Hunting for holiday gifts

Nicole’s mission: Find perfect presents on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

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Kala brand ukulele at Island Music. — Nicole Jackson

With the chill in the air and the holiday music playing on the radio, I am getting into the holiday spirit. One of my favorite things about this time of year (other than endless shrimp cocktail at holiday parties) is gift giving. I like to do my holiday shopping on-Island for a few reasons, one of them being that I like to support our local businesses and to avoid the mayhem at the Post Office. Conveniently, I work in Vineyard Haven — a great town to poke around stores on my lunch break. Main Street is to holiday shopping as the Oak Bluffs Harbor is to a summer pub crawl.

First I popped into Bunch of Grapes bookstore — a perfect place to pick up a “just-in-case” gift card. I like to have a generic gift that I can bring to a Yankee swap or give to a friend I didn’t expect to get me something. Then I decided I was going to need a coffee at Nat’s Nook before embarking on the rest of my shopping adventure.

Rope and cuff bracelets from CB Stark. — Nicole Jackson

With warm coffee in my tummy, I was ready to head down the rest of Main Street to see what else I could find. Even I was mesmerized by the sparkly and shiny things in CB Stark. I found a bracelet for my stepmom. It is a silver cuff with “CHAPPY” engraved on it. Chappy is her special place in the world. They stock all the towns, in a cuff ($125) and nylon cord ($95).

I went into Island Music, and was kindly greeted by a younger gentleman willing to help me. I have never played a musical instrument in my life, which means I was going to need assistance. The backstory: I got my 5-year-old stepsister a JoJo Siwa doll for her birthday a month ago. For those of you who don’t know, JoJo is a 14-year-old pop singer; one of her singles is named “Kid in a Candy Store.” I think you get the idea. I decided I wanted to give my stepsister a gift a little more wholesome than a trendy, overpriced doll made in China. I found a Kala brand ukulele. It looks durable, and was priced at $69.99. With her interest in music at a such a young age, I would love to give her a musical opportunity I didn’t have, even if it’s just yanking on the strings for now.

Popcorn popper from LeRoux At Home. — Nicole Jackson

Off I went to LeRoux at Home, where I was on a mission to get my mom a new coffeemaker. She’s been using the same four-cup coffeemaker for as long as I can remember, and she appreciates practical gifts just as much as she appreciates her coffee. I found one at a good price point ($39.99) that will do the trick. I also picked up four Pocket Monkey pocket tools for all the men in my life; it’s a thin 12-use tool that can fit in your wallet ($9.99). On my way out the door, a popcorn popper caught my eye. I spoke with the salesperson, and she mentioned that they made delicious popcorn and cost only $24.99. She recommended I go across the street to their sister store, LeRoux Gourmet, because it carries additional items that would go with the popper. She suggested rosemary olive oil to drizzle over the popped kernels — sounded to die for. What happened next was pure impulse. I started thinking about the wine and movie nights my friend Keri and I have, all snuggled on the couch eating popcorn. Our topping choice is typically Old Bay, but what fun combinations are there out there? So I went across the street, I bought the popper, the rosemary oil, and of course, the dill pickle salt — that was a no-brainer.

Rainy Day is an Island staple known for great gifts. Gentlemen, if you don’t know what to get your wife or girlfriend, you will definitely find something for her here. Ironically, I found a gift for my friend Brian. I joke about his OCD, which serves him better during the workday than at home. I found something called the Obsessive Chef precision cutting board ($27.95), made of bamboo and marked with measurements and angles to make sure those peppers are cut to standard. They also carry top-quality bags and wrapping paper with charming patterns.

Blundstone boots sold at Green Room. — Nicole Jackson

I’d reached the end of Main Street, and my last stop was the Green Room. The store looked stocked for the season, but not overwhelming, which means finding sizes and what you’re looking for isn’t a problem. I don’t spend much time with my brother, but I do know he likes beer. In the sea of mugs and water bottles, I found the YETI beer holder ($24.99), and anything YETI is cool. I also found what’s at the top of my own wish list, caramel-colored Blundstone boots ($180). I am a size 9.5, hint hint.

All in all, it was a very successful, yet rather expensive, lunch break. It feels good to have crossed off names on my to-buy-for list without even leaving Vineyard Haven. I recommend doing some of your holiday shopping in town — with the variety of stores, you’ll find something for everyone on your list.