207 Foodie’s Local Holiday Gift Guide
Isn’t it crazy to think that 2021 is almost over? It’s such a relief to know that we made it through 2020 in one piece.
At the time, it seemed like it was quite literally impossible. Now, with 2022 quickly approaching, I’m back, and hi, shopping local is still incredibly important. But what you may not realize is how much local businesses need YOU right now.
I mean each and every person reading this needs to shop local here in Maine this year. Forget Amazon, forget Walmart, and every other big box store.
Yes, this is always important, but it’s never been more important than right now. If you want to see your favorite places make it out of this terrible year and last for many more years to come, support the businesses of Portland, southern Maine, and Maine in general.
I know these aren’t all of the businesses you could possibly support because there are a lot, but these are some of my favorites. And I’ve already purchased quite a few gifts from a few of these as well because I love what they bring to our fair state. Check out my holiday gift guide, featuring a few new additions for 2021!
Looking to gift experiences that can be enjoyed later on? I’m pretty sure I recommended Wine Wise in the last Holiday Gift Guide I wrote all the way back in 2018 (oh how times have changed) but it’s still a good pick.
Whether you’re enjoying a Bourbon Walk or one of their infamous Wine Sails on a balmy summer day, this is a true Maine experience. And now, you have more opportunities than ever thanks to the Virtual Wine Dinners that sommelier Erica Archer is hosting with chefs from restaurants like Sur Lie, Chaval, and Solo Italiano.
The one I tried during quarantine this spring was easily the best takeout I had the entire time. If you’re not comfortable dining inside right now, it’s a really great way to eat incredible food. It’s delivered to your door while connecting with people. Right now, it’s more than many people thought they could have, and Wine Wise continues providing it.
Continuing down the experience lane, you can always purchase your loved ones a cooking class. But not just any cooking class! At Bravo Maine! you can take on new challenges like learning how to cook paella, learning how to make sushi, or even French Fondue if you’re so inclined!
Classes are held at a commercial kitchen in their new location on Brighton Avenue in Portland so you’ll get the best possible experience.
Maine Brews Cruise (formerly known as Maine Brew Bus)
If you have a friend that loves beer and wants to know all about how their local breweries make beer, a Maine Brews Cruise tour is always the way to go. Tours are back and better than ever now that the worst of the pandemic is (hopefully) behind us.
Keep in mind that it can be hard to know what kind of beer tour someone will like. So it makes a lot of sense to give that special someone a Maine Brews Cruise gift card instead. They can be bought in any dollar amount and you can redeem them over the phone or online.
The best possible thing about a gift card: unlike that 4 pack of craft beer that could skunk, your gift card will never expire!
If you’re already looking ahead to summer, why not plan to spend it on the Lucky Catch? You may not know this, but you can buy gift certificates for the Lucky Catch online.
Sure, you may not want to get out on the water for a Lucky Catch cruise right now (it’s a little chilly for that) but come spring or summer, the timing will be perfect for the taste of sweet lobster and time spent on the water! The best thing about gift certificates and gift cards is they don’t usually go out of season or expire!
So why not send one to your friend that you swear was born with fins since they love being on the water so much?
2Gether Private Chefs
If you’ve ever wondered about what a secret supper is or how you could experience one for yourself, 2Gether Private Chefs just added new events starting in January. Consider giving someone you love (or yourself) some tickets to their incredible events.
You’ll find that they now offer cooking classes at the new Makers Galley, which recently opened a few weeks ago. There’s nobody better to learn to cook from than Amy Kayne, who is an incredible chef!
You can also buy tickets to the new Secret Table event, which will take place somewhere in Cumberland County. Having been to a few of the 2Gether secret suppers, I can confidently say that this is one gift that anyone with tastebuds will enjoy!
You’ll go on a flavor journey that you aren’t soon to forget, I can tell you that much. There are even Winter Cooking Parties, which would be a great date night or something to do with the family on a cold winter night!
Fork Food Lab
Fork Food Lab is one of those places that Portland needs in order to have a healthy food community. With over 50 members, Fork Food Lab allows food entrepreneurs to have both the space and the kitchen they need to succeed.
