Christmas Gifts, Part One
Full disclosure: I enjoy shopping at actual brick and mortar stores. Retail therapy is important to me, especially at Christmas. And, I feel good knowing I’m supporting businesses that in turn, support Mississippi families in particular and our state in general. As shopping season gets into full swing, it’s vital to patronize local business owners. Second, consider joining me in an effort to support small and family-owned businesses, regardless of their origin. I'm certain they'll appreciate our business much more than multi-billion dollar conglomerates.
I can’t think of a better way to illustrate my point than to highlight some of the businesses represented at the Junior League of Jackson’s 2022 Mistletoe Marketplace, along with some new friends from other areas. Besides creating a wonderful event that attracts hundreds of visitors to Jackson, the proceeds from Mistletoe - in excess of $1 million - help thousands of deserving Mississippians, ranging from sick babies at UMMC to underprivileged school children and elderly services.
As you begin making your gift and entertaining shopping list, consider patronizing these and other small or family-owned businesses. Many have websites and 800-numbers for online shopping.
1. Ala Carte Alice –Maple bacon jam, apple pie moonshine jelly and chipotle raspberry and pecan glaze are flavors most have never tried. It’s just one reason to shop at this Louisville business that keeps locals and customers from around the U.S. coming back for seconds. Besides its unique jellies, Ala Carte Alice sells brownies and dessert mixes; cheese balls, dips, soups and spreads mixes; meat rubs and other creative food items to spice up your holiday party or give to others. For more information, call 662-779-1079 or shop online at: www.alacartealice.com.
2. Fireman John’s Barbecue – One of the highlights of Mistletoe this year was finally meeting Madison’s “Fireman John,” someone I’ve interviewed and quoted many times as a source for barbecue and meat-related articles, but never met in person. Getting to sample his products, including sauces, marinades, vinegars, rubs and more at his booth was also a thrill. The product of numerous prestigious barbecue cook-off championships, I can attest Fireman John – and his products – are the real deal. Check out the products at www.firemanjohnbbq.com.
3. I was amazing at the massive selection of Mississippi-made products showcased by Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce in the aptly-made Genuine MS booth. There were too many featured to list, but a few that caught my eye were Maddy’s Sweet Shop shortbread, Sunday Morning coffee, Original Grit Girl products and Pearl River Gingerbread Tea. Beautiful Mississippi-made Christmas pottery and everyday tabletop and dinnerware pieces also make great Christmas gifts. Learn more or shop at: www.genuinems.com.
4. Nothing But Bundt - The name says it all. You’ll find nothing but Bundt cakes at this unique shop in Flowood, but you won’t go away mad. Handcrafted Bundt cakes, miniature Bundlets and bite-sized Bundtinis will deck the halls and the dessert table in the most delicious way. Available in a self-serve container for gift-giving or stuffing a stocking or boxed by the dozen, the unique cakes come in a variety of flavors. Call 769-243-7108 or order online at: www.nothingbundtcakes.com.
5. J. Olive Co. in Ridgeland and Hattiesburg - Many physicians tout the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet filled with fruits, vegetables and olive oil. If that’s true, J. Olive can get you started and then some. With convenient locations in Ridgeland and Hattiesburg, J. Olive’s fragrant shops are filled with a variety of flavor-infused olive oils, balsamic and gourmet vinegars and related specialty items, including dips, spreads, rubs and salts. One of my favorite items is J. Olive’s Fruit Infusion Flavor Bottle. It makes drinking the recommended daily amount of water much more pleasant. Shop online at: www.joliveco.com.
6. Wisconsin is about as far north as Mississippi is south, but after sampling their products, I can attest these folks really life up to their reputation as excellent cheese-makers. Besides the fact that Gardner’s Wisconsin Cheese & Sausage sold a truckload of cheeses and sausages at Mistletoe (it was that good) the owners of the small, family-owned cheese and sausage factory are truly nice people. I’m not a huge cheese or sausage-lover, but I enjoyed sampling their products. Favorites were honey barbecue jack, aged gouda, Italian herb bruschetta cheddar and garlic summer sausage. Check out their products at www.gardnerswisconsincheese.com.
7. A question about why someone from Jericho, New York, would come all the way to Mississippi led to a conversation with a friendly lady named Lisa manning the Tall Order booth filled with colorful socks of all sizes and designs. I learned the family-owned company was founded to honor Andrew Friedman, a dedicated husband and father who was killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Called a "gentle giant, the 6’5” Friedman always put others ahead of himself, setting the standard for the “Tall Order” sons Dan and Mike, co-founders along with mom Lisa, try to match in business and in life. Both boys grew taller than their late dad and needed large-size socks. As a result, Tall Order was born. In addition to larger sizes, Tall Order sells regular sizes of socks as well as underwear and shirts. The best part: 10% of all sales goes to charity in honor of their late dad. For more information, visit www.tallorder.com.
Speaking of New York, there’s no better Christmas gift than a box filled with a ticket to one of my favorite cities after the holiday are over. Now is the perfect time to plan a trip to the Big Apple for January and early February that will cost substantially less than at any other time of the year. NYC Hotel Week will run from Jan. 3 – Feb. 12, 2023, offering 23% savings off standard room rates at more than 140 hotels across all five boroughs. NYC & Company’s NYC Winter Outing Program combines Hotel Week, Restaurant Week, Broadway Week and Must-See Week. In short, visitors can take advantage of rare deals on dining, Broadway shows, attractions, museums, tours, performing arts and hotels in all five boroughs. Hotel reservations are available now, so give the gift of a stay in NYC to a loved one this holiday season. For more information on Winter Outing, visit nycgo.com.
If you have a Christmas shop, event or restaurant’s holiday meal you’d like me to mention, simply drop me an email and I’ll add it to an upcoming column before the season ends.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.