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Our Picks by BAR Editorial
Somehow it has happened again—the holidays are around the corner and it suddenly feels like there’s not enough time to scoop up gifts for everyone on your list. While we like to encourage purchasing from local makers all year long, the holidays are a particularly good occasion to put your dollar to work by shopping right here in our own community.
This year’s gift guide features suggestions for chic libations, handmade heirlooms, children’s books, and one-of-a-kind experiences, all from within the Greater Boston area. No matter what your budget is this season, the Boston Art Review editorial team has you covered with suggestions that are certain to delight.
And we’d be remiss not to mention that subscriptions to Boston Art Review make for wonderful gifts. Order before December 15 to receive a copy of Issue 11 and a special note for the new subscriber.
For more in-person shopping opportunities, see our roundup of local markets, pop-up shops, and special events.
Thoughtfully Curated Wine Gift Boxes from The Urban Grape$87–$165Wine can be intimidating. It comes with its own vocabulary—vintage, legs, bouquet—and how do you learn to pair it? The Urban Grape encourages its customers to “drink progressively” by offering a selection of both experimental and classic wines, but as a Black- and woman-owned independent wine store, they also focus on selling from BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and women producers. Their wine gift boxes are thoughtfully curated and include options like the Women in Wine and Progressive Orange Wines Gift Box. Shop in person in the South End or online for the inquisitive taster in your life.
Adventurous Sake from the Koji Club$62–$233 per 720ml bottle
Owner Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale has brought the coziness of an izakaya to a nook at Brighton’s Charles River Speedway, where the Koji Club, Boston’s first sake bar, offers great options for the novice and experienced sake enthusiast alike. We’re pretty excited about the Tamagawa Spontaneous Fermentation Junmaishu, but the knowledgeable staff provides wonderful hospitality and can help you pick out a few special bottles to tuck under the tree.
Gift a Workshop at Cloth CollaborativeGift certificates start at $25
Cloth Collaborative’s new location in Hyde Park is a haven for weavers, dyers, knitters, and sewers alike. Whether the fiber fan in your life is a seasoned pro or just getting started, the space offers skill-based workshops ($75) in weaving, mending, felting, punch needling, and more. Crafters are also welcome to bring a project or idea to open studio night ($25), which includes studio and equipment access in the company of other makers. No need to decide the craft of choice right now—gift certificates are available online.
Happy Hat Knit Kit from Degen$42
Providence-based maker Lindsay Degen has a cult-like following in the world of knitting. Her playful patterns paired with colorful yarns make for distinct handknits—we’re talking asymmetry, giant holes, and kooky stripes. The Happy Hat Kit includes all the materials necessary to create an adorable beanie with a smiley face bauble on top. Degen also has a selection of funky notions (knitters’ lingo for accouterments like stitch markers and crochet hooks) that make for great stocking stuffers. Get them all on Degen.us.
Unpretentious Caviar from EBO Grocery$35–$165
From the fun-loving folks at East Boston Oysters, EBO Grocery is stocked with everything from lotto tickets to boutique tinned fish. We love them because their caviar is not only scrumptious and reasonably priced, but will look totally sexy on any New Year’s Eve party table. EBO recommends daubing the neon green wasabi tobiko right on top of an oyster, whereas the white sturgeon from California is better served on a Pringle than a blini. Visit the shop in East Boston, open seven days a week, or shop online.
Gourmet Pantry Essentials from the Mushroom ShopPrices vary
Stepping into this Winter Hill storefront is like stepping into a mythical land of culinary treasures. While you can purchase an impressive variety of locally foraged or farmed mushrooms, they likely won’t hold up as presents. But the chef in your life will be delighted by umami-packed sauces and seasonings, a black sesame crunchy butter, or a black trumpet mushroom miso.
Restaurant Gift Cards You Can’t Go Wrong WithPrices Vary
If you can’t squeeze in a special night out before the holidays, we promise no one will be bothered by an IOU gift certificate to one of these Boston-area spots. The lauded Comfort Kitchen in Upham’s Corner in Dorchester has swiftly become one of Boston’s most sought after reservations, serving up everything from okra to jerk roasted duck. We’re also loving Gufo in Cambridge, a new Italian spot with natural wines and a to-die-for squid ink bucatini. For our North Shore friends, Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn is serving up a Vietnamese and French tasting menu with lots of uni.
