Find a perfect gift for everyone on your list with the official Athenæum 2020 Gift Guide!
All of these local products, shops, experiences, and winter treats are personally endorsed by our staff. This is just a fraction of the incredible offerings available in the smallest (but best) state in the union – we are so lucky to be part of such a creative place. Support our community and shop local this year!
– Robin, Director of Membership & External Relations
Obviously we have a lot of book things to recommend here at the Ath.
1. Have you heard of Indie Bound? Instead of turning to Amazon (boooooo!!!), use this site to find a local bookshop that has the title you’re looking for. Two-day shipping is great, but same-day, local pick-up is even better! For example, here’s Obama’s A Promised Land – a handy sidebar shows all the local stores that carry it.
2. Do you have a pretentious friend who’s always correcting your grammar? Stet is the game for them! And for all the logophiles in your life. Grab it at Books on the Square. Check out their great online holiday gift guides too.
3. We love RiffRaff, and they’re doing these fantastic surprise book packages. Let them know what you or a friend has been reading, and they’ll curate a box of three new titles!
4. Twenty Stories has some of the best curated gift packages. I’m eyeing the Cozy one that comes with a candle…
5. Look! It’s library member and reading group leader Vanessa Lillie’s For the Best in a Rhody Reader book box at Ink Fish Books in Warren!
6. Michaela recommends Symposium – they’re so great at getting in interesting, relevant, and important titles, and shouting them out. Spread a little knowledge this season.
7. Check out titles featured in our EX LIBRIS programs this season from our friends at Brown Bookstore. Alexander Chee’s Queen of the Night is a fantastic read for a dark winter’s night (for the opera/French/adventure lover in your life). Or dive into the amazing Landmark Julius Caesar!
8. Named by Queen Elizabeth II as “the best gift of all time” and by Donald Trump as “the stupidest gift in the world,”* an Athenæum membership is the gift that keeps on giving! Why give one book when you can give 180,000??? *These are definitely legit quotes.
9. If you’re a Rhode Islander who doesn’t shop at Frog & Toad, you aren’t living. They have all the cool stuff, and this adorable RI board book caught our eye for little readers. The entire staff will be shopping here this year, guaranteed.
10. Used books are one of our staff’s favorite items to give and receive. Paper Nautilus always has an array of fab reads. Check out their Instagram for frequent updates.
ART & DESIGN
They don’t call Providence “The Creative Capital” for nothing.
1. Tiny Showcase was created in 2004 as a way to make collecting art affordable and accessible. Every Tuesday, they release a limited edition of phenomenal art. For every tiny print released, they donate a portion of the proceeds to a nonprofit organization near and dear to the artist’s heart.
2. This print by Giraffes and Robots hangs in my kitchen, and it brings a smile to my face every day!
3. Erin recommends local artist Liz Welch who makes beautiful ceramics and cheese boards (“the hills are alive with the sound of Muenster”). And offers free local delivery with code LOCAL!
6. Kate couldn’t leave out shopping for tabletop decorations and beautiful gifts at Wendy Brown Home in Wayland Square. They always have a great selection of Christmas crackers, letterpress coasters, napkins, luxurious hand creams, and gorgeous blankets. Free gift wrap!
7. Multiple staff members mentioned NAVA for curated homegoods, clothing, and miscellany. Loving this print.
8. Frog & Toad strikes again. This year, we’ve taken our popular Nude Reading Group to Zoom! (JUST KIDDING OBVIOUSLY)
9. Juli Anna loves Prints for Protest, an organization run by a group of RISD alumni who collaborate with printmakers to create beautiful, affordable, limited-edition art prints. All proceeds of the prints directly support a number of organizations chosen by the artists themselves.
10. When you think of art and design, you can’t forget RISD. risd:store has a great selection of gifts under $20, including these very trendy and fun totem candles.
11. One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Providence Art Club Little Pictures Show. I’ve already bought a piece for myself (a painted piece of cake to be exact), but need to keep shopping for family and friends.
LOCAL MISCELLANEOUS GIFTS
Random stuff we love!
1. This shirt from Craftland is iconic. Especially good if you have relatives in Texas (like Jenny). Brendan wholeheartedly approves of their entire inventory.
2. Just. Look. At. This. Little. Pig. It’s maybe the cutest things we’ve ever seen. Michaela tipped me off to Beehive Handmade in Warren.
3. I’ve committed to a candle lifestyle this year, so I almost always have one burning. In addition to fantastic clothes and gifts, Queen of Hearts downtown carries P.F. Candles which are delightful. Juli Anna also loves Burke & Hare, Co’s occult-scented products.
4. For your favorite vinyl collector, Steph recommends visiting Olympic Records to explore their varied selections. And in Morgan’s completely biased opinion, Analog Underground on Broadway is the best record shop in the state, and is still available by appointment as well doing online sales.
