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Creative gifts that share the holiday spirit—and support the North Shore.

During the last-minute crunch of holiday shopping, it’s hard to get creative. But sometimes, truly special gifts require thinking outside even the most gorgeously wrapped box. So we’ve found some truly thoughtful ideas that can’t be found in a shopping mall—and even better, each gift also gives back to the local community. Now that’s the (holiday) spirit.


For the Foodie

» An intimate evening in the Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse is tops— literally. For $450 per couple, reserve an all-inclusive private dinner in the lighthouse’s lofty perch. You’ll be tended to by your own waitstaff, feast on fine fare from an acclaimed restaurant of your choice, and if you’re lucky, maybe a romantic snowfall will blanket the breathtaking waterside landscape. Your dining experience supports the Lighthouse Preservation Society.


» Maybe you’d rather help a home cook keep his or her pantry stocked. Sign them up for a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm share with The Food Project, a Lincoln-based nonprofit with additional farms in Lynn and Beverly. Prices vary seasonally, but each share provides eight to 24 pounds of fresh local produce weekly and helps the Project provide agriculture education and work experience to North Shore teens.


» Pair your present with enrollment in The Wine ConneXtion’s “Wine of the Month Club” ($199.99). Your beloved oenophile receives a featured monthly bottle, VIP treatment at tastings, and first crack at exclusive selections. Plus, 5 percent of your gift benefits North Shore charities.


For the Animal Lover

» If support-a-whale programs feel too trite, give a four-legged walk on the wilder side by adopting through Wolf Hollow. The nonprofit is dedicated to protecting and preserving the ecosystem’s vital top dogs, and wolf sponsors get to visit the Ipswich refuge to see their adoptee playing in its pack.


» Help leave a permanent paw print through Cape Ann Animal Aid’s “Buy a Brick” program. Engraved with a personalized message or name, the bricks line the walkway of the organization’s new animal shelter, as well as support its construction cost. (Big spenders can even name cages and exam rooms.)


For Culture Vultures

» The North Shore is full of non-profit organizations like Gloucester’s Symphony by the Sea ( and Andover’s ACT theater company (actandover. com). Gifting show tickets or a season membership goes a long way toward keeping the area’s live arts scene thriving.


» Encourage the burgeoning Botticelli on your list with enrollment in a local non-profit fine arts group. Salem Arts Association ( and Marblehead Arts Association ( are local groups that offer classes, workshops, and art buying opportunities to members.