Support small businesses—shop locally!

Online shopping may be convenient and hassle-free, but it has none of the excitement of shopping with other people caught up in the holiday spirit or of actually touching something you might want to buy. If you choose to shop at a mall, you’ll likely be circling the parking lot stalking shoppers to nab a space, and once inside, crowds of people will seem to be everywhere you want to be. That leaves shopping locally, where the probability of parking nearby, handling the merchandise, and enjoying the company of a few fellow shoppers is high. Enjoy these local businesses:

Harvard General Store

The General Store has loaded its shelves for the holiday season. There are toys, candles, soaps, home goods and décor, cozy knitted items, and beautiful scarves. You can also find local makers’ stationery and art, including paintings by Judy Warner, woodcraft by Bare Hill Woodworks, and Carlson Orchard stoneware by American Stonecraft. Browse the store’s pantry shelves for your cooking needs or for the perfect local gift—you’ll find a variety of local honey and maple products. The General is keeping the prepared-food cooler stocked with an ever-expanding offering of house-made specialties for meals and snacks during the busy holidays. And, as always, the store features hometown goodies such as Harvard mugs, blankets, hats, shirts, sweatshirts, and books about Harvard history. (harvardgeneralstore.com)

Fruitlands

Fruitlands Museum Store, managed by Harvard resident Harriet Friedrich, offers the best view in town and a unique selection of handmade items in a wide price range. Ornaments, cards, jewelry, original watercolor paintings, prints, ceramics, glass, Shaker items, baby and toddler sweaters, soft yarn-covered animals, and more are all crafted by New England artisans. Of particular interest are the original watercolors and prints of birds, done by former Harvard resident Barry Van Dusen. In this year of all things “Little Women,” there is a purse with a charming old-fashioned picture of the four girls. Hanging in one window are glass-blown “dream catchers,” clear balls with vibrant colors swirled inside. A mini-bookshop has a range of texts on the Alcotts and other transcendentalists and the Shakers, along with children’s books. Beautiful scarves and dressy jackets by Winding River make special gifts. Additionally, membership, which includes admission to all 116 of the Trustees of Reservations properties, is a great “experience” present. The museum store is open weekends from noon to 5 p.m. during the winter. This year’s annual Open House takes place Saturday, Dec. 1, from noon to 5 p.m. (fruitlands.thetrustees.org)

Westward Orchards

The gift shop at Westward Orchards carries items you won’t see all together at any other store around here. There are only one or two of a particular item, but there are many, many items. Most are made in the United States and many made locally. Outside are lawn flags and metal sculptures, some with spinning parts. Christmas trees and wreaths are on their way down from Canada.

The large porch still holds a few stone sculptures and other decorative items for the garden. Inside, shelves and walls are covered with eye-catching wares. There are holiday-themed mugs, flour sack kitchen towels, ornaments, pillows, and other decorative items. Wooden signs hang on the wall with messages like “Life is too short to be anything but happy.” Chickens items are everywhere, with horses, bears, moose, and owls making a showing on mugs and towels. Hand-painted pottery, stuffed animals, candles, and handmade soaps share the well-stocked shelves; colorful scarves drape a rack; and beautiful glass hummingbird feeders hang from the ceiling. Gift baskets can be made up with food, including local honey, and other items chosen from the store. Pies are available by order until Dec. 10, and cider doughnuts can also be ordered in advance. Enjoy complimentary hot drinks and goodies while you shop at Westward’s annual Holiday Open House, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Shoppers may choose a candy cane from a jar and, depending on the color of the dot on its wrapper, receive 5 to 25 percent off the price of a gift. (westwardorchards.com)

Fiber Loft

The Fiber Loft offers creative gifts for both the enthusiast and the casual crafter, with fibers for knitting, spinning, dyeing, felting, and weaving in all colors and textures. There are also gift items for non-knitters, including candles, fabric handbags, canvas totes, jigsaw puzzles, stuffed animals, and jewelry. Gift cards are available, either for use in the store or for classes. Until Dec. 17, the Fiber Loft is also accepting hand-knitted donations for charity, which will be dropped off at Our Father’s House in Fitchburg. The shop is open for the season Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. (thefiberloft.com)

CK Bikes

Stay fit the whole year with a new KHS bicycle for the holidays from CK Bikes, located downstairs at the General Store. Owner Craig Kilmer explains that the KHS initials stand for knowledge, health, and safety—a brand, according to Kilmer, that has a solid reputation with good value. Bicycle fittings are included with purchase, layaways can be arranged, and gift certificates are available. Sprucing up your current bike? Tune-ups, repairs, bicycling accessories, and safety gear such as helmets and lights can be purchased. Cold-weather riders can equip their bikes with studded snow tires for help on Harvard’s hills. For information, call Kilmer at 978-844-7539. Winter hours are Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ckbikes.com)

Local photographers

Press photographer Lisa Aciukewicz sells reprints of town events, including Bromfield sports, Fourth of July, first day of school, graduation, etc. To view the Press photo gallery, visit a2z.smugmug.com/Harvard-Press. Photos can be downloaded, made into quality prints, or kept as keepsakes on mugs, magnets, playing cards, key chains, or mouse pads. Lisa also sells scenic photos from around town at a2z.smugmug.com/Harvard-Press/Harvard-Scenics.

