We hope at least one of our must-have gift ideas will work for every type of person in your life: that special someone, a parent, your neighbor, a bestie and even those curmudgeons who never seem to like anything you get them.
Bike-riding Santas delivering Christmas trees and pulled pork sandwiches? Say. No. More. This Christmas, give the gift of a truly one-of-a-kind holiday experience with a tree and a treat from Pork ‘N Pine. Last year, we caught up with delivery Santas Todd Coleman and Mike Santoro, who said they can carry up to eight trees at a time each while towing a cooler of sandwiches. It’s a sight to be seen. Booking is now live on their site but be warned slots will sell out quickly. Prices vary by tree and size but a 7′-8′ Douglas fir plus sandwich will cost you $120. Extra pulled pork sandwiches are also available ($8).
Some of us find contentment in a cup of tea. For a curated collection of unique loose-leaf teas, head over to Baltimore-based Cuples Tea House, run by husband-and-wife team Eric and Lynnette Dodson. Our recommendation: Make it a culinary adventure and get an assortment of various teas. Some of our favorites include Earl Grey Moonlight ($15, 4-oz. pouch) and Bmore Chai ($17, 4-oz. tin). Seasonal winter teas Peppermint Black and Chai Spiced Maté especially sound perfect for these coming chilly days.
SMISKI Toothbrush stands are a cute way to organize your bathroom sink clutter. What’s a smiski, you ask? Smiski are adorable tiny creatures that love hiding in small spaces, plus they glow in the dark. Find it at Matcha Time Gift Shop in Ellicott City ($11.25), which specializes in Japanese goods from dishes to toys. While you’re there, we recommend checking out their Sonny Angel minifigures ($10.99 to $15.99). According to The New York Times, this cute cherub was designed to be a “tiny companion for working women in their mid-20s dealing with the stresses of adulthood.”
Earlier this year, we wrote about the Left Bank Jazz Society and caught up with its archivist, John Fowler. Formed in the ′60s by local jazz admirers, Left Bank hosted many live shows with legendary jazz musicians in the day. In fact, Fowler has archived nearly 300 reels of audio tapes from those performances.
Music enthusiasts might enjoy these 2023 releases featuring Left Bank performances from three highly acclaimed artists —saxophonist Sonny Stitt ($19.56 on Amazon), organist Shirley Scott ($24.99 on Amazon, $49.99 on vinyl) and pianist Walter Bishop Jr. ($24.99 on Amazon, $49.99 on vinyl). Look for it at a local store here.
There seems to be an advent calendar for every type of person out there: coffee and tea drinkers, LEGO enthusiasts, Bluey fans, Aldi cheese lovers, to name just a few out there. But if you’re looking for a local one, Peabody Heights in Abell has an advent calendar case of beer ($90) that includes classic and seasonal brews. According to their Instagram, it’s 25 nights of beer with night one on tap. Why? Well, they turned Dec. 1, the pick-up date, into a holiday party, their First Annual Advent Holiday Bash. Expect food from Heritage Kitchen, holiday tunes, an ornament decorating station and even a best dressed holiday contest. There will also be a donation bin for Toys for Tots and a surprise visit from Santa.
You really can’t go wrong with anything from Mount Royal Soaps, with their fun selection of soap bars, candles and other products. Consider gifting some Baltimore-themed soaps like The Clean Bohemian, a Natty Boh Beer and sandalwood bar ($7.50) or Bird City, a spearmint and sweet basil bar ($7.50). For some holiday flair, look out for their Sugar Plum Moisturizing Sugar Scrub ($16.99) or Candy Cane Lane Candle ($18.99). Throw in some purple rainbow sprinkle donut bath bombs for the kids ($6) too. They also offer other goodies in-store like handmade Christmas tree candles from woman-owned Chappelle & Co. based in Frederick.
2740 A Huntingdon Ave., Baltimore and Lexington Market
Based in Halethorpe, Lockbox Adventures is a tabletop game that’s like a reverse escape room — instead of trying to get out, you’re trying to get in. Players will need to solve a series of puzzles to discover the combination to unlock their box. In December, founder Ben Ferry will be revealing a new lockbox adventure theme. We can’t wait. In the meantime, we recommend checking out his classic arcade-themed lockbox ($59.95), which takes about six hours to complete.
Forget wooden mallets — they are so 2022. Nothing says love like upgrading a loved one’s crab mallet to something more befitting royalty. How about this Salisbury Crab Mallet from Smyth Jewelers ($13)? Made of durable cast aluminum, it won’t split so easily in two like its wooden counterparts. Make it a family affair and get one for every member, so you can be fancy at the next crab feast. If you want to go the extra mile, personalize each mallet.
We’ve only heard good things about Beyond Video, with their collection of 31,000 DVDs, Blu-Ray discs and VHS tapes. So what about gifting a movie rental membership? Yes, you read that correctly! It’s perfect for your friend who misses the thrill of hunting through rows and rows of films or perhaps that someone in your life who can’t be satisfied anymore by endlessly scrolling through Netflix.
Beyond Video has a unique donation-based rental membership that has no per-item rental fees or late charges. There are two membership levels, individual and dual which have different rates for a 2, 6, and 12 month duration. The volunteer-run, non-profit video library offers gift certificates at their location, so stop by. Meanwhile, if you have any DVDs that you are ready to part with, consider donating them to the collective.
Two words: Bread subscription. If bread is a love language, some will find pure joy with a subscription from Motzi Bread, a Charles Village neighborhood bakery that sources its grains from local farms in the Chesapeake Bay area. How it works: Subscribers purchase credits and redeem them when they preorder loaves (or pastries). For $98, you can purchase 13 credits, which works out to be one loaf every other week for six months, according to the site. You’ll need to pick up at their store, which smells wonderful. Our recommendation, try one of their Einkorn loaves with its unique depth in savory/umami flavor.
Head over to SoBotanical, an aromatherapy and apothecary shop dedicated to handcrafting quality products free of chemicals. Products range from skincare to haircare and home remedies; plus, they have an impressive selection of essential oils. Our recommendations: Try the Lavender Body Butter (4 oz. for $28.00) which boasts an amazing scent with a thick, luxurious texture, and the Calm Your A** Down Magnesium Body Lotion (8 oz., $28.00), part of a specialty line that aims to calm nerves and promote relaxation. Want to learn more about essential oils? Need a night out? Perhaps an early present for you and a friend? Consider attending a Wisdom and Wine Wednesday. There are two left for the year.
Sometimes life gets in the way of a hot cup of coffee. Moms and dads of young kids know that all too well. And sometimes you need a practical, no-frills adult gift like an Ember temperature control smart mug that will give you an 80-minute buffer before you experience sadness in a cold cup. Find it on Amazon for $126.70 or other retailers including Target and Best Buy.
2023 was the year that the city bench inscribed with the words “Baltimore – The Greatest City in America” had a bit of a renaissance. In fact, it was most recently mentioned on NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”
And sure, you might have one of those bench ornaments already but what about a bench slat replica? Enter Juliet Ames of The Broken Plate Co. and saltbox artist extraordinaire. Ames is currently making replica slats out of reclaimed wood. Give the gift of a “Baltimore” slat to hang on a wall ($40) or a shotski slat with “The Greatest City in America” on it ($60). Don’t forget to pick out a saltbox tree ornament for your Baltimore tree, hon ($13).
Stokely Baksh is an audience engagement editor at The Baltimore Banner, where she produces a wide range of multimedia across all social platforms. Her work has appeared on ABC World News, Baltimore Sun, PBS’ Need to Know, Mother Jones, United Press International, and the Wall Street Journal.