COVID, as you can imagine, has been extremely hard on businesses like Fork Food Lab. If you have a friend that is passionate about the food community, a donation to Fork Food Lab in their name may be the best gift that money can buy this year.
These donations are part of what keeps Fork Food Lab running.
Oasis Virtual Cooking Class Series
I only recently found out about this new virtual cooking class series, but I must say, the combination of supporting a great cause and getting to (try) to cook a meal virtually is too good not to share with you all! These cooking classes allow you to cook with some of the best chefs that Maine has to offer like Sam Hayward and Christine Burns Rudalevige, among others.
Give this as a gift to someone you love and know that you’re helping provide patient-centered medical, dental, and prescription assistance services to those that need it most this holiday season. What’s better than giving and receiving the gift of cooking a delicious meal as well? Check out their virtual cooking classes here!
Have a friend that’s getting married? Need to plan a bridal shower in the spring?
Experiencing one for myself this summer, every little detail is thought of, taken care of, and lovingly put into motion. Combine that with a gorgeous backdrop like the Eastern Promenade, and you have all the pieces needed for a day you won’t soon forget.
Restaurant Gift Cards/Merchandise
If you live in Westbrook or you remember Brea Lu’s original location in Portland (it was where Rose Foods is now) you’ll be familiar with their bigger than your head pancakes and generous portions. A simple gift, whether it’s a stocking stuffer or the main attraction, is a gift card to Brea Lu.
What’s not to love about a little breakfast or lunch to enjoy after the holiday season?
You already know I love Mr. Tuna for their hand rolls, and that’s still true. In fact, if I had my choice, I’d rather have a bouquet of their hand rolls instead of a bouquet of flowers, but that’s just me.
But if you have a foodie friend that loves sushi or is also a huge Mr. Tuna fan, you really just can’t go wrong with any of their merch. There’s no way you can get the exact crewneck that I recommended back in 2018, but I’m sure you can find something else like a tote bag, hat, or a different crewneck design.
And if merch isn’t doing it, a gift card always works as well.
Maybe I’m biased, but I love Legend’s Rest a lot and I’m set for life since I was able to renew my Mug Club membership for life.
But if you have a friend that loves craft beer, buying someone a mug club membership at Legend’s is an awesome holiday gift. If I didn’t already have mine taken care of, well, forever, it’s something that I would potentially ask for as well.
Again, if you don’t want to commit to the mug club membership, you can buy t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, or a good old fashioned gift card to Legend’s Rest as well!
On those days when you can’t think about cooking, takeout is your best friend. Yeah, in the last year or two, a bad day means the only thing you can look forward to is having someone else cook dinner for you.
If you’re wondering what to get your seafood-loving friend (we are OUT HERE, seriously, there are so many Mainers that don’t like seafood and I don’t get it) ordering some takeout from DiMillo’s is a pretty genius idea. When you don’t even want to think about cooking, there’s nothing better than a meal that’s already done.
Personally, a bowl of lobster mac n cheese can be as comforting as a cozy blanket! After all, this is one of the most popular dishes at DiMillo’s, besides the lobster roll for a reason. You can also easily purchase a gift card to DiMillo’s on their site to send as a holiday gift as well!
Portland Pie Company
Hey, who doesn’t love pizza? Well, I bet you’re thinking it’s someone who can’t have gluten but Portland Pie is one step ahead of you because they offer several food items that are gluten-free as well as a pizza crust that’s also gluten-free.
If that makes you nervous, that’s understandable, because dietary restrictions are nothing to mess around with. Instead, you can always decide to buy more merch (yeah, merch is really never a bad call).
Portland Pie has a really cool t-shirt that looks a lot like the Miller High Life logo but in Portland Pie form that you can get, or you could say a gift card is the way to go and let someone order their own pizza in the new year. The gifts abound at Portland Pie!
Bite Into Maine
The food truck at Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth may be closed down for the season, but you can still get your Bite Into Maine craving satisfied. For one thing, if having the same old Christmas dinner sounds boring, you could get lobster rolls from their Commissary Kitchen instead.
