By Nancy Sorbella
If there is one thing we could all use as 2020 comes to a close, it is some genuine joy, some hint of what we are used to this time of year.
The pandemic has me all mixed up – hoping for better days, wishing we could be celebrating the season in the ways we have been accustomed to, being especially grateful for what we do have and concerned for those who now have so much less. What do I even do with all that mental energy as the holidays approach?
I think we end up carving out a new space for December 2020, and crafting a new plan for how to make it meaningful. I’m no expert, but I think I am finding my way.
December has always been my favorite month, or “season” as it really is. Is it because I was born on Christmas Eve? Not sure, but I’ve tried to make each day festive and meaningful even in small ways.
I love to experience every seasonal event, taste and scent that the Hudson Valley has to offer. It is no secret that I love to shop and having an excuse such as a holiday gift list replaces that tinge of guilt with the spirit of giving.
This year, too, I am acutely aware of how our local small businesses (in this case shops and boutiques) have been impacted by the pandemic and, without them, the tapestry of each community would become frayed to the point of no return. If we need anything right now, it is a connection, a social, emotional and physical sense of security, of support and of purpose.
Holiday shopping might not be the panacea needed to change the world, but it could matter, if all of us who can, patronized our local merchants this month more than ever. For my gift list I am all into shop local and share my finds with you. My shopping detours saw me crisscrossing two counties over two days in pursuit of the perfect pandemic presents.
Wishes, 1811 Commerce St., Yorktown Heights
Wishes was the perfect spot to start the day. It is always a treat – sparkly, bright and chock full of treasures. For the holiday season it does not disappoint. There is something for everyone, every budget – hostess, teacher, friend, family, baby, pet and more. Friendly, personal service, and during the pandemic orders can be called in and picked up curbside.
What not to miss: Full disclosure, I have never come out of Wishes empty-handed. This visit I was able to check off more than a few gifts including red plaid tartan fireplace matches, a red plaid ‘Tis the Season pillow and a stocking stuffer Melting Snowman. Bonus. There’s free gift wrapping.
What I wanted to buy: faux fur fingerless gloves, a cozy buffalo plaid wrap, a crushed candy cane candle and a So Merry banner. If no one I know takes that hint I’ll just have to go back to Wishes myself.
Info: Visit www.wishesboutique.com.
Croton Running Company, 119 Grand St., Croton-on-Hudson
Don’t let the name fool you. Westchester’s newest running store, while being all things to all runners, is so much more than that. It is a running club, a running community, a source for local events and most every type of footwear, sock, flare or apparel needed to be a runner. It also happens to be a great spot for holiday gifts for any athlete.
There is exceptional customer service and the owner has been known to personally home deliver orders during the pandemic.
What not to miss: That personalized attention to detail when it comes to the right fit, the right shoe. They have all the extras like sunglasses, hats, t-shirts, locking shoelaces but my favorite is the breathable running masks! One of these should be in every athlete’s stocking this year. A special plus is you can find out where the regional 5Ks are, both virtual and in-person.
Info: Visit www.crotonrunningcompany.com.
The Village Bookstore, 10 Washington Ave., Pleasantville
The name says it all. The Village Bookstore is the quintessential hometown hub with an extensive collection of titles, great gifts for bookworms. It’s cozy and friendly with a helpful staff. The space is welcoming and encourages lingering (socially distanced and with a mask), there is a kid’s space and their featured selections have something for every interest and reading level. They will order anything, gift wrap and offer curbside pickup.
What not to miss: Those personal recommendations for each reader on your gift list. Who isn’t journaling or documenting 2020? The Village Bookstore has a beautiful journal or blank composition book that will encourage even the “glass half full” folks to write creatively. A little reminiscent of The Shop Around the Corner, especially at this time of year.
Info: Visit www.thevillagebookstore.net
Fantastic Finds, 400 King St., Chappaqua
Fantastic Finds was my last stop for this recent shopping trip but certainly not the least. There was a holiday sale but go anytime, the selection is incredible and the prices are always good. I follow many designers who mix their thrift finds with high-end decor and that is exactly what you can do here. They carry clean, organized, gently-worn apparel and accessories and fabulous jewelry as well. My gift list shrank here and my own personal treasure hunt was a success as well.
Checked off the gift list: sterling silver chain, chinoiserie cachepot (perfect for filling with seasonal paperwhite bulbs), several brand new chinoiserie ginger jar ornaments and a vintage cameo clasp set of pearls. Did I mention every purchase benefits the mission of the Support Connection?
What not to miss: The jewelry. The table-scape possibilities, from small gifts to repurposed vintage serving pieces, scarves and accessories. If you’re like me, you will enjoy the fine fur selection (no judgment, they’re vintage), the quality menswear for young men entering the workforce, ginger jars, planters and lighting. If you are just doing holiday shopping, there is a treat for everyone on the list and you’ll feel good while doing it.
Info: Visit www.supportconnection.org (click on Our Store: Fantastic Finds).