The 2021 holiday season has arrived, and if you’ve got any food-loving friends on your gift-giving list, there’s sure to be a New England-based snack, condiment, piece of pottery, or other kitchen or dining room product that’s just right for them. Here is the first-ever Eater Boston holiday gift guide, featuring a variety of food products and food-adjacent goodies from artisans and producers around the region.
Several Boston-based potters are joined on the list by a New Haven-based company that makes Ghanaian pepper sauce; a Worcester artist makes food-shaped jewelry and magnets out of polymer clay that look almost too realistic. There’s glittery maple syrup, there’s a butter subscription, there’s a gorgeous wooden bowl made from a fallen Western Massachusetts tree.
Without further ado, here is the 2021 gift guide, for recipients with a variety of tastes — and a love of New England food. Items are listed by price (accurate at the time of publication), from low to high.
Oh Shito! Ghanaian pepper sauce
This versatile Ghanaian condiment — with a fiery Scotch bonnet base — comes from a company based in New Haven, Connecticut. It’s available in fish, chicken, beef, or vegetarian; get the fish, which is made from shrimp and herring, for a thick, spicy, funky sauce your gift recipient will want to try on anything and everything. Dip chips in it, marinate chicken with it, boost the flavor of a stew: The possibilities are endless. (You can also order a four-pack with one of each flavor.)
Scrumptious Doodle miniature taco earrings
It would be easy to mistake the polymer clay jewelry and magnets by Worcester-based Scrumptious Doodle for actual food; the miniature slices of cake, grilled cheese sandwiches, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and more are incredibly realistic. Treat a food-loving friend to their favorite food in jewelry form this holiday season, whether it’s a Linzer cookie necklace, a charm bracelet full of breakfast foods, a macaroni and cheese ring, or these tiny taco earrings.
Runamok Sparkle Syrup
This one’s just plain fun. A little gimmicky? Sure. But the right recipient will get a real kick out of this ultra-sparkly maple syrup — it’s infused with pearlescent mica, and a vigorous shake will turn the bottle into a snow globe of glittery sweetness and a stack of pancakes into magical pancakes. It’s not just style: Even hardcore New Englanders will agree it’s a legit maple syrup. For those seeking something a little less sparkly, the Vermont-based company offers a lot of other options, too, such as barrel-aged maple syrup and maple syrup infused with flavors like elderberry or cardamom. Beyond syrup, Runamok’s line of hot honeys is notable. Hot honey is trendy these days, but Runamok takes it pretty seriously with a trio of honeys infused with three different peppers. Try the Sichuan peppercorn.
Sparkletown Studios Teeny Weenie Beanie
Boston burlesque performer Femme Brulée, a veteran of The Slutcracker, sells rainbow-bedecked, fun apparel and accessories on Etsy under the moniker Sparkletown Studios, including t-shirts with glittery “smash the patriarchy” logos (and one with potato mashers that reads “mash the potatriarchy,” naturally). Of particular interest to food lovers, though, are the hats and shoes featuring a smiling hot dog patch. Send this “teeny weenie beanie” to a hot dog-loving friend in a cold climate; it’s available in over a dozen colors, including some eye-catching neon options.
Ploughgate Creamery butter subscription
You know there’s that one person on your gift-giving list who finds the greatest pleasure in slathering a fancy Vermont-made, European-inspired butter on a thick slice of toast. Why not treat them to three eight-ounce blocks of fancy Vermont-made, European-inspired butter every single month? Ploughgate Creamery offers a subscription that includes its coarse sea salt and Vermont maple cultured butters, plus a rotating flavor of the month, such as cheddar or sage honey, shipped on the third or fourth Tuesday of the month. With a creamy, lightly sweet flavor that has a bit of that farm-fresh tang, these butters will impress the butter connoisseur in your life. (For a one-off gift instead of a subscription, try “the original,” a set of three that includes unsalted, salted, and maple butter. Or perhaps a bold trucker hat that simply states “Butter.” The Ploughgate online store has a wealth of gift ideas.)
Salt & Shimmer Artistry serving boards
Perhaps your gift recipient lives inland and dreams of the water: Enter Salt & Shimmer’s serving boards, trays, and more, featuring resin designs that look like the ocean cascading onto the shore. Based in Newburyport, Salt & Shimmer splashes waterfront-inspired looks on a number of dining room-friendly products, with custom work available as well. On the lower price end, check out the mini bamboo serving boards, measuring eight by six inches and perfect for a small cheese and charcuterie arrangement or the like. Choose among colors like “Bahama” and “shoreline.”
Kaleidoscope Pottery plates
Based in Easthampton, Kaleidoscope Pottery has been producing lovely stoneware for over three decades, highlighting the beauty of New England nature by pressing local leaves into the clay so that each piece has a unique design. There are ferns, nettle, oak, and lots more, and sometimes you’ll find elephants or dinosaurs or other creatures among the leaves. These are beautiful, but they don’t have to be kept carefully on display and never used: They’re microwave- and dishwasher-safe and very durable. Small, round plates start at $30 (but designs with animals tend to start at $36 and can be found in the “moon and star” collection in Kaleidoscope’s online shop); there are also other sizes and shapes, as well as platters, bowls, and more.
Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company lemon treats
Fabrizia Spirits, based in Salem, New Hampshire, has been producing limoncello since 2008, featuring lemons imported from Sicily. The spirits company’s product line has since grown — there’s a pistachio cream liqueur, canned blood orange vodka soda, and more — but the limoncello is still the star, and now the company has added a mail-order baked goods arm, Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company, featuring a variety of treats infused with Fabrizia’s own limoncello. Try one of the variety packs for gift-giving, which include various combinations of limoncello cakes in a jar, truffles, biscotti, blondies, and more. The cookies are particularly notable, a fine example of a lemon sugar cookie. (Note: Fabrizia’s spirits must be purchased separately; they’re available for shipping to 25 states, including Massachusetts.)
Fletchers’ Mill lighthouse salt or pepper mill
For the Maine super-fan, this six-inch mill — available for pepper or salt, with a blue or red top — hits the right Vacationland notes. It’s made in a Maine-based, family-run sawmill and manufacturing facility that has its roots in the 1970s, and it straddles that line between kitschy and elegant with its minimalist design. For a few dollars more, there’s a nine-inch version with a black or red top.
Ogusky Ceramics olive oil decanter
Pottery by Jamaica Plain-based Jeremy Ogusky can be found at restaurants all around town, the distinctive speckled pattern dotting oblong plates and deep bowls in and around Boston. They’re perfect for home use as well, and Ogusky sells a variety of products via Etsy, such as this attractive decanter for olive oil (or vinegar, soy sauce, etc.) This dishwasher- and microwave-safe piece holds about 24 ounces.
Pipe Dream Pottery feminine mugs
“I made boob mugs for Miley Cyrus once,” reads the Instagram bio for Boston-based artist Pipe Dream Pottery, whose shop is full of, well, boob mugs. There are other items, too — bowls covered with monsters, mugs featuring “spidey shlongs,” jewelry dishes with legs — but Pipe Dream’s ever-growing collection of “feminine ware” is the highlight, and it all sells out fast. The best course of action is to turn on notifications for Pipe Dream Pottery’s new posts and stories on Instagram and watch for shop update announcements, which are “random and frequent.” When it’s time for an update, jump online and make a purchase quickly. Most of the boob mug designs start around $50, although elaborate mugs in the “tentacle tits” collection, a collaboration with North Cove Clay, creep up above $100. Keep an eye out for mastectomy mugs, C-section mugs, pierced nipple mugs, and much more.
Eastern Standard Provisions Co. Liège Belgian waffle gift box
The Boston restaurant industry is still mourning the loss of Kenmore Square mainstay Eastern Standard, but some of the team members — including founder Garrett Harker and baker Lauren Moran — have gotten into the mail-order snack business in the last couple of years with the launch of Eastern Standard Provisions Co., starting with soft pretzels and accoutrements in 2019 and more recently adding Liège-style waffles to the lineup. For a holiday combo, try the waffle gift box, which includes eight waffles (soft but with that all-important pearl sugar crunch), dark chocolate fudge sauce, peanut butter caramel sauce, a strawberries and cream topping, and French toast sugar.
Grazy New England brown butter cranberry baked brie kit
Grazy, based just north of Boston in Stoneham, specializes in snack boxes jam-packed with local fruits and berries, cheese, and accoutrements like honey and nuts: Think a charcuterie and cheese board, but with more fruit and less meat. (Cured meat’s available as an add-on, though.) While some of Grazy’s products are only available for local delivery or pickup, some can be shipped nationwide, like a holiday season special — a baked brie kit. With enough food for about six cheese lovers, the kit includes a wheel of brie, toasted pecans, New England cranberries, a navel orange, crackers, a brown butter and honey mixture, and even a cute red individual baking dish. The recipe is included, too, and it’s pretty much fool-proof.
Beehive Handmade cherry blossom measuring spoons
Located in Warren, Rhode Island, artists Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd — collectively Beehive Handmade — have been designing and producing metalwork and more for over two decades. There are lots of Beehive Handmade products available for the kitchen and dining room; this set of pewter measuring spoons (measurements are engraved on the back of each) will bring a touch of spring to any baking project.
Spencer Peterman live edge bowls
Visitors to Boston Public Market have likely seen the gorgeous wooden bowls and boards from Spencer Peterman, an artisan based in Gill who makes use of fallen trees in Western Massachusetts woods, especially trees that are beginning to rot — particularly cherry, maple, and black walnut. While any Peterman product would make an excellent gift, the live edge bowls are perhaps the most striking. They’re available in various woods and sizes, with pricing typically beginning around $90 for 10-inch bowls and going up to $630 for jumbo 21-inch bowls.