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Thanksgiving is past and it’s time to get serious about selecting gifts for the folks on your list. I suggest that you spend your gift-giving dollars right here in our fair city. While there are wonderful shops that make it very possible to buy for every person on your list without leaving Fremont, this column is about gifts for cooks.

The first shop I’m going to suggest is open only one weekend before the holidays so mark the dates of December 13, 14 and 15 on your calendar. Those are the days you need to get to the Estate Dispersal Store at 2630 Yager Road. I love this shop and am always disappointed if I don’t get to their monthly sale.

I have found so many wonderful things at this store for my kitchen including the turkey board that was featured in last week’s Thanksgiving column. You can find fantastic deals on amazing finds from glassware, stemware, punchbowls, dishes, coffee cups, kitchen tools, pots, pans, baking dishes, serving dishes, silver pieces and platters. The stock changes every month so you never know what treasures you will find for someone who loves to cook and entertain.

The Estate Dispersal Store also has a large selection of cookbooks for any bibliophile on your list. This is a great way to find old cookbooks, but I’ve also been amazed at newer books that have shown up on their shelves.

After checking out the Estate Dispersal Store, head south to shop the lovely retail establishments in our downtown area.

I suggest starting with Fia and Belle’s in the old Schwesers’ building on 6th Street. I love walking in the doors and seeing the wonderful way this beautiful building has been artfully utilized to display all their lovely merchandise. While Fia and Belle’s doesn’t have an extensive selection of kitchen wares, it does feature an eclectic mix of goods including a selection of locally-made, hand-knitted pot holders and washcloths, lovely linens, Christmas flour sack towels and cellulose washable sponge substitutes. All of these items make wonderful stocking stuffers and hostess gifts.

Then head across the street to Chestnut Market. This is the first Christmas season for this shop and owner Jennifer is ready. She has gathered a lovely mix of antiques and new merchandise. Her shelves contain beautiful red and green glassware, tins, antique tea kettles, mixing bowls and spatulas with great messages for cooks young and old.

My favorite find at this market is a Kitchen Boa. This is described as a reinvention of the classic tea towel and is worn around the neck like a scarf. That means it is always handy to wipe your messy hands or clean up spills and to serve as a pot holder. It’s a brilliant idea for any dedicated cook.

After shopping Chestnut Market head over to Wise Old Owl on Main Street. Thom and Brian’s shop is so full this time of the year, you should walk through from front to back several times – once looking up, once looking down and once taking in all the merchandise at eye level. You still might miss something in this jammed-packed-with-good-things store.

Wise Old Owl has a wide range of gifts for cooks and entertainers. You can find the most practical gifts done in a whimsical fashion. For example, they carry a whole series of measuring cups and spoons that look like kittens, piggies or chicks. You can also find beautiful platters, plates and mixing bowls in many different styles and price points.

Wise Old Owl also carries a wide selection of dip mixes, sauces, flavored olive oils and vinegars to serve your guests or give as hostess gifts. They carry Republic of Tea brand of teas and if they aren’t ridiculously busy when you stop in, Thom and Brian offer you a sample. I have found several that have become favorites after a sip as I explored the store.

In my opinion, this year the very best gifts at Wise Old Owl are the Mommy and Me aprons that are locally made. These beautiful aprons are the perfect gift for any cookie-making little girl and her mom or grandmother. These aprons paired with a set of lovely Christmas cookie cutters would be a perfect Advent gift for the bakers in your life.

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When you’re done at Wise Old Owl, walk a few steps south to The Wine Experience for lovely bottles of fine vintages and wine gifts. My favorite stocking stuffer for any red wine lover is a bottle of Wine Away. This stain remover is truly magic and has saved many a shirt, pant, tablecloth and carpet in the Lund household. It removes red wine, grape juice or even red Kool-Aid from any fabric. Of course, you can also buy a wonderful bottle of wine for your celebration or as a hostess gift.

Last but not least, head around the corner to Park Avenue Antiques and Country Choice for a great selection of old and new. Manager Cindy and her crew have the shop looking like a winter wonderland and filled with wonderful gifts. This shop is a feast for your eyes as there are beautiful wintery things to create beautiful table settings everywhere you look.

Park Avenue carries lovely bowls, plates and mugs for perfect gifts. My favorite of this year’s offerings is a lovely white plate with red writing that says “Eat deliciously, Drink happily and be wonderfully Merry.”

You will also find the latest cookbooks on Country Choice’s shelves. You can find selections from Ina Garten, the Pioneer Woman, and JoAnna Gaines. They also offer Stonewall Kitchen products for delicious gifts.

So you can see that there are many options for your gift-giving needs right here in Fremont! Let these fine merchants know how much you appreciate their presence in our community by supporting them as your go-to shops for gifts to surround your tree!

Quote of the Week: Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly Merry Christmas. — Peg Bracken

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Ellen Lund of Fremont is a freelance food columnist.

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