Coffee Subscription from GracenotePrices vary, $15 per delivery
Let the gift keep on giving all year long with Gracenote’s subscription program, delivered monthly or biweekly to fit a range of caffeine consumption levels. Their wide selection of single-origin coffees boast a rich roast profile, delicate flavors, and nuance with every sip—all roasted right here in Massachusetts. The gift of always having coffee on hand? Priceless. Order a subscription here.
Vintage Tea from Broken Cup Teahouse Prices vary, gift sets $29–$70
You’ve met vintage wines; now it’s time to step into the world of vintage teas. Cambridge’s Broken Cup Teahouse offers dozens of new and vintage tea options from small producers around the world. Owner Yin Guan aims to source most teas directly from tea farmers and features varieties with intriguing names like “Remembrance,” a 1995 tea from Taiwan currently included in the Winter Signature Series Set ($56). Keep up with the shop to attend a pop-up teahouse event where education is at the forefront.
8 Crazy Nights Local Gift Box from Bites of Boston$150
Hanukkah is just around the corner, and if you’re feeling pressed for time, Bites of Boston is bringing loads of local small business favorites right to your doorstep in thoughtfully curated gift boxes. A selection of food, drinks, bath, body, and home products makes each box unique. We don’t know for certain what’s inside these eight beautifully wrapped presents, and that’s what makes them so fun.
Nina MacLaughlin’s Winter Solstice$14.95
A counterpoint to her earlier ode to summertime, local author Nina MacLaughlin’s lyrical new book, Winter Solstice, shines a light on the darkest time of year. Drawing on myths, memories, meteorology, and more, it makes a perfect companion for a frosty New England night. Find it at Brookline Booksmith or Harvard Book Store.
Sónia Almeida’s Ó (ó agudo) / (o acute)$50 While most of us couldn’t make it over to Portugal this past summer to check out Boston’s own Sónia Almeida’s first retrospective at Culturgest, this beautiful bilingual catalog offers the next best thing. The cloth-bound volume offers essays from art world luminaries such as Northeastern’s Gloria Sutton and rich photography by António Jorge Silva that exemplifies Almeida’s proficiency at contorting and collapsing structure, scale, and space. You can find it at the ICA Store.
Fill the Shelves with Books from Frugal BookstoreGift cards start at $10
At the only Black-owned bookstore in Boston, the possibilities abound, from best-selling new titles to secondhand treasures. With a thoughtful collection for all ages, a stunning selection of jacquard totes, and a robust calendar of community events, a trip to this local reading hub in Roxbury’s Nubian Square should be on everyone’s bucket list. And the reader in your life will love a trip where they’re not footing the bill.
Ceramic Kitchen Goods, Pipes, and Planters from Julo Pottery Co.Terrain pipe, $50 or Garlic Grater, $35
Julo Pottery Co.—founded in Plymouth by MassArt alum Julie Locke—features handmade ceramic goods that will satisfy anyone on your list. Delightful little ceramic storage jars are perfect for any kitchen, while your cannabis-loving friend might enjoy a bespoke ceramic pipe. Inspired by nature, the line has pieces made with locally sourced clays and hand-mixed glazes. If you don’t catch Julo Pottery Co.’s pop-up at SoWA’s Winter Festival, you can still order online.
Woven Kenyan and Senegalese Baskets from NinaNest Home Gifts$34 per small woven basket
Based in Holden, Massachusetts, NinaNest Home Gifts partners with Mbitini Women Weavers in Kenya and Thiès Artisan group in Senegal to create masterfully woven baskets, wall decor, wooden bowls, bags, and more. Through their Etsy shop, mother-daughter duo Aidah and Nina offer a wide array of ethically handmade and sustainable home goods to grace your giftee’s living room or kitchen.
Sophie Page Blankets$120
The whimsical world of illustration artist Sophie Page can now live on your sofa. If you don’t think you need a “frog kiss blanket” to get you through this Boston winter, there’s absolutely someone in your life who does. These 95% cotton blankets are made with vibrant colors that bring Page’s adorable flowers, frogs, figures, and felines to life. Find your favorite to share here.
A Visit to the Tot Café by Little Cocoa Bean Co.$25–$100
If you know a kiddo who lives in or near JP, you can treat them and their grown-ups with a gift card to this sweet cafe. Owner Tracy Skelly offers healthy, culturally diverse food for babies and toddlers in a beautiful book- and toy-filled setting that lets little ones be themselves while caregivers have a cuppa and breathe a little easier.
