Well you’ve gone and done it again. Christmas is this weekend and your stockings hung by the chimney with care are going to empty unless you get moving. Fear not procrastinators! The Pioneer Valley is full of places to do your last minute shopping without breaking the bank. Read on for some gifts that you can run out and grab right now for $50 or less.
Alcohol and Food
If you’re shopping for a friend or a family member over 21 years old, alcohol is an easy and affordable gift that is always a win. Thankfully there’s no shortage of places to get unique and local brews and wines. Table & Vine in West Springfield is just off of Interstate 91 and has about 10,000 items in stock at any given time. The Spirit Haus in Amherst frequently brings in new specialty beers that would make great stocking stuffers. In Franklin County, Ryan and Casey Liquors has a diverse selection of beers, wines, and liquors all year round. Around the holidays they also have specialty gift sets and baskets, including a Chocolate Milk Stout variety pack and Game of Throne themed wines.
If you know someone who is a real beer fanatic, they might appreciate getting a gift card to Beerology, LLC in Northampton where they can sign up for a class to learn cidermaking, homebrewing, or how to make ginger beer! Most classes are $35, but you can purchase a gift card in any amount. If you want a specialty food item to accompany your gift of wine or beer, Provisions in Northampton is your one stop shop. Also check out Behrens Boards, a Northampton based company that sells serving boards that start at $50 and are perfect for a friend or family member who loves to host.
It is not too late to make a heartfelt homemade gift for someone you love. Crafts are also a great way to get kids involved in gift giving. One easy craft is transferring a photo to a piece of wood using Mod Podge, a glue sealer and finish. Simply print out your favorite photo on regular copy paper, cover the clean surface of a piece of wood with Mod Podge, and firmly press the paper photo side down onto the surface of the wood. Once the image is dry (8-12 hours) cut the excess paper away and wipe the wood with a damp cloth until the paper is gone and the image is left behind. Cover the image with another layer of Mod Podge and dry! Local craft stores like Michaels and Joann Fabrics in Hadley or Guild Art Supply in Northampton have supplies, including pre-sanded wood slices and Mod Podge.
If you’re buying for a crafter, there are lots of great places in the Valley that offer affordable classes. At Beehive Sewing, LLC in Northampton you can take the Beehive Basic course for $40 and learn everything you need to know to start sewing your own sewing projects! Webs and Northampton Wools both sell beautiful yarn at a variety of price points and have classes available. Northampton Wool’s “Learn to Knit” class only costs $25 and teaches you the basics of knitting in 3 hours.
Spa and Relaxation
Given everything that’s happened in 2017, everyone deserves a little rest and relaxation this holiday season. Here in the Valley we are blessed with a few different hot tub spas that sell gift certificates that you can print out right online. At Elements Hot Tub Spa in Amherst, it costs $50 for a half an hour hot tub for two. At East Heaven in Northampton, hot tubs are similarly priced. Both spas also have massage services.
If you’re looking to give someone the gift of at home relaxation, there are many local stores that have all the ingredients you need for a blissful spa day. Ten Thousand Villages in Northampton has unique gifts from all over the world, including a very cute flax cat eye pillow for $19 and a holiday candy cane scented soap. To complete the ambiance, head to Yankee Candle in South Deerfield or Kringle Candle Bernardston to buy a few candles to light around the bathtub.
Games and Comic Books
Being a nerd is back in style and there are many adults who would love to get a board game or a comic book as a gift. For comic books, there’s Newbury Comics and Modern Myths, Inc. in Northampton, each with a large selection of comics. In Easthampton, Comics ’n More has major and small press graphic novels in addition to comic books for children of all ages. They also have a large collection of back issues going all the way back to the 1970s. At Matt’s Sports Cards and Comics in Enfield, CT there’s no shortage of collectable items for sale. With their huge variety, it’s easy to find a gift for everyone on your list.
If games are more what you’re after, look no further than Greenfield Games in Greenfield. From board games to role play games to frisbees, Greenfield Games (GG) has every non-electronic game you can imagine. By shopping at GG you can also give the gift of community and encourage gamers in your life to attend free community game nights, like the increasingly popular Board Game night on Saturdays. In Northampton, A to Z Science and Learning Store is the ultimate destination for kids and adults alike. With books and games and science kits on every subject imaginable, you might not need to go anywhere else for the kids you need to shop for. The Snapino code learning kit (available for under $50) seemed particularly innovative and perfect for young people interested in computers.
Can being cozy be a gift? Yes. Yes it can. As snow days approach, one of the best last minute gift ideas are items that you can snuggle up with. Whether it’s a fuzzy blanket or a homemade mug of cocoa, there are lots of cheap and cheerful items to keep your loved ones warm this holiday season.
Start by heading to the easiest last minute gift center: Target. There you can buy fuzzy polar bear pajama sets and extra cozy reversible blankets starting at about $35. If you want to get the real thing for non-vegetarians in your life, you can head up the Mohawk Trail to the Sheepskin Outpost in Shelburne Falls to buy slippers or sheepskin shoe inserts. While you’re in Shelburne Falls you could stop by Marjorie Moser’s Print and Dye workshop to buy a pillow with a screen print of Brooklyn Doves for $38, or a hand carved poppy cup from Molly Cantor Pottery for $32.
The only thing better than snuggling up with a cup of cocoa in a handmade cup? Chocolate. Head to Pop’s Biscotti and Chocolates in Wilbraham to custom order an assortment of chocolates and biscotti in any amount. The combination of chocolates and fuzzy pajamas is probably the best last minute gift of all time, so get out there and make it happen shoppers!
Meg Bantle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.