Pamper yourself, and your friends, with Vineyard goods
File photo by Susan Safford
Everyone needs a little pampering during the busy Christmas season. Amidst the frantic spin of shopping, decorating, baking, and holiday gatherings added to daily work and chores, there is nothing more welcome than a serenity break.
Creative Island artisans craft an array of tempting items to make that time out even sweeter. Whether it's a gift for your mom, daughter, or best girl friend, or something soothing just for you, think local when it comes to pampering. (And the men in your life will enjoy many of these gifts too!)
Imagine a relaxing afternoon, feet up, phone and computer off, soft music, fire in the wood stove. What items could enhance that time out? A number of friendly shops display gifts made by Vineyard neighbors guaranteed to turn a few quiet hours into a spa retreat.
Nothing calms the atmosphere like lighting a candle. Make that a sweet or spicy scented one from the Martha's Vineyard Candle Company and it's even better. A visit to this miniature shop at the edge of the Our Market parking lot on Oak Bluffs Harbor is a fun respite from hectic shopping. The simple building is home to Joe Re's bait and tackle shop and his wife Linda's candles too. Linda Re hand pours all the delicious smelling candles including some with whimsical Vineyard names like Aquinnah Sunset, Chilmark Wildflower, Menemsha Rain, and paints the pretty labels for the jars too.
Candles come in many sizes and include floral and spice scents, balsam, bayberry, and other Yuletide flavors and beeswax tapers. For pure nurturing choose from Ms. Re's aromatherapy line, soy candles with essential oils.
A cup of sweet steaming cocoa is the ultimate treat on a chilly day. Stop at Not Your Sugar Mamas (NYSM) cozy little shop in the Tisbury Market Place for a package of Be Cozy hot chocolate mix. Like all NYSM products, it starts with organic raw cacao, adding healthy superfoods, and vitamin-rich palm sugar. Distinctive bars also feature raw cacao, spices, and essential oils. For Christmas, choose Be Jolly wrapped in festive foil, accented with pomegranate, nutmeg, and antioxidant-rich ingredients.
The shop also carries Monica Miller's (of Skye Botanicals) luscious Eat My Beeswax citrus lip balm and her herbal healing salve to soothe the driest hands and skin. Ms. Miller's natural Skye Botanicals items include Rose or Chamomile Facial Cream, Mystic Massage Oils, and smooth, yummy smelling
Strawberry Beeswax Body Butter are at Healthy Additions, Morning Glory Farm, and by appointment at her home.
The Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop, celebrating its 22nd year, is opened for the Christmas season. On Spring Street in Vineyard Haven, the cozy little store offers a wealth of Island-made gifts of all prices for all ages.
Relaxation starts with a mug of hot, aromatic herbal tea. Holly Bellebuono of Vineyard Teas and Apothecary displays a tempting selection of attractively packaged teas here in flavors like Ginger Lemon, Menemsha Mint, Chilmark Chai, and Katama Chamomile. Also available is her Luxe Lavender Organic Body Lotion, Lavender Flower Spritzer, and big gift jars of Lavender Heaven Bath Salts.
Honey is a must for that tea, or to spread on some fresh-baked Island bread. The Martha's Vineyard Honey Company offers its raw honey in jars of many sizes and even in traditional Honey Bears. There are also herbal blends for an even healthier honey treat.
Kim Johnson presents a colorful candle alternative with jars of tinted, scented crystals that fill the air with good aromas. She blends sea salt and sugar scrubs for spa-like bathing and wraps glycerin soaps in multicolored felt to exfoliate while washing.
Patti Linn's Linnsational chocolates are on display at the Holiday Shop: truffles, chocolate covered pretzels, and her famous plump, chocolate-dipped marshmallows with festive décor.
Our Island must be a sweet place to have so many bees! Tim Colon also gathers and sells honey under the Island Bee Company name. Jarred by the town where they were gathered, each honey looks and tastes different. Local 2012 Island Bee honey is sold out, but look for their 2013 honey at the summer Saturday Farmers Markets in West Tisbury. For pampering, their silky lavender moisture lotion bar is sold at SBS in Vineyard Haven.
Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven is sparkling for the Christmas season, and features some Vineyard products among its many pampering selections. Emily Fischer of Flat Point Farm turns goat's milk into delicately scented gentle soaps, prettily wrapped in handmade paper. Jeremy Smith blends plant oils, herbs, and botanicals into his aptly titled Scrubby Neck soaps. Packaged in cute burlap gift bags they have Vineyard names like Menemsha Sunset, Chilmark Mint, and Katama Sand (includes sand grains!).
Susan Norton creates her own lush and silky healing Sashabelle Facial Hydrant (formerly Seraphim). The rich, nourishing moisturizer contains sea buckthorn berry and many natural oils and scents. Find it at Rainy Day, Morning Glory Farm, and other locations.
Vineyard Sweets handmade chocolates are at Rainy Day as well as the M.V. Hospital Gift Shop and M.V. Florist in Edgartown. Created by Anne Bennett, once proprietor of the Get a Life Café in Vineyard Haven, favorite handmade chocolates include Almond Butter Crunch with Roasted Pecans, Caramels, Peanut Butter Creams, and Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and according to Ms. Bennett are "made from the heart."
Not enough chocolate? Enchanted Chocolate products are also available, made by Kathleen Cowley of Oak Bluffs, who runs New Moon Magick's Enchanted Chocolates. The Island-made treats make great stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, or holiday presents. Find an assortment of treats, from bark and almond butter crunch to delicious chocolate bars made from 70 percent cacao chocolate.
You'll want some home-made Island jams and jellies for spreading on toast or scones at tea or cocoa time. Both Linda Alley and Ethel Sherman work sweet spreadable magic with various fruits and berries, concocting preserves with the taste of summer. Ms. Alley's New Lane Sundries are at the Holiday Gift Shop, Cronig's, and other locations. Both she and Ms. Sherman offer their tasty wares at the Winter Farmers Market.
A drive up-Island leads to Conroy's Apothecary where you can find a variety of Enchanted Chocolates items including the Nutty Island Bar, salted caramels, and bark.
Although they are not crafted on-Island, proprietor Tamara Hersh recommended delectable Summer House Natural Soaps handmade on the Cape in holiday flavors like Peppermint Twist, Cinnamon Spice, Winter Berry, Frankincense and Myrrh, all charmingly wrapped.
At Alley's Store, the cozy wood interior is packed with unexpected gifts including some Island-made treats. NYSM products and Enchanted Chocolates are available. Buy your delightfully scented, already gift-wrapped Scrubby Neck Soaps and Flat Point Farm Goats' Milk Soaps at Alley's too.
And do not forget Chilmark Chocolates! When it comes to luxurious pampering, their rich, scrumptious truffles are Santa's favorite.
NOTE: Many of these artisans also offer their products online, at the West Tisbury Winter Farmers Market (Dec. 15 and 29), special events, and other retail locations.