As we embrace spring, we revel in the freedom that emerges with the arrival of warmer weather. With the darkest days of the pandemic hopefully behind us, we’re all anticipating more gatherings, parties, and celebrations. Of course, many of these occasions call for gift-giving – bestowing someone with that perfect token that will delight them while commemorating the occasion. Although Earth Day is coming on April 22, we should remember to be mindful of our own consumer habits and strive to make eco-conscious choices year-round. The decisions we make can make a positive impact on the environment.
When you shop locally, you’re also investing in your community and helping all those small business owners who most likely experienced some financial setbacks during the pandemic. You don’t have to wait until Small Business Saturday (which will be observed on November 26, 2022) to help the communities around you thrive. Every time you purchase a cup of coffee from your favorite neighborhood café, buy a gift from a local artist, or take a yoga class in your town, you’re shopping small and making a difference.
“Every day the earth is telling us we need to pay more attention to it and how we are interacting with our environment. Being thoughtful about what we purchase, how things are resourced and manufactured, can be a positive act for supporting sustainable practices,” says Sarah Carlson, owner of The Crows Nest – a Red Hook-based home shop that is ideal for gifts. It focuses on items that are responsibly-sourced from primarily women-owned businesses.
“Sustainability is becoming a central part of many consumers’ buying decisions,” says Emma Werner, director of e-commerce at Fluff. The shop carries eco-friendly, cruelty-free products made by small business owners who are ethical and socially conscious.
Many shoppers are on a mission to snap up sustainable, green, and organic products. They seek out shops and manufacturers who use environmentally-friendly methods of production. When we purchase vintage treasures from second-hand shops, we eliminate more waste ending up in the landfills.
Beyond purchasing tangible wares such as home décor, clothing, or accessories, we can always gift an experience – a concert, dinner, or a day out.
For a list of enticing experiences, browse the “experience” offerings on airbnb. Just visit airbnb.com and click on experiences to locate an event in your desired locale. Ideas include hiking the Catskills with a licensed guide and photographer; hiking and enjoying a farm experience with llamas and alpacas; or horseback riding. If glamping is on your gift recipient’s wish list, book an overnight stay at Gatherwild Ranch in Germantown. While there, stargaze, or try your hand at a ceramics class in the studio.
Gift the aviation or history buff a day out at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. The 2022 air show season kicks off June 18 and runs into October. For the super adventurous, give the gift of excitement with an open cockpit biplane ride.
For the fitness enthusiast, purchase a gift card or package of yoga or pilates classes. Check out the offerings at local studios such as Rhinebeck Yoga Center, Masha’s Fitness Studio in Millerton, or Millbrook Movement or Wellness in Millbrook. Rhinebeck Yoga is offering a free class by mentioning this article, and offering five classes for $50 by also mentioning this article. For spring, Millbrook Movement is offering group pilates and gyrotonic classes at $45 for drop-ins or $400 for ten packs. Gyrotonics is a form of exercise devised by Julio Horvath from Romania. Offering similar benefits to, and derived from yoga, Tai Chi, gymnastics, dance and swimming, this form of exercise enhances structural fitness, range of motion, coordination, and strength while achieving grace and a connection between the mind and body.
After all the hurdles we’ve had to overcome in last few years – from the pandemic to political and social unrest – we can be sure most of us have relaxation on our wish lists. Treat someone to some pampering at a spa such as Michele’s Salon & Day Spa in Great Barrington, MA.
There’s also the Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Rhinebeck. Its organic spa services highlight the use of EmerginC skincare products, which feature only fair trade, natural ingredients. Treatments include the Organic Radiance Facial (it cleanses skin of environmental pollutants while helping to repair and guard against damage caused by UV and blue light radiation, $190); French Clay Detox (removes toxins, nourishes, and stimulates circulation, 50 minutes $180 on Fridays through Sundays and $160 from Mondays through Thursdays); and the Organic Body Firming Wrap, which begins with an invigorating dry brush exfoliation. It also stimulates lymphatic flow, improves circulation, tones, firms, and brightens skin (50 minutes $180 on Fridays through Sundays and $160 from Mondays through Thursdays).
