Meriden blogger’s local guide for last-minute holiday shopping

It happens to the best of us — the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the halls are decked, and while the Christmas fir is up and glittering, the tree’s skirt is dangerously bare.

“Week of” Christmas shopping can be super stressful, but it certainly doesn’t have to be!

Check out this gift guide to local stores with unique items. 

The Red Door Gift Shop, 830 S. Main St., Cheshire

For a mix of local crafts and name brands all packed into a classy, eclectic six-room shop, The Red Door Gift Shop is the secret to a successful shopping experience. With sections dedicated to even the most tricky loved ones to shop for (looking at you, Grandpa!), this gift shop could be your key to checking multiple names off the “to-shop-for” list.

Don’t miss the hand-crafted ornaments and painted wine glasses for a personalized take on some classic holiday gifts. Nothing stands out like a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one!

Thompson Chocolate, 80 S. Vine St., Meriden

Thompson Chocolate has a wide selection of tasty foil-wrapped treats, but also a delicious history! Founded in 1879, making Thompson Chocolate one America’s first chocolate companies, this local shop takes pride in attention to detail, quality of ingredients, and long history of community camaraderie that all started with William H. Thompson’s hand-molded chocolates right in Meriden.

Thinking of last-minute stocking stuffers for the chocolate lovers in your life? A bag of mini snowmen, Santas, or nutcrackers can make the holiday sweet.

Amato's Toy and Hobby Middletown, 395 Main St., Middletown

Affectionately known in the community as Amato’s Middletown, this fabulous family-owned and operated shop has dazzled central Connecticut for three generations! Their aisles are decked out with a variety of games, toys, and activities for people of all ages, making Amato’s Middletown the ultimate Christmas wonderland.

Whether you’re looking for holiday classics or the hottest new advancement in toy technology, this vibrant local business has the perfect mix of charm, fun, and innovation to make your gift a memorable one!

Apostle Store, 50 Spring St., Southington

For faith-based gifts that are elegant, modern, classic, or somewhere in between, check out the Apostle Store in Southington. While this space has been known to hold events at their in-house cafe area, the true draw is the constantly restocked shelves that offer gifts, apparel, Bibles, home decor, and more year-round — though, Apostle Store in Southington pulls out all the stops for the holiday season! Especially meaningful gifts to consider from this shop specifically include their wide selection of home decor with less-commonly-appreciated biblical quotes and intricate Christian chotchkies that can be appreciated by all ages.

Their wide array of Christian-based gifts offer many options for the different types of Christians in your life; whether shopping for your godchild or grandmother, Apostle Store is bound to have a thoughtful gift that fits!

To beat the seemingly endless supply chain issues and support local businesses, try something new this holiday season! Remember, when you shop local, you directly support your community and provide quality gifts for the ones you hold dear. Happy shopping! 

Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves. When she's not helping out in the English department at Maloney High School, she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@east_side_vibes_ on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach. Email Francesca at with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!




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