The E List Guide to the Holidays 2022

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Holiday 2022

Guide to the Holidays on the CT Shoreline

Find the best: Holiday Shops Festive Desserts Seasonal Recipes Local Gifts & much more

Plus Holiday Events, Happy Hours & Afternoon Tea


Welcome to our Holiday Guide! Yes, it’s a magical time of year on the Shoreline, and we don’t want you to miss a trick! We’ve compiled all our most popular, need-to-know holiday info into one digital, easy-to-read, mobile-friendly, downloadable, and shareable magazine.

GOODSPEED MUSICALS e h t on ovie! d se m Ba ssic cla

You’ll find round-ups of our favorite holiday events, desserts that are sure to impress, yummy recipes from local stars, fun pop-up shops, and lots of local gift guides to help keep our hometown businesses thriving. Click on the links or photos throughout to discover more about the featured shops, restaurants, happenings, and creators. Wishing you the happiest of holidays, Erica & Laura

NOV 18–DEC 30




Always In Stock. Always Arrive On Time. Always Appreciated.



About The E List Erica and her team have been shouting out the best of the CT Shoreline since 2008. Our 25,000 devoted and loyal subscribers look to The E List newsletter and website to plan their lives on the Shoreline. Who makes a stunning floral arrangement? Where’s the best gift shop? What’s the go-to cocktail bar? We announce the sales and events that matter, must-have items of the season, and tell you where to eat and what to do this weekend. Whether you’re new here or a longtime follower, we invite you to peruse our Guide to the Holidays on The Shoreline and discover our fantastic local businesses.

Subscribe to the weekly newsletter here. 3

Contents Holiday Inspo & Shops 5 Holiday Things To Do 11 Turkeys & Takeout 17 Where to Eat Out on Thanksgiving 23 The Sweet Stuff 25 Local Online Food Gifts 29 Recipes 37 Local Jewelers Online 45 Local Online Gifts 49 Holiday Pop Up Shops 55 Holiday Teas 59 Holiday Crafting 61 Mood Music 63 Strolls & Tree Lightings 65 Happy Hours & Early Birds 69 Stash Your Family & Friends 77 4

Holiday Inspo & Shops If you need a little holiday mood boost, here are some never-fail shops that go all-out for the season!


Homeward Collective It’s an

excellent sign when you walk into a shop and get a whiff of your favorite scent. Apotheke White Vetiver is mine, and apparently, the gals at Homeward Collective love it, too. Rachel and Kate are master merchandisers, and if you love one thing in this airy space, you’ll likely love it all. Find block-printed pillows, cozy plaid throws, art books, craft cocktail mixes and more, plus selections from C.P. Shades, Kut jeans & cashmere sweaters. 24 Lyme St., Old Lyme & 685 BPR, Madison. Visit their Instagram.

The Silver Skate Pop-Up If you’ve never been to the Silver Skate in Niantic, you have a holiday extravaganza in store for you! Bring the kids for this outing, as it’s a magical wonderland of every imaginable ornament (even Ziggy Stardust), a working train, spectacularly decorated trees, oldfashioned candies, and classic pine incense. Outside you’ll find stacks of antique sleds and toboggans and, yup, skates. 488 Main Street, Niantic. See more.

Saybrook Home Folks from all over flock to Saybrook Home during the

season, and it’s fun to eavesdrop on their conversations. On the day I stopped in, groups of gals were there for their annual rite of ornament shopping, hostess gifting, trimming inspo, and lunch at Aspen. The store is stocked for a one-stop holiday shopping bonanza, plus towering themed trees and buckets of dried and faux sprigs to DIY wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces. 2 Main Street, Old Saybrook.



RJ Vickers Herbery Owner and

greenery wizard, Maureen Olansen has been decking the halls and facades of some of the finest homes on the Shoreline for over 20 years now. One look at her handmade wreaths, and we can see why. A walk through her fresh topiary, winter plants selection and a pop into the quintessential shop would put anyone in the holiday spirit. Shelves are lined with glass cloches, high-quality aromatic candles, tasteful jars of herbs, antiques and garden ornaments. Fresh wreaths and swags available throughout. Open Thursday - Sun, 10-5pm. 26 Water Street, Chester 860-526-4061


Taken for Granite It’s well worth the

jaunt to Taken for Granite in the hamlet of Stony Creek for some holiday Inspo. The team at TFG dolls up this already masterfullymerchandised shop with classic, beachy-chic, and festive decor. Lots of shimmering trees, ornaments (Oyster shells! Owls!) and Linnea’s Lights collection of sleek candles in scents like Forest Fir and Cashmere abound. Don’t miss the entire room of well-priced jewelry and scarves for gifting. Their seaside-inspired wrapping is a bonus! 409 Leetes Island Road, Branford. Visit their FB page.

Azalea I hadn’t been to Azalea in a few years, and I was delighted to find that owner, Lexi Persi, has upped the sophistication quotient here. A wonderfully merchandised mix of gifts with clean and minimal packaging is so tempting! You’ll enjoy examining the shelves filled with cashmere beanies, muted plaid scarves, linen pillows, all manner of candles, vintage rugs, French fire starters, Palermo’s natural skincare products, exciting design and cookbooks, and much more. You won’t come away empty-handed. Online shop with ready-to-ship gift boxes, too. 301 Main Street, Niantic.

Rustic Barn There are always lots of happy shoppers and browsers in this

super festive bustling space. A slew of (as the name suggests) rustic gifts including block printed throws and table linens, handmade acacia wood cutting boards, and lots of ornaments and stocking stuffers fill the space. They have a vast collection of textured trees, beaded votives, and creative wreaths. Don’t miss Rustic Barn’s line of hand-poured soy candles, made right on site! 157 Route 81, Killingworth. 8


Diamond Award Winner #2 Dollar Volume* Essex Brokerage

#6 Dollar Volume*



ESSEX BROKERAGE: 13 Main Street, Essex | 860.767.7488 * Source: WIlliam Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty 2021 Awards Recognition Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated.

Grace Grace always pulls out the stops for the holidays, and this year it’s all about cozy. You can’t resist caressing the fluffy sweaters, brushed flannel shirts, soft PJ sets, shearling bucket hats and cardigans, and just about everything else. Handy, too, are prepacked themed gift sets for self-care, cocktails, or a cozy night in. A well-stocked selection of chic and cheerful jewelry rounds out the mix. Online shopping is available, but it’s much more fun IRL. 46 Pennsylvania Avenue, Niantic

Nest This sophisticated gift and home decor boutique morphs into an

exuberant holiday shop that will put anyone in the spirit. We head here every year just to see what the elves have been up to behind the scenes! Nest’s sparkling vignettes are stacked with stylish decor, ornaments, and accents. It’s also a one-stop-shop for thoughtful and personal gifts. We head here every year just to see what the elves have been up to behind the scenes! 80 Stonington Road, Mystic 69

Prive Swiss

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Holiday Things To Do Get in the holiday mood with these upcoming events: The E List Girls' Nights Out: Drinks, Discounts, and Dinner! Save the dates: Essex on 11/16, and Guilford on 12/8. Details here. Christmas in Connecticut at The Goodspeed, 11/18 - 12/30: Based on the classic 1945 Warner Bros. film, this World Premiere musical comedy is a delightfully cheerful way to celebrate the holiday season! Get tickets here.

Deck the Walls at Lyme Art Association, 11/19 - 1/2: Juried exhibit of Lyme Holiday thingsoftowell-priced do Art Association members. This exhibit artworks is perfect for gifting! Find out more.

