At some point this holiday season--perhaps whilst elbowing and jostling for the last of the Furbies--you're bound to pause for a moment and ask yourself: "Is this really what the holiday season is all about?"
When that moment strikes... leave the mall quietly, and go home to your computer. I've got some New England holiday shopping ideas that will allow you to avoid the crowds and to give "gifts that go beyond" that delight friends and family members while also supporting the arts, cultural and historic institutions in New England that make it a popular travel destination and a wonderful place to call home.
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts offers you a chance to explore and order from its selection of art gifts online: Jewelry, printed reproductions, decorative items, fashion accessories and educational toys available for online purchase are all based on works in the museum's collections.
More New England Museum Shops Below
Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary gift for a kid who has too many toys? Peruse the online museum gift shop for the Museum of Science in Boston, and you'll find imaginative games, science kits, movies and gizmos that make learning fun.
You can help Connecticut's Mystic Seaport keep America's seafaring past alive and share your love of ships and the sea with friends and family this holiday season by ordering nautical holiday cards and gifts online. Select from a variety of card images and from gifts including posters, deck prisms, ornaments, games, ties and more.
The Preservation Society of Newport County operates museum stores at its historic mansions including The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms, but if you can't get to Newport, Rhode Island, to see these homes decorated for the holidays, you can still shop for unique home decor accents and gifts online. You'll find ceramics, textiles, books, jewelry and reproductions inspired by Newport's historic houses.
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, houses treasures from around the globe. Its collection of more than 840,000 works of art and culture includes American, Asian, Oceanic and African art, and its online museum shop is your source for eclectic, inspired gifts for the hard-to-shop-for people on your list. From origami peace cranes and glass starfish and seahorses to a newsprint-patterned jacket and Chinese good fortune earrings, you're bound to find gifts to delight, and your purchase supports an institution that traces its history back to 1799.
At the online Gift Shop for the historic Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, you'll find yourself laughing aloud at some of Twain's witty sayings, which are emblazoned on gifts galore. Browse available items online including ornaments, a cross stitch kit and a puzzle featuring The Cat in the Ruff, an image inspired by the Twain family's favorite feline. Visit the museum shop at Twain's home for an even larger selection of gifts for the humor and cat lovers on your list.
Rockland, Maine's Farnsworth Art Museum has an online store that is your source for prints by Maine artists Andrew, Jamie and N.C. Wyeth, plus notecards, books, DVDs and gifts inspired by the museum's collection of Maine art.
Vermont's Bennington Museum Store features Grandma Moses merchandise such as books, prints and notecards, plus other great gifts inspired by the museum's collections. Here's a special idea: Grandma Moses's great-grandson, world-renowned folk artist Will Moses, has illustrated a lovely book for all ages, Silent Night, about Christmas in a Vermont village.