The word “souvenirs” bares a rather cheap connotation but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality local treasure to take home for cheap. Connecticut is home to an incredible variety of locally produced goods that are really special. This is a quick overview of the diversity available highlighting some favorites. Pewter bells and wine tasters, candles, wine, ornaments, kid’s games, and cooking secrets can all be had for $25 or less.
So you’ve been a bit glutinous in New Haven sampling fine fare at every turn. Wish you could take a little of that fine cuisine with you? If you are at all capable in the kitchen pick up a copy of New Haven Chef’s Table. Here you get 50 recipes from 30 area chefs. It even offers a few mixology tips to sate your thirst. This tasty treat is available in most bookstores for $22.95. Other locally produced cookbooks include What’s Cooking Connecticut Shoreline, and What’s Cooking Madison.
Connecticut has about 22 vineyards with 6 of them- Chamard, Stonington, Holmberg, Jonathan Edwards Saltwater Farm and Bishops – along the Stonington-New Haven stretch of shore. Take a tasting tour (starting at about $10) and pick up a couple of bottles of wine. Prices range from $11 and up and there are discounts for wines (mixed or matched) by the case. Want to add a little something special, check out Woodbury Pewter’s Wine taster’s cup for $22.50 available at gift stores.
Want more lead-free pewter souvenirs that are also functional– from a coffee scoop for $16, jam and baby spoons, snuffers to votive candleholders to bells depicting the Twelve Days of Christmas for $24.50 Woodbury Pewter offers bargain priced, Connecticut-made pewter. In business since 1952 the Woodbury-based company is open seven days a week except major holidays. You can visit the outlet, watch things being made and pick up seconds at a discount while you’re there.
Liberty candles are made by hand- not machine- in Connecticut. Purer burning, heartier aromas, less expensive than many other companies these candles start at $7. Right now there are lots of yummy holiday scented candles. This good deal is available in most good gift stores along the shore.
For the more creative folks, visit The Clayhouse in Old Saybrook and paint your own souvenir. From holiday ornaments starting at $11 to tiles or coasters for $4 (you could create a unique set for just $16) to platters, trays and bowls there is something you can transform into a memorable memento while sharing some laughs and creating a memory.
Christmas tree ornaments made from Christmas trees? Yup. Using a slice of dried Christmas tree trunk, husband and wife team Ken and Brenda of AKA Collectibles design and create one-of-a-kind ornaments depicting anything from a running horse to a clipper ship, cabin in the woods to the word ‘Connecticut’ and dozens more. The $9.95 ornaments are between 3 and 5 inches in diameter. You could also go for an ornament depicting an historical place of interest for $10. Available at Saybrook Hardware the proceeds from the pewter ornaments support the boys’ high school soccer program.
If you’re really on a shoestring here are two iconic deals. The widely known game of Wiffle Ball was created in Shelton, Connecticut in 1952 and has been manufactured here ever since. Ball and bat sets start at $3.50. Or pick up some of the Orange, Connecticut produced PEZ candies along with a PEZ dispenser for less than $2. You never know, your PEZ dispenser may become a valuable collector’s item one day.
Wanted an authentic Connecticut bargain but ran out of time to get it? Visit ctstore.com for all things made in Connecticut. (The storefront in Waterbury is open to the public Tues through Friday from 10-3.)
Photo credits: wine – jmita studios/flickr, new haven chefs table/facebook, PEZ- Rusty Boxcars/flickr, all others- ctstore.com