It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Pardon my delight, but it’s my first winter here and I’m excited (cue empathetic oohs and aahs). I washed ashore in July after my husband and I made a pact on our honeymoon to move here for the long haul. Natives have been warning me that “winter is coming…” Wouldn’t you guess they’re not just preparing me for the obvious change in seasons but actually trying to scare me? Two things to know: I’m not easily intimidated and I’m not one to get bored. As our wise server at Lobsterville told us back in June, “only boring people get bored.”
I’ve already learned there’s a lot to admire and appreciate this time of year. I work at Benito’s in Oak Bluffs and I’ve been hearing about all of the great window displays that the shops on Circuit Ave. put together. Then there’s festive Edgartown too. I’m sure the scene downtown looks like it was ripped from the December page in a Norman Rockwell calendar — I can’t wait! And let’s not forget the holiday shopping potential here.
Recently I discovered just how impressive the gift offerings on the Island could be. It’s my first holiday season here and I want to show support to small business and buy local. Plus I want to give gifts that really show off the charm and character of this place.
My shopping mission was clear.
(Vineyard Seadogs Calendar)
Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven provided a plethora of great finds. One of my favorite discoveries was the 2015 Vineyard Seadogs Calendar. Adorable puppies frolicking on our beautiful beaches? Anyone would love it, especially my sister Kristina who lives in Santa Barbara. We both have dogs and we’re always sending each other photos of our pups on our respective coastlines, so this would be the perfect gift for her. Plus she can use it to count down the days until my next trip to visit her. The calendar is available for $16 at Bunch of Grapes, Edgartown Books, Good Dog Goods, Rainy Day, Alley’s, Cronig’s, SBS, Tisbury Farm Market, Craftworks, Menemsha Inn, and Simply Soaps. It can also be purchased online at vineyardseadogs.com.
Another Rainy Day discovery was a selection of Dune Jewelry, including earrings, bracelets and charms with sand from local beaches like Edgartown Light Beach and State Beach, among others. This gorgeous sterling silver and sand bracelet is just my mother’s style and doubles as a cool conversation piece. Designed by a native Cape Codder, the jewelry is both affordable and personal. Items can also be ordered online with the option of sending in your own sand for a custom piece atdunejewelrydesign.com.
(Wooden MV Puzzle)
This gorgeous wooden puzzle caught my eye in a store window a couple months ago and I just rediscovered it at Brickyard in Vineyard Haven. It’s a handmade puzzle by local craftsman Nick Fournier and each piece is carved from a different wood representing the various towns on the Island. It’s a fitting gift for my artist father-in-law who loves unique presents and it’d make a great souvenir. The puzzle is available for $65 at Brickyard or by contacting the artist directly at nickfournier.com.
(The Vineyard Watch)
Another great find in Brickyard was this handsome and practical rubber watch that displays the shape of the Island on its face, perfect for my husband. We have a running joke (sometimes funny, sometimes not) that he exists in his own time zone. He’s always been on Island time, even though we just moved here. Hopefully this will help keep him on schedule. The watch is available in a variety of colors for $150 at Brickyard in Vineyard Haven.
(Sail Cloth Stockings)
Over the last several months I’ve noticed a lot of great items made from sail cloth around the Vineyard. This summer I bought a small purse from local artist Kathleen Young who recycles sails for bags and pillows that are available at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven and Slip Seventy Seven in Oak Bluffs. I just came upon these adorable sail stockings at Backwater Trading Company in Edgartown for $40 – $50. I allow myself one selfish splurge during my shopping and I think these will be a great addition to my home’s holiday decor, festive with a nautical flare. The stockings can also be purchased online atagainnagain.com andresails.com.
(Good Night Martha’s Vineyard Book)
In a recent rather profound Skype conversation, my three-year-old nephew asked “where did your house go?” It’s been challenging to describe to him our move from Atlanta, where we lived near him. This book will prove helpful in introducing him to the Island. Good Night Martha’s Vineyard highlights all of the great attractions that a child can make sense of. It’s an educational way to familiarize him with our new home and get him excited about coming to visit. He already loves Good Night Moon and this will be a nice addition to his nightly bedtime routine. I found this copy at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven for $9.95.
I had a head start on my holiday shopping after visiting the Vineyard Artisans Festival last month. I came across these beautiful custom hand- and loom-knit sweaters by local artist Bernard George. My mother-in-law and I designed a cotton/wool blend cable knit cardigan for my nephew, complete with our choice of animal shaped buttons that we know he’ll adore and actually have fun wearing. Similar styles for adults and children start at $75 and can be purchased online and made to order atbernardgeorgeknits.com.
(Island Alpaca Socks)
For as long I can remember, when asked what he’d like for Christmas, my father has responded “socks and good children.” Despite some questionable years in my adolescence, I’ve typically managed to fulfill both requests. During a trip to the Island Alpaca gift shop I came upon his best socks yet. Their socks are made of alpaca fleece and are available for $25 in a variety of colors. They are some of the softest, warmest things I’ve ever felt, which goes for most things in the shop. Items can also be purchased online atislandalpaca.com.
(LeRoux Gift Basket)
While I was out shopping I realized I could put together an impressive basket of locally sourced goodies for my family’s annual gift swap. Not only will the items please the lucky recipient, but they will inspire them to come visit me here, a win-win! Most of what I wanted I found at LeRoux Gourmet in Vineyard Haven. A delicious blend from Chilmark Coffee Company, a selection of Martha’s Vineyard Teas from Vineyard Herbs, Teas and Apothecary; Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt; Martha’s Vineyard Raw Honey; State Road Chocolate; Not Your Sugar Mamas Superfood Chocolate Mix; and a bar of Scrubby Neck Handmade Soap. Oh and the best part, a bottle of LeRoux’s Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar that I was able to sample on the second floor of the shop. Next I found a wicker basket on the cheap at the Chicken Alley thrift shop that would make a great home for the goods. LeRoux also sells premade gift baskets and can create the right one for you.
While I was at Chicken Alley I got to thinking that I could make more than just a gift basket. I came across a large selection of cheap frames starting at $1 and up. These little guys would be perfect for framing photos from the Island. We are surrounded by some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country and we definitely all have photos on our camera that are frameable, making ideal gifts. I popped in to Mosher photo in Vineyard Haven and learned of their photo printing services, including an online photo application for uploading photos directly from your computer or phone. Done and done.
Another notable find at Chicken Alley was vintage holiday cards. I just love the design and each card is an original silkscreened print. They’ll be nice for sending to family and friends and the image is reminiscent of the Island. The thrift store has a selection of festive cards at low prices. I picked up some extra cards to use for making gift boxes and gift tags and for using in my holiday decor. Each box I purchased was $5 with an original price of $9.50. What a deal!
(DIY Beach Ornament)
A recent visit to Granite hardware in Edgartown inspired yet another DIY Vineyard gift. I came across clear plastic ornament bulbs starting at $1.29 and knew I could turn them into a unique Island decoration. After a walk on Lambert’s Cove beach I had a nice collection of authentic Vineyard sand and beach shells. I simply added the shells and sand to the bulb and used a paint marker to decorate the outside, and voilà, a special Island gift for less than $2.