In this brave new world where "Made in China" is stamped on almost everything but our American foreheads, it's rare when you find a product not just made in the USA, but "Made in Your Town."
Since this Saturday marks the second Small Business Saturday, Patch thought it would be a good time to remind our readers of a few of the many products made right here in Monmouth County. In our round-up we've featured gifts that are uniquely local - made with local ingredients, by local hands and sold in local stores. This Christmas and Hanukkah when you give that cigar rolled by hand in Shrewsbury or that chocolate covered pretzel hand dipped in Monmouth Beach you're giving a taste of home, not to mention supporting your neighbor's livliehood.
So enjoy our little list of gifts and feel free to submit your own because we know this is only a smattering of the good stuff out there.
Make the season tasty.
- Going to a holiday office party and need a bottle of wine? We've got you covered with Monmouth Blush, one of the local vintage from JG's Vineyards in Colts Neck, retails for about $12. You can pick up a bottle of blush or their most popular and award-winning Cayuga White at Wine Sellars in Holmdel, Buy-Rite in Colts Neck, Lincroft Liquors, to name a few. Or if you're in town, stop by the vineyard any weekend until Christmas, noon - 5pm.
- If it's more of a beer crowd you hang with, take along 077XX Double IPA from Atlantic Highlands, Carton Brewing, sold at Spirits Unlimited in Middletown.
- In the specialty food category we have a long list of saucy favorites, including Fourth Creek Sweet Relish from Fair Haven and Born to Hula Hot Sauce of Keyport selling at Sickles Market. Grouped together they would make a great gift for your boss, your father-in-law, anyone who knows good food is better with a little kick.
- Also at Sickles Market, fresh mozzarella from Tuscany Market in Marlboro and Wemrock Donuts from Freehold.
- We know you are serious about your coffee and that is why we are seriously recommending the beans from Booskerdoo and Rook Coffee Roasters, two local shops who know a good cup starts with a nicely roasted bean. Your favorite caffeinated relative will appreciate the local flavor in Booskerdoo's Jersey Diner blend.
- And what would Christmas be without candy in a stocking or Hanukkah without a chocolate dreidel? In Red Bank sweet gifts abound at the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe, David Bradley Chocolatier in Manalapan and Old Monmouth Candies in Freehold. In Eatontown it's Criterion Chocolates Inc. serving up boxes of chocolate perfect for your boss or your favorite Patcher.
Not just local, unique and memorable.
- In Little Silver there is tiny shop bursting with local handicrafts and not a glue gun string in sight. At the Women's Exchange, manager and buyer Lori Saybolt uses her discerning eye to recruit and cultivate crafters who make unique, boutique quality crafts, with a sense of place. Check out the pottery from a Fair Haven artist who uses leaf impressions to create bowls and plates in organic shapes and rich earthtones. Pieces range in price from $8 to $114.
- And always in stock at the Women's Exchange are the longitude and latitude signs. A perennial favorite at $18, they feature local towns with their coordinates. You can bet that if you make this your next hostess gift, it will be remembered long after those bottles of wine the neighbors brought.
- If you are looking for a gift for a new homeowner, you can always go with the safe bet: a nice plant with low light needs. Or you could go for a custom gift that will make you, we mean "it", the conversation piece of cocktail parties to come. Matawan artisan Jim Wallace has been crafting stained glass windows, lighting and gift boxes for 34 years. And if you ask him to, he'll create an entire set of bathroom accessories in matching stained glass patterns. Just don't ask him about the toilet paper holder. That one was a pain.
- Leave a sweet scent of home behind when you visit far flung relatives this year, with gifts from Pleasant Valley Lavender in Morganville. The farm, run by former state Sen. Ellen Karcher, grows English and French lavender and uses them to make soaps, sachets, lavender honey, culinary lavender, herbes de Provence, linen and body sprays, eye masks and body wraps - even lavender filled origami bookmarks and custom painted porcelains. Prices vary from $2 to $22 with most items costing between $5 and $10. To purchase, visit the farm, but call ahead first: 732-740-4832.
Get their new year off to an organized start.
- The busy mom in your life will love Plan 2 Bee Planner for its positive message: plan to be healthy, balanced, strong, happy, organized, creative. Created by Tinton Falls mom Lisa Casler, the paper planner is great for women who want to keep track of their to do list, without losing sight of their goals. The 12-month planner, priced at about $20, includes a food journal and nutritional advice, plus room to scribble. Last we checked, there was no app for that.
- Another calendar that caught our eye is Pat McCarthy's Jersey Shorescapes. The Wall photographer captures the essence of the shore (without a Snooki in sight) in 12 stunning photos of New Jersey beaches. The calendar is sold locally at Papery of Shrewsbury in The Grove in Shrewsbury, but you can get a preview here on Patch.
Give beautiful things to your beautiful people.
- You could spend every waking moment over the next four weeks knitting a scarf for your loved one. Or you could go to All Things Consignment in Fair Haven and purchase one of the beautiful scarves created by Josephina, a crafter from Long Branch. Hers retail for $55 and come in a rainbow of colors. And let's be honest, yours looks a little crooked.
- Miss Ellie, a Long Branch artist, designs jewlery using new and vintage components. Her designs which often feature birds and natural objects like branches, are inspired by art nouveau and victorian heirloom jewlery. Her rings, braclets and earrings are priced anywhere from $25 to $64 and are showcased at All Things Consignment.
So now it's your turn. Where are you shopping locally this weekend? Add your links in the comments and submit your photos.