Wedding Guest Gifts
Gift baskets filled with products from local businesses like Ryan & Wood Distilleries in Gloucester make thoughtful take-aways
Illustration by Holly Nichols
Weddings might be unforgettable, but favors and other gifts from the happy couple are sometimes anything but. Satin sacks of stale Jordan almonds and monogrammed tchotchkes inevitably wind up tossed in the trash—maybe even before the honeymoon. The solution? Give a little bit of the North Shore with thoughtful favors, attendant gifts, and more from local companies and artisans.
FOR YOUR ATTENDANTS
Thank your best buds for standing with you and your sweetie on your big day with local tokens of gratitude. Guys and gals alike will love a bit of pampering, and many salons and spas on the North Shore cater to wedding parties with special group packages, including Maison Esthetique Christiane Bourque Spa in Danvers, spa nijoli & salon in Methuen, and Spa Paradiso and Salon in Newburyport. There’s grooming for men, too, at The Men’s Spa at the Mansion in Peabody, where guys can find hair and nail care, massages, and other tempting treatments, plus a place to hang out and lounge, complete with a choice of cigars and snacks, a pool table, a couch, a deck, and a big-screen TV.
Couples who want to go a more traditional route with attendant gifts can opt for jewelry for the ladies and flasks and spirits for the guys. Instead of hitting the mall, bedeck your ’maids with locally crafted bling. Opt for the sophisticated charm of necklaces and other baubles from garnish; seashore-inspired silver, gold, and copper creations from Copper Moon Studio; or bold and eclectic pieces from QuitsaKiki Designs. Couples can also look to local arts organizations, like the Newburyport Art Association or the Salem Arts Association, for jewelry-making members whose work strikes their fancy.
For the guys, Ryan & Wood Distilleries in Gloucester offers flasks in two styles, sipping glasses, and a selection of spirits, including Beauport Vodka, Knockabout Gin, Folly Cove Rum, Rye Whiskey, and Single Malt Whiskey. Brides and grooms might also gift their cocktail-loving friends with a locally sourced gift basket filled with Ryan & Wood Distilleries hooch, Amesbury-based Spiker’s Shrubs, and cocktail rimming salt from Gloucester-based Atlantic Saltworks. And don’t forget to add a few lovely accessories, too, like adorable anchor-emblazoned bottle stoppers or openers shaped like flip-flops or lobster claws, from Mariposa in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Those who want to explore the region with their family and friends before the big day might also opt for guided tours. Groups can do everything from sampling beer and touring the brewery at Cape Ann Brewing Company in Gloucester to checking out the birds and other wildlife at Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport to chartering the schooner Thomas E. Lannon in Gloucester to eating their way through Salem with Salem Food Tours and Cape Ann and Newburyport with Cape Ann Foodie Tours to kayaking the coast on a guided tour with Essex River Basin Adventures.
FOR YOUR OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS
Surprising out-of-town guests with a welcome bag or care package in their hotel room is a great way to say thank you for attending your nuptials. In addition to including the requisite schedule of events, maps, and menus from your favorite restaurants, get guests acquainted with the North Shore with locally inspired gifts.
For instance, food-lovers will savor a copy of the cookbook Baking by Hand by Andy and Jackie King, of the Salem bakery A & J King Artisan Bakers, tucked into a picnic basket along with a bag of decadent cookies from Essex-based Lark Fine Foods, pumpkin whoopie pies from The Whoo(pie) Wagon in Topsfield, or Honey Bee Mine Granola from Pure Pastry in Beverly.
History buffs will appreciate a printout of one (or all) of the Essex National Heritage Area’s themed visitor guides, available for free online, which include detailed information about attractions related to everything from the Salem witch trials to maritime history. They’ll also love a gift certificate redeemable for tickets to The House of the Seven Gables (visit the museum gift shop to purchase) or a bag of old-fashioned candies from Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie, the country’s oldest candy company, which has locations in Salem and North Andover.
If relaxation is in order, look to Plum Island Soap Company for a great variety of locally made soaps, scrubs, lotions, and more. A bottle of wine from Mill River Winery in Rowley, Russell Orchards in Ipswich, Willow Spring Vineyards in Haverhill, or another local winery is also a nice touch (don’t forget to include glasses and a corkscrew, too).
FOR YOUR WEDDING FAVORS
When it comes to forgettable gifts, nothing takes the (wedding) cake more than favors. That’s why edible gifts are often the best bet— and maybe the least likely to get tossed in the trash.
From homemade saltwater taffy to handcrafted chocolates, there’s no shortage of North Shore spots to shop for candy, including Putnam Pantry in Danvers, Harbor Sweets in Salem, Tuck’s Candy in Rockport, and Winfrey’s Fudge & Chocolates in Newburyport and other locations. Bakeries, like Buttermilk Baking Company in Newburyport, also offer individually wrapped and custom-decorated cookie favors for wedding guests.
Other edible options might include little jars of jam or locally sourced honey from farm stands or specialty shops, or even small packets of coffee beans from a local roaster, like Atomic Café in Beverly.
Philanthropically minded couples often opt to skip the keepsake route altogether and donate to their favorite charity in lieu of giving their guests favors. There are a wide variety of North Shore-based charities to choose from, like Beverly Bootstraps, which helps struggling families get on their feet. The Beverly-based organization just began a program in which couples who choose to donate in lieu of favors will receive a PDF to print out information cards for their guests.
Another option is Amesbury-based Lucy’s Love Bus, which provides grants to help children with cancer get therapies, such as massage, acupuncture, or horseback riding, to help manage the sometimes devastating side effects of traditional cancer treatment. The organization was founded in 2006 by 11-year-old Lucy Grogan, just six months before she died of cancer.
Among the many other local organizations couples might choose to donate to are the Lynnfield-based Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Alliance; the Women’s Fund of Essex County in Danvers; the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center at Nevins Farm in Methuen; and Groundwork Lawrence.
Whatever their interests or passions, local couples will find no shortage of lovingly made gifts, exciting activities, and worthy causes.