Homemade, delicious

Gifts for when you’ve run out of gift ideas

Not to blow my own horn, but I am an excellent gift-giver. I am thoughtful, I listen carefully when people tell me what kind of things they like and what their favorite memories are. I’m creative. Probably eight out of 10 times, I knock it out of the park.

I realize this makes me something of an outlier; most people have one or possibly two solid gift ideas in a given holiday season, then they find themselves emotionally exhausted. If you are feeling a little gassed-out creativity-wise this holiday season, here are two suggestions for food and drink gifts that are affordable and quirky and probably won’t be put into a closet somewhere.

Geographic cookies

You have probably never thought too much about cookie cutters, but you can buy them in almost any shape, including any state or province you can name.

Manitoba? Boom! Six dollars on Etsy. West Virginia? Shazam! $7.99 on Amazon.

You know that lady at work who’s really nice, but you don’t really know anything about her, except that she grew up in Toledo? Give her a plate of Ohio sugar cookies, with a mini-M&Ms glued more or less in the area of Toledo with melted chocolate. Did your family go on vacation in Chicago this summer? You can get the state of Illinois, or the skyline of the city.

Thoughtful, edible, and you’ll only be out a couple of hours of your time and maybe $10.

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Based on the King Arthur Roll-Out Sugar Cookies recipe, available at kingarthurbaking.com, which they credit to blogger Amanda Rettke. (As opposed to the several other sugar cookie and sugar cookie-adjacent recipes they have; baking for someone gluten-free or paleo? They have that too). It’s a very large recipe — three sticks of butter, five cups of flour — and I like that it has many of the ingredients listed in grams as well as cups. I halved it, made a batch of cookies to share at work and still have dough in reserve. The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of almond extract, but I have replaced that with Fiori di Sicilia, a King Arthur flavoring they describe as having bright citrus and warm vanilla flavors and that makes the cookies taste like a creamsicle. Be careful with the measuring; I spoke to a King Arthur recipe developer months back and she said too heavy a hand with Fiori Di Sicilia will make everything taste like perfume.

  • 12 Tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (198.5 grams) of granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon King Arthur Fiori di Sicilia
  • 2½ cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk one at a time, beating after each addition.

Slowly add the extracts (with the mixer on low) and mix until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.

With the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out cookies. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until they start to turn golden on the edges and the center doesn’t look moist.

Bottle of pre-mixed cocktails

Depending on whom you’re giving it to, booze is always a good call.

Find a nice bottle. It could even be an empty liquor bottle that you were about to put in the recycling. Wash it out and remove the label.

If it’s a paper label, soak the bottle in hot water and scrape the label off with the back of a butter knife. If there’s any glue residue left behind, a citrus-based cleaner like Goof-Off will take care of it. Martha Stewart suggests using a hair dryer to soften the glue. Once, I had a really nice bottle but the label had actually been painted on. I soaked it in vinegar overnight, and it came right off. I imagine nail-polish remover would do the same thing.

Before you remove the label, write down how big the bottle is ― how many fluid ounces or milliliters.

Find a cocktail recipe that you think your friend would like ― A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sour, for instance:

  • 2 ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
  • 3 ounces Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine
  • 1 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice

Normally you would shake this over ice, then pour it into a glass and drink it. But this time we’re going to do some math. (Don’t worry ― there aren’t any exponents or variables involved.)

How many ounces of ingredients go into one drink? 3+3+1=5. Five ounces.

Remember your empty liquor bottle? How much did it hold? I’ll bet it was 750 milliliters, wasn’t it? That’s equal to about 25 fluid ounces, or five PB&J Sours. Multiply everything by five (10 ounces, 15 ounces and 5 ounces) and use a funnel to pour it into your nice bottle. Screw the cap on ― or put a cork in it, if you’re fancy ― give it a shake, and you’re off the hook present-wise for another year. You don’t even have to wrap it ― just write a tag and tie it on with rough twine, and you’ll look classy.

Ideally the recipient will ask you to stay and drink it with them. And maybe eat some cookies.

Featured photo: NH sugar cookies. Photo by John Fladd.

