Since the holiday season is so often illustrated with winter forest images, the Adirondacks has a lot of built-in Yuletide appeal. Our crystalline snow, abundant evergreens, red berries, and frozen lakes make a perfect backdrop for festivities. You can almost hear those sleigh bells jingling.
Tupper Lake is a holiday destination that lets visitors happily check things off that shopping gift list.
Make a plan
For a long day of gift shopping, you need to fortify yourself with a good breakfast. I chose the Swiss Kitchen downtown, since they believe in the lumberjack tradition of hearty meals. Think typical diner fare in heaping portions. But there are so many good places it is hard to choose.
A hearty breakfast is also a way of making sure all the gifts you are buying are not food oriented just because you're hungry. Stay focused.
Since I was downtown, I took a left out of Swiss Kitchen and went past Shenandoah Indian Art & Crafts, into the Washboard Donut Shoppe. Real donut fans might have breakfast here, instead. Find out more about this amazing shop with the blog, The Washboard Laundromat/Donut Shop/Shenendoa Gift Shop: A Legacy on Park Street.
On this day I was focused on Trillium Gift Shop & Florist, a fully stocked Christmas shop. The store is filled with merchandise, but it was easy to follow the paths through the treasures, so I didn't miss a thing.
Everywhere I looked there were charming ornaments, delightful gifts, potted holiday plants, and wonderful, handcrafted decorative items. Father Christmas, as seen above, is an Adirondack tradition during the holidays. This one was my favorite, with his festive sweater (reindeer, of course) and his old-fashioned ski gear.
Trillium is also a full service florist shop. Creating wreaths and centerpiece arrangements keep the proprietor busy this time of year.
The floral arrangements had unique touches, as seen here with a shy customer and her new bear.
Jane herself, seen below, makes almost all of the items. "And the ones I don't make are made by my son," she said with a smile. "He has my liking for things other people throw away."
Jane hunts down discarded or neglected items to create wonderful pieces, some of which are quite practical. As demonstrated by a re-purposed workbench, her motto is, "I don't mind that it's chippy and old. I don't care if it's faded, rusty, or worn. We love the history within it and the patina on it."
The Leather Artisan, also in Piercefield, is another shop I have trouble resisting. This workshop and store crafts the most gorgeous leather goods. I love the smell of the store, too, with the perfume of fine leather.
Next it was time for a late lunch. On the way back to Tupper Lake, it was easy to stop by Raquette River Brewing. Their new dining hall is a stunning space, with a beautiful fireplace and conversation area. The long bar features their own highly regarded craft brews, New York wines, and six kinds of draft cider.
Meals are handled by two food trucks, popular local chefs who have exchanged a building for a mobile kitchen. Pizzas, sandwiches, and quesadillas make for a simple and hearty dining experience. Call ahead, and it will be ready when you arrive.
Their gift shop is a fine place to cross beer fans off the list. The ceramic growlers are a nice touch. As one of the owners, Joe, pointed out, "You have to come here to fill it up, but people don't seem to mind."
Raquette River Brewing has come a long way in only five years.
Arts and crafts
I went back downtown for the Tupper Arts Center and their charming gift shop. The shop is staffed by a cooperative member, one of the artists, so I got to talk with Brenda Hollis of Earth, Spin, and Fire Pottery.
Brenda has just launched a new series of tea light candleholders that will reflect the candle's gleam on their shiny ceramic surfaces. "I love the way they all come out slightly different," she said. "They are gifts that are really personal, since no two are exactly alike."
From Tupper Arts Center, it's only a couple of minutes down the road to Cabin Fever Floral & Gifts. Owner Anne Hoag has a diploma in Floral and Art Science, and it shows. She has turned part of the store into a Christmas section, from the charming entrance to the room full of trees that show off a variety of ornaments.
She's kept busy making centerpiece and mantel arrangements with a holiday theme, and keeping the store stocked and arranged. "I just love decorating the store for the holidays. Every corner is shaped around certain themes, and I use Christmas plants which are all for sale."
I was taken by the unusual ornaments that were little terrariums with living plants hung on a tree. "You can hang them in the window when you take the tree down." She was quick to draw my attention to the local artist who made handmade wooden drink coasters to help fund a scholarship in memory of his daughter, Erin.
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