Harvard resident Charles Kronauer offers photographs of views of Harvard, as well as the rest of the world. His photos can be seen at kronauerphoto.smugmug.com, and Charles can be reached at ckronauer@charter.net.

Carlson Orchards

Harvard is known for apples, and Carlson Orchards is the place to find apple-themed gifts, including apple pancake and crisp mixes, dried apple slices, and mulled cider tea bags. The store also sells cookbooks by Harvard authors, including “Favorite Recipes of Mother Carlson,” a compilation of Eleanor Carlson’s recipes, and Eileen and Charles Kronauer’s “Apple of Your Pie.” Custom gift baskets can be made to order with items from the store; some prepackaged gift baskets are available.

Homemade pies can be ordered for pickup by 4 p.m. Dec. 24. Frozen pies, crisps, and breads are available in the store, along with many varieties of apples, including bags of utility apples for baking. Apple cider comes in multiple varieties, including half- and full gallons of regular cider, 12-ounce bottles of sparkling cider, and 16-ounce cans of hard cider, as well as half-gallons of 100 percent Fuji, Gala, or Honeycrisp cider. Carlson’s also sells cheese and spreads from Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon and maple cotton candy made in New Hampshire. Apple gift boxes can be shipped anywhere in the country; order forms are available on Carlson’s website. (carlsonorchards.com)

Harvard Alpaca Ranch

Stop by the Harvard Alpaca Ranch, 58 Old Mill Road, for super-soft alpaca and teddy bear stuffed animals and finely knit, extra soft baby blankets. Decorate the outdoors and treat the birds with twined nesting balls filled with alpaca fur. Holiday socks, hats, and scarves may be purchased at the farm or online at HarvardAlpacaRanch.com, or buy skeins of alpaca yarn to make your own. Great gift ideas include felted ornaments, alpaca golf club headcovers, and 12-month calendars featuring photographs of the ranch’s herd taken by owner Matt Varrell. For the naughty or nice, a bag of magic “beans” (alpaca manure) can be purchased. The beans soaked in water make an excellent fertilizer with very little odor and may also keep deer pests out of gardens (they are repelled by the smell). Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harvard Historical Society

The Harvard Historical Society sells “The Harvard Album,” Dianne Newton’s book about historical Harvard illustrated through many vintage photos, as well as Robert Anderson’s history of Harvard, “Directions of a Town.” There are also a few copies of the Garden Club’s tree book and Eileen Kronauer’s “Apple of Your Pie.” The society sells reproductions, matted and ready for framing, of the works of 1900s resident Eleanor Merrifield, who hand-colored her photos of five bygone scenes of Harvard Shaker Village. Shaker boxes are for sale and also a Shaker Walking Tour brochure of Harvard’s historic Shaker Village. Note cards with prints of four scenes of Harvard Center in the late 1800s as well as old postcards make nice gifts of nostalgia. The society sells gift wrap to use for your purchases. A membership would make a great gift for the history buff, supporting the society and giving the recipient a discount on ticketed events. The Harvard Historical Society, 215 Still River Road, is open Monday and Tuesday 1 to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Orders can also be taken by email; contact Judy Warner at curator@harvardhistory.org or call Carol Landry at 978 456-9645.

St. Benedict Center Gift Shop

Visit the St. Benedict Center’s True Devotional Gift Shop at 271 Still River Road for spiritual gifts this holiday season. Staffed by volunteers and religious brothers and sisters, the shop features nativity statuary, crèches, Advent calendars, and music. The “Christmas in Still River” CD is a collection of traditional Catholic songs sung by the brothers and sisters at the St. Benedict Center. Also available are inspirational books, artwork, music, DVDs, rosaries, and an assortment of religious gifts. Weekday hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; open until 5 p.m. Thursdays; Saturday 10 a.m. to noon; Sunday 10:45 to noon. Holiday hours are 10 a.m. to noon. Browse the online catalog at TrueDevotionals.com or call 978-456-8877.

Local honey

Sweetness for the holidays comes in the form of honey bought locally. Local Maxant Honey is sold at Carlson Orchards in 1-, 2-, 4-, and 5-pound jars. Carlson’s also sells Cherryvale Apiaries honey, produced in Boxborough. Westward Orchards sells the Spring Blossom (light) variety of Carlisle Honey, and the General Store also sells Carlisle’s Spring Blossom, Wildflower (dark), and jars of creamed honey. In addition, the General sells Wicked Bee honey made in Harvard.

Health and wellness gift cards

Surprise your friends or family with a free guest pass to Koko FitClub of Harvard, which can be downloaded at harvard.kokofitclub.com. The pass entitles the recipient to a comprehensive workout demonstration or a customized strength and cardio workout by a certified personal trainer.