Gorgeously Illustrated Books by Ekua Holmes$17.99
We love the story of MaVynee Betsch, who was known as the “Beach Lady,” in Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch. With vivid illustrations by Roxbury collage artist Ekua Holmes, author Heidi Tyline King shares how Betsch kept a historic Black-owned haven on Florida’s shore alive. Order online at Penguin Random House or locally from Frugal Bookstore, where you can find many other standout children’s books illustrated by Holmes.
Raúl the Third’s ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Read $16.99
Local author-illustrator Raúl the Third draws on his own childhood in El Paso and Juárez for his award-winning World of ¡Vamos! series, interweaving English and Spanish and filling each bustling scene with exuberant details. The new fourth installment brings Little Lobo and his friends to a book festival at the library—and is sure to be a hit with the budding bibliophile on your list. Find it at Harvard Book Store, Porter Square Books, and other local bookstores.
An At-Home Cyanotype Kit from CatLABS$68.90
Take your film-loving friend’s work to the next level with one of the oldest photographic processes. The kit comes fully equipped with everything needed to produce up to 300 luscious blue cyanotype prints right at home. Purchase the kit from analog photography haven CatLABS in Jamaica Plain, where you can find a whole slew of goodies for the photophile in your life.
Kintsugi Workshop at Crane & Turtle in Bow Market$125 per workshop
Kintsugi is the Japanese tradition of repairing broken ceramics with gold, a craft that accentuates imperfections to make an even more beautiful whole. At Crane & Turtle, located upstairs at Bow Market in Somerville, participants will learn the traditional practice within the comfort of a small group workshop. Classes are offered every month—broken pottery included! Learn more.
Workshops for Print Lovers at Albertine PressStarting at $55
At Albertine Press in Cambridge, artisanal print practices like printmaking, bookbinding, calligraphy, and letterpress are more alive and accessible than ever. Purchase a workshop package to get started on a personal practice in making small books or stationery. You can also browse the store’s shelves for gifts made by local artists, women-owned businesses, and sustainable living brands.
Custom Framing from Around the CornerVarious prices
Good art needs good framing. Trust us, it really makes a difference. If you’re purchasing art this season, head over to Around the Corner to get your pieces wall-ready before they go under the tree. Owner Amanda Acardi and her team will consult with you and provide suggestions that will make each piece shine and last for more than a lifetime. Visit the South End shop to get started.
Regal Pillows from Haley Wood Lewis Chessmen King Pillows, 2021, $350 for the pair
We can’t get enough of Haley Wood’s fantastical plush pieces. On rugs, pillows, and wall hangings, Wood creates characters and scenes that feel pulled from a storybook through a process called punch needling. Her chess piece-inspired pillows will fancify any room. They’re available via Artsy or Abigail Ogilvy Gallery.
“Peace of Shit” Silkscreen Print by Yuri Shimojo$200
The holidays may be a time of festivity and cheer, but that doesn’t mean we put our values on hold. Show some solidarity—or put your own principles on display—with this three-color silkscreen protest print created and signed by Japanese artist Yuri Shimojo. Hand-pulled by a master printer, the print offers the season’s dove of peace in a bit of righteous action. It’s available via Brookline’s Praise Shadows Art Gallery.
A Big Glass Bowl from Emery Wenger $375
MassArt alum Emery Wenger’s hand-blown serving bowls—which he’s dubbed his Big Bowls—will effectively house a meal or decor, but they make a statement all on their own. Each piece is made in Cambridge in bold colors with a delicate contrasting rim, acting as both a piece of art and a useful accompaniment to any dinner party. Wenger’s work will be available for purchase alongside other members of the NOCA Glass School, where the annual Holiday Glass Sale is running December 9 and 10 in Cambridge.
This article features contributions from:
Kaitlyn Ovett Clark, managing editor for Boston Art Review and the exhibitions and public programs manager at the Tufts University Art Galleries at the SMFA
Karolina Hać, editor at Boston Art Review and head of marketing at Höweler+Yoon Architecture, LLP
Niara Hightower, editorial assistant at Boston Art Review
Jacqueline Houton, senior editor at Boston Art Review and a copyeditor at Candlewick Press
Jameson Johnson, founder and editor-in-chief at Boston Art Review
Jessica Shearer, senior editor at Boston Art Review and director of communications and user experience at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
With Design By:
Victoria Wong, designer at Boston Art Review
Paige Mulhern, creative director at The Best Bees Company
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any corrections.