*Edited from 2017
By Mary Boyle
Maybe you were busy and the time just got away from you. Maybe you have people in your life that are impossible to buy for. Maybe you'd rather sew your head to the living room carpet than slog through a crowded mall or big-box store. I feel you, and I'm here to help. The conventional method of holiday shopping is so ingrained in us, it's easy to overlook the many treasures we have right in our own community. Supporting local businesses and organizations is the gift that keeps on giving; the money you spend at these places not only stays in our community, but oftentimes helps to support important organizations that make Ozaukee and the greater Ozaukee area so wonderful. Read on, and find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list!
For the Kids (and Kids at Heart)
Hands down, my favorite place to buy toys in Ozaukee County is the Cedarburg Toy Co. Owners, Zach and Natasha Loos, will not only assist you in finding the right gift, they'll wrap it for you. They are also experts at covert operations, if you happen to actually have your children with you and need to shop. Wink, nudge, or pass them a note, and they'll have all the presents wrapped and ready for later pick up, or whatever other crazy antics you can think of. CTC truly has gifts for all ages, from blocks and rattles to puzzles and books, and things you didn't even know existed! Don't miss this magical little store in the heart of downtown Cedarburg.
Toys are wonderful, of course, but another way to give a gift that isn't "stuff" is to give an experience. How about tickets to the Rivoli and dinner at The Chocolate Factory? What about a day at the Port Exploreum and a treat at the Chocolate Chisel? How about a hike at Harrington after breakfast at Hobo's? Or, a few hours at Just 4 Fun and a treat at Sweet Trio? Time spent together is one of the best gifts you can possibly give.
For the Foodies
We are so lucky in Oz to have excellent CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture), and purchasing a share for the Foodie in your life not only makes a good gift, but you're supporting the local food culture of Oz! Wellspring in Newburg is the longest running CSA in Wisconsin. Rare Earth Farm and Willoway Farm in Belgium are two other great CSA's. Each farm offers different choices for shares, so look to see which is the best fit, but they are all wonderfully dedicated to growing healthy, local food. We are also lucky to have a cooperative like Outpost in Mequon. An Outpost membership is an excellent gift for the foodie in your life (and you'll find all kinds of other gift ideas in the store, as well!). In Grafton, try Slow Pokes Local Food, which is especially great for those struggling with gluten-intolerance or other food issues.
Then again, Oz is home to some really great restaurants, and a special dinner out could be a lovely gift. Try the Hundred Mile House, Fork & Tap, or Twisted Willow in Port, Brandywine, The Stilt House, or The Farmstead in Cedarburg, or the cheel in Thiensville.
For the Nature Lovers
Oz is home to two amazing nature preserves: Riveredge in Newburg in the north and Mequon Nature Preserve in the south. Memberships to both offer access to trails and programming, but also help support environmental restoration and education in Oz. Besides memberships, Riveredge has a Visitor's Center full of great gifts for the Outdoorsy person in your life, including the syrup they make onsite each spring.
For the Art Lovers
The art community is strong in Oz, and there are a variety of places where original artwork of all kinds can be purchased. In Cedarburg, try the Cedarburg Art Museum, Cedarburg Cultural Center, or the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts gift shops, but memberships to these organizations also make great gifts. In downtown Cedarburg, you can find local art in many of the gift shops, including Bohemia, the Pink Llama Gallery, and within the Shops of Cedar Creek Settlement. In Grafton, look no further than the NSAA Arts Mill, where a wide variety of treasures await.
For the Coffee Lovers
If there is one thing the Land of Oz has aplenty, it's good coffee shops. Gift Certificates are great, of course, but most also offer t-shirts, mugs, and other fun items to show your coffee shop pride. In Port, there's Java Dock Cafe and Smith Bros. Coffee House; in Grafton, we have AM Coffee, NSeven, and Colectivo (also in Mequon); in Cedarburg, there's the Cedarburg Coffee Roastery and Java House. You can find a Fiddleheads in Cedarburg, Grafton, Thiensville, and Mequon. There is no lack of caffeine in Oz, people.
For the Pet Lovers (and pets!!)
Oz is home to a bounty of wonderful, independent and local places to shop for the pet or pet lover in your life! In Port Washington, check out One Wag on the corner of Franklin and Jackson St. downtown, which specializes in natural food and nutritional support for your pets. In Saukville, there's Dawgs In Motion, which has day camp, training classes, a pool, a shop, grooming and more, or Pet Supply Port, which has been in Oz for over 25 years. In Mequon, try the Feed Bag, which also offers a pool and grooming, as well as a selection for pets beyond dogs and cats. In Cedarburg, try Landmark Supply, which has been serving the critters of Oz for over 150 years!
For the Beer & Wine Lovers
Oz is home to a number of breweries, and there are a few winery options, as well. In Cedarburg, of course, there is the award-winning Cedar Creek Winery and Chiselled Grape Winery, but Cedarburg has two breweries, as well: Rebellion Brewing and The Fermentorium. In Port Washington, try Inventors Brewpub or Vines to Cellar. In Grafton, Sahale Ale Works is a recent arrival, while Foxtown Brewing in Mequon is brand new.
For those who love to wander through Gift Shops and be inspired...
Sometimes, you just want to wander around and see what might jump out at you, or have someone in the know who has the time to help you find the perfect gift. If that's you, you could just start at one end of downtown Cedarburg and finish at the other, but Cedarburg isn't your only game! In Port Washington, try Pear & Simple, Eclectic Avenue, Lakeside Music & Naturals (which has all types of goodies for the musicians in your life, too), The Shoppes of Port Washington, or the new Guenther House Collective (Pretty soon, you'll be able to shop from one end of downtown Port to the next, too).
The important thing to remember about gift giving, especially this time of year, is not to buy stuff just to buy stuff. Slow down, really be present with people, and when you do want to give something, consider giving a gift that gives back to our community. Happy Holidays, everyone.