5. Jephry Floral Studio is one of Juli Anna’s favorite shops for picking up last-minute gifts (potted plants, stationary products, decor, jewelry, etc) and greeting cards, in addition to beautiful floral arrangements.
6. Green Line Apothecary now has their own line of beautiful, locally made, package-free soaps and personal care products that smell amazing. Of course, while you’re picking up stocking stuffers, you can grab an old-fashioned ice cream soda, phosphate, or egg cream for yourself!
7. Rep your Ath pride with a limited-edition hope tote! They’re $20, eco-friendly, and can fit a ton of books. Just give us a call during curbside hours to order one for pickup.
8. Stock Culinary Goods on Hope St is the absolute best, and these tiny ceramic bowls are so useful in the kitchen and beyond. Made in RI!
9. I think at least half (maybe more?) of the staff has at least one cat, so I had to throw in this little dish from Homestyle.
10. It is a truth universally acknowledged that socks are a great gift. Kate is heading straight to Simple Pleasures for some cozy footwear and much more.
11. Steph is making a stop at Jordan’s Jungle to grab some Pilea peperomioides – it proliferates and can be repotted and gifted again and again!
I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that the library staff loves food. Like, *really* loves food. These are just a few of many delicious tips.
1. Genesis can’t get enough of Anchor’s almond butter toffee (tip: let it melt in your mouth). You can get it at Stock, too!
3. Juli Anna (very much a tea enthusiast) is shopping at the Black Leaf Tea and Culture Shop – they make delicious tea blends and beautiful gift boxes for tea lovers!
4. Steph recommends some nuts for the nut in your life from Providence-based Virginia and Spanish Peanut Company.
5. More hot sauce! Chez Pascal sells their condiments for curbside pickup, which make great gifts for foodies. Good wines, too.
6. Speaking of wine, we have to mention our friends Campus Fine Wines who kept the libations flowing at library events in the Before Times and soon will again! Kate can’t stop buying their champagne…
7. … for which she’ll need glasses! Stock carries these beautiful coupes, which are perfect for my 2020 all-prosecco-all-the-time diet.
8. Steph’s picking up a few locally brewed 6-packs for beer-loving friends from Pawtucket’s Smug Brewing (Nutella-inspired beer? Yes, please!).
9. I thought I didn’t like baklava, but then I tried Aleppo’s. It’s sublime and comes in a beautiful, giftable box.
10. Clearly Steph is our resident food expert because she had yet another delicious suggestion – festive holiday candy from Sweenor’s Chocolate (located in Cranston and Wakefield) is always a hit! She especially loves their dark chocolate non-pareils.
Gifts are great, but I know that I’m especially excited to add things to my calendar this year. Check out these fun (and safe!) adventures this season.
1. Lydia is excited to visit Hope Street during its “Festive Sundays” with outdoor shopping and holiday things. Staff favs include Frog & Toad, Kreatelier, Studio Hop, J. Marcel, Stock, Rhody Craft, PH Factor, and, of course, getting hot chocolate at Seven Stars.
2. Sandy discovered that Gillette Stadium is hosting a “Magic of Lights” experience! BYO-hot cocoa!
3. My husband and I always cut down our Christmas tree at the Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown to feel like lumberjacks for a day. So we, and Genesis, highly recommend capping off your hard work with a delicious cup of cider and a doughnut from Hard Pressed Cider who set up shop in the parking lot.
4. From December 5 through 12, the Rhode Island Historical Society will host a decorated door contest along Benefit Street. You can stroll or drive along Benefit Street to admire and enjoy home fronts done up for the holiday season and then vote for your favorite! Mary’s already developing her rubric.
5. December in Rhode Island isn’t complete without Trinity’s Christmas Carol, and the show must go on! Remember to register for free access.
6. Morgan is going to the movies outside! The Rustic Drive In is offering holiday classics this year. (I’ll see you for Die Hard.)
7. Our friends at Easy Entertaining are offering a ton of holiday options, including virtual vineyard and distillery experiences. What a great gift!
8. Mary tipped me off about the gorgeous Illuminated Night Lights at Blithewold (and I think they are serving alcohol on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
9. Our BFFs the Gamm and the Public’s Radio have teamed up to broadcast a live radio play of It’s a Wonderful Life! We’ll all be tuning in.
10. The 2021 Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum kicks off January 8th. Maybe gift a copy to a friend and follow along?
11. Might we humbly submit a library event for consideration? Tickets for Burns Night 2021: The Home Edition are selling quickly, and we are TOO excited about it. Gift the experience or join us yourself!
12. And maybe the best gift this year is supporting an organization that works so hard to support our community. Make a gift in a someone’s name or do it to bring a little bit of cheer to your day. Staff favs include PARL, The Steel Yard, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, Planned Parenthood, the Gamm Theatre, and RI Community Food Bank.