The Nutcracker, Short & Suite at Wadsworth Mansion, Middletown, 11/20,

3 performances: The Mansion welcomes Ballet Hartford for an intimate performance of a classic holiday favorite. This is a condensed version that features a combination of dance, dialogue, and narration to tell the story of Clara and the Nutcracker. Crafts, cookies, cocoa, a performance, and a special meet and greet with the principal dancers! Read more.

Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum 11/22 - 2/19/23,

10am - 5pm: Bring the whole family to this exhibit, created by train artist Steve Cryan, featuring more trains, new scenery, and lots of surprises in the fully operational 26-foot model train layout.

Santa Visits the Shoreline Trolley Museum Friday, 11/25 and weekends

through 12/19: Take pix with Santa and a ride on a trolley. 11


Holiday Magic at Florence Griswold Museum, 11/25 – 12/31: This year’s celebration features new twists on the traditional décor. Imagine a fictional mantel-decorating contest in the Griswold boardinghouse between the historic Lyme Art Colony artists. Inspired by their paintings, they rummage through their studios as well as old trunks in Miss Florence’s attic for festive objets d’art and holiday decorations. Miss Florence announces the winner and awards ribbons on her birthday—Christmas Day! Three Fantasy Trees add bespoke sparkle in the historic house and in the Krieble Gallery, over 220 painted palettes, adorn four stunning Artist Trees. Find out more.

Ocean House Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, 11/26, 5pm: Ignite the Christmas Spirit at Ocean House’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Village. Santa Claus will make his big arrival on a fire truck plus fireworks! Seasonal snacks, and a cash bar. Find out more.

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade & Santa Arrives by Tugboat in Mystic on 11/26: Santa Claus is coming to town and so is Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade in Historic Downtown Mystic. Thousands gather at the Mystic River Park to watch Santa arrive at 2 pm on a 60’ tugboat. Get the details.

Legacy Theater, Stony Creek presents A Christmas Carol, 11/30 - 12/11: Adapted and directed by Keely Baisden Knudsen, this story illuminates the journey of one Ebenezer Scrooge and his guided self-reflection amidst the Christmas season in 1800s England. Get tickets.

Madison Chamber’s Ladies Shopping Night in Madison 12/1, from 5 - 8pm: Specials and events at participating shops in Madison. Learn more. Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, 12/2 - 12/17 on Fridays and Saturdays: Lantern Light Village is an outdoor, free-roaming experience designed to exemplify the differences between the modern and 19th century holiday seasons. Enjoy festive lighting displays, live music, horse and carriage rides, plus a visit from St. Nicolas, and so much more! Interact with the denizens of our 19th century village as they prepare for Christmas Eve and join them in their end of the year festivities. Visit Mystic Seaport for tickets. 12

Photo: Anne Ogden


Winter Wonder Day at Lyman Allyn Free First Saturday, 12/3,

11-3pm: Start your holiday season with a visit to Winter Wonder Day at the Lyman Allyn! Learn about different cultural holiday traditions, create great holiday crafts, contribute to a community artwork, explore the museum's exhibitions, take your photo with Santa, and more! Visit the website.

Holidays at The Little Red Barn at Bishop's Orchards, 12/3 & 12/4 and

12/10 & 12/11 from 10am to 4pm: The Bishop’s Orchards Little Red Bar[n] will be turning into Santa’s Workshop. Enjoy two weekends on the farm, filled with cookie decorating, ornament making and a special visit from Santa himself! Kids tickets will include all activities, as well as free candid photos with Santa. The Wine Barn will be serving adult beverages, snacks and hot drinks. Make an afternoon of it and purchase a s’mores kit to enjoy a special treat at one of our bonfires. Shop around the Little Red Barn for home goods and seasonal favorites! Get tickets.

Christmas in the Village, Goodspeed Airport, 12/6 at 5pm: Santa will fly into the airport and visit in East Haddam Village. Find out more.

Photo: Bishop’s Orchards


Deck the Walls at Lyme Art Association, 11/18 - 1/1/2023: Juried exhibit of

Lyme Art Association members. This exhibit of well-priced artworks is perfect for gifting! Find out more.

Opera CT Presents ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ 12/10 at 2pm at Hill-Stead’s Makeshift Theater. See details.

2022 Holiday Events & Promotions at The Shops at Yale New Haven Tree Lighting, Holiday Village, Storytelling with Santa, Ice-Carving Competition, Strolling Carolers, Small Biz Pop-Up and more during the season. See all the events.

The Nutcracker at The Garde, 12/10 – 12/11: Get tickets to see this holiday favorite performed by Eastern CT Ballet with dancers from the New York City Ballet at The Garde. Get tickets!

Niantic Light Parade, 12/10 from 6 - 9pm: New Englands largest and brightest light parade! Check the website for updates and details. Photo: The Shops at Yale

Breakfast with Santa at Madison Beach Hotel, 12/11 from 9 - 11am: Photo op with Santa, mimosas for the grownups and treats for the kids plus a scrumptious breakfast. Visit Madison Beach Hotel. Photo: Thomas Giroir


Holiday Party at Smith Farm Gardens: 12/17, 7-10pm Come for some

holiday cheer in the festively decorated farmhouse. Hors d’oeuvres provided throughout the evening with cash bar. Live holiday music begins the celebration, with a DJ and dancing to follow in the Great Room. Learn more.

Hip Hop Nutcracker at The Shubert, New Haven, 12/30, 7pm: A holiday mash-up for the whole family! Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, this contemporary dance spectacle is a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, smashing hip hop dance and Tchaikovksy’s timeless music together into a heart-stirring and inspirational holiday event. Get tickets.

Holiday Lights at Olde Mistick Village, 11/18 - 1/2023: The Holiday Lights Spectacular returns to Olde Mistick Village with the largest holiday light display in southern New England. Over a half-million lights will decorate the Olde Mystic Village square of shops and restaurants for families and holiday enthusiasts to enjoy. See more.


You’ve got a full house but just can’t face myriad trips to the supermarket and days toiling over the stove. You don’t have to!

Get y r full- feast any of the f l ing:




Photo: Gourmet Galley om

17 ol


Turkeys & Takeout

T keys

The Rest

Gozzi’s Turkey Farm: Famous for

A la Carte Menus by Gourmet Galley: Thanksgiving dinner made

their Day-Glo dyed turkeys, though some of us find the display a little disconcerting. Nevertheless, their prized broad-breasted Gozzi Whites have been a favorite for generations. Call 203.453.2771 to reserve.

White Gate Farm offers organic,

pasture-raised turkeys from 15-22lbs. Easy to order online here.

Bishop’s Orchards: Three kinds of

fresh turkeys available for pre-order; D’Artagnan Organic, Gozzi, and Ekonk Hill. Order here.

Cli ’s Quality Meats in Essex provides an all-natural bird 10-30lbs. Order it up oven-ready with their signature sausage and bread crumb stuffing and a quart of house gravy or surprise your family with one of Cliff’s smoked turkey breasts and house-made kielbasa to skip the cooking altogether. Call 860.767.1539 to order while supplies last.

Shoreline Prime: has Turduckens

(deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, stuffed into a deboned turkey) for your feast this year. Call 203.208.1579

Walt’s has 10-22 lb Waybest Turkeys



this year, in addition to all of the yummy sides and gravy. Call 860.388.3308.

easy by Gourmet Galley Catering. Serve the Thanksgiving dinner your family & friends will rave (and post!) about without having to do the cooking yourself. All your favorite dishes, homemade by our expert chefs so all you have to do is order, pick up (or they can deliver) and enjoy! Turkeys come from Gozzi's in Guilford. A la carte options available for all the rest of the fixings! Order here by 11/18.

