Gift giving can also give back to your community when you shop local. Whether you’re supporting a new local maker or a family business rooted in the region for generations, when you shop at a local business during the holiday season, know you’re making an important economic impact in Central MA. 

Gifting by Type

Here’s a shortlist of ideas to help you find the perfect present for the many types of people on your list.

For the bookworm: Feed the imagination of a friend or family member with a book from TidePool BookShop or Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA. 

For the fashionable: It’s all the rage to support local pride with a cool shirt or crewneck from Worcester Wares. For something more sophisticated while still casually chic, try Lake Road Living in Sturbridge, MA.

For the sports fan: Between the WooSox’ inaugural season, the Massachusetts Pirates winning their league championship, and the Worcester Railers HC back on the ice, it’s never been a better time to be (or shop for) a sports fan in Worcester. The Worcester Bravehearts and Holy Cross Athletics also have team stores online.

For your pets: Discover Crate & Howl’s new location in downtown Worcester, or visit Quite Fetching Barkery and Pet Boutique across from the Grafton Town Common.

Independent bookstore TidePool Bookshop LLC is located on Worcester’s Chandler Street. Photo by Karen Pelletier.

For your whole family: Live theatre is back in action! With vaccine checks and safety protocols in place, tickets to see a holiday show make an excellent early present everyone will enjoy. The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts is hosting numerous holiday shows, such as ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ‘The Nutcracker,’ and the Boston Pops Holiday Tour. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, catch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the DCU Center.

Locally Made

When you give a locally made gift, there’s a strong chance it’s also one of a kind. Central MA is home to a wide variety of skilled artisans, so you’re bound to find a special present that shows how thoughtful you are when you visit one of these establishments.

CC Lowell | Worcester, MA | Inside America’s oldest art store, you may also find work by the artists who shop there! For even more art, keep an eye on their social channels for details about upcoming Maker Markets, typically hosted on Saturdays.

Wachu Makin? | Holden, MA | This gift shop is home to a variety of artisans from the Wachusett and neighboring areas. You’ll find woodwork, jewelry, essential oils, glasswork, and more.

Vaillancourt Folk Art | Sutton, MA | While the online store is excellent, we suggest visiting Vaillancourt Folk Art in person to meet the makers behind these treasured chalkware ornaments and collectable Santas. Not only can you watch the artisans work, but you’ll also find a Christmas museum and displays that will inspire your holiday spirit.

Worcester Public Market | Worcester, MA | A huge benefit to holiday shopping at the Worcester Public Market is the variety of vendors at one destination. We recommend a gift set from Girly Girl Soaps, leather goods from Alan James Co., and a warm wool sweater from Tinker’s Cart.

Ideas for Big Spenders

The holidays can be a great time to surprise your partner (or treat yourself) to the big ticket items you’ve been keeping your eye on all year.

Jewelry & Crystal | Gifted in their signature silver and purple packaging, presents from Sharfmans Jewelers in Worcester have sparked joy since 1937. From exquisite diamonds and gems to Seiko timepieces and Waterford crystal bowls, you’ll find a wide selection of gift options. On the less expensive side, locals may also appreciate their ornaments featuring landmarks like the Burnside Fountain and Salisbury Mansion.

Upgrade Appliances | From stainless steel French door fridges to QLED 4K flatscreens, Percy’s TV & Appliance is a local family business that stands the test of time. With the shortage of electronic components on the rise, it’s the right time to shop what’s in stock locally so you can enjoy your upgrades sooner than later. 

Not sure what to give?

When you have no idea what you’re looking for and prefer to shop at a bigger store, take a walk around Klem’s in Spencer, MA, where you’ll find a little bit of everything for anyone on your list. Or sit back from the comfort of home and shop their curated gift box section online, where they’ve done all the selection work for you!

The Worcester Art Museum’s gift shop is an excellent choice for unique and artful gifts for people of any age. With gifts like inspiring activity books for kids, a beer stein made from a baseball bat, and a Monet Water Lillies tea set, your taste in gift-giving will be elevated simply because the museum’s shop is as thoughtfully curated as their galleries.

When in doubt, why not wine? Head to Worcester’s urban winery, Sail to Trail Wine Works, to shop by the bottle or give the gift of a wine club membership. In honor of the founder’s grandfather, who fought fires in Worcester on Ladder 7 for 35 years, $7 from every 6-Alarm or Let-It-Burn wine club shipment will be donated to the WFD Box 4 Special Services truck, that provides invaluable on-scene services to first responders in the city.

The City of Worcester and surrounding towns are full of excellent places to shop, so it couldn’t be easier to buy local this season. For more ideas, visit and download our mobile app to discover itineraries that guide you on a local shopping spree. From the Worcester Women-Owned Shopping Trail to the Holiday & Winter Bucket List, consider us your local treasure trove for ideas on what to do and where to shop. 


Monique Messier is the Executive Director of Discover Central MA, the official destination marketing organization for Worcester and Central Massachusetts. 

This story was originally published in the November 2021 edition of Chamber Exchange: The Newspaper, a quarterly publication of the Chamber. All newspaper editions are archived here.