The Weekly Dish 23/12/07

News from the local food scene

Free wine tasting: Wine on Main (9 N. Main St., Concord) hosts a free wine tasting and holiday kickoff party on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. Visit wineonmainnh.com.

Cookies with Santa: Meet Santa, decorate cookies, listen to a story and enjoy hot chocolate at White Birch Eatery in Goffstown (571 Mast Road) on Sunday, Dec. 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. The cost is $20 per child. Reservations are suggested. Visit their Facebook page @WhiteBirchEatery.

Breakfast with Santa: The Bedford Event Center (379 River Road, Bedford) hosts breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon. Tickets ($85 for adults, $65 for children), including a breakfast buffet, a hot chocolate station, the opportunity to meet and take your picture with Santa, a sing-along with Santa and more. To purchase tickets visit bedfordeventcenter.com.

Holiday recipes: Taste and learn to make a variety of holiday recipes such as a greeting eggnog cocktail, candied kielbasa, deviled eggs with LaBelle Seyval Blanc filling, LaBelle red wine caramelized onion dip, baked brie with LaBelle red wine fruit compote and LaBelle wine pairings (riesling, cranberry riesling and malbec) at LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) at their Cooking with Wine class on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 6 to 7 p.m. Chefs will make the meals in front of you and you’ll be sent home with a recipe card. Tickets start at $43.40 and can be purchased at eventbrite.com.

On The Job – Matt Lazzaro


Matt Lazzaro is the owner-operator of Matt the Welder in Derry.

Explain your job and what it entails.

There is no real typical day. Some days I’ll be making a railing; another day I might be fixing a broken plow. Part of why I like it is that there’s a good amount of variety.

How long have you been doing this?

I started the business about a little over three years ago, but I’ve been welding for close to 14 years now.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

I used to work in restaurants for a long time. And then I started having kids and the nights and weekends weren’t doing it for me. I knew a couple of welders and they seemed pretty happy. So I decided to go back to school for it.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I went to college and I got an associate’s degree in welding technologies. You don’t have to do that to get into welding, but it allowed me to get more mid-level jobs out of school.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Usually burnt shirts and pants and boots and gloves. Even all summer long, I have to be completely covered in boots, long pants and long shirts to protect from the sparks and the heat of the welding.

What is the most challenging thing about your work?

The most challenging is the back end part of it, like the books, answering all the calls and messages and giving price estimates and stuff. But I just do my best with it.

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

I really wish I had known earlier how much more I enjoy working for myself.

What was the first job you ever had?

Bagging groceries.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

I wish people knew the sacrifices that it takes to get to where I’ve gotten.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

To show up when you say you’re going to show up and do what you say you’re going to do.

Five favorites
Favorite book: Trade magazines, like Ask This Old House.
Favorite movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Favorite music: ‘90s and early 2000s rap.
Favorite food: Cheeseburgers
Favorite thing about NH: The never-ending supply of rusty metal.

Featured photo: Matt Lazzaro. Courtesy photo.

Treasure Hunt 23/12/07

Dear Donna,

We dug this out of my parents’ estate attic. It’s all complete but no papers or box. We are looking for a value, if any. Can you help? Thanks.


Dear Andrew,

Your aluminum mid-century tree appears to be in good shape. I grew up with one in my family!

There are a few different makers, styles and colors in aluminum trees. The value is higher if you have a complete one with the original box. We used to have ours in a big bag so my mom didn’t have to reset it every year!

It was a treasure to find, though, Andrew. Values are in the range of $200 and up. You can also find electric color wheels for them. The value on them in working condition is in the $40 range and up.

So no matter what you’re going to do with your tree, keep or sell, it’s a treasure. Hope this was helpful and thanks for sharing with us. It’s a memory for me and lots of others I’m sure.