Why not, right? I’d definitely do it! If you can’t convince your family to trade prime rib for lobster rolls, you can also check out their sweet merch! We’re talking sweatshirts, tank tops, t-shirts, and even a Bite Into Maine greeting card.
Hello, if you’ve ever wanted to find the perfect card to give a foodie (hint, this foodie) it’s that card. The lobster rolls and other items on the menu don’t ship and are only available for local pick up or delivery but the merch looks like it is available for shipping! So again, great holiday gift ideas here!
Can we please for a minute just talk about how hard it must be to open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic? But that’s exactly what Broken Arrow did last year. The best part? They only continue to flourish as they grow more and more popular.
Opening during the heart of the pandemic last October as cases continued to climb was nothing if not ballsy. If you read my guest post over on Portland Old Port, then you already know how I feel about this restaurant.
If not, here’s a quick recap: it’s pretty amazing. Imagine the Maine classics you love but they are more elegant and sophisticated than you ever thought possible and you would have a glimpse of what owners Lyle and Holly Aker are creating.
The restaurant industry is notoriously difficult to succeed in during a good year but during a pandemic? That’s not even fair, but for millions of restaurant owners, it’s been their new reality.
If you want to see Broken Arrow succeed, buy a gift card for your friends and family this holiday season. It’s an easy way to put cash in their pocket when they need it most.
And of course, go make reservations and try the food in their space, which features one of the coolest bars in town right now.
Got a sweet tooth that just won’t quit? Okay, I’m describing myself, but Kneading Sweets is a local online bakery. For those of you that are gluten-free or have celiac disease, all her amazing baked goods are also gluten-free.
Yes, these incredible red velvet macarons pictured are somehow gluten-free, yet not devoid of taste or flavor in any way. Whether you need some holiday treats or you’re simply craving something sweets, Kneading Sweets has got you covered.
Bonissoni Brazilian Steakhouse
Did you know that there is only one Brazilian steakhouse located in the entire state of Maine? You can try this incredible meal for yourself by taking a little drive to Ogunquit for dinner and trying Bonissoni Brazilian Steakhouse.
If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse, Bonissoni is a traditional one. You order sides and then all the individual chefs who prepare the meats come to your table and offer it to you. This could include prime rib, rib eye, filet mignon, lamb, chicken wings…the list simply goes on and on.
If you’ve ever heard the term “meat sweats” you might experience it for yourself while engorging yourself on the best meat that money can buy, but it is oh so worth it. The meat is tender and perfectly cooked. Trust me when I say you owe it to yourself to check it out. At the very least, buy someone you love a gift card so you have an excuse to taste it!
When it comes to gift-giving or needing to give a holiday gift of any kind, who could possibly forget the many, many craft breweries that Maine has to offer? These are an incredible part of what makes this state and Portland what it is!
It’s so easy to pick up a 4-pack from the brewery of your choice (if you like sours, I’m always partial to Yes Brewing) or classics like Banded Brewing (they opened a second location in Portland with a first one in Biddeford) and Lone Pine are never a bad call as well. If you like beer, there is definitely something here that you’ll love!
And if you don’t know what kind of beer your parents or your brother-in-law will like…you can always pick up a gift card at the brewery of your choice as well!
The Salt Cellar
Know someone that loves to cook but who owns every cookbook, gadget, or thing you can possibly think of? Same. I was positively stumped until I remembered the Salt Cellar and found one of their gift sets.
They vary from specialty salts like ghost pepper (yes the salt is apparently infused with ghost peppers) or they even have bath and spa products. Whether you’re looking to pamper yourself or you need something for someone who already owns everything, you can probably find something at the Salt Cellar!
Eat Drink Lucky
I don’t need to tell you that subscription boxes are hot right now, because they are. What you do need to know is that the boxes that EDL puts out are nothing but the highest quality.
But what I love about these boxes is the fact that you can support so many local businesses all in one go. You support Eat Drink Lucky, and then you’re also supporting the businesses that are featured in the boxes as well.
And don’t forget that they contain amazing gifts as well! It’s just a win-win-win all around!
Fiore Olive Oil Club
Another local subscription that I love is Fiore Olive Oil’s club, which sends you new olive oils, samples, and various other goodies once a quarter throughout the year when you sign up. This makes a great gift for anyone that loves to cook but already owns everything.