Gargano Pasta: Half a roasted turkey (feeds 6 abundantly) with Rosemary Gravy and Green Beans with Walnut pesto are just the start of this specialty menu. Order Italian cookie trays and pastries plus lasagna meatballs and stuffed breads. Don't forget their irresistible Toasted Rye Integrale Bread. Here's the entire menu. Order by 11/20

Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market:

Fully cooked turkeys and sides. Order everything from mashed sweet potatoes to green bean casserole online. Any questions please call 203.453.2338. And don’t forget their pies and party-platter sides (love their no-sugar-added pies!) Order here by 11/18. 18

The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center: This hybrid grocery-café-caterer is offering three kinds of turkeys: free-range Bell, and Evans, Plainville or Gozzi’s. Gluten-avoiders will be happy to find gluten-free sausage and mushroom stuffing, gluten-free gravy, and gluten-free pies here. Classics like creamed onions and brussels sprouts with bacon are on their extensive Thanksgiving menu, too. Browse their options for appetizers, soups, salads, sides, breads, and pies. Order here by 11/16.

Co ee’s Country Market: Provides a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 – 12 guests

that includes an 18lb Brined & Herb Rubbed Turkey, with 2 Quarts of homemade Turkey Gravy, 2 Jars of Cranberry Walnut Chutney, 3 Quarts of Butternut Bisque Soup, your Choice of Four Sides, your Choice of Stuffing, a Mile High Apple Pie & a Pumpkin Pie. See the menu. All orders must be submitted by 11/13. Or skip the pre-Thanksgiving baking marathon and just order a pie by 11/21(we’re fans of theirs!): choose from pumpkin, ginger sweet potato, apple cranberry, pecan and more.

Pasta Vita: More than just turkey on

their Thanksgiving menu! Stock up on the usual favorites (seven choices of lasagna, eggplant rollatini), be prepared for the post-holiday weekend meals, or choose from spiraled ham, roast turkey breast and traditional sides, platters, quiches, soups for the holiday. Orders due 11/19. Order here.

Ani's Table: Order a full meal from the super talented Ani's Table this year. Brined and roasted turkey or salt and thyme brined duck leg confit are on the menu as the main plus various stuffings, gravy, veggies and desserts. See the menu here. Order by 11/21.


19 Photo: Gourmet Galley

Mystic Market: Three options serve: 8

to 12 ($178), 12 to 16 ($264), 16 to 20 ($330) and include the basics: an ovenroasted Gozzi’s Turkey with Sage and Vegetable Stuffing, pan gravy, cranberry sauce and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Next, choose your sides a la carte from a long menu of classics like green bean casserole to broccoli au gratin. Ovenready Gozzi’s turkeys are available here, too, plus plenty of pies and take-out turkey dinners for two. By 11/15.

White Gate Farm: In

addition to White Gate’s organic, pasture-raised turkeys, you’ll find butternut squash soup, cranberry relish, gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted root veg and so much more (vegan and GF options!). Pumpkin, Bourbon and Apple pies, (GF available) are also offered. Order pies and sides here.

Savour Cafe: This beautiful Simon’s Marketplace: This year Simon’s is offering Thanksgiving dinner plus appetizers, sides, pies, cookies, and of course — salt baguettes! Here’s the entire menu. Call 860.526.8984 to place your order by 11/21.

cafe will cover your appetizer and soup with Rosemary & Lemon Marinated Olives and Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque. Enjoy a choice of Turkey Roulade with apple, cranberry, pecan dressing or Butternut Squash Lasagna plus traditional turkey gravy, cranberry sauce and so much more. 860.662.4438 Order by 11/17. Here's the menu.

Flanders Fish Market: No

Fuss For You fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner (just reheat & serve!). It’s a full dinner, inclusive of dips, appetizers, sides and desserts, that serves 6 people for $180. Call 860.739.8866 to place your order before 11/21. Here’s the menu. Photo: Flanders Fish Market


Walt’s Food Market: Something is

done right at this shoreline institution where over 1,000 pounds of Walt’s housemade gravy is sold each year. Yup, you read that right. Available for pre-order every year are Waybest turkeys between 10-22 pounds (Order by 11/12). Not inclined to roast a whole bird? Order Walt's comforting sides you’d expect like Mashed Potatoes, Corn Bread Stuffing, and Whole Cranberry Sauce, Butternut Squash with Marsala Wine or Butternut and Acorn Squash Medley with Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar. Call Walt’s at 860.388.3308 to place your order by 11/19.

Healthy Planeat: Enjoy a local harvest full of fresh produce, organic pastured turkey, free-range meat, Jersey dairy, farmstead cheese, artisan bread, and pantry items with pickups in various places around the shoreline.

Cooking Company: Offers turkey,

gravy, apple bread stuffing, and cranberry sauce, but you can augment with classic sides like herbed green beans, cider-roasted autumn vegetables, roasted cauliflower with pear, sage, and hazelnuts, and of course, a variety of potatoes. Deadline to make, cancel or change an order is 11/19 to be ready for pick up before 5 pm on Wednesday, 11/23. Call the Middletown, or Killingworth location to place your order. Here's the complete menu and contact numbers.

Amarante’s: Offers a full spread

including free-range turkey and traditional sides. Now accepting orders through 11/21. Read more here.

Photo: Gourmet Galley


Where to Eat Out on Thanksgiving

Imagine: no shopping, no schlepping, no cooking, no dishes! Here's a round-up of local restaurants serving up the feast:

Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook

Saybrook Point Inn pulls out the stops on Thanksgiving Day from 11 4pm with an elaborate buffet, including a Harvest Table, Autumn Salads, Entree Selections (including vegetarian options) and carving stations with all the fixings. Adults 89.95, kids 39.95. Make a reservation.

The Wharf at The Madison Beach Hotel

Enjoy a Grand Thanksgiving Buffet in the waterfront ballroom overlooking the Sound. Enjoy a decadent variety of stations: soups and salads (yes! lobster bisque), a raw bar, traditional holiday carving station featuring turkey, lamb and prime rib, numerous hot classic sides, an omelet station and a grand finale of chef-prepared sweets and treats. Adults $85, children $45 prior to gratuity, taxes and fees, Children under 5 are free. View the menu here. 23

Copper Beech, Ivoryton

The cozy Copper Beech Inn is serving a four-course menu between noon and 5pm with options for traditional turkey, Icelandic salmon, or prime rib. $75. Children’s menu available. Here’s the menu.

Water’s Edge Resort, Westbrook

A traditional Thanksgiving buffet is offered with all the trimmings, plus brunch including crepes and waffles, fresh pastries and fruit, pasta station and house-made desserts. $69 adults, $29 children, 5 and under free. 11 6:30pm. Reserve here.

The Griswold Inn, Essex

With seatings from 11am to 7pm, enjoy a grand buffet feast at this historic inn, of seasonal salads, carving stations and entrees, and all the classic accompaniments and a choice of traditional desserts. See the menu here. Adults $60, children under 12, $24, under 6 free.

The Shipwright’s Daughter Thanksgiving Feast, Mystic

Turkey lovers rejoice! Executive Chef David Standridge and The Shipwright's Daughter team are whipping up your festive favorites yet adding a unique spin to the classics to delight your tastebuds. Three courses at 105 per adult and 2 course for 12 and under at $56. 2-6 pm. Reserve here.

