As with most things in life, inspiration for the perfect present often comes when you least expect it. Contrary to wishful thinking, homing in on the golden egg while scrolling through page after page of online retailer websites results more often in hours lost than in presents found. Yet a chance trip to the market or a wander around town may lead you right to a treasure that was not previously on your gifting radar.
When it comes to stocking stuffer solutions, museum gift shops are one of the most underrated solutions around. While the museums themselves are attractive destinations for day trips, the storefronts housed within them are often overlooked. More’s the pity. With the abundance of museums residing within the Hudson Valley’s borders, the unique gifting options are nearly endless. What is more is that museum gift shopping acts as an unexpected plus to an already enjoyable educational experience. You can learn a few new facts and pick up a goodie or two for friends and family as well.
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers
Perfect for: outer space aficionados and jewelry lovers.
A day trip south to lower Westchester or New York City merits a stop at Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. As far as the museum goes, the space is a must-visit for anyone who loves the river and wants to learn more about the history and the people attached to it.
On the gifting front, the museum shop is home to out-of-this world accessories and artisanal baubles. For the would-be astronauts in your life, pick up a quirky tie depicting the phases of the moon or a starry galaxy. Tara Dawson, Development Associate of Communications at the museum, also recommends checking out the specialty jewelry made by Debbie Kuo of Kuo Ting Jewelry in New York City. Kuo, a reputable designer and student of the arts, combines vintage elements with sleek metals to create sophisticated pieces that work just as well in the office as they do for a night on the town.
Visit 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Learn more at HRM.org, or call (914) 963-4550
Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison
Perfect for: the cold feet club and all-natural beauty gurus.
Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison is more than the secret garden of upstate New York. In addition to the 60 acres of pristinely manicured land that comprise the grounds, the estate also boasts a homefront filled with rich local history and interior design collections.
Like the house itself, Boscobel’s museum shop is just as packed with knick knacks, albeit ones that are giftable, not antique.Top of the to-buy list are the store’s Solmate Socks. Unlike the requisite pair of holiday socks that often appear under the tree, Solmate versions are colorful and cozy.
“They are knit and very warm,” enthuses Kasey Calnan, Boscobel’s museum shop manager. The socks, which come in both child and adult sizes, are ideal stocking stuffers.
While you shop around, be sure to get a whiff of the Naked Bee lotions. The line of natural moisturizers and lip balms come in gourmet scents like “Coconut & Honey” and “Pomegranate & Honey.”
“Their lotions and moisturizers are made with 70 percent organic ingredients, are paraben-free, and contain no dyes,” Calnan explains. In other words, they are just the thing for the friend who always has dry hands or the daughter who “borrows” your lotion.
Visit 1601 Route 9D, Garrison, NY
Hours: Wednesday – Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Learn more at Boscobel.org, or call (845) 265-3638
Olana State Historic Site, Hudson
Perfect for: tea drinkers and mug collectors.
As one of the most vibrant and unusual museum spaces in the valley, Olana State Historic Site is well worth the visit for the artwork alone. Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church’s home in Hudson features breathtaking views of the surrounding area from the outside and rich paintings and decor across the threshold. This year, the Hudson hilltop residence celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its opening to the public.
Fittingly, the Olana Museum Store is just as colorful as the historic home that houses it.
“Located in the historic stables, the Olana Museum Store’s mission is to tell the story of Frederic Church’s life,” says Rachel Tice, the store’s manager. In addition to an internationally sourced assortment of handmade earrings, embroidered jackets, and batik fabrics, the shop also boasts an Olana-exclusive treat.
“This summer we partnered with Harney and Sons Master Tea Blenders to launch an exclusive custom tea tin inspired by the historic Master Bedroom wallpaper,” says Tice. After much deliberation, she and her team chose to fill the tin with Harney’s Black Currant tea as an ode to Church, who grew currants on his working farm at the estate. To top it all off, the tea steeps wonderfully in a custom Olana mug, featuring the 1860s era artwork of Frederic Church.
Visit 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY
Hours: Friday – Sun, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Learn more at Olana.org, or call (518) 828-0135
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park
Perfect for: sports fans and positive thinkers.
Of all the United States presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt is the Hudson Valley’s hometown boy. Nowadays, his library in Hyde Park is a must visit destination for lovers of history, politics, and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Located within the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center on the site grounds, the New Deal Museum Store is a worthwhile trip for sports memorabilia collectors. From FDR baseballs and golf balls to athletic sweatshirts and caps, there is something for every type of sports lover. Conveniently, much of the gear can be purchase online as well, notes Amy Northup, the store manager.
Anyone inspired by Eleanor will find a few charming treasures as well. The friend who inspires you to stay positive will love a First Lady pin or magnet featuring her iconic quote, “I have a firm belief in the ability and power of women to achieve.” They may be little trinkets, but they make a major statement.
Visit 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
Learn More at FDRLibrary.org, or call (845) 386-7770