For some of us (ShopGuy), the best part about the whole holiday season is the Christmas stocking. None of the gifts is huge or expensive, everything is usually practical and there’s always something unexpected in there.
Consider this week’s column your shopping stocking. It’s overflowing with a bunch of random but delightful things that will make your holiday season just a little less harried. And it’s not just for Christmas — I also threw in some Hanukkah goodness.
So consider yourself stuffed. In a good way. Next week the Bangor Daily News will publish the annual ShopGirl all-Maine gift guide. Until then, as always, happy shopping!
Downtown Bangor has turned into a winter wonderland — and you can be part of the celebration while supporting local businesses. While you’re out shopping, eating in one of the city’s fine eating establishments, taking in one of Bangor’s myriad cultural offerings or taking in tonight’s Festival of Lights parade, check out the window displays that many downtown merchants have designed, then vote for your favorite. Ballots are available at the stores or online at www.downtownbangor.com. You can also have your children’s pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus for free — now that’s what I call a deal — from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays at 21 Main St.
If you’re out and about in Bangor, do stop by The Grasshopper Shop, which just introduced Trollbeads to its jewelry lineup. For the uninitiated, Trollbeads are a wildly addicting (and far less jangly) take on a traditional charm bracelet with beads to mark special events or just because. Gals, you can even start a Trollbead registry, which will give Santa head start this year. In The County, Trollbeads are available at Monica’s Scandinavian Shop in Caribou (one of my all-time favorite stores).
Belfast is having an Old-Fashioned Christmas of its own, with a lineup that’s so packed it makes your head spin. Today, for example, Aubuchon Hardware (231 Northport Ave.) will have pet pictures with Santa from 10 a.m. to noon and horse-drawn sleigh rides from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be chestnuts roasting at High and Main streets, a tree-lighting ceremony and loads of festive fun at many of the city’s shopping destinations. For more information or a full list of events, visit www.belfastmaine.org.
Speaking of festive fun, has anyone else noticed that it’s next to impossible to find decent Hanukkah swag around here? I’m tempted to give store managers throughout eastern Maine a gelt trip (sorry — couldn’t resist). But I’ve found a few that have realized that not everyone celebrates Christmas. In Belfast, Yo Mamma’s Home has a very cool bottle-top menorah ($12.95, comes with a cork so you can set it up on top of a wine bottle or any other pretty bottle you have lying around) and Hanukkah cards. The Belfast Co-Op has a small selection of menorahs, as well. Molly’s in Winterport offers elegant Hanukkah cards, too. If you know of any other great Hanukkah haunts, drop me a line at the address below.
Light up your life with luminarias this holiday season. United Mid Coast Charities is selling luminaria kits (white bags, sand, candles) for $5 at a variety of Midcoast merchants, including Brambles, Out on a Whimsey, Renys, Shamrock, Thistle and Rose, The Good Table, Yo Mamma’s Home in Belfast and Left Bank Books in Searsport. The full purchase price will benefit local causes. For information on UMCC, visit www.unitedmidcoastcharities.org.
Orono will be hopping this weekend, with an open house at Front Porch Books and the Holiday Shoppe craft fair at Page Farm and Home Museum at the University of Maine. In addition to gently used books, Front Porch Books will feature the work of potter Sandy Houtman and jewelry maker Suzan Scribner-Reed of Wild Ivy Designs. The open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at 67 Pine St. in Orono. Holiday Shoppe offerings include a ShopGirl favorite — Black Dinah Chocolatiers of Isle au Haut — as well as hand-knitted and felted items, wrought-iron hooks and stocking hangers, wreaths, toys and handmade soaps. The Shoppe is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. For information, call 581-4100 or visit www.umaine.edu/pagefarm.
Brewer has two new shopping destinations: Purse Hollywood and The Pretty Woman. Purse Hollywood, located at 114 South Main St., offers celebrity-inspired bags that range from $5 to $125. The Pretty Woman, a longtime Orono institution, has moved to 39 North Main St. and offers mother-of-the-bride dresses, stylish clothing and tons of accessories. For information, call 989-3748 or visit www.prettywomandresses.com.
There’s still time to nominate yourself or a friend for the ShopGirl Style awards. A nomination form and more details are available on the ShopBlog: http://shopblogbdn.blogspot.com.