The gift of food and drink
For the foodie, gift a lunch or dinner. There are so many enticing options in every town – from The Amsterdam, Aroi, and Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck to 52 Main and The Millerton Inn Restaurant & Hotel, both in Millerton. In Great Barrington, there’s The Prairie Whale and the stylish Barrington Inn. In Tivoli, try the festive Sante Fe or The Corner, which is located at Hotel Tivoli – a farm-to-table restaurant owned by painters Brice and Helen Marden. The artistic property is brimming with an eclectic, colorful collection of furniture, lighting, and artwork. (This is just a mention of a select few of the amazing restaurants in our area!)
Wine enthusiasts will certainly enjoy an afternoon sampling wine in the picturesque setting that envelops Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. It hosts wine tastings every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. When the weather permits, tastings can be done outdoors. Make a reservation for a fun group outing.
Those of us who love to bake and cook can show their love by gifting homemade treats such as cookies, muffins, brownies, or bread. If baking isn’t your forte, order some delectable treats from Bread Alone Bakery, Samuel’s Sweet Shop, or Krause’s Chocolates – all in Rhinebeck. There’s also Patisserie Lenox in Great Barrington, and Irving Farm New York and Rookie Farm Bakery, both in Millerton.
Finally, for those who love gardening or just enjoy the fragrant scent – and sight – of beautiful blooms, send a bouquet, purchase a plant, or buy some flowers that can help grow someone else’s garden. For flowers, pots, and plants check out The Phantom Gardener in Rhinebeck. If you’d like to gift an artistic, unique bouquet, be sure to tap the talent of Athabold – a florist in Germantown. Or if you’d like to buy a flower subscription of locally-grown and sourced flowers, give the gals at A+M Flower Co. in Pine Plains a holler.
There are so many great reasons to shop vintage. First, antique stores are brimming with unique items that aren’t easily found elsewhere. Shopping secondhand reduces waste, but it also solves issues with shipping delays, which have become common in recent times.
When you purchase a secondhand gift, you’re also doing your share to help reduce carbon emissions. Less products in the landfills means less greenhouse gases during the decomposition process. Shopping secondhand is also a more affordable option for budget-conscious gift givers.
Yesterday’s treasures can be found throughout the Hudson Valley – from The Antique Warehouse and Regen & Smith in Hudson to Hunter Bee in Millerton. In Rhinebeck, be sure to browse the Beekman Arms Antique Market.
Beyond the region’s many antique shops, there’s also eBay, Poshmark, and Facebook Marketplace. When you make purchases from your neighbors and community members, you’re supporting the financial wellbeing of those in your community.
Regina’s Local Gift Guide:
The Crows Nest
The Crows Nest in Red Hook focuses on women-owned, socially responsible wares. For the entertaining enthusiast, gift colorful Cone Glasses, which are hand-blown in Morocco. Bonus! They’re made from recycled beer and wine bottles ($8 each).
The shop also offers its Bybba tote, which is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic (the totes range from $46 to $49), and the Geometric Boho Trio Waffle Dish Towels, which are made from recycled water bottles ($15 each).
“One of the best ways to minimize environmental pollution caused by the fashion industry is to be more conscious about the types of fibers and materials we are using – and choose more environmentally-friendly options such as alpaca fiber,” says Jamie Werner, general manager of Fluff Alpaca – a family-owned and operated alpaca clothing and home goods boutique in Great Barrington.
Warm up to Fluff’s signature shawl, which is crafted from 100% baby alpaca – one of the softest, most sustainable, natural fibers on the planet. Werner explains that alpacas are light on the land, easy to care for, and produce 20 times more garments per year, compared to cashmere goats. The Werners witness this firsthand with their own herd of alpaca located at their family farm, Green River Hollow Farm, in Hillsdale. Alpaca is a functional and durable fiber that produces garments that will last a lifetime.
The Phantom Gardener
For the gardener or plant enthusiast, gift the Paper Pot Maker Gift Set by ePots, which are available at The Phantom Gardener. Its “Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Paper Seed Pots” enable the eco-conscious to recycle waste paper into biodegradable paper plant pots. Just fill with compost, plant seeds, and watch them grow.