Have you started your holiday shopping yet? If you're anything like me, holiday shopping is an activity that is put off until the day before Christmas; what better way to get into the holiday spirit by pushing your way through harried crowds at your local big box store? Nothing beats the rush of navigating through crowded parking lots, waiting in long lines, and rushing through to snag the last copy of Bridesmaids.
I'm kidding, of course. Getting my toes stepped on while trying to find that perfect gift for a loved one is not my idea of a good time at all. So why do I do it every year? The truth is, I'm terrible at holiday shopping. I can never figure out what to buy until the very last minute.
Judging by the volume of panicked crowds I see every year, I know I’m not the only one with this problem. Maplewood-Brentwood Patch to the rescue! Instead of fighting the crowds at big box stores like , , and , get a head start on your holiday shopping now, at smaller, locally-owned businesses.
Over the next few weeks, a series of holiday shopping guides will be published right here, helping you find gifts for everyone on your list: women, men, foodies, coworkers, and if you're on a budget, gifts under $20. The icing on the cake? All of the businesses featured are local! Beating the crowds, helping your community, and finding perfect gifts without breaking the bank? Sounds like a winner to me.
This boutique bath and beauty store is in the heart of Maplewood, and is the perfect place to pick up unique items for mom, grandma or little sister. I fell in love with the bath bombs ($12) and bubble biscotti ($14).
Another favorite? My Boyfriend's T-Shirt soaps ($8). I took a huge whiff of this soap, and yep – it smells just like the title describes. Eerie! Other popular scents include Little Black Dress and Pumpkin. Not into candles or soaps? Maven also has a great selection of locally-themed shirts. My favorite out of the bunch? The Maplehood t-shirt ($30). Clever.
Who's ready to dance? If you have two left feet like I do, dance lessons are always welcomed. Simply Ballroom, located in Brentwood, offers a variety of classes to help the rhythm-challenged set. A number of group, private, and even children's classes are offered. Salsa? Merengue? Foxtrot? No matter which dance style you're going for, they've got you covered. A $25 Introductory Lesson would be a great gift for the dancing queen on your list.
One great thing about Maplewood is the plethora of adorable boutiques. Tigerlily has been around for years, and remains one of my favorite places to pick up jewelry and other fun goodies. Tigerlily has a wonderful variety of aprons, stuffed animals, and even monogrammed shirts for little ones. I fell in love with the array of hand-painted decorative bowls ($24); these would be perfect for any woman on your shopping list. The Vanilla Bean Trio gift set ($21) would make a fantastic stocking stuffer as well.
Charm moved to Maplewood in June, and has been wowing residents ever since. This spacious boutique reminds me of chic, upscale clothing shops that one would find in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. And while the prices are certainly not cheap—I spotted a gorgeous Iram-Inal Wooden Bracelet for $38—the quality is well worth it. My younger sister is quite the fashionista; something tells me her holiday gift will come from Charm this year. Let's just hope she's not reading this!