Shopping with Chea

Charlotte’s Old Brick Store has gift cards, homemade pizza and sandwiches, and growlers of beer. Courtesy photo

We did it! We’re here, and the end is in sight, and even if you’re the world’s best procrastinator (sorry, you can’t beat me, I’ve been sitting here at my computer looking for split ends for twenty minutes instead of typing), don’t worry. I’m here for you.

The Old Brick Store in Charlotte is a small but mighty stop on your gift-buying tour. Gift cards will be a hit for everyone on your list, from preschoolers who want to get their mitts on those jars of penny candy to your crabby next-door neighbor who could use a breakfast burrito and a latte after your kids wake him up by screaming in the yard at 5:30am.

They also have growlers of beer on tap; the best thing about this is that like a bottle of wine, it will go bad if you don’t drink the whole thing once you open it. Wait, what? That’s not true about the wine? There are also lovely Shelburne Farms calendars, with photos by the talented Marshall Webb.

Speaking of, The Welcome Center and Farm Store at Shelburne Farms is going to save you this year. I brought a friend with me, and she came out with a big bag of goodies. Granted, she could find something to buy at prison visiting hours, but this place is special.

Little stuffed chickens are perfect stocking stuffers (I bet those leashes would fit on them!) as well as a bunch of other stuffed animals, including sweet little Audubon birds that make a bird call when you squeeze them. For your sister or aunt who thinks exercise is fun and carbs are the devil, there are many varieties of Shelburne Farms cheeses. Beware the sample plate; that smoked cheddar has some kind of siren call melted into it.

There are also beautiful granite cheese platters and knives for a reasonable $50, as well as crackers, jams, honeys, and bread from the award-winning O Bread bakery. I actually don’t know if it’s won an award, but it should. The Farm Store also has tea mugs and little printed tea bag rests in the shape of teapots, lunch bags and little totes with horses and trains and other cute prints, and laser-carved wooden travel mugs made locally in Hinesburg.

There are trivets and coasters crafted from stones straight from Lake Champlain, and colorful maple syrup pitchers. Once, I caught my husband drinking from a bottle of maple syrup with a straw; this made me fall even more in love with him than ever. I’m going to get him this pitcher so he can just guzzle like a man.

I don’t know about you, but I’m in the Shelburne Market about six times a day. Sometimes I wear a hat and a mustache so the cashiers don’t say, “Didn’t I just see you here this morning?” While you’re there this week, grab some presents along with your sandwich. There are simple and pretty wooden candle holders with glass tops for only $12.99, sweet little potted ivy plants, Hanukkah candles, and gingerbread decorating kits. There’s also something called Maple Rub, which claims it “adds flavor to anything you can imagine,” which is compelling, because I have a really good imagination.

Since the majority of my household budget goes toward water bottles, Lifefactory glass bottles are a great stocking stuffer. The market also sells red single-serving microwaveable soup mugs with a lid, an ideal gift for your office-mate who insists on reheating fish leftovers for lunch every day. Get her some cans of soup to go with it.

This is our last shopping adventure for the year, but don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened. Or actually, just sit down in the middle of the driveway and cry because it’s Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah and you still have 75 gifts to wrap and your brother-in-law announced he’s bringing his entire vegan gluten-free family for brunch tomorrow.

Thank you for shopping with me once again this holiday season; have a wonderful time with your family and friends, and we’ll see you in 2017.