Kiddie Pool 23/12/07

Family fun for whenever

Mr. Claus travels in style

Santa Claus will helicopter in and touch down at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road in Londonderry) on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 11 a.m. and hang out until 1 p.m., when he will depart on an airport fire truck, according to a press release. Families are recommended to be at the museum by 10:45 a.m. to park and watch Santa’s helicopter arrive, the release said. Santa will visit with kids inside the museum and kids who talk to Santa will get goodie bags, the release said. The event will also include free coffee and hot chocolate from Common Man Roadside, the release said. The museum will be open free of charge to visitors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then charge regular admission from 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday is also the opening day for the museum’s exhibit “Home of the Holidays” featuring vintage World War II uniforms and posters on loan from the Wright Museum of World War II, the release said. The exhibit will run through Sunday, Jan. 14, and also includes trees decorated with aviation-related toys. The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Regular admission costs $10 for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 6 to 12 and 65+ and veterans/active military; kids ages 5 and under get in free.

Find more holiday family fun in the Nov. 23 issue of the Hippo, our annual Holiday Guide; see hippopress.com for the e-edition.

Big screen Christmas

• Chunky’s Cinema Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, chunkys.com) will begin a week of screenings of The Polar Express (G, 2004), which you can catch at all three area Chunky’s Friday, Dec. 8, through Thursday, Dec. 14, with at least one screening daily and three on Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10. Buy a “Milk & Cookies Movie Ticket” to get a box with milk, cookies and a bell during the movies. “Dinner with Santa,” where guests will be greeted by Santa before and after the show, with opportunities to take photos with him, will take place at some screenings Dec. 13, Dec. 14, and Dec. 21.

A Christmas Story(PG, 1983) will screen on Sunday, Dec. 10, at AMC Londonderry (4 p.m.), Cinemark in Salem (4 p.m.), O’neil Cinemas in Epping (4 and 7 p.m.) and Regal Fox Run in Newington (4 and 7 p.m.), and on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at all four of those locations at 7 p.m. See fathomevents.com.

Expo is now Very Merry

Holiday gift festival features New England-made items

On Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, the group that brings us the Made in New Hampshire Expo debuts the Very Merry Holiday Gift Festival at the DoubleTree by Hilton, a rebranding of The Made in New England Expo. As before, the event will feature nearly 100 vendors from around New England showcasing and selling local and handmade products such as jewelry, dog treats, candles and cookies, this time with a festive flair.

“We wanted to bring in a bit more of the holiday element [and] have more interactive things going on in addition to our vendors,” said Christine Carignan, one of the owners of Granite Media Group, which puts on the event. “We’ve done a big rebrand with it, hoping that will get people in the holiday spirit and get them coming to the show.”

Christmas additions include visits from Santa from 1 to 3 p.m. and holiday crafts all weekend with Mrs. Claus as a visitor from 1 to 3 p.m. Gingerbread Amy will be giving gingerbread house demonstrations, and there will be a caricature artist each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., live performances by The Funky Divas of Gospel and Northern Voices A Capella, and puppies from Live and Let Live Farm.

“We have a special kids-only shopping area and we’re calling it Candy Cane Corner,” Carignan said. “We have small [$2] items just for kids to go shopping for things for mom and dad or friends or their siblings, and our plan is to donate the proceeds to a local children’s charity from that shopping area.”

Vendors will be juried under stricter criteria this year to ensure the products and vendors align with the purpose of the event, as they will be for the Made in New Hampshire expo in the spring.

“It’s somewhat similar to what we’ve done in the past but we’ve gotten a bit more strict about it,” Carignan said. “We really wanted to curate a show where it’s really handmade or locally made products … [and] we really wanted to make the focus of this about the gifts and about locally made items that people can come and buy for everybody on their holiday list. We’ve really focused [in on] that. … We try to keep an eye on the different categories of vendors [so] that we never have too many of one particular kind … that way there’s a big variety available.”

Vendors include Lindsey Bangs of I Whisked it — who will bring sweet treats like homemade marshmallows, hot chocolate bombs, chocolate-covered pretzels, oreos and German stollen and will be offering cake preorders — Stark Brewing Co., Barkin’ Biscuit from Bedford with handmade dog treats made with human grade ingredients as well as organic fruits and vegetables, FireFlight Photo with high end nature and wildlife photography and so much more.

“The goal of our festival is aligned with the mission of our company, which is always to celebrate and elevate businesses,” Carignan said. “We want to be able to highlight the unique items that are available in our little corner of the country. … We want people to have fun and find unique gifts for everyone that [they] need to shop for and for themselves too.”