Thanksgiving in the Ballroom at The Ocean House, Watch Hill

Join family and friends in the Ballroom to savor holiday favorites, including cheese and charcuterie, classic New England raw bar, soups, salads, carving stations with roasted turkey, prime rib and salmon, and all the trimmings, plus spectacular desserts. $125 per person $65 ages 4 - 12, under 3 free. Reserve here.

Thanksgiving Day in Coast at The Ocean House, Watch Hill

Enjoy the traditional fixings of Thanksgiving, with a five-star twist. Chef and his talented team take this iconic holiday meal to new heights, crafting an unforgettable four-course menu that you and yours will remember for years to come. Elevate your experience with an expert wine pairing for an additional $125 per person. $175 per person. Reserve here.

Photo credit: Ocean House /


The Sweet Stuff If you’ve got the cooking covered but just need a few desserts, here are our Thanksgiving go-tos (and a sneak peek at Holiday offerings) this year.

Photo: Sift Bakery

Sift Bakery: Offers a menu of stunning holiday desserts. Their Pecan Tart $42 (pictured) Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake is a favorite plus their signature Carrot Cake Roulade, Pumpkin Tart, and many more. All orders must be placed by 11/19 . Order here for pick up at Niantic or Mystic. 25

Savour Cafe

Savour Cafe: Enjoy a variety of

baked goods, dinner sides, and pies such as the German Chocolate Pecan. We love the Pumpkin Roulade $34.99. Call 860-662-4438 or stop in during regular business hours to place your order by 11/17.

Hen + Heifer

Hen + Heifer: You can now order

online from Whang Suh's menu of cakes, pies and cookies here featuring exquisite desserts from Pecan Bourbon pie (pictured) $95 to Basque Cheesecake. Order for Thanksgiving by 11/19.

Zest Fresh Pastry

Pursuit of Pastry: Serves a slew of

specialty pastries, bread, pies, cakes and cookies. What’s better than this Almond Raspberry Cake — iced in vanilla buttercream and finished with toasted almonds? 6"/ $31 8"/ $46 10"/ $64. Order by 11/20.


Zest Fresh Pastry: This perfectly Classic Apple Pie has a cinnamon shortbread crust with fresh CT apples and a cinnamon oat streusel and is $28. (10-12 servings). Orders must be placed by 11/20 for pick up on 11/23— requests accepted by phone, online, and in-person.


Zest Fresh Pastry Zest Fresh Pastry Dagmar’s Desserts


Looking forward to Cocotte’s Gluten-Free Bûche: vanilla cake with white chocolate mousse, raspberry preserve filling, covered in a white chocolate ganache. Also, order pies for Thanksgiving by 11/18. Call for details. 860-917-1251

Dagmar’s Desserts:


Offers holiday favorite Stollen $24/$42 and Kransekake (18 rings $115) plus a wide array of pies, cakes, and cookies for your guests.

Local Online Food Gifts ATY Confections Adam Young, award winning baker (Food Network’s BEST BAKER IN AMERICA in 2018 for Sift in Mystic and now also in Niantic) has expanded his prodigious talents to luxe chocolates and these stunning boxes of sweet morsels can be shipped nationwide. (While you’re at it, get a bag of their crazy granola for yourself). Order here.

Tru e Shots: Handmade ganache desserts in a shot glass: Whiskey caramel, raspberry kiss, fig and balsamic, salted caramel and signature dark available in four and 9-packs. Purchase here.

Fatstone Farm Organic Maple Syrup from Lyme: Buy here. ffl


Ashlawn Farm Globetrotter coffee subscription: Get coffee here.

Whole Harmony Gingerbread Tea - a seasonal favorite! Shop online here.

Weekday Wines: This Branford couple has developed premium low-calorie wines from the coast of California. Perfect for holiday sips: Order online here

Cato Corner Cheese: Order up a

Ploughmans Platter, Milkmaid’s Lunchpail or better yet, a monthly subscription from this award-winning cheesemaker in Colchester: Buy here. 30

Design makes life better.

Design makes life better.

Photo credit: Ed Bermudez


3 North Main Street Chester CT insta: @carynparadis

Hot Monkey Nuts from Madison:

Spicy artisanal peanuts ub flavors like Curry Up! I’m On Fire and Nacho Momma’s Nuts. Buy here.

Moromi: A rich umami soy sauce made from foraged mushrooms handcrafted in CT. Find this and more here.

Four Mile River Farm:

Pasture raised chicken, pork chops, ground beef and sausage. Order here.


Send a week of fresh-from-the-farm glutenfree meals from Azuluna Foods to friends: Purchase here.

Savor Cookies: Sweet or

savory snacks with herbal and interesting flavors: Get cookies here.

Nutmeg and Honey CT Giftboxes: the Works Box:

$164. Treat the whole office or family to a delectable selection of gourmet snacks. There's enough to share, we promise! Order here.




Recipes H e y go:

We asked the experts (who also happen to be our friends) for party-ready recipes.

Coquito John Lacoss, Bar Manager, The Essex, Old Saybrook




We asked The Essex for a recipe for a seasonal and innovative cocktail and Bar Manager and expert, John LaCross shared his vegan, gluten free Coquito. It is a rum based cocktail, nice and boozy and surprisingly creamy, made with or without Paw Paws.

In edients:

2-14oz can condensed coconut milk 1-15oz can Coco Lopez 1-13.5oz can coconut milk 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp cinnamon, Sri Lankan Ceylon cinnamon (Cassia will work as well, with a bit more aggressive flavor) 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups Paw Paw pulp 1/4 cup raw sugar • Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan • Bring to a boil • Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes • Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes • Pour into 1/2 gallon container, add cinnamon stick and cool in the refrigerator Add 3oz of mix with 2oz of Dark Rum Stir without ice to retain the creamy texture and pour over ice. I like to garnish with a light dusting of fresh grated nutmeg.

Last step -

enj !




Braised Beef Roast

with Moromi Shiro Miso, Red Wine, Prunes & Parsnip Puree

James Wayman Chef, creator, & partner of Nana’s Bakery & Pizza, Nana’s Westerly, & Moromi. 39

Photo by Tyler Murgo

Serves 4 Ingredients for the Shanks

Ingredients for Parsnip Puree (Can be made up to two

days in advance) • 1 3lb chuck roast • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter • 8-10 parsnips depending • 1 large onion, cut into one inch cubes on size • 4 large carrots cut into one inch rings • 2 tbsp unsalted butter at • 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1”pieces room temp • 3 garlic cloves minced • Salt to taste • 2 sprigs thyme • 1/4 tsp Moromi Fermented • 2 bay leaves, Cayenne Hot Sauce • 1 1/2 cups pitted prunes • 2 C light red wine • 2 C beef or chicken stock • 1/4 C red wine vinegar • 1/4 C honey • 1/4 C Moromi Shiro Miso (See more Moromi recipes here.)

Preparation for Parsnip Puree Peel and cut parsnips into evenly sized medium pieces. Cover with generously salted cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Drain in a colander well until they steam dry. Add to a food processor or blender and puree until silky smooth. Whip in butter, any more salt and cayenne hot sauce. Keep warm until needed. Preparation (this can be made up to two days in advance) One hour before cooking, bring roast to room temperature and season well with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 275. In a heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium heat melt butter until it starts to foam. Then add roast and brown slowly on both sides, being careful not to burn the butter. Once brown, remove shanks to a plate and set aside. Continued…


Continued from page 40

Reduce the heat to low and add to the pot your onions, carrots, red pepper and garlic. Season with salt and cover to slowly sweat without browning. When the onions are translucent return the shanks to the pan, turn up the heat back to medium and add your wine and reduce by half.