I signed myself up for it because it seemed like an easy way to support a local business and get the inside scoop on some new olive oils at the same time. That’s a win-win in my book!
Do the last two years have you kind of braindead? You scroll and scroll through Instagram looking for inspiration for something to buy your parents or your favorite aunt, or maybe even your boss, but your mind is just a sad blank.
If this sounds familiar, I get it. Lately, everything has been a serious overload. Too many thoughts, feelings, emotions…it’s a rollercoaster and then some.
If you’re tired of thinking and want someone to do the work for you who is also local, Stroudwater Distillery has plenty of gifts they are selling.
Stop on by to check out what’s available or you can have one delivered locally through CarHop!
Sagamore Hill Lounge
Everyone has that one friend that’s obsessed with a good cocktail. If I’m being honest, in my friend group, that person is me. No surprise there!
For that friend who loves cocktails who lives nearby, why not consider some to-go cocktails from Sagamore Hill Lounge? There’s very little about this pandemic that’s good, but one thing that’s come out of it that is kind of awesome are to-go cocktails.
Me personally, I’m partial to the cocktails at Sagamore Hill Lounge, since they are delicious, original, and usually have the best names you’ll find anywhere. The labels match their branding as well, which is important if you’re giving these as a gift!
The Gathering Board
I discovered The Gathering Board last year thanks to a free virtual class hosted by Yelp Maine on how to build the perfect charcuterie board. I took a few online classes during the pandemic and enjoyed them all.
But I must say, the Gathering Board was one of the most fun by far! And it also finally gave me the tools I needed to create dazzling charcuterie boards. You’d think this is a skill I’d be capable of but I’ve always struggled with it.
So I knew I had to include the Gathering Board on this local holiday gift list! You could very easily send a charcuterie board to a local friend as a gift because these boards are a true work of art.
Except unlike a beautiful painting, you can eat these! At the moment, you can’t ship them, so you’ll have to stick to local. But hey, you could always just order a charcuterie board for your socially distanced and small Christmas gathering as well!
And you can now purchase gift cards online as well if you’re not sure what kind of charcuterie board to buy for a finicky friend!
It is important to note that the Gathering Board does not appear to be taking any new orders right now, but keep them in mind for the future because Annie makes beautiful charcuterie creations!
Three of Strong Spirits
Got that one friend who loves rum but you know they should be drinking something that’s made in Maine and that’s better than Captain Morgan? Three of Strong Spirits has got it covered!
This craft-rum distillery creates high-quality rums that are so smooth, your friend will never look twice at Captain Morgan again. Oh, and if you have that one friend that’s searching for a Maine gin, Three of Strong has recently released their first gin, Portage, as well.
Friends don’t let friends drink bad alcohol. This holiday season, give the gift of Maine-made distilled rum and gin from Three of Strong.
Sur Lie stood strong throughout the pandemic, pivoting when necessary. There was takeout, there were Farmer’s Baskets, and there was other ingenuity.
Now, if you want Sur Lie, they offer indoor dining again, so you can enjoy their menu exactly as it was meant to be eaten. Their new outdoor patio is a lovely touch, so if you haven’t been, buy a friend a gift card and take them to dinner there. You won’t regret it!
With the holiday season around the corner, it’s a great time for get-togethers. This means it’s also the perfect excuse for charcuterie boards. If you don’t feel like making your own, you can order a gorgeous creation from Charcutemarie.
Did I mention she’s also one of the partners of previously mentioned Pyrus Picnics as well? But if you love a good charcuterie board that features everything from meats to cheeses to every perfect accoutrement, you’ll find it with Charcutemarie.
Hemlock Ridge Designs
Ever thought that you needed a new charcuterie board for serving your meat and cheese creations? Enter Hemlock Ridge Designs. This shop is featuring some gorgeous items, like engraved cocktail glasses, custom ornaments, and a new clothing line.
But for charcuterie lovers, you need to check out Lauren’s stunning custom engraved serving board, which is offered in collaboration with another very popular local charcuterie purveyor, The Portland Board. Pick-ups are available from Fork Food Lab, and if you just want the board, it’s also being sold on her website. This is perfect whether you’re keeping it for yourself or giving it to your favorite hostess with the mostess.