Very Merry Holiday Gift Festival
When: Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, 700 Elm St., Manchester
Cost: Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors age 65+ and free for children under 14. Purchase online or at the door.
Visit: verymerryfestival.com

Featured image: Previous Made in New England Expo. Courtesy photo.

Holiday gifts for the gardener 2023

Give the kids a wheelbarrow and a shovel

Once again it is time to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Gardeners are easy to shop for because there are so many good things to shop for, and they will probably be pleased with whatever you choose. As a shopper I always try to support local, family owned businesses — they support our community and I want to support them when possible. Let’s take a look at some ideas.

Think about buying tickets for you and your gardening friend to a special garden or perhaps one of the spring flower shows. This will allow the two of you to have some time together and to get some ideas about what you both can do in your gardens. One of my favorite gardens is Bedrock Garden in Lee, New Hampshire. This garden was developed by plant guru Jill Nooney and her husband, Bob Munger, over a 25-year period and recently achieved 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit. Not only does it have a fabulous collection of plants; Jill is a sculptor and welder who has created art that is displayed in the gardens. This is truly a gem of a place and worthy of visits. Suggested donation of $15. See their website for schedules.

Another garden I love is Saint Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire. Augustus Saint Gaudens was a world-known sculptor who lived and worked there in the early 20th century. The well-maintained formal gardens and grounds are enhanced by his fabulous life-size (or larger) bronze sculptures. The grounds are open year-round and the galleries are open from Memorial Day weekend through Oct. 31. Admission is $10 and is valid for seven days.

Of the spring flower shows, the Connecticut show in Hartford is probably the biggest in New England, and well worth a visit. It will be Feb. 22 to Feb. 25 in 2024 and although tickets are not yet on sale you can make up a nice card inviting your gardening buddy to go with you.

Garden tools are generally a hit. On my second birthday I was given a child-sized wheelbarrow, a watering can and a shovel, all of which helped form me as a life-time gardener. Most garden centers sell good-quality tools for kids made of metal, not plastic. See what you can find for a small person in your life.

Adults like tools, too. For 20 years now I’ve had a Smart Cart, a well-balanced two-wheel cart. The frame is made of airplane-grade tubular aluminum and the 7-cubic-foot body of heavy-duty plastic. It comes either with bike-type wheels or smaller, fatter wheels capable of traversing wet areas more easily and carrying heavier loads. I chose the wide wheels, which make the cart rated for 600 pounds. The narrower wheels are rated for 400 pounds. I’ve never had a flat tire and the cart has served me well. The bin pops out if you want to wash a dog in it or carry home manure in your Subaru. It is not inexpensive but worth the investment.

My favorite weeder is the CobraHead weeder, a single-tine, curved hook that teases out roots with ease and precision. It has become an extension of my body — I use it for planting, weeding and more. About $29 and available not only online but also from good garden centers and seed companies everywhere.

Although there may be no better mousetrap to invent, amazingly there is a new design to the shovel, one called the Root Slayer. It is all one piece of steel; it has a straight leading edge that comes sharp and stays sharp. The edges are serrated and able to slice through roots like a hot knife through butter. Great for planting in the woods or near trees. I still use my regular shovel or spade for digging in my garden or filling a wheelbarrow with compost. But if I want to plant a tree in a field, it is great for slicing through sod. I use it for dividing big clumps of daylilies and other tough perennials. It’s available at good garden centers.

I know most of you probably keep track of garden events on your phone — things like when you planted lettuce seeds or when your delphinium bloom. I don’t. I like an old-fashioned journal I can write in with a pen. Blank books are readily available, and some companies even sell special garden journals. Gardening is a slow and thoughtful pastime and lends itself to the handwritten word.

If you know that your gift recipient starts seeds in the spring, or plans to, you might consider getting an electric heat mat as a gift. They considerably speed up the time needed for germination of weeds in the spring, So, for example, corn seeds can take two or three weeks to germinate in cold, wet soil but will pop up in three to five days when on a heat mat. Of course you then have to transplant the seedlings, but that is not bad for a small patch. I generally use a planting flat with 98 cells for corn and transplant them when they have leaves 2 inches tall.

