This gift-giving season, boost Long Island's economy by thinking outside the box -- the big-box stores, that is, and shop Main Street. Many locally owned businesses and mom-and-pop shops offer wonderful, unique gifts to give and to get.
Here's a sample of what's available from the merchants-next-door to keep your dollars closer to home. Be sure to check a store's return policy if you're not sure of the reception your gift will receive. Many smaller businesses offer store credit instead of refunds, even with a receipt.
If your cash flow is low, there are also suggestions for meaningful gifts that won't empty your pockets.
MAIN STREET, Northport
Window Shop Jewelers. (631-239-5450), in its 35th year on Main, sells the popular Pandora jewelry, estate pieces and filigree jewelry from as far back as the 1920s, owner Jean McNeill says.
Need something from pre-1920? There are several antique stores on Main and nearby.
Engeman Theater (engemantheater.com, 631-261-2900) brings Broadway to Main Street with a musical adaptation of "A Wonderful Life" (until Jan. 8) and "The Sunshine Boys" (opens Feb. 2), ideal if your gift-getter enjoys the theater.
MAIN STREET, Port Jefferson
Lainie's Way (lainiesway.com, 631-474-5558) has games to sharpen the memory and educational toys to please grandkids. Owner Lainie Litovsky says shoppers can play before buying.
Elements (myelements.com, 631-331-5596) offers one-of-a-kind gemstones and Native American jewelry.
Patchworks (patchworks.com, 631-589-4187) sells a wide selection of fabrics, embroidery supplies and accessories; classes for novice and expert quilters.
MAIN STREET, Huntington
Spa Adriana (spaadriana.com, 631-351-1555) sells gift certificates starting at $25 for anyone on your list who needs pampering after hosting for the holidays.
Book Revue (bookrevue.com, 631-271-1442), just north of Main on Route 110, has a wide selection of new, used and rare books; also has a section of books by local authors.
MAIN STREET, East Hampton Village
There are stores that offer gifts for any budget, especially unlimited ones. There aren't many mom-and-pop shops -- unless mom is named Tiffany and pop is named Ralph Lauren.
Steph's Stuff (stephs-stuff.com, 631-329-2943) on Newtown Lane, off Main, has fun watches and clocks, toys for kids. Owner Stephanie Tekulsky says she has items for as low as $2.
There are other notable Main Streets in Babylon Village, Patchogue, Oyster Bay hamlet, Greenport and Stony Brook Village Center. Each has a quirky variety store, venerable bakery or family-owned restaurant.
MADE ON LI
Think Long Island First (thinklongislandfirst.com, 516-922-4822) 36 Audrey Ave. in Oyster Bay (inside Buckingham Variety Store), has cosmetics, furniture, paintings, pottery and gourmet jams and honeys -- all created or crafted by more than 100 local artisans, artists and chefs. Co-owners Ewa Rumprecht and Jolanta Zamecka say their eclectic shop has items ranging from $1.99 to $3,000.
Saturday's Soap (saturdayssoap.com, 888-673-4440), while primarily an online business, also sells its products in several area boutiques. Owner Belinda Windbish says her soaps are handmade using all-natural ingredients, including rosemary and peppermint herbs from her garden in Lake Ronkonkoma.
Find uniquely local items at gift shops of area museums, arboretums and historic landmarks.
Give a gift from the heart. Those on your list who are frail or can't drive would love a promise to take them to the doctor, hairdresser, grocery shopping or any other place that require transportation.
Offer to clean windows, wash curtains, read mail or other service that would make life more pleasant for them. For a special touch, print a photo of yourself and write your promise of service on the back.
Scents and sensibility
As we get older, our sense of smell sometimes diminishes, but your gift can still come up smelling like a rose -- or cinnamon, vanilla or lilac -- by shopping at a locally owned store that pours and sells aromatic candles. Both of these also have gift baskets.
Yoga and tai chi classes, retirement and health-care seminars and computer instruction are just a few of the workshops and services offered by public libraries and nonprofit organizations, such as SeniorNet in Huntington. Most are free or have nominal fees. Sign up your gift recipient and yourself, so you're also giving the gift of companionship.
Home sweet home team
It's been almost 30 years since the Islanders (islanders.nhl.com, 800-745-3000) paraded the Stanley Cup along Hempstead Turnpike, but this year's young team is raising hopes among local hockey fans.
If grandpa or grandma hasn't been to a game since Potvin, Bossy and Trottier, a pair of tickets can help reconnect to the team and to each other.
For that person of a certain age who loves holiday plants and flower baskets, check out:
Hicks Nurseries (hicksnurseries.com, 516-334-0066) in Westbury.
Dodds & Eder (doddsandeder.com, 516-922-4412) in Oyster Bay. It also has a wide variety of holiday decorations and gifts.
Martin Viette Nurseries (martinviette.com, 516-922-5530) in East Norwich. Many of their holiday plants are from Long Island growers, so it's a double boost to the local economy.