Gift Guide: Sara’s Local Favorites
Though I’m a bit Scroogeier than I once was (though this year I think I’m doing better than the past few), I truly love buying gifts for people. Obviously (well, obvious if you’re my postman or UPS guy), I enjoy shopping, but I take pride in assembling gifts for friends and family that are original and fitting of the recipient.
I also – as you know – love supporting local businesses, so that’s what I’m focusing on with this gift guide. Be sure to check out our Books & Booze Holiday Gift Guide and the rest of the team’s picks!
I’m making up a basket called, “Bridging the Morning,” and yes, that means coffee from shops on two shores.
This season, Little Amps released its first holiday coffee blend, Yule Log, so this is a natural stocking stuffer for anyone who remotely likes to be caffeinated.
Yule Log is comprised mostly of a Colombian coffee from the El Chucho farm in the Antioquia region with a touch of a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee from the Kayon Mountain farm in the town of Shakiso in the Guji zone.
12-oz bags are $14 at any of Little Amps three Harrisburg locations, as well as online. If you’re not feeling the make-your-own, the bags are also part of Little Amps’ holiday gift box, which includes new 12-oz Little Amps stainless steel coffee tumblers.
Elementary Coffee Co.
I so love my Saturday morning gym-market routine that plants me at Elementary most Saturdays (often yapping it up at the bar with the one-and-only Andy Enders). Though I’m usually a Gibraltar girl, I get total cup envy over everyone’s pretty little Elementary glass travel mugs. Want, want, want. I can have my Gibraltar in that, right, Andrea?
Stick one of these in your basket, along with a bag of beans!
Cornerstone Coffee House
A bag of beans is an easy grab, but Cornerstone is chock full of oh so many wonderful pastry delights, plus holiday blend beans, beautiful mugs and so much more! Add in some cookies or other sweet treats — this basket is really shaping up!
Capital Joe Coffee
If you have a state worker on your list, you gotta toss them a gift card to Capital Joe Coffee, located across Forster Street from the Capital Complex. This tiny shop is quiet (a proper escape is sometimes necessary), wifi-enabled and gets its beans from Lancaster’s Square One, plus pastries from Brew Cumberland’s Best. Win — win.
Give the gift of local Arts and Culture
Don’t we all mean to be so involved and supportive of our community? I know I do, and yet we all get busy and our ‘mean tos’ become ‘oops.’ Help a like-minded well-intentioned friend or family member (New to town, recent graduate, busy parent, any other city lover) with a membership to any of our lovely institutions.
There are countless benefits (maybe they’ll take you!) and all support terrific nonprofit arts and education in our capital city.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
Individual memberships are $55, but family memberships are only $75/year. Surprise a family on your list with these great benefits:
- Free general admission* for two (2) adults in the same household and their children and grandchildren under the age of 18 years of age to The State Museum of Pennsylvania, including the Planetarium and Curiosity Connection
- 10% discount on Museum Store purchases made at The State Museum of Pennsylvania
- Free general admission* two (2) adults and their children and grandchildren under the age of 18 years of age to all the Pennsylvania Trails of History™ historic sites and museums
For your city dweller and/or movie aficionado – Joining the Midtown Cinema as a member has a bunch of perks, not to mention Zeroday is right. next. door. Show you really care and tag on a gift card to the brewery along with this.
- All Members get $5 tickets every day on first-run films
- 1 Free guest pass
- 1 Voucher for small popcorn and small fountain soda
- Invitation to exclusive Membership VIP reception
- Advance priority purchase for special events
- Free admission to any regular movie on your birthday
- Eligibility for Member of the Month
Susquehanna Art Museum
All members get the following:
- Free museum admission
- Discounts on all public programs, lectures, films, workshops, trips, and artist talks
- 10% discount at SAM store
- Eligibility to exhibit artwork during open call exhibitions
And there are additional perks for those who join at a higher level.
Whitaker Center for Science & the Arts
Harrisburg’s “crown jewel,” Whitaker Center had endless attractions and offers both Science Center and a Performing Arts Memberships, depending on your giftee.