If deer are a problem, some garlic-oil clips will add some protection in winter for your tasty trees and shrubs. I’ve had excellent luck with them, specifically with a brand called “Plant Pro-Tec Deer and Rabbit Repellent.” They come in a package of 25 for about a dollar each and seem to last all winter. They are advertised as working for six to eight months. Of course, depending on how hungry the deer are, they may not be 100 percent effective.

Seeds are great gifts and serve well as stocking stuffers. If you save heirloom tomato or flower seeds, you can package up some of your favorites for a friend, along with a good description. And you can give a nice houseplant, particularly one in bloom. But most of us already have all the houseplants we need.

Lastly, books are great gifts for gardeners, especially now, in winter, when we have time on our hands. If I could select just one book, I’d pickEssential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern United Statesby Tony Dove and Ginger Woolridge (2018, Imagine, Bunker Hill Studio Books, $35 hardback). I’m totally behind the movement to plant native plants to support our birds, pollinators and wildlife and this book will answer all your questions — which plants are attractive to deer, salt-tolerant, good for poor soils and much more. It has excellent photos.

Enjoy picking good gardening gifts as you play Santa this year. Your loved ones will love you even more.

Henry is writing just one gardening article per month this winter. You may reach him at PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746 or by email at henry.homeyer@comcast.net.

Featured photo: I’ve had this Smart Cart for 20 years. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

The Art Roundup 23/12/07

The latest from NH’s theater, arts and literary communities

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: The Majestic Theatre (majestictheatre.net) will present the Meredith Wilson musical Miracle on 34th Street Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Derry Opera House (29 West Broadway in Derry). Tickets cost $22 for adults; $18 for 65+ and $15 for 17 and under, according to a press release.

More Carol: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol continues through Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Hatbox Theatre (Steeplegate Mall, 270 Loudon Road in Concord; hatboxnh.com) with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students.

Art and song: The Mariposa Museum (26 Main St. in Peterborough; mariposamuseum.org) will present a performance by Windborne, a vocal group, at the Unitarian Universalist Church (25 Main St. in Peterborough) on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m. A wassail reception will proceed the concert from 5 to 6:15 p.m. (tickets cost $20 online in advance, $25 on the day), according to a press release. While at the reception, visitors can view the exhibit “Stitching Time: The Social Justice Collaborative Quilts Project” featuring 20 quilts made by men serving life sentences at Louisiana State Penitentiary, the release said.

Studio 550 Community Art Center (550 Elm St. in Manchester; 550arts.com, 232-5597) has holiday happenings in December. The center will host its annual Handmade Holiday Market featuring pottery and glass art Monday, Dec. 18, through Saturday, Dec. 23, noon to 8 p.m. each day (except Wednesday, when the center is closed), according to a press release. Two rooms will be filled with pieces made by more than 30 makers, including studio members and staff, such as mugs, bowls, ornaments, serving ware and more, the release said.

Members, staff and other artists have also created more than 100 cups and mugs for the Cups for a Cause display; buy one of these cups or mugs and proceeds will support the International Institute of New England, which provides resources for new Americans, the release said. The cups will be in a separate display and run about $20 each, the release said.

And when you’re in downtown Manchester in the week before the market, keep an eye out for mini-mugs and ceramic ornaments that will be hidden around town, the release said. Find an item and bring it to the market to win a prize.

Birds: Auburn artist Deirdre Cleary will display her carved birds — which include song birds and waterfowl carved from basswood, cedar or tupelo — at Griffin Free Library (22 Hooksett Road in Auburn; 483-5374, griffinfree.org) starting Friday, Dec. 8, and running through Friday, Jan. 12, according to a press release. On Friday, Dec. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. the library will host an artist reception to open the exhibit and Cleary will be on hand to discuss her work, the release said. Master Bird Carver Don Combs will also attend to demonstrate how to carve a bird from a wooden block, the release said.

Music with their mouths: The a capella group Rockapella will perform Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at Stockbridge Theatre (44 N. Main St. in Derry; stockbridgetheatre.showare.com, 437-5210). Tickets cost $35 to $40.

