$20 AND UNDER: Gifts they’ll love without breaking your bank

100 percent cotton T-shirts commemorating Chester's founding in 1761 are available for $15 each.

100 percent cotton T-shirts commemorating Chester’s founding in 1761 are available for $15 each. All photos The Chester Telegraph. Click photos to launch the gallery.

 

By Cynthia Prairie
© 2014  Telegraph Publishing LLC 

Welcome to the 3rd annual Chester Telegraph Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide. Although the economy seems to be on the upswing, we felt that this year it was a good idea to focus on gifts priced at $20 and under. You may be under the impression that the many shops in and around the area are unaffordable. That’s certainly not what we discovered on our travels.

We’ve found enough high quality and inexpensive locally made items that saving money on gasoline is just an added bonus.

While we could not visit every shop that we intended, we’re pleased to include your suggestions in the comments section below. Just include a shop’s exact address, please.

Not a Creature was Stirring*

Let’s start by getting something special for the creatures in our lives, those fetching furred ones. Misty Valley Books, 58 the Common in Chester, has catnip squares for just $3.25, so pick a couple up for Kitty with your holiday book purchases.

You don't have to pay more than $10 to keep your pet well groomed and happy for the holidays.

You don’t have to pay more than $10 to keep your pet well groomed and happy for the holidays.

Erskine’s Grain Store, 54 Grain Store Road off Depot Street in Chester, has an extensive stock of pet supplies. Treats start at less than $2.

If your holiday spirit does not extend to fleas, pick up a flea comb, a necessity during summers like 2014’s. That and other grooming aids run from $5 to $10. Also, for safety’s sake, Erskine now stocks Dog Not Gone visibility collar covers in bright orange with reflective tape, $9 to $9.25.

The Children Were Nestled

More like, the children were restless at the top of the stairs waiting for the Fat One to arrive. But we can dream that the kids were adorably “Christmas Eve Cute,” can’t we?
We can all agree however, that holidays such as Christmas are for the children.

Eeboo games

eeBoo games may help keep the kids occupied.

103 Artisans Marketplace, 7 Pine View Road at Route 103 in Chester, devotes half a room to hand-made hats and mittens for infants. Be sure to check out the variety. And the shop also has baskets of adjustable Fair Trade rings in many styles. Most are made from German silver washed in sterling and run from $5 to $8.50 each, with discounts offered for multiple purchases. (Mom, you might want these as well!) Look for the Fair Trade finger puppets as well. These make great little collectibles and stocking stuffers.

Erskine’s has winter hats in stock starting at $3.25 for kids.

Felted soaps help keep the little monsters clean.

Felted soaps help keep the little monsters clean.

Sage Jewelry, 78 The Common in Chester, has Vermont made Solmate Socks for kids and babies. While the adult socks come in mismatched pairs, the kids socks come in threes and the babies socks come in fives. All sets are $20 but that should take care of any ravenous washing machines.

Misty Valley Books has eeboo Card Games of all sorts (or ages 5 and up) for $7.95 a pack as well as cuddly Ragtales stuffed animals starting at $15.95. And don’t forget the Young Adult section and Children’s Book Room for more great finds.

No shopping for kids would be complete without a trip to the Hugging Bear Shop.

No shopping for kids would be complete without a trip to the Hugging Bear Shop.

On a recent trip to Albany, N.Y., we stopped in at the J.J. Hapgood Store, 305 Main St. in Peru, for a cuppa coffee to go. The eatery/country store, which is celebrating its first anniversary, offers such a different array of goods, we thought it worth a mention.

For your dirty little monsters, Hapgood has felted animal soap monsters for $8.99. Once their good and clean, treat them to some hot chocolate in their very own pig mugs ($14.99).

Of course, shopping for the kids just wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Hugging Bear Shop, at 244 Main St. in Chester behind the Hugging Bear Inn. The shop is having a sale of 25 percent to 75 percent off.

But you don’t need a sale to find wonderful bargains. Assorted animal finger puppets are four for $12. Folkmanis puppets run $12 to $14. And Vermont’s own Mary Meyer toys has a huge array of plush horses, giraffes, bears, zebras – well, a whole safari of animals for under $20. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can spend in the Hugging Bear.

Visions of Sugar Plums Danced

While visions of sugar plums aren’t exactly dancing in our heads (we had to Google the recipe), the holidays do conjure up thoughts of delightful comestibles. And many shops certainly fulfill our desires. These are not only perfect party fare, but they are also great as host/hostess gifts.

Vermont cheeses and sausages make a great gift or starters for a fabulous party.

Vermont cheeses and sausages make a great gift or starters for a fabulous party.

Lisai’s Chester Market, 526 Depot Street in Chester, offers a good array of Vermont and New York cheeses and sausages, running from $6 to $13. Toss in some crackers and Stonewall Kitchen jams, jellies or mustards and you have a perfect gift basket for a close friend or the start of your own party. You can find small jars for $3 to $4 and large ones for $6.50 to $8.

