The Art Of Giving: RI’s Annual Holiday Gift Guide
Where we live, you don’t have to travel very far to find unique gifts that are sure to please and impress. Whether you’re looking for a memorable “thank you” for a holiday party host, or something local to send to a friend or family member far away, choose from our list of artisanal, homegrown goodies and don’t forget to include a card that reads “from the RI region with love.”
TO EAT & DRINK:
The peonies used in Three Meadows Spirits’ Peony Vodka come directly from Sugar Maple Farm in Millerton, owned by the company’s founder, Leslie Farhangi. Her 18-month-old company and its boutique brand won a “best of” award this year from Hudson Valley Magazine. Wondering how to pair a flower-infused vodka? The spirit’s website offers recipes including the “Summer Frolic” and the “Bitter End.” Find your own bottle, or just a drink, at regional stores and restaurants.
The small batch jelly and preserves of Craryville’s les collines are locally sourced from the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires. The jewel-toned preserves make beautiful gifts for fans of both the savory and the sweet, with recommendations for use as a classic toast topping, but also on cheese boards, with meat or fish. Upcoming tastings with les collines include this Friday, Dec. 8 at the Indian Mountain Holiday Marketplace in Lakeville from 2-6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9 at Hillsdale General Store from 1-2:30 p.m., Dec. 14 at Sierra Lily in Poughkeepsie from 4-7 p.m. and Dec. 16 at the Berkshire Grown Holiday Market in Great Barrington from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Claverack’s Olde York Farm is home to a farm-to-cask distillery and cooperage located at the historic Jacob Rutsen van Rensselaer House & Mill. Their limited releases of micro batch bourbon, whiskey and brandy are aged in barrels they build by hand on site. On weekends, stop by for a tour and a sample of Rhubarb & Honey Vodka, Thai Basil or Raspberry & Black Pepper Liqueur, Smoked Maple Bourbon or one of the Farm’s other delicious concoctions.
What would a gift list be without chocolate? Catherine’s Chocolates in Great Barrington knows ‘tis the season for sweet treats, and offers a large assortment of holiday-only creations, gift box assortments, and “stocking stuffers.” From dark-chocolate-covered orange peels and peanut brittle to Christmas Peeps and winter Oreos (and, seemingly, everything in between), you’re sure to find a favorite. If you don’t trust yourself around these tempting goodies until it’s time to exchange presents, Catherine’s can gift wrap the box for you on the spot.
For the meat-lovers in your life, it’s time to forgo the Hickory Farms gift basket and present them with a salami gift box from Jacuterie, based on an Ancramdale family farm. The business, which uses only high-quality, local, pasture-raised pork, has recently gone 100% natural. Their salami has always been free of GMOs, antibiotics and hormones, but now is also cured naturally to eliminate any synthetic nitrates. Jacuterie is launching an online shop for the first time this holiday season, and you can snag free shipping on orders $100+ from now until Dec. 22. You can also find it locally at their farm store or at area farmers markets.
For those on your list who like to experiment with their food, Roaring Brook Dairy offers kits to make your own ricotta, mozzarella, chevre, butter or tofu. Or, as the company states, “homemade by you with a little help from us.” Owner Leslie Kozupsky is a Berkshire County transplant and all of the company’s kits are produced in Lee, Mass. If this is your first time attempting to “make it at home,” RBD’s website offers step-by-step instructional videos and FAQ to help. And, even if your first creation isn’t Instagram-ready, it’ll still be delicious.
Whether your personal style is understated or over-the-top, Shana Lee Jewelry has you covered. The Warren Street (Hudson, NY) store of designer/metalsmith Shana Lee offers items for men and women, and will work with you on custom rings, earrings, bracelets and more, either from scratch or with your favorite stone. Her work has appeared in Vogue, People and Bazaar, among others, and been worn by artists including Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and Joss Stone. Now it’s your turn. But be sure to visit the shop before the end of the year, when the business will take a two-year retail sabbatical, when you’ll only be able to find them online and at pop-ups.
Hand made, hand poured and hand packaged, Tess & James’ lip balms, soy candles, bath salts and roll-on scents are made in small batches in a home studio in Rhinebeck, NY. Favorites include a bubble gum-scented lip gloss “pencil” and the Snobby Farmer lip balm. They can be found at Clove Kitchen Market in Red Hook, Paper Trail in Rhinebeck and Haven Boutique in Poughkeepsie.
MINNA is a Hudson-based home textile brand by weaver Sara Berks, whose design aesthetic she describes as “nostalgic with a touch of rebellion.” Traditional craft techniques are used to produce ethically made blankets, rugs, pillows, scarves and more. Berks is inspired by feminist art, Bauhaus, traditional craft and vintage textiles. MINNA partners with master weavers and artisan collectives in Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay. Opened this June on Warren Street, MINNA Goods also carries ceramics, books, jewelry, paper goods, apothecary items and artisan-made goods from Mexico and Guatemala.
Bella Erder and her store Aija are back for the holidays, popping up tonight, Dec. 7, at Norfolk Night and on Saturday, Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Darren Winston, Bookseller in Sharon. The beloved Norfolk shop that shut its doors in late 2015, returns with the affordable jewelry, clothing, homeware and other items that made it so popular. With items sourced from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China and the U.S., the brand aims to provide affordably priced, well-designed gifts for every occasion or, as its slogan says, “indulgence without excess.”
“Wow, where did you get that?” is something fans of Pat Rotondo’s jewelry must hear quite a lot. Chunky and brightly colored or delicate and dangling, the Chatham-based jeweler’s rings, earrings, necklaces and brooches run the gamut, but all are stunning. Meet her and shop her pieces at this weekend’s Shindy in Pittsfield. Some items are also available through December at Local in Lenox and Pookstyle in Chatham.
This year’s fiction releases by local authors include the critically acclaimed debut by Simon’s Rock professor Brendan Mathews, The World of Tomorrow, and Samantha Hunt’s first book of short stories, The Dark Dark. Memoirs by Dani Shapiro (Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage) and Joan Juliet Buck (The Price of Illusion) also were highly praised. Entertaining in the Country: Love Where You Eat, Joan Osofsky and Abby Adams’ sequel to Love Where You Live; Back Pocket Pasta, a book to inspire you to cook better meals faster, by Colu Henry; and Havana Living Today: Cuban Home Style, the latest design tome from Hermes Mallea, round out 2017’s most giftable reads.