Handcrafted Sustainable Fine Jewelry Jewelry Redesigns & Custom Bridal Rings

Then add stock, vinegar, honey and enough water so that it comes just under the tops of the shanks. Bring almost to a simmer, cover and put in the oven. Check after half an hour the juices should be barely bubbling. At two hours remove a ladle full of the liquid and whisk in the miso and return to the pan along with the prunes. Cook for at least another hour or until the meat is fork tender. Taste broth and adjust for salt if needed. Divide into four pieces and serve over parsnip puree along with the vegetables, prunes and cooking juices.


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Coffee Anise Stars Dorie Greenspan Adapted from Baking with Dorie (Mariner Books, 2021)

In edients:

Photo credit: Food Network

Makes about 50 cookies.

For the glaze: For the cookies: • 1 1/2 Tbs. egg white (beat 1 • 1 1/4 cups (5 1/2 oz./170 g) allpurpose flour Dorie Greenspan white and measure out 1 1/2 Tbs., or use liquid whites) • 1 cup (4 oz./120 g) spelt flour • 1 1/4 cups (4 3/4 oz./150 g) • 2 tsp. instant espresso powder confectioners’ sugar, sifted • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon • 2 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter, • 1/2 tsp. ground star anise (see melted below) • Warm water if needed • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./113 g) unsalted • • • • • •

butter, at room temperature 1/3 cup (2 1/4 oz./67 g) firmly packed light brown sugar 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz./50 g) turbinado sugar 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt 1 egg, at room temperature 1 1/2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses 1 tsp. vanilla extract Photo: Mark Weinberg




D ecti s: To make the cookies, in a bowl, whisk together both flours, the espresso powder, cinnamon and star anise. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the butter, both sugars and the salt on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute (don’t be concerned if the mixture curdles). Reduce the speed to low and beat in the molasses and vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add the flour mixture and pulse just until the risk of flying flour has passed, then mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Scrape the bowl and turn out the dough. Divide it in half and pat each half into a disk. Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between sheets of parchment and roll it to a thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm). Refrigerate the disks for 3 hours or freeze them for 1 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for a couple of days or freeze it for up to 2 months.) When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. Keep one piece of dough in the fridge while you work on the other. Peel off the top sheet of parchment and, using a star-shaped cookie cutter that is 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, cut out as many cookies as you can. Place the cookies about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps and save them to combine with the scraps you’ll get from the second piece of dough, then roll, chill, cut and bake the scraps. Bake the cookies until they are golden and only just firm—poke one in the center and it will give a bit—8 to 9 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Bake the remaining cookies, always using a cool baking sheet. To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and, using a flexible spatula, stir until it’s incorporated—this takes a little work. Stir in the melted butter and keep mixing until you have a smooth glaze the spreads easily. If you think it needs it, add warm water by the droplet. To finish the cookies, using a small offset spatula or a butter knife, spread some glaze over each cookie. If you’d like to add a little chocolate pearl or three, some sprinkles or anything else, do it while the glaze is still wet. Leave the cookies out for an hour or so to allow the glaze to dry. Unglazed, the cookies can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months. Once glazed, they can be kept at room temperature for about 5 days.



For Tips and more info, visit Williams Sonoma.


Local Jewelers Online Ann Lightfoot Designs

Ann Lightfoot is famous in these parts for her statement necklaces and bracelets in semi-precious stones, sterling silver, and handbraided cords. Her signature is the flower necklace, available in various stones and sizes. This season, I’m loving these delicate, long strands, to double or not. This one in sunstone and quartz is $156. Shop here.

Adorn Fine Jewelry

Mandy Carroll’s Carved Bangles with Flush-Set Stones are a stunning gift. These hand-carved, solid sterling silver bangles will stack perfectly with your other bracelets. From $700. Get the details here.

Katey Walker Jewelry

Katey Walker works in fine jewelry, mainly 18k gold and gemstones. I especially love her drop earrings. These babies are morganite, diamond, and pink conch in 18K yellow gold. $2200. See her collection here. 45

Susan Roberts Jewelry

Susan Roberts has been creating delicate and feminine works in her studio in Branford for over 20 years. I especially like her birthstone collections, including this January garnet and citrine charm necklace (also a symbol of good health!). $180 Shop here.

Dina Varano

Dina’s gallery in Chester is a go-to for gifting, filled with her eponymous jewels, cashmere scarves, leather bags, decor, and more. A graduate of RISD, her bench-made sterling and gold works are classic and collectible. For a personal gift, consider a custom bangle with your own message or order one of these online: available in gold, too. Silver bracelets start at $69 & 14 karat gold starts at $1400, personalized. Shop here.

Aquinnah by Kelley Solomon

There’s lots to love about Kelley Solomon’s collection, launched in 2011 and named after her favorite place on Martha’s Vineyard. I’m always drawn to her zodiac pendants: vintage coins plated in18K gold with or without rhinestones ($148, $98). See them all.


Alicia Winalski: Alicia crafts her Before After

21C Designs: Jaime and Katherine

offer a unique service on the Shoreline. They’ll reimagine your jewelry that never sees the light of day into a piece you’ll never take off. All their work is custom, and the process is highly personal (in your home or at their chic atelier in Madison), and you’ll end up with an heirloom. Find plenty of inspiration on their website: See the before and afters.

artistic pieces, many from vintage jewelry, melted down and reimagined, in her studio in Hadlyme and sells her work (and others) in her shop in Old Saybrook. She offers custom pieces and will work with you to create exactly what you imagine. These lovely Pearl Shell earrings in sterling and oxidized freshwater pearls are $75. Shop here.

Local Online Gifts J. Horton

Charge on-the-go with this smart portable wireless (and fast) charging pad that will juice your phone, watch and headphones at the same time! Genius! $120 Shop here.

Mix Design Store

Inner Piece puzzle/“Many Moods” for $38 Shop at MIX.

Mar oral Subscriptions

Send an artful bouquet or vase of flowers from one of our favorite florists on the Shoreline. From 3 months to one year ($120 to $600) Purchase here. fl


Willow & Birch

Badash Crystal Dreidl: Hand-blown Driedl with crystal base for an elegant game: $49.95 Shop here.

Swoon, Chester

Who doesn’t need this? An essential hostess gift! $27.25 Buy one here.

Stoics Society Pocket Square

I’m all for bringing back the pocket square! This one is silk twill from Stoic’s Society, an Old Lyme based company. $55 Buy one here.



This sweet Noank shop offers coastal-inspired gift boxes and home decor including this Coastal Cocktails box with monogrammed wine coolers, packed in a chic white 10" gift box. $85 Shop Portside.

Lavender Pond Farm Sleep Eye Mask

The ultimate Ice mask with the soothing fragrance of lavender. $28 Buy it here.


The Hannukah Idea Box for Kids (Christmas available, too): Each box is filled to the brim with a variety of Hanukkah & winter-themed ideas along with some great indoor play activities. Creations is owned and operated by Vista Life Innovations and employs individuals with disabilities and all purchases support the inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities. $24.95 Shop here. 51

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Santow’s Beaver Brook Farm, Lyme: A hand-spun heirloom herringbone blanket made from local sheep’s wool. $100 Shop here.

Royalties: Because there is nothing better in (my) world than a vat of melting, oozing brie. $28.98 Visit the site.

