By Shannon Winning, Jersey Shore InMotion
It’s not that you procrastinated your gift buying.
Don’t let those smug Christmas-all-year people shame you with their presents wrapped and gleaming beneath the tree at Thanksgiving. You’re just comfortable with spontaneity, the thrill of the hunt. (Also you may have forgotten just a few people you needed to buy for.) Fear not. You can accomplish all your thoughtful, unique gift buying here at the Jersey Shore, without nail biting waits for the UPS man or a dreaded trip to the mall.
We’ve curated a list of 12 of our favorite local small businesses (because that’s our motto #GoLocal) to help you give gift wrapped joy to all your people, including those hard-to-buy-for folks.
We call it, The Last Minute Small Town Gift Guide. Grab a peppermint mocha and enjoy.
Let’s start off with the perhaps the most challenging group…
Mine are the sweetest people I know, but have no hobbies, own every tchotchke they could want for, don’t drink and my mother-in-law doesn’t like flickering light (ba-bye Yankee Candle gift). What they do like is brunch. So I’m heading to the Molly Pitcher for two passes to their cruise worthy brunch.
Molly Pitcher Inn’s Award Winning Sunday Brunch $39.95 (plus tax and gratuity) that features carving stations, a stunning carved fruit display, omelet and waffle stations, antipasto and pasta stations, a Viennese table and a buffet menu as long as your arm. It also includes one complimentary cocktail. You can also check out their menus for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day Brunch here.
The hostess gift
Nobody wants your bottle of wine. What they really want is a nice bottle of wine AND a distinctive cheese you can’t get at Shoprite, like D’affinois Doule Creme Brie or Drunken Goat, available at The Cheese Cave on Monmouth Street in Red Bank. If you’re the hostessyou can win friends and influence people to bring you better gifts by setting out a party platter from The Cave, priced at $9 a person. Add fancy meats for $3 a person. Take a peak at it here.
The Jersey Girl/Beach Bum
It’s true. You can get coastal décor at any box store these days. What you can’t get though are unique coastal gifts, or ones with a sense of place.
Here are three small businesses in Monmouth and Ocean counties specializing in Jersey Shore inspired home goods and accessories.
-Candy’s Cottage in Red Bank – Buy your bestie a town sign with longitude and latitude for her kitchen with town names from Middletown to Long Beach Island. While you’re there… pick up a handmade beachy Christmas tree for yourself (and me too).
-The Beach Home in Lavallette – The store moves online in the winter (don’t we all), where you can purchase coastal décor, towels and accessories like the Island Heights tote or the Lava bag and have them shipped to your favorite beach comber.
-The Stone Hut in Pier Village, Long Branch – Specializing in shore inspired jewelry this boutique has unique creations you won’t find at the mall – statement pieces in turquoise, sea glass and rare materials. Click here to see their 20 percent off online sale. The site-wide sale runs through Dec. 31. I know.
The Stylish Sports Fan
Because you wouldn’t want a commemorative sports memorabilia plaque in your living room either, buy the dapper baseball fan sterling silver cuff links made from MLB authenticated game balls. The red stitching is stunning, even to me. They’re available at the Stone Hut. You might also want to look around on their website for their coastal inspired jewelry.
The Crafter or Christmas Collector
Idiosyncrazies Art Gallery and Gift Shop in Point Pleasant Beach has handmade Christmas ornaments and art from New Jersey artists and those around the world. The shop specializes in fair trade goods and features artisanal chocolates, soup and chili mixes.
The Girls-Night-Out Group
2 Chicks With Chocolate in New Brunswick offers an exclusive class where you can learn Cocoa 101, pair wine and chocolate and even make your own chocolate truffles to take home. They’ve also got one on beer and chocolate pairings. Yes. Please. Classes are $49 each and you can check them out here, girl.
You know iPlay America from little kid birthday parties, but did you know they have concerts? Take your niece to iPlay in Freehold to see hot new girl group sensation – 3KT Gia, Alexa and Cristianna on Dec. 26 and stay to play games and go on rides. You can check out their Circus cover on YouTube. Their original song Season of Joy is now on iTunes.
The Junior Animal Lover
If you’ve got a budding marine biologist or future zoo keeper at your house then consider this unique experience. Kids ages 11-16 can become a junior keeper for a day at Jenkinson’s Aquarium on Dec. 29 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. They’ll have an opportunity to experience the aquarium from an employee’s point of view. Pre-registration and sneakers are required. $80 per child.
The Fisherman (or The Crew At The Office
You can send them fishing for blues or weakfish, but what they’re definitely coming home with is memories and an album of photos. The Miss Belmar and The Belmar Princess fishing boats are offering holiday promotions from now through Jan. 31 for individual and group tickets. Purchase one gift certificate for $60 and receive an additional $10 toward any of fishing trip for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Purchase two for $115 and receive a $20 credit, or five at $250 and get one ticket free. Purchases of 10 gift certificates for $500 include three free tickets.