Write it fancy: Calligraphy artist Adele Sanborn will do a free gift tag calligraphy demonstration on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Twiggs Gallery (254 King St. in Boscawen; twiggsgallery.org). See Sanborn’s work at cornerstonedesignnh.com. Twiggs is open on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The New Hampshire Philharmonic’s annual Holiday Pops concert will feature the Philharmonic Orchestra joined by guest pianist Roxane Park (pictured) and Santa Claus on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. at Seifert Performing Arts Center (44 Geremonty Drive in Salem). The show will also include a classic sing-along, according to a press release. Tickets cost $35 for adults, $30 for seniors, $10 for students; see nhphil.org. There is a livestreaming ticket option for the Dec. 17 show.

Holiday with the Statesmen: The Granite Statesmen, an a capella group singing four-part harmony, will perform their Christmas Chorus on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at Judd Gregg Hall (Nashua Community College, 505 Amherst St. in Nashua). Tickets cost $20; see granitestatesmen.org.

New shows: The Seacoast Artist Association (130 Water St. in Exeter; seacoastartist.org) presents two new solo shows. “Dine,” featuring the works of artist Debra Woodward, contains oil paintings featuring diners enjoying eateries around the Seacoast, according to a press release. Watercolorist Gwen Morgan will have her works featured in “Wonders of Watercolor,” the release said. The artists will be at a “Second Friday” artist reception on Friday, Dec. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. that will also feature food, wine and live music from violinists Dacha and Sava Thurber, the release said. The shows will be on display through Sunday, Dec. 24. From Wednesday, Dec. 6, through Christmas Eve (when the gallery will be open 1 to 4 p.m.), the gallery will be open daily, the release said.

Celebration of winter: The folk-Americana band Low Lily will perform “Low Lily’s Winter Solstice Celebration” on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center (19 Grove St. in Peterborough). Tickets cost $25 for adults, $15 for kids. See pfmsconcerts.org.

Big Christmas sound: The Manchester Community Music School (2291 Elm St. in Manchester; mcmusicschool.org, 644-4548) will hold Tuba Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. featuring players of tubas, sousaphones, euphoniums and baritones, according to the website. The concert is free and open to the public. If you play a tuba, sousaphone, euphonium or baritone and would like to join in, show up at 9:30 a.m. to register (the cost is $10); a rehearsal starts at 10 a.m. For more information on participating, contact Hailley McConnell at hailley@mcmusicschool.org or 644-4548, ext. 208.

‘A Testament to Peace’
The Concord Chorale will perform a concert titled “A Testament to Peace,” focusing on themes of peace and gratitude, with brass, organ, piano and percussion as well as The Purple Finches, a youth choir from Concord Community Music School, on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. (when there will also be a livestream option) at the South Congregational Church (27 Pleasant St. in Concord). See concordchorale.org/tickets for tickets to the event, which will also feature the chorale’s new collaborative pianist, Elizabeth Blood, according to a press release. Courtesy photo.

Holiday concert: The Windham Community Bands will hold their 16th annual holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. at Windham High School. The event is free to the public and will feature the Windham Swing Band, Concert Band and Saxophone Quartet, according to a press release. The event will also feature a bake sale.

Irish dance tunes: Christmas with the Celts will come to the Stockbridge Theatre (44 N. Main St. in Derry; stockbridgetheatre.showare.com, 437-5210) on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. The show features a combination of “timeless ancient Irish Christmas carols and lively Irish dance with modern contemporary songs but with Irish instrumentation,” according to a press release. Tickets cost $30 and $35.

Handcrafted gifts

Where to find one-of-a-kind gifts

This holiday season, go for gifts that make an impact by choosing local artwork and handmade crafts.

Year-round venues provide a selection of handcrafted items, from decorative to functional, made by local artisans.

Handmade gift shops

Currier Museum of Art gift shop (150 Ash St., Manchester, 669-6144, currier.org, open Wednesday and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fine Craft Galleries (nhcrafts.org)

Concord (36 N. Main St., 228-8171, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hooksett (530 W. River Road, 210-5181, open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Nashua (98 Main St., 595-8233, open Monday through Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Meredith (279 Daniel Webster Hwy., 279-7920, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.)