Just the Right Book: Adult, teen and children subscriptions from 4 months to a year. Whether you know a voracious reader who would love to receive a surprise in the post or you’d like to encourage bibliophilia in your kids, this is just a brilliant idea. Order here.

Grace: The triangle poncho, updated with sleeves at $58 in 10 colors from Grace. You can’t miss with one size fits all! Shop at Grace.

Just Hatched: For the Grandbabies! Themed boxes (or red wagons) for babies from newborn to 18 months. Also an option to build your own. $150 to $440 Shop them all here.

Santow’s Beaver Brook Farm

Just the Right Book

Royalties Grace

Just Hatched


Holiday Pop-Up Shops Holiday things to do


High Hopes Holiday Market, 11/13, from 11 - 4pm: Over sixty local artisans, makers and craftsmen, the yummiest food trucks in Connecticut, Holiday Beer Garden, and celebrity authors will be on-site for this fabulous event in the giant barns at High Hopes, to kick off the season. Learn more.

Artistry at the Guilford Art Center – Over 300 fine American crafters, artisans

and jewelers are featured at this celebrated annual sale, open thru 1/8/23. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10am-5:30pm and Sunday 12-5pm. Details.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays -- complimentary gift-wrapping included. Online shopping, too! Visit Flo Gris.

Stone Acres Farm Holiday Markets, 11/19 - 12/30, 10am - 6pm: The farmstand will offer perfect holiday gifts crafted by local artisans, local xmas trees and farm-raised holiday turkeys! Updates coming soon.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale: 11/25 - 12/24, 10 - 6pm, Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun and 10 - 8pm Fridays: Discover a vast selection of original, handcrafted pieces: sparkling jewelry, fun and functional pottery, statement sculptures, elegant hand woven apparel, original woodwork and more. Find out more.

Hill-Stead for the Holidays, Hill-Stead Museum, 11/26 - 1/5: Beginning the

day after Thanksgiving and continuing through early January, the former Pope family mansion is decorated for the holidays. The Annual Holiday Boutique features 25 artists and crafters who bring their best to this two-day sale, 12/3 & 12/4. Preregistration required for boutique. Visit Hill-Stead.

East Haddam Holiday Market, 11/26 from 11 - 3pm: A collection of artists, specialty artisan products, holiday-inspired vendors, prepared foods, and talented local musicians. Get the details.

Holiday Market at the Westbrook Outlets, 11/26, 10 - 4pm: Find a great selection of local artisans featuring unique offerings like accessories, apparel, baked goods, candles, jewelry, soaps, woodworking, and much more! Details.

Chester Holiday Market: 11/27, 12/4, 12/11, 12/18: Every Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, enjoy farmers, special events, openings and more in the shops and restaurants of Chester from 10am - 1pm. Learn more.



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Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at Chester Meeting House, 12/2, 5 - 8pm: Held at the Historic Chester Town Meeting House, HSE is always a friendly, festive event full of amazing local vendors, gorgeous gifts, handmade goods, and plenty of Holiday Cheer! Find out more.

Dudley Farm Museum Open House and Holiday Market, 12/3, 12/10,

12/17: Specialty items from vendors will be sold in and around the Munger Barn. On 12/3 the Farmhouse will be decorated for the season and refreshments served. Visit their website for current info.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar, Middletown: Sunday, 12/4, 10 - 3pm:

Featured vendors from the Open Air Market will be selling handmade products and unique holiday gifts for your family and friends. Visit Wadsworth Mansion.

Secret Seller Holiday Market, 12/10: Local arts, crafts & food from 10 - 4pm (this is a good one!) at Deep River Historical Society. Read more.

Higganum Holiday Pop-Up Market, now thru 12/15: Locally handcrafted

products, made with love at 3 Candlewood Hill Road, Higganum. Read more.

Historical Society Christmas Fair at Parmelee Farm, Killingworth 12/3, 8:30 - 3pm: Parmelee Farmhouse will be transformed into a holiday boutique with lots of handmade items crafted by members, including live arrangements, baked goods, holiday decor, gift items, knitted accessories. Parmelee Farm, 465 Route 81, Killingworth. Check soon for updates.


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Holiday Teas

Luxurious, indulgent and smacking of the holidays, there's nothing better than an hour or two spent sipping tea and noshing on cucumber sandwiches.

Miss Florence Holiday Teas at The Flo Gris Museum: 12/6-12/30, with

seatings Tuesday - Saturday and includes museum admission and 10% discount at The Shop. Reservations a must. Teas from Sundial Gardens and sandwiches and sweets by Gourmet Galley are featured at this magical holiday tradition, overlooking the Lieutenant River. Find out more. Enjoy a tower of tea sandwiches, scones and sweet treats every Saturday at the Old Lyme Inn from 12-2. Get the details.

Family-friendly Holiday Tea at the Madison Beach Hotel on Saturday, 12/10 featuring tea sandwiches, pastries, scones, tea and hot cocoa & prosecco. Get tickets!

Alice in the Village in Olde Mistick Village offers an immersive experience

inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Over 80 teas and mini sweet treats to order at the counter and self-seating indoors or out. No reservations. See the Menu. 59

50 Designer Brands 1 Holiday Gift Destination

Mt Us in Eex Viage.

THERIVERLANE .COM 7 Main Street, Essex, CT 06426 Monday - Saturday | 10am - 5pm Sunday | 11am - 4pm

Holiday Crafting

Here’s a hands-on way to celebrate the season and create thoughtful gifts, too.



Spectrum Art Gallery, Centerbrook: Holiday wreath design workshop on 12/3: Create your own 30” live wreath to display proudly this season with landscape designer, Tracy McMorran. A wide variety of freshly picked greenery is available. Here’s the wreath workshop.

Best Buds Flower Farm, Lyme:

Thanksgiving pumpkin. centerpiece on 11/16, Holiday Wreath Date Night on 12/8 and Holiday Wreath workshop, various dates in December. Sign up here.

Brot Workshop, Killingworth:

German Holiday Classics, 12/4 & 12/10: Learn how to make some of Germany’s most famous cookie recipes passed down from generations. In this hands-on workshop you will be rolling dough, shaping dough, decorating, and baking cookies of various types. At the end of the workshop, you will take home a basket of your freshly baked cookies to share with friends and family. See more here.

Ocean House offers lots of family

friendly festivities including cookie and cupcake decorating on 12/3 and Gingerbread House workshop on 12/15: Sign up here.

Weekend Kitchen, Essex: Holiday

Pie-Making (and dinner) on 11/19: Chicken pot pie, apple streusel pie, best ever pecan pie, mixed berry with lattice crust, and seasonal salad. Sign up here.

SOMA in Deep River offers

workshops in pine cone ornaments, watercolor, candle making, paint and sip and more throughout November and December: See them here.

Guilford Art Center O ers Paper Quilling for the Holidays on

11/19: Create special holiday greeting cards, ornaments and gift tags. Sign up here.

Gather Intentional Living from

Branford offers a variety of online workshops: how to make a pumpkin spice latte board, naked floral cake, and hot chocolate dessert board and, of course, the ubiquitous charcuterie boards. Private parties available, too. See workshops here.

Madison Wool: Learn to knit

socks or crochet a scarf and handwarmers, various dates: Learn more here.



Mood Music

There's no better way to celebrate the season than a holiday chorale or concert.

