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Capture the magic of Mass. with great regional gifts

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 11/29/2020 Moira McCarthy
a close up of a bottle: NOV. 29, 2020 - A soy wax candle from Shire Fire Candles. Photo courtesy Shire Fire Candles © Provided by Boston Herald NOV. 29, 2020 - A soy wax candle from Shire Fire Candles. Photo courtesy Shire Fire Candles

The holiday shopping season is here and like most everything this year, it’s complicated. Because when asking loved ones out of state what they want, the answer is likely: “I just want to come home to Massachusetts.”

While you cannot gift them a magical pandemic fix in time for the holidays, you can send the sights, sounds, scents and tastes of the Bay State. And there are plenty of great ways to send along a bit of the commonwealth.

Bonus: You’ll be supporting a swath of businesses hit hard this year: the small, local folks. Massachusetts has launched the “Love My Local” program (lovemylocalma.com), an easy-to-navigate portal to help you find those local specialty items that spark your giftee’s Bay State joy.

I’m going to be sending some gift “packages”; groupings of items that remind my loved ones of that certain part of Massachusetts they’ll be coming back to soon. Here are my “gift basket” selections. Yours can be as unique as you and your loved ones are and wish to be.

small tower near a body of water: Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse at the entrance into Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay, Martha’s Vineyard. Photo Getty Images © Provided by Boston Herald Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse at the entrance into Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay, Martha’s Vineyard. Photo Getty Images

Cape Cod and the Islands:  First, an ornament or other hand-blown glass item from the Sandwich Glass Museum. Located just over the Sagamore Bridge, the museum is currently featuring its 11th annual “Glassblowers’ Christmas” (sandwichglassmuseum.org/product-category/11th-annual-glassblowers-christmas/). Glass artists using both furnace glass and flame work hand-make ornaments annually — a one-of-a-kind local gift that also does good, as proceeds support the museum and local artists.

Should you be able to visit (they are open with proper precautions), you can even see an hourly glass-blowing demonstration. All are available online too, along with limited reproductions of Sandwich Glass from the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co., prominent glass makers of the 1800s that put Sandwich on the map and ushered in the Industrial Age to Cape Cod.

  • © Provided by Boston Herald

    NOV. 29, 2020 - An ocean wave ornament from the Sandwich Glass Museum. Photo courtesy Sandwich Glass Museum

  • © Provided by Boston Herald

    NOV. 29, 2020 - A variety of Martha's Vineyard Sea Salts. Photo courtesy Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt

  • a bottle of wine © Provided by Boston Herald

    NOV. 29, 2020 - Scented salt spritzes from Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt. Photo courtesy Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt

  • a man standing on a stage © Provided by Boston Herald

    NOV. 29, 2020 - Singer Suede makes P-town her home base, Photo by Cheryl Mazak, courtesy artist

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For a touch of taste, I’ve turned to Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt (mvseasalt.com). The owners produce and harvest the salt right there on the Vineyard, which means a gift sends along the fresh taste of Massachusetts Bay.

The salt is harvested from the sea and dried out organically via Martha’s Vineyard sun, then harvested by the team. It’s as fresh and local as you can get.

I’m pairing a five-pack sampler so my Bay State homesick loved one can experiment and find favorites, along with the special hand-blown sea glass container. This year, their sea salt spritzers are a hot item. Who wouldn’t love a spritz of our sea?

If you want to capture some of the Cape sounds, how about the tunes from a Provincetown artist?

Few artists are more beloved and yet still dedicated to the local vibe as Suede. While she’s opened for Melissa Ethridge and Joan Rivers, Provincetown is her base. She can be found performing in large venues like Memorial Hall in Plymouth, in classic P-town spots like the Crown & Anchor, and even, when you’re lucky, jumping up to wow the crowd at karaoke night at the tiny Tin Pan Alley.

You can get a taste of Suede’s sound at her YouTube channel (youtube.com/channel/UCH2w52s0bJ5qlL-Cpd7mU3g?view_as=subscriber) and find her on Facebook at facebook.com/suedewave. Right now, she says, the best way to support artists like her is to order CDs or downloads directly from her.

The Berkshires: Can anything beat the fresh air and incredible lush beauty of the Berkshires?

a large mountain in the background: The last rays of sun hit the ridgeline on Mt. Greylock, seen from Stony Ridge. Photo Getty Images © Provided by Boston Herald The last rays of sun hit the ridgeline on Mt. Greylock, seen from Stony Ridge. Photo Getty Images

I started my Berkshire’s long-distance visit basket with scent, and for that I turned to a couple of teen girls. Shire Fire Candles (shirefirecandles.com) in Pittsfield is a company dedicated to creating natural soy candles whose scents awaken memories of all the seasons in the Berkshires. The candles are created and the company run by teens Grace Proskin and Izzy Brown.

a bottle with a green plant: NOV. 29, 2020 – A soy wax candle from Shire Fire Candles. Photo courtesy Shire Fire Candles © Provided by Boston Herald NOV. 29, 2020 – A soy wax candle from Shire Fire Candles. Photo courtesy Shire Fire Candles

You can choose from seasonal scents in candles, wax warmers or shots, and even find special gifts like a candle in a beautiful wood bowl base. Demand has been high; they recommend you shop soon and get your shipment out.

For a taste of the region, there may be no moment more serene than biting into a delightful concoction at the Chocolate Springs Café (chocolatesprings.com) in Lenox.

While you cannot meet there for a treat yet, you can send your Berkshires lover more than a few memorable nibbles. Chef/chocolatier Joshua Needleman traveled and worked the globe honing his craft, and settled in the Berkshires to share it,.

Their dark chocolate candy cane crunch is a perfect Christmas treat. Their dipped marshmallows are one-of-a-kind special, and their many boxes of choices are a great gift too. Tuck some in a café mug for a local touch. They also have gluten free and vegan offerings.

But how do you send the scene of a Berkshire winter, when snow makes the peaks look magical, or autumn, when the colors blaze like nowhere else, or its spring and summer beauty for that matter?

Turn to one of the many artists who called the Berkshires home. The Norman Rockwell Museum (nrm.org) in Sturbridge has classic Rockwell artwork available online. And while I’d love to send a painting, my budget is limited, so I’m sending along note cards (handwritten notes are making a comeback), and a calendar to remind them of their beloved Berkshires daily.

I’ll also turn to some craft spots, such as the Hoadley Gallery (hoadleygallery.com) in Lenox. There you’ll find local artisan wares like cutting boards, pottery and even baubles, a perfect Berkshire touch.

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