Locally Made

Salem (99 Rockingham Blvd., Salem, 890-7141, locallyhandmadesalemnh.com, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Merrimack (80 Premium Outlets Blvd., Merrimack, 377-7610, facebook.com/LHMerrimackNH, open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Nashua (Pheasant Lane Mall, 310 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 598-9140, locallyhandmadesalemnh.com, open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Manchester Craft Market (Mall of New Hampshire, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, manchestercraftmarket.com, open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Spriggs Shoppe (Twiggs Gallery, 254 King St., Boscawen, 975-0015, twiggsgallery.wordpress.com, open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.).

Holiday art exhibits and markets

Seasonal markets and exhibits feature artworks and crafts tailored for holiday shoppers, highlighting local artistic talent.

• Twiggs Gallery’s (254 King St., Boscawen, 975-0015, twiggsgallery.wordpress.com) annual Sleighbell Studio holiday showcase is going on now through Dec. 16.

• The Craftworkers’ Guild hosts its annual Holiday Fair Shop at the historic Kendall House (3A Meetinghouse Road, Bedford). The fair runs through Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, along with an online shop and features a variety of items including seasonal decor, photography, fine art and prints, cards, gourmet treats, woodworking, fiber and fabric, stained and fused glass, mixed media and jewelry, all created by juried local artists and craftspeople. Visit thecraftworkersguild.org.

• The Two Villages Art Society (846 Main St., Contoocook) hosts its 2023 Winter Members Show and Sale through Dec. 23. The show features works from more than 30 member artists, including paintings, pottery, sculpture, jewelry and more. Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Visit twovillagesart.org.

• The “Small Works — Big Impact” holiday exhibit is up at Creative Ventures Gallery (411 Nashua St. in Milford) now through Dec. 31 and showcases work in various media from more than 30 area artists, with most pieces smaller than 12 inches in diameter, making them ideal for holiday gifts. The gallery’s hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m., Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Visit creativeventuresfineart.com or call 672-2500.

• The Seacoast Artist Association (130 Water St., Exeter) presents “Big Gifts Come in Small Packages” during December. Artists are challenged to create affordable work, with each piece priced at no more than $100 to make for perfect holiday gift buying. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Visit seacoastartist.org.

Studio 550 Art Center Handmade Holiday Market (550 Elm St., Manchester, 232-5597, 550arts.com) is open Dec. 18 through Dec. 23, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.; closed Wednesday and Sunday.

Quality of Life 23/12/07

Funding the show

The Community Players of Concord, an all-volunteer theater company founded in 1927, received a significant boost with a $50,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. According to a press release, this gift is aimed at establishing an investment fund to secure the long-term future of the nearly century-old organization. The fund, named “A Fund for the Players,” requires the Players to raise an additional $50,000 to access the full pledged amount. Already over halfway to their goal, the group plans to meet this challenge before their annual meeting in June 2024.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Contributions to this fund can be made through the Community Players of Concord’s website, communityplayersofconcord.org.

Our holiday look

A “Most Popular Christmas Decorations 2023” study conducted by Lombardo Living found that New Hampshire ranks 7th among states for the most holiday decorating in 2023. The study, which analyzed Google search terms related to Christmas decorations, also indicates that the most popular decoration in New Hampshire is the window candle. This preference places New Hampshire within a unique niche of states that have chosen a specific type of holiday decoration that differs from the more commonly seen Christmas trees and lights that dominate other states’ preferences.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The study reports that 83 percent of Americans are decorating for the holidays this year, spending an average of $140 on decorations.

Jewelry thefts

The Manchester Police Department reported three mid-business-day jewelry thefts happening within a little more than a week at two local jewelry stores, according to a press release. Starting on Nov. 20, Day’s Jewelers fell victim to a “snatch-and-grab” theft of a gold chain, a tactic repeated in a subsequent theft at the same store on Nov. 25. A similar theft took place at Market Square Jewelers on Nov. 28, involving a gold rope chain, the release said.

QOL score: -2

Comment: Manchester Police Department asks anyone for information about the thefts to call Manchester Police Detective Andrew Choi at 792-5514. Descriptions and photos of the men suspected in the thefts are posted on the police department’s Facebook page.

QOL score: 87

Net change: 0

QOL this week: 87

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire?
Let us know at news@hippopress.com.

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