Whenever I teach or deliver a conference presentation, I imagine the class or audience asking "What's in it for me?" This little trick helps me stay on-track and produce what we call the 'takeaway', the nugget(s) people remember whether or not they remember my main point, the snazzy outfit I was wearing, or my messed-up hair. The "What's in it for me?" trick works in writing, too. Sometimes it is obvious as in which museum or restaurant to visit in a destination-based article, and sometimes it is less explicit as in a presentation tip used as the introduction to a post about the pre-holiday season at the shore.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when the weather turns crispy, the nostalgic, holiday-inspired, travel writer's thoughts turn to her favorite pre-holiday hang-out. Of course mine is Cape May. I've written before how the Dickensian Christmas there tends to shape up just after Thanksgiving to fill me with holiday joy. This is around the same time that my busy fall schedule starts to relax and permit me to enjoy the season there. This year--and this is the 'takeaway' from this post--I've been planning my end-of-year gift shopping strategy. (Note: I've linked to a bunch of websites here, so if the text is a different color, click on it!)
1. The West End Garage. OMG, I love this place! Since I added this to my list of Cape May must-visit-each-trip list, I have never been at a loss for a gift idea. Everything here is unique. I've heard rumors that they have events there, too, for instance to help men shop for women (but really how could you go wrong here?). I blogged about it this summer for nj.com.
2. Jersey Shore Alpacas. This little alpaca farm just north of Cape May is run by Jim and Tish Carpinelli, two of the friendliest people in the universe. On Saturdays, they welcome visitors and even supply carrots to feed to the alpacas. This is fun for all ages, even the grinchiest. They have a small alpaca shop where they sell luxurious alpaca yarn (some from their own alpacas), and it's worth noting that this yarn does not irritate skin that is sensitive to sheep wool. If you don't knit or crochet or need a gift for someone who does, they also have garments and other items made from alpaca yarn. Most items were made especially for this shop by Tish or the Efata Knitters in Lima, Peru. I'm headed there ASAP to pick up one of those sock monkeys (from alpaca yarn) that I saw on their website! I blogged about JSA this summer for nj.com, and on my own blog here a couple of years ago.
3. The Whale's Tail. I've been shopping here for unique cards and gifts ever since I first got an allowance. It is still my go-to place for gifts of a nautical nature, imaginative kids' puppets, and unusual gifts, jewelry and cards. The Whale's Tail is on the Washington Street Mall which at this time of year is loaded with off-season sales. Here's what I said about the mall this summer for nj.com.
4. So maybe you can't get to Cape May, or perhaps you'd like a gift reminiscent of America's Original Seaside Resort. Maybe you'd like some Cape May themed note cards? Handmade by me? With my own photos? Go ahead and visit my Etsy shop...no pressure...new stuff is added as I get inspiration or replenish my supply of glue dots. If you missed it, the link is here.