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Sky Candle Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Sky Candle Co.

The Boston holiday gift guide 2021

From local beauty products to home decor, you don’t need to go far to find the perfect gift this year

Jillian Dara
Written by
Jillian Dara
Written by
Eric Grossman
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Shopping small and shopping local have come a long way in the last decade—and these New England vendors offer their products as proof. From practical to pampering, our list covers presents for even the hardest people to buy for, including culinary delights, beauty products and even biophilic gifts (who doesn’t love a flourishing plant to add life to the long dreary Northern winters?). Keep reading for our best holiday gift finds in and around Boston. And if somehow nothing here strikes your fancy, you can always consider a gift card to one of the best restaurants in Boston or a membership to one of the best museums in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Give the gift of the city's finest cuisine and cocktails

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

Not sure what to get the foodie in your life? Let your favorite culinary enthusiast curate their own feast by giving them the gift of a Time Out Market card. Available in any dollar amount, the card is good for any vendor or bar at Time Out Market Boston. Cards can be purchased at the Brand Ambassador stand at the Brookline Avenue entrance or from a bartender at the bar.

Boston Gift Guide

  • Shopping
  • West Cambridge

At Formaggio, unique gourmet goods are their forte. The stores in both Boston and Cambridge offer Mass-made chocolate, cheese, candy, condiments, charcuterie, confections and specialty ingredients, ranging from flowering teas and heirloom cattle beans to Hawaiian red sea salt and Piedmontese chickpea flour. If you think the in-person trip sounds overwhelming, you can also order online and curate an all-star gift selection.

Founded in 1924, Hilliards Chocolates is among New England’s leading makers of artisan chocolates and specialty candies. The family-owned business is now in its fifth generation, and customers across the country can order up seasonal faves such as caramel-dipped apples and pumpkin pie fudge, plus signature selections like almond toffee crunch and pecan caramel apple bark. The most popular gift is in the company’s name; choose from boxed chocolate assortments, packs of chocolate bars and chocolate gift baskets. Hilliards Chocolates can be purchased online at or at retail stores in North Easton, Norwell and Mansfield, MA.

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  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • South End

If you’ve got an oenophile on your list, head to the South End wine shop, Brix, for a hand-picked selection of wines you are unlikely to find at other wine stores in the city. The staff is expertly trained to provide seasonal and pairing recommendations, as well as varietals and labels that will help switch up your wine-loving friend’s go-to. Finding a new favorite vino that someone can purchase long after the holidays are over? That’s a winning gift in our books.

Massachusetts artist, Brittney Carbone started her namesake company as a way to expand the mediums she worked with. Now, she uses that medium—resin—to design the likes of her signature best-sellers, including rustic olivewood serving trays and cutting boards, ornaments and tea light candle holders with personal dried flowers. The boards blend sustainable olivewood from Tunisia with striking shades of blue inspired by the ocean, which Carbone reveres for its calming effects. It’s a gorgeous gift for the entertainer on your list, or anyone who appreciates a one-of-a-kind cheese spread.

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Walking into this Brookline boutique is like when you visit that friend with really great taste, a welcoming host, whose home is always effortlessly accessorized. It makes sense then, that the founders of The Green are also behind Pratt Deutsch Interiors, a personal, Brookline-based design firm specializing in high-end residential. The Green is their first shop offering and it’s truly more of a house than an actual store—one where you want it all, and fortunately, it’s all for sale. Browse The Green showroom for a unique vintage piece, or trust their team to bundle up a beautifully wrapped custom gift box. Either way, when you shop The Green you are sure to find the perfect something for all the decor-obsessed on your holiday list.

Nothing warms up a New England winter like the gift of a flourishing plant. Pick from a collection of flora and fauna that includes elegantly potted low-light plants, pet-friendly plants, mini pines or tropical palms, as well as custom bouquets and stunning flora to add life to interiors year-round. Visit the brand new store on Newbury Street or order online for those friends or family you aren’t able to celebrate with this year, as a sure way to brighten their holidays.