You can also find Jersey Girl cheeses, including raw milk varieties, at the Jersey Girls Farm Cafe and Market, at Routes 103 and  11 10 in Chester. Prices start at $5 for a cream-style Quark cheese and $9 for a raw milk variety.

A mug and cocoa: perfect for a winter's day.

A mug and cocoa: perfect for a winter’s day.

Besides having 450 wines in stock, The Grape Connection, 38 RT 30 (Main Street) in Bondville, offers Vermont Hills Teriyake sauces priced at $8 to $16; fancy olives from $4.59 to $7.59 and Sid Wainer dried fruits and nuts from $2.79 for dried kiwi to $10.59 for a package of fancy nuts.

Lisai’s and The Grape Connection have a huge variety of wines from around the world for under $20. Both Lonnie Lisai at Lisai’s and Lucy Sherburne at The Grape Connection are savvy wine merchants and can head you into the right direction.

For a delicious stocking stuffer, you can pick up a bar of clotted crème fudge for $7.99 at J.J. Hapgood in Peru. You can also purchase a J.J. Hapgood “mega mug” ($12.99) and a bag of hot chocolate mix ($7.89) as a gift presentation. But be sure to check out the interesting variety of canned and jarred foods to create your own gift basket.

From the Chocolate Room at 103 Artisans Marketplace.

From the Chocolate Room at 103 Artisans Marketplace.

Misty Valley Books also has its own branded coffee mugs for just $9.95 each, and le chat is included!

Mo’s Fudge Factor of Massachusetts has a devoted Vermont following. Instead of waiting for your order to come through the mail, stop by the Shop at Motel in the Meadow, 936 VT Rt. 11 West, and pick from a variety of your favorites. Just $7 for a half pound.

Leggings, tops and scarves can be had for less than $20 each at Country on the Common.

Leggings, tops and scarves can be had for less than $20 each at Country on the Common.

There’s no better local place to shop for the chocolate addict in your life than 103 Artisans Marketplace. Elise and Payne Junker’s Chocolate Room can keep you occupied with its dizzying selection of milk, white and dark chocolate truffles, patties and other confections. How about trying a Bacon BBQ, Espresso or Cinnamon Chili Pepper bar? Prices range from $2.50 each for truffles to $6 for assorted chocolates.

Maple syrups and other maple products are available at all of the above stores, but they can also be found at shops like the one at Motel in the Meadow and the Bargain Corner, 128 & 287 Main St. in Chester, where 8 oz runs $7.95 and 32 oz. runs $19.50.

Mamma in her Kerchief

Mothers and the other women in our lives will love just about anything you buy or make for them. If you’ve gotten them something from the heart, the cost won’t matter.

Country on the Common, 80 The Common in Chester, has a wide variety of colorful and inexpensive clothing for women. In the $20 and under range are infinity scarves, made by shop owner Sharon Baker (she of the fabulous

Many types of candles are available at a number of shops, including these tapers at the Bargain Corner and Kringle candles at Motel in the Meadow.

Many types of candles are available at a number of shops, including these tapers at the Bargain Corner and Kringle candles at Motel in the Meadow.

infinity shawls that are being copied throughout the country.) Baker also has a new selection of leggings, some fleece-lined for winter, some with pockets, some with zippers. All are just $16. Both the infinity scarves and the leggings can be paired with over-sized tunics in small, medium, large and extra large. Just $19. To dress up any outfit, Baker has sparkly scarves. These beaded and crocheted pieces come in 67 colors and are just $12 each.

For a bit more warmth, Baker also stocks locally knitted fingerless gloves by Betty Rounds. Just $17 a pair.

The Shop at Motel in the Meadow has some bright handmade holiday cloth napkin sets and coaster sets, each set of four is $10. You can mix and match patterns for a more festive table.

Kringle Candles – those elegantly scented candles – are also available at the Shop at Motel in the Meadow, starting at $3. And if you want tapers for a friend’s holiday table, pop on over to the Bargain Corner, where pairs of candles in a wide range of colors and sizes run from $1.25 to $2.50. Can’t decide which color to buy? They are so inexpensive you can buy several pairs and not break the bank.

103 Artisans Marketplace has bling and jingle!

103 Artisans Marketplace has bling and jingle!

103 Artisans Marketplace has a huge variety of jewelry, including a nice selection of earrings for under $20. But on the fun and inexpensive side, the Junkers have Christmas baubles – earring, necklace and bracelet sets – that will keep her jingling all the way. ($10.95 to $14.95)

Besides the carefully select books that line the shelves, Misty Valley Books has a load of colorful “7-year-pens.” These whimsical Swiss-made writing tools are only $6.95 each. But if your gal is a bit more old school, the elegant Kortney Collection of 10 No. 2 pencils is packaged in a matching box and comes with a sharpener and an eraser. ($10.95).