H e’s r list: Winter Wonderettes at Ivoryton Playhouse, 11/17 – 12/18: This seasonal celebration finds the girls entertaining at the annual Essex Hardware Holiday Party. When Santa turns up missing, the girls use their talent and creative ingenuity to save the holiday party! Featuring great ’60s versions of holiday classics such as “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Run, Rudolph, Run,” and “Winter Wonderland,” the result is, of course, marvelous! This energetic and glittering holiday production is guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Get tickets.

Musical Masterworks, Old Lyme

Congregational Church, 12/3 at 5pm & 12/4 at 3pm: Immerse yourself in MM's performance in the accoustically spectacular church: J.S. Bach, Gamba Sonata in G Major, BWV 1027 (arr. for violin, cello and bass), Edgar Meyer, Trio 1, Rossini, Duet for Cello and Bass in D Major, Edgar Meyer, Trio 3. Get tickets here. Plus a FREE Family Concert at LYSB on 12/17 and a FREE Concert at St Ann Parish in Old Lyme on 12/18

Cappella Cantorum Hallelujah!,12/4: The Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus will perform musical selections including:Gloria (Antonio Vivaldi), O Magnum Mysterium (Morten Lauridsen) and more at John Winthrop Middle School Auditorium in Deep River. Find out more. ou



Con Brio Christmas Concerts at Christ The King Church, Old Lyme on 12/9 at 7pm and 12/11 at 3pm: Forrest Jubilate Deo (2016), for soloists, chorus and orchestra, conducted by Dr. Stephen Bruce. Con Brio welcomes Carley DeFranco, soprano, and welcomes back Allison Messier, mezzosoprano. Purchase tickets.

Essex Winter Series, 12/18: Brentano String Quartet with Mihae Lee. Get tickets.

Messiah Sing Along at The Kate,12/18, 2pm: Participate in the sounds of

the season with a Kate holiday tradition. Open to all who want to singalong, the Messiah Sing combines Cappella Cantorum’s professional soloists with a chorus of talented volunteers. Sit in the back and listen or sit down front and participate. Singers should arrive at 1:30 for section seating and rehearsal. Purchase tickets here.

BSQ photo credit: Juergen Frank Mihae’s photo credit: Christian Steiner

Photo: Juergen Frank

Photo: Christian Steiner

Connecticut Early Music Society Presents Handel's Messiah, 12/20 7pm: Ian Watson, Artistic Director for Connecticut Early Music Society conducts a performance of Handel's popular choral work, Messiah, on Tuesday, 12/20 at 7:00 P.M. in Harkness Chapel on the Connecticut College campus. Get tickets here.


Strolls & Tree Lightings Holiday strolls in Shoreline villages feature Santa visits, sleigh rides, caroling, tree lightings and special events in the shops.

H e e s e dates:





Niantic Holiday Stroll on 11/26 from 3 - 7pm: Enjoy store specials, sales and

giveaways while shopping local this Small Business Saturday from 11am to 7pm. Stop by the Food Truck court to warm up with delicious bites. Go on the hunt for some mischievous elves in the shop windows with our Mermaid Elf Trail. (We hear they’ve dressed as mermaids to help blend in.) Stay tuned for details.

Madison Small Business Saturday and Santa Comes to Town on 11/26,

10-6:30pm: Small business Saturday comes to Madison the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Come down and stroll the shops see what they have to offer this holiday season!! Santa arrives at Noon riding down Main Street to the steps of Cafe Allegre, where he will listen to all the boys and girls holiday wishes. Find out more.

Mystic Lighted Boat Parade on 11/26, 6:15pm: The 19th Annual Mystic

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade will take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Following Santa arriving by tugboat and the lighting of the Mystic River Park Christmas tree, spectators flood both sides of the Mystic River to see the decorated and decked out boats pass by. Decorated vessels will parade down the Mystic River just after 6pm and return to the Mystic River Park, where spectators and judges will be gathered. Learn more.

New Haven Tree Lighting & Holiday Village on 12/1, 5:30pm: Join the Elm

City as they kick off the holiday season with their official Tree Lighting Ceremony & Holiday Village on the New Haven Green. The Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature entertainment, photo opportunities with Santa & Mrs. Claus, and many more surprises for the whole family! This event is family-friendly, and pet-friendly with retail products by local entrepreneurs perfect for holiday gifts. The Holiday Village runs through the weekend. Details here.

First Friday in Chester and Starry Nights on 12/2, 5 - 8pm: Join the Merchants

of Chester for an extra special First Friday celebration! In addition to new exhibitions, seasonal menus & ice cream flavors, live music and great shopping, Christopher Owens’ STAR installation (& wishing booth) will be lit, all at once at 5:45pm! Come out to Main Street for this exciting event and stay for shopping and dinner. Visit the Chester website. Purchase a star!


Stonington Lobster Trap Tree at Stonington Town Dock lighting at 4:30 on 11/26: Lit from 4:30 to 10pm through end of January. See more.

Old Saybrook Starlight Festival on

12/3: Centered on the Town Green, this day-long family friendly event will have you feeling merry & bright! Activities include: Meet with Santa, the Frosty 5k, a Stocking Walk, Giving Tree, Story Time, Ornament Decorating Workshop, dance performances and more. Get details.

Photo : Stonington Lobster Trap Tree

The Deep River Annual Holiday Stroll and Holiday Light Parade on 12/3, 4-7pm: Visit local merchants for festive cheer and specials. Festivities include CT Yuletide Carolers, DR Historical Society’s Festival of Trees, Tree Lighting, Visit from Santa, Gingerbread House Contest, Fire Performer and Inflatable Snow Globe and more. Find out more.

Stonington Village Holiday Stroll on 12/3, 5:30pm: Every year, on the first Friday evening in December, the Stonington Village Improvement Association (SVIA) sponsors a tree lighting ceremony in Wadawanuck Square that includes a community carol sing and a special visit by Santa. Immediately following the lighting of the tree is the annual holiday stroll down Water Street, which will be closed from High Street to Cannon Square. Merchants keep their shops open late and welcome visitors. The shops compete for the title of “Best Dressed Holiday Window” in the annual Borough A-Glow contest. Get the details.

Groton Holiday Kicko on 12/3, 5 - 7pm: Groton's Holiday Kickoff Celebration is an event that incorporates all holidays celebrations and traditions; Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three King's Day as well as other holiday traditions. There will be displays of all holiday celebrations, children's activities, a bell choir, carolers, holiday dancers, hayrides and food trucks! Plus special guest, SANTA!! See more. ff


Westbrook Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting on 12/4, 5-6pm: Join the fun on this annual Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ice Carving, Crafts and reindeer food, S’mores at the bonfire, Horsedrawn carriage rides and much more abundant good cheer. Get the details.

Downtown Mystic Holiday Stroll & Luminaria on 12/6 at 6pm: Stroll the festive streets of Historic Downtown Mystic and listen to the carolers rejoice in the holiday spirit as Santa makes his way through the hustle and bustle! Merchants will keep their shops open late so everyone can get a head start on their holiday shopping while enjoying hot cider, cookies and other goodies in the stores. This is a community event, free of charge and open to the public. Read more.

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/10 at 6-9pm: SAVE THE DATE for New England’s largest and brightest Holiday Light Parade. The 2022 Niantic Light Parade will be held on Saturday night December 10th on Main Street Niantic beginning at 6 pm. More details here.

Ivoryton Illuminations, throughout December: Visit the brightest village in Connecticut throughout December as Ivoryton lights up with over 400,000 lights! Tune your radio to 101.5FM listen to holiday music. Sponsored by the Ivoryton Village Alliance. Visit the FB page.

