Your search for a thoughtful, unique, never-to-be-forgotten gift is over! We’ve scoured Connecticut to come up with this guide – that should cover most of your gift-giving bases.
FOOD & DRINK
There are so many different kinds of food that are made in Connecticut that it’s hard to summarize. But to get you off to a good start, whether you’re ordering by mail or picking up in person, we’ll suggest:
Michele’s Pies. If it’s true that pies are the new cupcakes, then Michele’s Pies in Norwalk is at the right place at the right time. Proprietor Michele Stuart is a 27-time national pie baking champion, so it’s likely you will find something just right for your holiday table. No mail orders; pick-ups only.
Nodine’s Smokehouse. With a plant in Torrington and retail outlet in Goshen, Nodine’s Smokehouse has long been a noted purveyor of cured and smoked meats. The hams make fabulous gifts even while the bacon and sausage make their way into your own larder. Shipping is a specialty.
Matthews 1812 House. Worried about dessert, or need a hostess gift that will be much appreciated? Matthews 1812 House in Cornwall Bridge has the answers, with a full roster of cakes, cookies, brownies, candies and other treats.
Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea. If you know someone who’s serious about coffee, think about sending a gift of exotic beans or even a coffee lover’s coffeemaker from Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea. A gift certificate to one of its four retail locations in New Haven, Branford or Madison is the stocking stuffer you’ve been looking for.
Holiday Candy. Waterbury-based Fascia’s Chocolates is a family-run operation with chocolates just right for the season. Munson’s Chocolates has been making candy in Bolton for nearly 70 years, including lots of holiday-themed treats. Luscious Bridgewater Chocolates are available in several locations as well as via mail order, but it’s a special treat to go get them in person at the adorable Bridgewater Village Store.
Something to Drink. There are so many vineyards, wineries and breweries in Connecticut these days that it’s very hard to pick out just a few. You might want to toast the season with Smuggler’s Rum from Connecticut Valley Distillery in Ellington, Nine Square Rye from Elm City Distillery in New Haven, Wild Moon Birch liqueur from Hartford Flavor Company, Secret Stash Private Barrel from Onyx Moonshine in East Hartford or Batchers Bourbon Whiskey from Litchfield Distillery.
FASHION & ACCESSORIES
There is something special about putting something on that hasn’t been mass-produced, isn’t there? You feel good about it, and chances are no one else will be wearing the same thing. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on finding the right look for you:
Denim for the Ages. When you buy Hartford Denim Co. (HARDENCO) jeans, you not only get the trousers but also a lifetime of repairs – guaranteed. Check out their jeans, shop aprons and even its denim wristlet.
Happy Feet. For shoes to truly call your own there’s The Brothers Crisp in Hartford. Their hand-sewn products will give you a feet-first entrée into conversation. Take a look. You actually have not seen anything like them before.
Tie One On. Longing to give your guy a tie featuring a hammerhead shark or a tee emblazoned with a mix tape? You can find these and many other totally unique articles of clothing in East Hartford at Cinder+Salt, where you also can take a screen-printing class and learn to make your own.
For the Little Ones. Do you have a very young person on your gift list this year? Take a look at the onesies at Poor Morgan, a screen-printing, design and apparel shop in Stonington. They look so great you’ll hope the child never grows out of them.
Peace, Man. Out of Cobalt comes Twenty-Four Peace, “seeking to represent quality, comfort, eco-friendliness and American industry.” The products, made from organic, recycled and re-usable materials, include t-shirts, yoga pants, baby clothing and accessories.
Warm Face, Warm Thanks. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, consider fleece-lined bandanas from Snow Rebels. Many of the looks are just right for the young, rowdy snowboarder in your life, or maybe even the older, less rowdy snow shoveler.
Glass Act. One-of-a-kind jewelry always creates a stir, as do these colorful fused-glass jewelry pieces from Miss Wally. Each item, whether it’s a necklace, pendant or earrings is a unique handcrafted piece of art.
Warm at Heart. Not an article of clothing exactly, but you will want to keep one of these Connecticut Blankets close to your skin. Made exclusively from the wool of Connecticut sheep, these blankets will last for, approximately . . . ever.
For the Kitchen. Once you’ve seen the wooden kitchenwares crafted by Woodstock’s Meb Boden, you’ll want some to give and some for your own kitchen. Beautiful spoons, dippers, boards, vessels and even wine-bottle stoppers.
One-of-a-Kind Furniture. Every home needs a custom-made piece of furniture, whether it’s a lamp, table, bookshelf or bench. Willington’s Ted DeMers is one of Connecticut’s top furniture craftsmen, and he works from rustic to refined.
Symphony of Soaps. The soaps sold by East Hampton’s Flat Brook Farm are made from the milk of the farm’s resident goats. Dozens of scents are available – a simple and much appreciated hostess gift or stocking stuffer. You can also find Connecticut-made soaps at Goatboy Soaps in New Milford, Nod Hill Soap in Wilton and Pure Naked Soap in Colchester.
ELSEWHERE ON YOUR SHOPPING LIST
Jingle Bells. There’s something very satisfying about the ring of a high quality bell, and you can find them by the score at Bevin Brothers in East Hampton, where they’ve been making bells since 1832. You’ll find wintry sleigh bells, tea bells, cowbells, brass hand bells, patio yacht bells and door bells, too.
Garden Delights. The gardener on your list should be very happy with Connecticut-made tools from Florian Tools in Southington. Pruners, loppers and mulchers are made here, and you might even get one of their roof rakes and hope you never have to use it!
Wrapped for Rover. Is there a dog somewhere on your gift list? Of course there is! Get yourself to the online shop for Avon-based Oma’s Pride and what some believe to be the finest raw dog food and dog treats in the world. Man’s best friend just got a little friendlier.
Downhill Racers. There’s lots of snow in the forecast again this winter, so maybe a season pass to one of Connecticut’s very nearby ski slopes is in order. Get yours at Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield,Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Mount Southington in Southington, Ski Sundown in New Hartford or Woodbury Ski Area in Woodbury. You’ll find the price is right, and the short drive will make your skier very happy.
Kids Who Love Trucks. Hours of pleasure are in store for kids who get a truck from Luke’s Toy Factory in Danbury. The fire trucks, dump trucks and cargo trucks are all made smartly and sustainably from quality materials that can take a pounding – and all are certified safe.
Energy Efficient. The bricks, fire starters and fire scents made by East Windsor’s Brickenmore are as organic as it gets; they’re all made from horse manure. After going through a recycling process, the bricks burn long and clean, the starters work every time and the scents will never once remind you of a stable.
Husky Heaven. We can’t swear the items at UConn Co-op’s Husky Shop were made in Connecticut, but wearing them shows a certain pride of place. Shirts, sweats, hoodies, caps and gear from every UConn sport are available here.
For Your Table. Pewter has been around as long as Connecticut and New England have been, and these days Woodbury Pewter is where to find dozens of quality pewter items to give and get. Either with a visit or online, you’ll find 350 pewter products, including lamps, mugs, tankards, plates, pitchers and baby items. They’ll do custom tree ornaments, too.
Focused on Connecticut. To get a look at a whole lot of Connecticut-made items in one setting, head for The Connecticut Store website. You’ll find Wiffle Balls, Pez, hundreds of brass buttons, tree ornaments, weathervanes, books by local authors and food items.
Artists Galore. The Velvet Mill in Stonington is an old factory that’s now home to a host of artist’s studios and galleries, small businesses and offices. At last look, there were 29 artists on display, a brewery, cheese shop, furniture, pastry and soap purveyors, even a reflexologist to get your feet dancing again.