For Your Furry Friends
Everyone knows that if you have pets, you’re doting on them all year round. You can’t forget your furry family members around the holidays! Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can treat these well-loved members of the family.
When I need to buy the perfect gift for my dog Edge, I stop into the Old Port’s Uncommon Paws first. They always have the most unique toys, treats, and other goodies that I know he’ll actually like.
They also carry a great selection of exclusive Maine products, so you’ll know that you’re supporting local luxury pet products. One thing that makes them stand out is their exclusive handcrafted collars and leashes.
If you want buoys, lobster tails, or any other pattern you can think of, you’ll find them here, in almost any assortment. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, their sales associates are incredibly nice and will help you find the perfect item.
The Pixel Fund
Want to do some good this holiday season? Amazing rescues like the Pixel Fund have never needed your help more than they do now. I have nothing but high praise for the Pixel Fund because this is where we got Edge from.
Donating to this amazing rescue is a great way to help. If you’re also looking for a furry friend to join your family, becoming an approved adopter is another fantastic step you can take. And if you’re not sure about adopting, consider becoming a foster!
The Pittie Posse
Another rescue that I have a soft spot for is the Pittie Posse. They rescue dogs from down south and bring them here so they can live long, happy lives with their new forever families.
What can I say, blocky heads are my weakness. They are always in need of donations as well, so please consider them if you’re looking to change some lives. Check out their merch, or consider donating to their pet food pantry as well.
The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland
One more you can remember is the Animal Refuge League. You can always donate to keep this amazing organization running and able to continue rescuing animals and keeping them safe.
If you haven’t bought your Christmas tree yet, you can pre-order yours through the Animal Refuge League and pick it up on December 4th. This is a great way to support them and get your tree taken care of at the same time! You can even make a donation in honor of a loved one or pet’s name.
No matter how you choose to do it, your furry family members will love the extra mile you go for them this season.
Maine Products Shipping Nationwide
Maine Oyster Company
Oysters are one of those things that Maine has a lot of but beyond the East Coast, there aren’t nearly as many of these crustaceans. Lucky for oyster lovers that aren’t local, you can have oysters from Maine Oyster Company shipped nationwide!
These oysters are sweet, briny, and taste like they’ve been kissed by the ocean. Hey, 2020 isn’t exactly a normal year, so why not give something a little different this year too?
Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
Another favorite spot for cocktails has always been Portland Hunt + Alpine. Whether you go for the amazing pre-packaged cocktails and mocktails or you want to ship a few retail items, there’s really nothing but options.
Want to go above and beyond? I’m eyeing the gorgeous Hunt + Alpine x Evangeline Linens Throw which is a limited run only for this winter.
But you can also choose from t-shirts, a Hunt + Alpine Yeti mug, their Northern Hospitality cook and recipe book, and of course, a gift card. There are no bad choices when you choose to shop local.
Vena’s Fizz House
Who else is excited that Vena’s Fizz House is going to reopen with a new location in the West End this spring?
As Vena’s Fizz House is not currently open, the next best thing is enjoying their bitters and cocktail kits at home instead. For the friend that thinks they are a mixologist, Vena’s is truly a smorgasbord of options!
There are beverage kits, infusions, syrups, and even sugar cubes so the next cocktail they make during your Zoom happy hour is Instagram-ready. Happy gifting!
Grey Goose Gourmet
There are different kinds of foodies out there. Some, like me, don’t really enjoy cooking. Sorry, that’s the way it is for me.
Others love cooking and live for being in the kitchen. For those foodies, things like Grey Goose Gourmet are pretty much made for them.
And actually, they are made for foodies like me as well! You want to know why? Most people love hot pepper jelly! Sandra is the creator, cook, and owner of Grey Goose Gourmet.
She’s also an incredibly nice woman. Now let me tell you, I love her pepper jellies. Every flavor I’ve tried is delicious.
These are a fantastic fit for your charcuterie boards, with appetizers, but they are also a good fit if you’re cooking. I once used my Grey Goose Gourmet pepper jelly baked onto salmon.