Bodylines Pilates of Harvard offers specials and gift certificates for its private and semiprivate lessons and drop-in class packages. The focus is strengthening your muscles while feeding your soul, using “mind-body” forms of movement including pilates, yoga, a suspension training system, high-intensity training, and elements of ballet. For the holidays, you can earn two free classes with the “Twelve Days of Fitness” program, available on the Bodylines website, Facebook, or Instagram pages. Nutritional programs are also available to help you reach your health and wellness goals. Gym is open Saturday 7 a.m. to noon, Sunday 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., and Monday through Friday 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (bodylinespilates.com)

Gift certificates for Dragonfly Wellness Center can be used for any of the classes, workshops, massage, or private instruction offered at this holistic wellness center at 176 Jackson Road, Devens. Certificates are available in the online store. (dragonflywellnesscenter.net)

Another healthy option is a gift certificate for classes or membership at Anytime Fitness, 20 Andrews Parkway, Devens. The gym is open 24 hours a day. Gift certificates are available in any denomination at the front desk, staffed Monday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.; Tuesday 2 to 7 p.m.; Wednesday noon to 7 p.m.; Thursday 2 to 6 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to noon; Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (anytimefitness.com/gyms/713/devens-ma-01434)

Flowers and Spirits

Custom floral designs for gift-giving or the holiday table can be ordered from Flowers at Westcott Barn, owned by Harvard resident Richard Gioiosa. Contact him via email at richard.gioiosa@gmail.com or by phone at 617-771-0433. (flowersatwestcottbarn.com)

Wine and beer for holiday parties or gifts can be found at the General Store and the Grape Vine on Ayer Road. The General Store has an ever-expanding collection of craft beer, wines, and spirits available for package store purchase. Keep an eye on social media for updates on upcoming wine tastings through the holiday season. Additionally, the General is now able to serve beer and wine by the glass for sit-in service. (harvardgeneralstore.com) (grapevineliquorstore.com)

J.U.M.P. ropes

The Just Understand My Potential program will once again offer the J.U.M.P. climbing rope. Handcrafted in Harvard, the J.U.M.P. Rope is about 6 feet of high-strength paracord, daisy-chained and secured with a good buckle and a water knot. The ropes are available at jumpinc.org. All proceeds go to the program, which offers youth development through mountain hiking experience.

Harvard represented afar

Beyond the borders of Harvard, you’ll find the wares of Harvard residents in stores such as Sue George’s Harvard Sweet Boutique in Hudson and Periwinkle Art & Glassworks in West Acton village. Harvard Sweet Boutique offers gourmet desserts and gift boxes in the Hudson store; gift boxes can also be ordered online and either picked up in the store or shipped anywhere in the country. (harvardsweetboutique.com) Periwinkle features works by more than 100 local artists, including Harvard residents Cathryn Noyes, Teresa Ferraiolo, Carol Panek Clark, and Judy Warner. Classes and workshops for kids and adults are offered year round. (periwinkleglassworks.com)

A few nearby gift and gift card options

Celebrate music with the gift of a concert, a lecture, a showcase recital, or chamber music tickets from Indian Hill Music. Performances feature acclaimed musicians at an affordable price. Tickets can be purchased online at indianhillmusic.org or by phone at 978-486-9524. Gift cards are available and can be purchased and sent online.

Kitchen Outfitters of Acton carries a variety of quality kitchen items, including cookware, bakeware, cutlery, and gadgets that no chef or baker should be without. Gift cards can be purchased online and mailed directly to the recipient. (kitchen-outfitters.com)

Swymfit, just over the town line in Boxborough, offers walk-ins and daily class visits, individual monthly memberships, and 10-visit guest or class cards, along with regular memberships. In addition to swim lessons, Swymfit offers a variety of exercise classes on both water and land, as well as small group and personal training sessions. (swymfit.com)

Fine lingerie, sleepwear, and activewear can be purchased at Jo Karen in Acton. Super-soft and cozy Barefoot Dream wraps and cardigans make excellent gifts. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 7 p.m., and Sunday noon through 5 p.m. (jokaren.com)

The Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley is a winner of the 2016 Diners’ Choice award by OpenTable and is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves local craft beers on tap. Gift cards are available online at bullrunrestaurant.com or by phone at 978-425-4311 and are redeemable for dinner, drinks, concert tickets, or retail items such as t-shirts, mugs, and caps at the restaurant’s gift shop.

Colonial Spirits of Acton offers specials on its wine, beer, and liquor selections throughout the holidays, as well as wine tastings, to help choose the perfect gift or holiday dinner pairing. Gift cards are available in any amount and can be ordered over the phone at 978-263-7775 or online and sent directly to the recipient. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (colonialspirits.com)

Acton’s Handworks Gallery of American Crafts is filled with gift possibilities by artists and sculptors who work with ceramics, wood, fiber, glass, jewelry, and mixed media. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday 12:30 to 5 p.m., and Thursday nights until 8 p.m. (handworksgallery.net)

GIFTS, GOODIES, GIFT CARDS

IN HARVARD and DEVENS …

 
… AND AT SOME OF OUR ADVERTISERS
IN NEARBY TOWNS

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