Photo: Christopher Owens


Happy Hour & Early Birds As soon as we turn back the clocks, I’m ready for dinner by 5pm (and bed by 8!). Here are a few favorite spots for Happy Hour snacks or Early Bird dinner. 69

Shipwright’s Daughter

With drinks, apps, and oysters at half price, we had a veritable party. The fried oysters are not to be missed, presented in their shells on a salt bed. A crunchy, tasty delight. Next up, a creamy clam dip with crispy housemade potato chips. We thought we best have some greens, so blistered shishitos to the rescue. Freshly baked bread here is a side order, but don’t stint; the sweet, savory, smoky poblano butter is a revelation.We are big fans of happy hour and early dining, and Shipwright’s offers one worth traveling for. Happy Hour is 4-6 pm, 3-5 pm on weekends. 20 East Main Street, Mystic

Surfridge Brewing Company Their chef-driven menu and high-quality local ingredients in unusual combinations are a novelty for a brewery. We also love that so many of the small plates and starters are vegforward, if not entirely veg-friendly because of those luscious bacon chunks in the Balsamic Brussels Sprouts! We love that owners Jen & Steve Lieberman are as serious about food as they are about beer. And no matter what you’re in the mood for (including those delish wood-fired pizzas and a full oyster bar), you’ll find something yummy here. Mon & Thurs, 4-10pm, Fri & Sat, 1-10pm & Sun, 1-8pm. 6 Main Street, Building 3 Suite 333, Centerbrook 70

Bar Bouchee, Madison When my daughter was limping through Chemistry in High School, we found a tutor in Madison. Every Tuesday, she and I would have an early dinner at Bar Bouchee before her session. It's one of my best memories of her high school years, a moment with my baby all to myself. Bar Bouchee has long been one of my top restaurants on the Shoreline, and it's still as consistently delicious as back in the day. While no happy hour is on offer, it's much easier to get in at a very early hour in this tiny spot where reservations are difficult to snag (our Tuesday date was 4:30). There is nothing on the menu that I wouldn't eat (if you're a fan of escargot, this is the place), but I usually go for the seasonal preparation of chicken, this time a pan-seared breast, with celeriac puree sitting on a leek and potato pancake with crispy Brussels sprouts and caramelized cipollini onions. Wowza. 8 Scotland Avenue, Madison.


Liv's Oyster Bar

The half-price oysters and clams are the big draw here, but you can pull up to the bar and make a delish dinner out of the Happy Hour offerings. After a day of holiday shlepping, what's better than a creamy, warming cup of chowder? Ummm, nothing. And Liv's is the BEST, studded with clams, topped with bacon bits and a chive biscuit. Impossible to resist, too, are the crispy, perfectly fried calamari and those ridiculous truffle fries. Order the whole menu and share away. Happy Hour, Tuesday - Friday, 4 to 5:30pm 166 Main Street, Old Saybrook

Sip Wine Bar

Los Charros Cantina, Essex

There are a bunch of good reasons to dash over to Los Charros for Happy Hour; maybe the best is the Margarita flight featuring four (smallish) glasses of the flavors of the day. Happy is right, as the presentation alone of colorful cocktails is a mood elevator! It's about one and a half glasses in all and a fun share. While I'm as big a fan of Mexican fare as anyone, believe it or not, here I go for the Wagyu smash burger, normally a double on the menu; for Happy Hour, you get a single perfect patty on a homemade seeded bun for five bucks. If you add a tasty house margarita for $8, you've got a grown-up Happy Meal! Lots more options for $5 on the menu, including single tacos (chicken, pork, or mushroom), chilaquiles, and fries, plus $5 beer and house wine. Can't beat it. Happy Hour: Tues-Sat 4pm-6pm, and for night owls, reverse happy hour from 9 to 10 on Friday and Saturday. 30 Main St, Centerbrook

For those of us who consider a cheese board and glass of wine dinner, you’ll love Sip Wine Bar in Old Saybrook. The town has been desperate for a place like this for a long time, a cozy spot to meet girlfriends for a prosecco or romantic enough for date night. With a rotating menu of wines by the flight, glass, or bottle, you can also up your skills as an oenophile. Pick your favorite cheeses and charcuterie with accompaniments (from Fromage), or head straight to dessert (pear tartlet, apple strudel, flourless chocolate cake) supplied by Dagmar’s. Open Tues - Sat 2 10pm, Sun & Mon 2 8 pm.. 85 Main Street, Old Saybrook

Photo: Los Charros


Black Jax Saloon

We enjoy Black Jax for a super early Happy Hour (3-5pm!) or our latest discovery, Taco Tuesday. Nosh on Jack Flaw’s celebrated beef brisket, pulled pork or smoked chicken atop flour tortillas for just $2.50 each on Tuesday nights. And fish fans can opt for the Popcorn Shrimp. Don’t miss the wings (try all the sauces). Plus $5 Margaritas! 78 Main Street, Centerbrook

Pearl Wine Bar

We are girls who love a wine bar (and snacks for dinner), so we drooled over the menu of salads and small plates at Pearl. We finally settled on a bright tomato and citrus salad, a pile of shaved Brussels sprouts with basil, hazelnuts, and manchego tossed in a light vinaigrette, and a few grass-fed steak skewers on a bed of miso eggplant and caramelized onion. Everything was excellent, including two interesting skin-contact wines (Love You Bunches is a favorite). Creative cocktails and craft beer are on tap, too, along with a happy, cool vibe. Tues - Sun 5-9 pm, Sat & Sun 5-10 pm.1140 Main Street, Branford

Christmas Bûches. And French Curios.

Brunch: Wednesday through Sunday 9AM – 2PM Pastry, Gelato & Gifts: Wednesday to Sunday 9AM – 5PM 323 Main street | Old Saybrook, CT 06475 | | 860 917 1251

River Barn The Barn at Ashlawn Farm


James Pharmacy B&B

Stash Your Family & Friends Our lovely local hotels fill up this time of year; if you can’t get a reservation, try these hand-picked stays: River Barn in Essex: Stay close to the village and in the coolest Air BNB according to Conde Nast Traveler, with two queen bedrooms and a crib. Check availability.

The Barn on Bill Hill, Lyme: A chic and minimal loft-like spread with views for days, for a cozy weekend a deux. See more photos.

Three Bedroom Modern Farmhouse in Old Lyme: Fans of Scandi Design will LUV this sweet spot with hot tub. Book here.

The James Pharmacy Bed & Breakfast offers high-style renovated rooms

above Cocotte, our favorite for a French breakfast and lunch. Visit the site.

The Barn at Ashlawn Farm offers a cozy stay with one bedroom and loft for the kiddies on a 110 acre working farm in Lyme. See more.

The Inn at White Gate Farm: For large family gatherings, reserve this historic Inn on an organic farm in East Lyme (7 bedrooms, 6 full baths). Learn more.

The Farmhouse at Smith Farm Gardens: rent this historic and elegant 1778, fully restored 5 bedroom home that accommodates up to 11 guests. Book here.

Storybook Cottage in Old Saybrook: A charming English-inspired ivy covered, and antique filled 2 bedroom. Get the details.

Portside Guest House, Mystic: A short stroll from downtown Mystic, this

freshly renovated 1834 Greek revival offers 4 bedrooms with a bright white interior and a modern coastal feel. Check availability. 41 76

Modern Farmhouse in Old Lyme


The Barn on Bill Hill

The Farmhouse at Smith Farm Garden Portside Guest House

Storybook Cottage

The Inn at White Gate Farm


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Happy Holidays!