I love listening to my friend and co-worker Desiree’s romantic remembrances of how she used to complete her Christmas shopping on Main Street in Patchogue Village — mostly during breaks from her job at Swezey’s department store.
Many other local shoppers did the same, just like their parents and grandparents before them — especially back when Patchogue was a retail hub of Suffolk County. Every year, Desiree couldn’t wait to see the Colony Shop’s Christmas pajama sets on display. That was a signal for her it was time to get her daughter Christmas pajamas, like her mother did for her.
And now that her daughter is too old for the PJs, she still keeps the tradition alive, buying them for my kids.
Despite Patchogue’s more recent reputation as a place strictly for food and fun, there are plenty of shops to shop at.
To prove this, last year I vowed to Desiree, and made a promise to myself to check off every box on my holiday shopping list with a gift purchased right in the downtown.
Here’s how I did it:
First, my coworkers. This was an easy choice. We usually have a very limited amount of time to sit and eat with a knife and fork, so we consume a lot of pizza. So I went over to Delfiore’s Pizza and got them all small gift cards. They all used them the first week after Christmas. There’s nowhere that we frequent more than Angelo’s place.
Then there’s mom. She had mentioned she wanted to get new house numbers and I knew exactly where to go. Colorful Visions Art Glass Studio can custom make many different things out of glass. I went there just a few days before Christmas and asked for a custom design. Kathy and Sandy rushed my order for me and I was able to give it to my mom on Christmas Eve. I was so happy with the numbers, that I also got her a pair of earrings with unique glass pendents.
I come from a family of avid coffee drinkers so getting presents for my aunts and uncles was easy. (I also work at Roast, so I had to support it.) I put together a basket for each couple. Each basket had small sample bags of freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee. In each basket I placed a mug for them to enjoy their morning coffee in as well. For the only one who doesn’t drink coffee, a sample pack of loose leaf teas and a tea infuser did the trick.
A gift for the hosts is always a challenge. I had to visit four houses in two days. So to each house I brought a growler of beer from BrickHouse Brewery. Brickhouse still had the Mocha Coffee Porter on tap which made for a perfect Christmas beverage to share. Bayport Flower House has a wide selection of poinsettias to choose from. And they have unique holiday decorations for that aunt that hosts Christmas Eve each year.
I know what you’re thinking, you don’t have time to shop in stores. You do most of your shopping online. You can still shop from small businesses online using websites like Etsy. I bought my mother-in-law and my best friend a baking dish and a cutting board personalized with their names on them. And for my dad, a license plate for his car that said “I’d rather be at The Pizza House” (a nickname for his vacation home).
And if you’re looking to buy a gift for your favorite coffee roaster, columnist and mother of two, Patchogue restaurant gift cards will do just fine, wink, wink.
The gifts I bought for everyone last year were handcrafted, personalized, one-of-a-kind and downright special. Seeing everyone open their gifts was so much better than any other year. I didn’t get everyone gifts just for the sake of getting gifts. I got everyone something special and I invested in my community at the same time.
It was fun. It was stimulating. And you know what? It felt a lot more like the Christmas we hear about through the songs that blare each year from our iPhones, and, ironically, the loudspeakers at the big box stores.
You know the words: Take a look in the five-and-ten glistening once again …
Tiffany Rivera is a greaterpatchogue.com contributor and a Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce board member. She lives in East Patchogue and works in Patchogue Village.
Photo: The Colony Shop’s Christmas pajamas on display on East Main Street. (Michael White)