Your Ultimate Guide to Unique Gifts and Shopping Destinations
Looking for the perfect gift? Try something affordable and unique from one of our local museum or art league gift shops, plus a host of other spots around the state.
Browse local shops here.
Bargains on local artists' works can be found at the Dover Art League.
Biggs Museum of American Art
Here is one very special gift: Show your love through Hanging at the Biggs, a permanent acrylic tile art display of images supplied by supporters. The display is similar to a commemorative brick project, but you contribute customized wall tiles. Your children’s art, family photographs, fine art, quotes, commemorative dates and more can be scanned and printed onto a 4-by-4 inch tile. Tiles will be installed in groups of 75, as they are sold ($50 each), in the museum atrium, and all proceeds benefit the Biggs. While visiting, don’t miss the Delaware By Hand Gift Shop, which features handmade items from local artists and artisans, as well as items from the museum’s collection. “We change out the artists quarterly,” says Stephanie Adams of the Biggs. “Jewelry is very popular, and so are scarves and pottery. Every time you come in to the gift shop it is different.” Great gifts include handmade notecards ($10), photography prints (starting at $10), jewelry (starting at $15) and pottery (starting at $30). 406 Federal St., Dover, 674-2111, www.biggsmuseum.org
Brandywine River Museum of Art
All year, the museum offers items by local artisans such as pottery and jewelry. “We sell beautiful wood jewelry that is very lightweight, as well as sustainable and eco-friendly,” says shop manager Cheryl Stolis. But what people really look forward to is the annual Critter Sale. The sale takes place in early December and is available in the museum shop through early January.
Starting in March, more than 100 volunteers meet weekly to gather natural materials such as seeds, pods, pinecones and berries to craft nearly 9,000 unique critter ornaments The first were created in 1972 by a group that was asked to decorate a small tree for display during A Brandywine Christmas. Since then, the critters have become more elaborate and creative. Prices range from $5 to $45 per ornament. Specialty items, including wreaths and large tabletop decorations, start at $50. Of course, the shop also offers prints of famous Wyeth family paintings and, with Brandywine Conservancy’s emphasis on the environment, seeds of native wildflowers that are perfect for your favorite gardener. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org
Delaware Art Museum
The museum store has one of the most anticipated holiday sales of the season—and for good reason. Members receive a 20 percent discount in the store, and non-members receive 10 percent off all purchases during one week in December. The sale features a terrific selection of prints, books, handcrafted jewelry, accessories, ceramics and unique textiles. During the Winter Arts Festival, shop for gifts from regional artisans as you enjoy live music and floral arrangements from local designers. 2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington, 571-9590, www.delart.org
The Delaware Contemporary
Find unique, eclectic arts and crafts from regional and national artisans at The Contemporary’s Alternatives Museum Store. The retail gallery features mixed media and precious metal art jewelry, fused glass and porcelain serving ware and sculpture, ceramics, scarves, hand-printed linens, ties, scarves and bags, matted prints and photographs, original artist-designed cards and more. The store also offers exhibition catalogs, art inspirational books, toys and art supplies. The artist-made items are either one-of-a-kind or limited production. 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington, 656-6466, www.thedcca.org
Delaware Children’s Museum
The gift shop, Fun in Store, is the place to find unique gifts for kids. If your children love creative educational toys, you’ve hit the motherlode. Dress-up outfits include pirates, pilots, princesses and more for $30. The store offers paint and decal wooden trains, planes and racing automobile models, jigsaw floor puzzles of dinosaurs, castles and the ocean deep, Steve Spangler Science’s Mountain of Doom volcano kit (with blizzards, eruptions and real mudslides). And what kid can resist a kit made by Sick Science? If you want to blast a 2-liter bottle into space, this is the place. 550 Justison St., Wilmington, 654-2340, www.delawarechildrensmuseum.org
Delaware Museum of Natural History
The gift shop offers plenty of educational and nature-themed toys, books, puzzles and more for children, but it’s not full of kid stuff. Shop for jewelry from Wild Bryde, a sterling silver line that includes animal and plant designs in the form of earrings, pins, necklaces and bracelets. The shop also offers gem-quality amber jewelry by Vessel. “It is very nice for the fall and winter,” says visitor services manager Jessica Hill. The store also offers items themed to its exhibits. 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 658-9111, www.delmnh.org
Dover Art League
The Dover Art League is bringing a whole new meaning to the term “shop local.” During its Give the Gift of Art exhibit and sale in December, members sell their wall art, pottery, photography, handmade jewelry, stained glass and more. 21 W. Loockerman St., Dover, 674-0402, www.doverartleague.org
Late November is the time to begin shopping for holiday items at Longwood. Ornaments include icicle pendants, blue and white Christmas balls and traditional items. There are also plenty of flower bulbs, holiday plants and pots in an array of colors. Regular gift items include garden-themed clothing and jewelry, as well as the classic volume “A Longwood Gardens Christmas,” which is full of inspiring holiday decorating ideas. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org
Newark Arts Alliance
The Newark Arts Alliance’s Members Gallery Shop offers a variety of art by local artists, including paintings, photographs, pottery, jewelry, fabric art, clothing, cards and more. The inventory is always changing and the prices are reasonable. Purchases support the artist and the Newark Arts Alliance. 276 E. Main St., Suite 102, Newark, 266-7266, www.newarkartsalliance.org
Rehoboth Art League
The Rehoboth Art League is bustling, promoting members’ work as great gifts. Browse the Corkran, Tubbs and Ventures galleries for fine arts and crafts during the annual Open House. Find special pieces from artisans such as basketry artist Beatrice Whitehead, woodworking artist Michael Quattrociocchi, stained glass by Sherry and Steve Whorl, and pottery by Susan Gladstone. Prices range from $5 to more than $1,000, but many items are offered for $100 or less. 12 Dodds Lane, Rehoboth Beach, 227-8408, www.rehobothartleague.org
Find great gifts in the Winterthur Museum Store and Winterthur Bookstore, where many items are inspired by current exhibits. 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, 888-4600, www.winterthur.org