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Hand-poured in Boston, Sky Candle Co. creates microbatch, all-natural candles made from 100-percent, American-grown soybeans and lead-free cotton wicks (that makes them eco-friendly!). What’s even more to love about this brand is their give-back component as they donate 10 percent of profits to local animal rescue (the company is actually named after the founder’s French bulldog rescue, Sky). Fittingly, Sky Candle Co.’s top sellers are their signature holiday citrus and clove candleneed we say more about how perfect this is for a seasonal giftas well as their fig and white tea candle, which offers more of an appropriate year-round burn. Purchase online or at their pop up at Snowport in the Seaport from November 19 through January 2.

Specializing in culinary gift baskets that feature fresh, seasonal goods from local purveyors throughout New England’s seven states, New England Country Mart offers an array of pre-curated and themed baskets, including their “Cheese and Charcuterie” basket with Grafton Village cheese and local fresh fruit, or “Best of Local Provisions'' basket, featuring Vermont maple syrup and Somerville’s Deano’s Creste Di Gallo pasta. You can also design your own basket, choosing from a lengthy list of tasty, regional goods, including wine!

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Located in South Boston, In Good Company is a lifestyle and gift shop that features locally-sourced handcrafts. As with any quality gift store, their inventory runs the gamut, including everything from bath and body products to clothing, jewelry and paper goods. If you’re all about stocking stuffers, we think this is a great place to source a few special treasures, or give the gift of choice with a gift card, accompanied with a trinket to showcase all the space has to offer.

Alila began as a personal project for founder Sara Majane, who was tired of traveling with a plethora of face products. So, Majane started mixing all her products together to create something that didn’t exist, an all-in-one face cream that’s now alila’s principal product. The All-In-One Skin Perfector combines nine products, including Vitamins C and E, as well as Hyaluronic acid and Jojoba Seed Oil to hydrate, prime, luminize, smooth, depuff and more. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer, a practical gift for frequent travelers and even works for that guy on your list who’s seeking a little skin love (there’s no tint in it and this is not makeup—as Majane says, it’s a product meant to enhance skin’s natural beauty, not cover it up). For Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday alila will be doing 15 percent off using code ALILA15 and there is free shipping on every order.

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If you know someone who loves wearing hats, you’ll be doing them a favor by gifting them their next favorite crown snapback from Collective Minds; limited edition, handcrafted from upcycled and recycled waste materials. Available in Clear Blue, Fierce Red, Pure Khaki and Confident Black, these minimalist hats were created with the purpose to drive the progression of mental health. The brand donates 60 percent of revenue to The Mental Health Coalition and mental health initiatives, while each individual purchase also provides access to free counseling resources and a $25 discount to one of Collective Minds’ online therapy subscription partners. The founders say the company will “never be simply another apparel brand,” as they plan to release more products in the new year, but for now, the hats are a bold, feel-good gift for nearly anyone on your list.

  • Restaurants

We know poultry is slightly more popular this time of year, but why not switch it up with 100-percent, full-blood Wagyu beef shipped directly to you anywhere in the U.S.? This family-owned farm uses steers descended from Japanese seed stock and are prized for their superior buttery, intensely marbled cuts. The farm practices whole animal butchery, making everything from tenderloin, ribeye and strip steaks to short ribs, burger meat, chorizo and marrow bones available to customers online, farm-to-table.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

Nothing quite screams New England more than lobster, and The Summer Shack wants to bring that coastal feel to you with their lobster pot pies. If you’re local, you can stop by the restaurant to pick one up to hand-deliver or you can order online for shipping to anywhere in the U.S. Each delicious, nine-inch lobster pot pie features a creamy base filled with potatoes, carrots, dry sherry, heavy cream, green peas, shallots, garlic, thyme and one pound of lobster meat, all packed into a soft, buttery puff pastry.

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