For the entire month of December, you can purchase a family or grandparent membership for just $99! This deal extends to current, new, and lapsed members so if your membership is going to expire in February, you can renew now at this low price. Also, now through December 31, all members including new ones receive 20% off their purchases at our Wonders gift shop.
Please note physical memberships purchased at this time may not arrive by Christmas. However, don’t let that stop you. It’ll be worth it even if it arrives a few days late (stick some info in an envelope and wrap that).
Build Your Own Market Basket
I love making my own baskets of goodies. Perfect as host or whole family gifts — eff it, don’t limit yourselves. There are a million ways to divy these up and share with people you love.
For instance, my dear UPS guy and postal worker are all too deserving of a nice gift this year. USPS limits your gratitude allowance to $20, so I’m hooking these hard-working dudes up with a little combo featuring Calicutts Spice Co. Spiced Chai Hot Chocolate Mix with a package of fudge-O-lutely’s mini fluffs. I hope these treats will share even an ounce of gratitude I have for them — even if they judge my shopping habits.
Many of my other loved ones are getting Calicutts goodies because these artisan spices are a great gift idea for anyone who loves food. Mix and match them with pickled and canned goodies from Radish & Rye, like Torchbearer Sauces (maybe you want sauce with my face on it? Also at the Capital City Mall!) and Epic Pickles.
Both the Broad Street Market and the West Shore Farmers Market — not to mention of course any farmers market near you – York, Lancaster, Carlisle — are jammed full of great local treats to create your own basket of goodies for the goodies on your list.
Also, it’s worth noting that I go bananas for Macris Chocolates, located in the West Shore Plaza — any of their sweet treats are a great addition to a basket — or perfect on their own!
Books & More
While you’re perusing Midtown, you absolutely must also visit Midtown Scholar for any of their many goodies.
For some reason, gift cards here are super antiquated (like pen & paper; apparently the card versions were hacked once?) but it’d be simple enough to find a book of interest for someone special. I particularly love cookbooks and think they make great gifts. Scholar also has journals and other grab-perfect gifts for readers and writers.
Visit the HBG Mini Flea at St@rtup Harrisburg this Friday and check out a variety of hand-selected vendors selling quality, handmade products. This event will feature 29 local vendors, so surely you can knock some folks off your list.
Aspiring writers, artists, designers, students, note-takers will also love treats from The Story Supply Co., a local notebook producer. Made in York, Pa. (yes!), I found these guys at the Flea, but they’re not at the mini on Friday. Check out their website and hunt them down. P-e-r-f-e-c-t stocking stuffers.
Jewelry, Makeup, Clothing
Like, every single time I visit The Millworks I hope that Fennec is open. Because if she is, I will buy yet another pair of her delicate gold earrings. (Say yes to earring backs!) All of her stuff is just delightful and simple and inexpensive. Check out their clothing in their Etsy store, too.
While you’re there, however, go scope out The Gallery, which is really a shop loaded with wares from all Millworks artists — clothing, greeting cards, pottery, paintings, more.
BONUS: On Christmas Eve, The Millworks will offer FREE GIFT WRAPPING for purchases made that day. (They’ll also have special hours, brunch and cocktail menus for that day — Stay tuned, I’ll have details in my “Open for Christmas” post.)
If the lady in your life has been exceptional this year (I bet she has), please visit Meeka Fine Jewelry in Camp Hill for some of the most gorgeous, completely customizable jewelry available in this area. Monika’s stuff is truly unique, handcrafted by herself and eight select artisans.
Of course, while you’re visiting Meeka, you’ll want to peek next door to see the one and only Carmina Cristina and her lovely shop. See if you can pre-purchase a consultation for someone on your list, but an easy grab for any lover of lip color: Carmina Cristina’s Vitamin C Lip Treatment is like, the only lip stuff I’ve worn down to the base. It is a perfect base for any of her lip glosses, but it’s also great on its own to hydrate and make those lips look pouty perfect. The glosses are sheer with a hint of shimmer and a teensy bit of plumper — collect ’em all.