Local Gifts Worth Giving

Looking to support the Delaware economy while shopping for holiday gifts? Here are suggestions from staff, contributors and readers that will lead you to area merchants and organizations.

Wilmington Brew Works Merchandise
Anything from Wilmington Brew Works works—a gift card, T-shirt, pint glass, or a simple night out. We have to make sure the first production brewery in Wilmington doesn’t flounder, especially when it’s making beers as good as these.  I bought my first ever crowler (a 32-ounce can) from WBW and it completely changed how I attend BYOB parties.  Try the Marzen if it’s on tap when you’re there.
 — Dillon McLaughlin, Contributing Writer

Heart & Home Gift Shop
This local string of shops (Pike Creek/Newark/Peoples Plaza) has some of the singular best gift choices for even the most hard-to-buy-for pals. From chic candles and dazzling drinkware to snuggly socks and booties; from must-have accessories by Lily Pulitzer and Kate Spade to vintage lip gloss that brought me straight back to 1984, there’s always something new to discover, and the staff is equally helpful in finding just the right thing.
 — Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Year-long Membership to Winterthur
This is the gift that keeps on giving, since the famed Winterthur Museum and Gardens has various programs throughout the year, including many with seasonal themes. A yearly pass provides unlimited free general admission and comes in different price ranges:

• Individual: $75.
• Dual (two): $100.
• Family (Two named cardholders and up to four children): $110.
• Contributor (Two adults, four children; option of “Guest of” card): $165.
• Patron (Eligible for additional benefits): $275.
• Benefactor (Special benefits and behind-the-scenes opportunities): $500.
• Friends – Associate (Benefactor benefits and can host private event): $1,000.
• Friends – Director (Eligible for every membership benefit offered): $2,500.

To purchase a yearly membership, log onto Winterthur.org or call the membership office at 888-4713.
— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Delaware Store
This store is all about official Delaware, made in Delaware, for Delaware. Located in Dover with all of essentials of your home state, including Del-a-where? shirts and more. The store also has nostalgic collectables. It’s at 325 S State St.
— Elizabeth Carlson, Intern

A Vintage Approach
What’s old is new again and that certainly holds true with the vinyl records fascination. It’s the preferred way to listen to music for my two 20-somethings, and I know they’re not alone. Thumbing through vintage albums brings back great memories—and is now creating new ones. It also exposes younger people to older music, which is never a bad thing. So, consider the vinyl option for the music-lover on your list. You have ample options in the area. There’s Grooves and Tubes (Centreville), which also offers a wide range of turntables, speakers, receivers, etc. Same for SqueezeBox Records (Union Street, Wilmington), a relatively new family business that sells and repairs equipment and has plenty of music inventory.  Jupiter Records on Kirkwood Highway has a large inventory of new and used music and offers you the ability to trade-in. And in Newark there is Wonderland Records, Delaware’s oldest record store (opened in 1972), and Rainbow Records, which has nearly as much history, operating on Main Street since 1979.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Bellefonte Arts, Blue Streak Gallery, Museums
I head to the local art museum or shops for unique gifts for the holidays. At places like Bellefonte Arts, you can find hand-crafted items. Blue Streak Gallery has funky items you won’t see anywhere else. The museum stores are a great source as well, and in New Castle County we’ve got The Delaware Contemporary, the Delaware Art Museum, Hagley Museum and Winterthur.
— Bev Zimmermann, Special Projects

Liquid Alchemy Beverages
Locally made beer, wine and spirits come with distinctive flavors and, especially from the smaller outfits, a unique story. Both are in good supply at Liquid Alchemy Beverages in Wilmington, which sells both mead, a generally sweeter drink made from honey, and cider. Personally, I’m a fan of The Light Cide, which has a tart flavor that belies the notion that ciders must be cloyingly sweet. Owners Terri Sorantino and Jeff Cheskin are friendly and happy to go into detail about each variety. Unfortunately, state laws prevent them from shipping to Delaware, so you’ll have to purchase growlers and bottles at their tasting room or the handful of retailers, listed on their website, that carry their products.
— Dan Linehan, Contributing Writer

