as clocks.

Finally, how can we not mention pie? If you donít know your friendís favorite flavor, just give him or her a gift certificate from Pie Peddlers and let them taste the options.

Barnard Street Bakery also has decorated cakes and Christmas cookies to put up so you don't have to do the baking.

Iíve shopped Ďtil Iíve just about dropped, but Iíve still got a few people on my list. So Iíll rise to the occasion and see you at Girls Night Out!