It was pretty awesome if I do say so myself! And that’s coming from someone that doesn’t even love cooking.
So you can imagine how great they are for someone that enjoys cooking as well! This makes a fantastic gift and she’ll ship them! I just got two new flavors: Strawberry and Mango that I can’t wait to try. Don’t be surprised if they make an appearance on my Christmas charcuterie board this year.
For those that are gluten-free or don’t love sweets, I’ve recently gotten into Choomi Cookies. You may have seen the giveaway I ran on my Instagram account, which gave me my first taste of these cookies.
I have to say, I do have a bit of a sweet tooth so I was a little hesitant, at least at first. But what’s not to love about a cookie that’s incredibly moist and also the perfect treat for someone that can’t have most cookies?
I may not be gluten-free, but I know that there are plenty of people out there that are searching for something like this that they can enjoy! Choomi Cookies make a great gift and you can find them in many grocery stores throughout Southern Maine but you can also buy them on their website, where they’ll ship anywhere you want them to go in the country!
Have a coffee addict in your life? Help a local business and help those less fortunate in Rwanda at the same time by buying coffee from Rwanda Bean. I will admit, I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I love the idea of supporting a company that’s making a difference.
At Rwanda Bean, 50% of the profits go back to their coffee farmers. That’s a lot, and in a place like Rwanda, that can be enough money to change someone’s life for the better.
Whether you choose to give a handmade ornament, a coffee scoop, or a coffee subscription, buying from Rwanda Bean is a conscious choice to help. You also owe it to yourself to go check out their new location at Thompson’s Point, which features coffee cocktails. I haven’t made it yet but it’s at the top of my list!
There are very few people in the world that don’t like chocolate. And I can think of even fewer that don’t like Dean’s Sweets. Sorry, but in my mind, chocolate doesn’t get much better than this.
This year, they are now offering new chocolate squares in twelve flavors, ranging from dark, milk, and white chocolate, to more exotic flavors like lavender and honey, or double espresso. No matter what you need to buy for someone on your list, these are a hit. Or you could go with the subscription box option!
It’s available in three, six, and twelve-month increments, or you can order one seasonally as well. I bought one for myself because I simply love the idea of having their decadent chocolates sent to me every month.
Why not give someone you love something to look forward to? This is one of my favorite things on this list!
eighteen twenty wines
Okay, if you love wine or have friends and family that love wine, I really think that eighteen twenty wines are a bit of a no-brainer. Where else can you find rhubarb wine?
It’s tart, crisp, and unique to Maine! This local business can ship your wine assuming the state you’re shipping to allows alcohol shipping, so double check before purchasing. eighteen twenty is a great holiday buy!
There’s a good possibility that you’ve already heard about the pasta delivery service in Portland called Fusillo.
The concept is simple: you order your pasta, it’s delivered to you, and then you make it at home. The pasta is homemade and easily on par with anything you’d find in Italy.
I studied abroad in Florence for a month in college and my tagliatelle reminded me exactly of that! It took me 10 minutes at the absolute most to make my pasta from start to finish and it tasted amazing.
Now, if you’re thinking this sounds great, it is. But if you don’t want to cook on Christmas Day, or even on Christmas Eve, maybe consider Fusillo as an option instead. Or, send over a kit to your favorite local friend that doesn’t feel like cooking as a tasty holiday treat!
baristas + bites
It doesn’t get much better than baked goods from baristas + bites in my opinion. I won’t lie, I miss being able to come in and grab my favorites in person. That includes their holiday cookies or a delicious breakfast burrito (seriously those things are GOOD) but the next best thing is they are now offering nationwide delivery with Goldbelly.
That means your friend that lives in California or your mom in Michigan can finally experience those insanely amazing baked goods from baristas + bites for themselves! I mean, there’s not much that makes a better holiday gift than knowing someone picked out delectable goodies for you to enjoy. This is true no matter where you are!
At the end of the day, when you’re doing your holiday shopping and buying a holiday gift here and there, I hope you’ll consider these local businesses and many of the others here in Maine! Let me know in the comments where you’re doing your holiday shopping this year!