Give the gift of glass
Smoking reefer just isn’t the underground act of social-political resistance that it used to be, especially now that recreational consumption is legal in 10 states (Michigan being the most recent addition to the list of free states) and medical in 40 states, including Delaware. So this year, give the gift of glass from Frolic in Newark. In other words, since you can’t buy the flower (at least not legally if you don’t have a prescription), go for the next best thing and buy a glass pipe for someone you love. As with anything, the prices vary depending on what you want. Looking for something extra special? Try the UV-reactive Sherlock pipe. It glows in the dark.
— Jordan Howell, Contributing Writer

The REP at UD
Every time I’ve been to a REP production, I’ve walked away impressed, and I’ve seen comedies, Irish drama, psychological thrillers, and more.  They don’t limit themselves to a single genre and have proven more than capable at tackling subjects from across the globe. Production value approaches Broadway levels, the actors are insanely versatile, and every show is worth the money.
— Dillon McLaughlin, Contributing Writer

Crowlers from Your Local Brewery
Have a beer-loving friend or relative who likes to try new beers? How about grabbing a crowler or two from your local brewery as a gift? For the unversed, a crowler (can-growler) is a 32-ounce aluminum can filled with beer, then sealed fresh with a canning machine at the bar. Crowlers keep way longer than your standard glass growler, and are easier and safer to transport. You should still try to keep the crowler cold at all times, but that’s nothing a cooler and an ice pack can’t solve. Most of our local breweries provide crowlers for beer-to-go, so go support a local brewer!
— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

Delaware State Parks Pass
Every year, my lovely wife gets me a Delaware State Park pass as a stocking stuffer. This is always my favorite and most utilized gift. Annual passes are available for purchase at select parks and they cover daily entrance fees at all Delaware State Parks from March 1 to Nov. 30 (no fees required off-season). They’re also available online at destateparks.com.
— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

The New and Improved Brandywine YMCA
Membership in the YMCA for you or a loved one—or the whole family—is a great investment.  This branch on Mt. Lebanon Road “raised the roof” in 2018 with a new addition and equipment, and it’s now top-notch. Call to get a tour and tutorial on the facilities and the new equipment. Then start working out on your own or sign up for one of the many group programs. The instructors provide expert but considerate guidance and motivation for any level of fitness you desire. You name it, they’ve got it: Zumba, spinning, yoga, BODYPUMP, CXWORX, STEP, lap swimming, basketball, and more.  Want the ultimate challenge? Sign up for Grit and be prepared to be tested to the max by a tiny dynamo named Sarah. Go to ymcade.org for details.
— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Local Charities
My family is big on memberships and donations to charity. Animal rescue, historic preservation, and donations to organizations that take care of the needy are on the top of our lists.
— Bev Zimmermann, Special Projects

Tickets to the Everett Theatre
Since 1922, the Everett Theatre has been providing the people in and around Middletown with movies, plays, and a sense of wonder. The cast and crew are all volunteers who come together to make the props and stage and costumes, so all the money from tickets sales goes into the plays and keeping the Everett alive. My family finds such joy in going to the plays almost every month. Every Christmas my sister preorders ticket for a handful of the plays and gives them to my mom, and we all go and enjoy not only the show, but the quality time we spend together.  Tickets to the shows, or even a season pass, would be a wonderful holiday gift, especially for those who love the theater. Go to everetttheatre.com for more.
— Emily Stover, Intern

Swigg Wine Shop
This boutique wine and spirits shop has recently relocated to a larger footprint just across the parking lot from its original space in Independence Mall on Concord Pike. Great news for Swigg fans like me, as this move provides more room for Dave and Joanne Govatos’ expertly curated (and affordable) selections of not only wine but also specialty vodkas, gins, scotches and craft beer. Swigg also sells a delectable assortment of local cheeses, spreads, olives and chocolates as well as regional artisan gifts like candles and wooden cutting boards, which makes this the perfect stop on the way to a holiday party when you’ve forgotten a hostess gift.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Diamond State Rye Whiskey
Did you know Delaware has its own distillery?  The Painted Stave has been around for a little while now and is slowly gaining popularity.  Everything those people make is great, but their rye whiskey is one of my favorite spirits.  It’s spicy, strong, distinct, and will help convince you there are different flavors in whiskey, just in case you weren’t so sure about that.  Support your local distillers by drinking great whiskey.
— Dillon McLaughlin, Contributing Writer

So, what do you think? Please comment below.