The holidays are finally here! Tis the season to sing carols, bake cookies, have some eggnog and . . . shop. This year, do your holiday shopping in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley. In addition to Christiana Mall – the largest mall in the State of Delaware – and Concord Mall, we are home to some excellent one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques perfect for finding unique presents even those that are hard to buy for will appreciate. And did we mention all shopping in Delaware is tax-free?
Some of the most exceptional items can be found in the most unexpected places, too. Our favorite spots to do holiday shopping are the gift shops in our museums and attractions. Each has an exceptional selection of distinctive items. If you want to be a big hit with those on your gift list this year, pay a visit to these shops:
The Brandywine River Museum of Art gift shop has a treasure trove of amazing gift possibilities. We could spend an entire afternoon browsing through this shop. Pick up a print of a favorite Wyeth work of art (some are signed) or Wyeth-inspired stationery and matching coffee mugs. There are also activity books for adults and children, children’s toys, a vast selection of art books and exhibition catalogs, jewelry, and fashion-forward face masks.
What the Museum shop is really known for are its whimsical Brandywine Critters. Made by volunteers, the critters are created from seeds, dried flowers, and other natural materials. They make excellent holiday ornaments and are a great keepsake. Proceeds benefit the Volunteers’ Art Purchase Fund, and Art Education and Programming.
This year, the gift shop is offering contactless curbside pick-up service for phone orders. Can’t make it in person? Online shopping is available as well.
The Delaware Contemporary’s gallery shop has a lovely selection of items handmade by local and regional artists. These include some really outstanding pieces of jewelry and face masks inspired by modern art. The gallery also has a line of Sadiddy Hippie handmade soaps that make perfect stocking stuffers. Our favorite is the Earl Grey. If you want something thought-provoking, check out artist Leslie Holt’s trio of enamel pins representing PET brain scans of individuals with different mental health conditions. Online shopping is available.
The Delaware Museum of Natural History is the place to go for all things Dude. If you don’t know Dude, he is the museum’s resident cat and mascot. He has become quite a celebrity over the years and now has his own line of merchandise.
If you are a kid or a kid at heart, you will adore this shop! All the gifts are science- and nature-related, giving kids an opportunity to learn and play at the same time. Some of our favorite picks are the astronaut ice cream, the “beastly” binoculars, and the Rocks and Crystals Discovery Kit. Online shopping with curbside pickup or shipping is available.
The Hagley Museum and Library store, located next to its visitors’ center, features artist-made jewelry, an expansive selection of books on the du Pont family and the Brandywine Valley, science-based gifts for children, and many other one-of-a-kind items. The store itself is as lovely as the treasures inside it. Dating back to 1822, it has dramatic center brick archways, a vaulted ceiling and brick flooring. It was originally used as a room for the cleaning and picking of raw cotton for Hagley’s textile mill.
Looking for holiday-themed gifts? Here you will find a line of holiday scented candles (Holiday Stroll, the Nutcracker), vintage Christmas puzzles, Wassail and Hot Toddy mixes, and silk-screened, hand-embroidered holiday hand towels among the many other treasures. Looking for something for the person that already has everything? Check out the shop’s line of stainless steel wallets and collection of paper-like Tyvek watches designed by the DuPont Company. Online shopping is available.
The Delaware Art Museum is almost as well known for its gift shop as it is for its art. It has a vast collection of books, from art books and children’s literature to today’s latest works of fiction. Must-have items include the beautifully designed “Witchy Wisdom” tarot and oracle cards, and “Local Stories,” a celebration of local authors including Chet’la Sebree, David Teague, Marisa de los Santos, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Julianna Baggott. Want to pamper that special someone this holiday season? There’s also a nice selection of bath salts, scented soaps, candles and other relaxation-driven items in the shop. Other possibilities include pottery, sculptural jewelry, and limited-edition prints created by local artists as well as a constantly rotating line of whimsical gifts for kids and adults. Many items in the physical gift shop are available for purchase online.
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is the place to go if you have a décor aficionado or horticulture lover on your list. Its expansive store, located across from the museum entrance, houses an impressive selection of furniture, dinnerware, fine gifts, jewelry, accessories, plants, gardening tools, and more. This is another shop where we could literally spend an entire afternoon browsing. Many of the items in the store are inspired by Winterthur’s world-famous collection of Americana. We are particularly in love with its vintage-inspired holiday ornaments, the Winterthur Quince Jelly (made with quince harvested from the estate), and the shop’s lovely selection of jewelry. And did we mention the furniture? Online shopping is available.
In addition to our great museum shops, you should also not miss the unique shopping in the village of Greenville (designer clothing, fine wine, beauty products, gourmet foods), historic Centreville (antiques, hand-made items, bicycling gear, home goods), and downtown Wilmington (fine clothing, jewelry, sweets, electronics). If you want to give experiences instead of things, consider a gift certificate from one of our many excellent restaurants, a hotel “stay and play” package, or a family membership to one of the region’s world-class attractions.
Ready to holiday shop ‘til you drop? Go to www.visitwilmingtonde.com to plan your trip. Here, you’ll find more information on where to shop as well as details on where to eat, where to stay, and what to do when you are not shopping! We do have some fabulous holiday light displays this year (more than ever), so you’ll definitely want to add at least one of those to your itinerary.