A nice array of Popplewood products from Sage Jewelry.

A nice array of Popplewood products from Sage Jewelry.

Sage Jewelry offers a nice selection of Vermont made soaps, including Popplewood Farms goat milk products ($3 to $12) and Grace & Miss Mouse ($5). Owner Michele Bargfrede has  some beautiful batik scarves in stock ($15 to $18) and pewter ornaments ($15). Bargfrede is also a jewelry maker, so be sure to check out her own designs, quite a number priced under $20.

For the collector of Polish Pottery.

For the collector of Polish Pottery.

At the Polish Pottery Shop, which is in the same building as Sage Jewelry, you’ll find reasonably priced items for the collector. Ramekins are $14 each and also make nice hostess gifts; spoons are $12 each, pie birds are $16 and toothpick holders and posy vases are $12.

J.J. Hapgood also has large bars of Shea butter soap from France. In lavender, honey almond and white gardenia, just $7.50 for these megabars.

A special cigar for a special someone.

A special cigar for a special someone.

And I in My Cap

Men seem to always be tough to shop for. But we’ve rounded up some unusual items that are sure to please.

If your male significant other is a cigar smoker, and you want to give him something special. The Grape Connection has a small humidor with Macanudo and Onyx among others. Prices range from $5.99 to $11.99 each.

For the outdoorsman, Erskine’s has a colorful stock of Acurite indoor-outdoor thermometers priced right at $14 to $20. If your guy as an old but beloved pair of Sorel boots, you can replace the liners to keep his feet warm this winter for only $17.50.

Winter hats ($10) are available at Erskine’s, as are Vermont-made suspenders so he won’t be caught with his pants down, just $16.

On the fancier side, handmade wood inlaid letter openers are

Handmade inlaid wood letter openers are a special gift.

Handmade inlaid wood letter openers are a special gift.

$14.95 at 103 Artisans Marketplace. There are also Junker Studio key hooks for just $12.50, a must have in the home and the workshop.

The Shop at Motel in the Meadow has locally designed and printed, 100 percent cotton T-shirts emblazoned with “Chester Vermont” and the correct founding date of 1761. The shirts come in three classic colors and sizes medium to extra large and are just $15 each. And of course, women can wear them as well.

For fans of John, Paul, George and Ringo, Misty Valley Books has a set of 8 No. 2 pencils with built in erasers. ($8.99)

Wine plates make a nice host/hostess gift.

Wine plates make a nice host/hostess gift.

Merry Christmas to All

For the wine lover, The Grape Connection also has “wine plates” perfect for guests to mingle while carrying a stem glass of wine around with their hors d’oeuvres – $5 each. And it has a matching wine cutting board for cheeses – $11.99.  103 Artisans Marketplace has adorable mouse cheese spreaders ($8.50) and cutting boards ($10.95).

Motel in the Meadow also has some fanciful glass wine stoppers perfect for the holiday, just $6.50 each.

If you have a friend who knits or works with her hands enough that they get dry and cracked, Bag Balm can do the trick. Erskine’s sells two sizes: $5.75 for pocket size and $8.70 for home use.

Kick start a garden with seeds!

Kick start a garden with seeds!

Kick start a loved one’s gardening season with a set of High Mowing or Heart seed packets. Pick and choose at Erskine’s for $1.49 to $2.50 a pack. Both Erskine’s and the Bargain Corner offer watering cans that can be used as gift baskets.

To keep the drafts at bay, Misty Valley Books is carrying Maine-made, balsam filled draft-stoppers. The fragrance is heavenly and the price is right at $16 to $18.

And finally, J.J. Hapgood carries milk glass Mason jar glasses in three colors. It’s a common design around these parts, but an uncommon look. Just $9.99 each.

Happy shopping, everyone!

And to all a Good Night!

With thanks to Henry Livingston Jr., who many believe wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas, which is attributed to Clement Clarke Moore

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeFeaturedIn the Community

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Hi Penny,
    Thanks for writing.

    The two shops you mentioned have been featured in previous Telegraph Shop Local Guides. As I said in the intro to the article, we couldn’t get to everyone we wanted to this year, so please feel free to add more suggestions in this comment section with the exact addresses of the shops. Many of our readers are from outside the area and we want to make it easy for them to find our merchants.

    Meditrina and The Pear Tree are located at 177 S. Main St. (Route 103) in Chester.

  2. Penny Benelli says:

    The article is fine as far as it goes, but it leaves out two great stores right next to the Chester post office: Meditrina and The Pear Tree. Meditrina is a wonderful source for reasonably priced wine and ale, as well as local cheeses, candies and other goodies. And The Pear Tree offers a wide variety of interesting gift items, many at prices below $20. Both are certainly worth a stop–and a mention in the Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide.

  3. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Typo duly noted. Thanks Ron!

  4. Ron Jackson says:

    The address for Jersey Girls Farm Cafe and Market should be:
    Routes 103 and 10 (not 11 as printed).