BY NATALIE WINTERS
209 staff reporter
Even with the best intentions, Christmas shopping can be hard for the people you care about most. It has to be perfect, it has to suit them and it has to show them that you care.
All of this is made easier through local shops and companies in the area; home is where the heart is and you’re able to give them a piece of home through a gift.
Dust Bowl Brewery, Hilmar Cheese Company and Joy Dravecky Jewelry are all gems to the Central Valley and offer great, personal gift options for the holidays.
Dust Bowl Brewery has hoodies, thermals and hats as well as tees, pint glasses and bottle opener key chains that Michelle Peterson, marketing, says make a great stocking stuffer.
“Our gift cards are our most popular gift,” Petersen. “They never expire and can be used on swag, food or beer--it lets the recipient enjoy just what they want.”
Most items at Dust Bowl specify that they are from “Turlock, Calif.”
“Locals and natives love that and it’s great for advertising for our community,” said Peterson.
A great gift idea from Dust Bowl Brewery is their growler—a 64 oz. bottle of draft beer to-go.
They also offer complimentary gift wrap in Dust Bowl Brewing style.
A little farther south of Turlock, Hilmar is home to a namesake cheese company that has been in operation since 1984 and celebrated their 30th anniversary of making cheese this September.
In 1985, making the cheese boxes became a family project at Hilmar Cheese Company with the owners doing the cheese cut and wrap to one-pound sizes. The wives would then pack the boxes.
“The first boxes included a one-pound block of Hilmar cheddar and Hilmar Monterey Jack along with crackers and strawberry candies in a branded wooden box,” said Denise Skidmore, director, education and public relations for Hilmar Cheese Company. “That first year, they sold about 200 boxes.”
Last Christmas, Hilmar Cheese company sold more than 8,000 gift boxes and baskets and now, there is a selection of 10 gift boxes and baskets with the ability to “build your own” box selecting your favorite cheeses.
“Our gifts are different as we promote all of agriculture in our region,” explained Dave Gonsalves, Visitor Center manager. “We combine other locally produced nuts, gourmet foods, jams, dried fruit and other delicious items into our gifts.”
They are ready to be picked up at the visitor center or ordered online and shipping is available and easy.
Don’t miss next week’s event in downtown Turlock where Joy Dravecky Jewelry hosts Wish List Wednesday on Dec. 16 where women can come in and choose pieces that they like, followed by a men’s event the next day where they can come into the shop and pick out exactly what their significant other would like.
“It gives the guys the freedom to come in and go off the list if they want to—but still allowing them to choose the gift that their special person would like, with just a little bit of help,” said Joy Dravecky, owner.
Wish List Wednesday is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday’s event will be the same time the next day but “with beer,” Dravecky said.
The jewelry shop is located at 210 W. Main St. and will also be open Friday and Saturday of next week for extended holiday hours.
“We all have the opportunity to shop from any main company, but walking into a local store or gift shop is more personal,” said Dravecky. ‘It allows for a friend, or husband or girlfriend to look and say, ‘This really looks like so and so’ and it adds that new element.”
“Of course, if it maybe isn’t the perfect gift we’re still right here,” she added. “So instead of packaging it back up and shipping it you can just walk right back in.”
Dravecky’s work combines organic materials such as rough-cut, semi-precious stones paired with gold-filled metal, oxidized silver or vintage brass.
“If you’re shopping local, you get a chance to really pick up something that’s going to be made in a smaller batch, that may be one of a kind, or made specifically for one person—and there’s something special about that.”