Berkshire Holiday Gift Baskets

Berkshire Holiday Gift Baskets

by Judith Lerner (This article published 2010, but still current.)

     It is because of Christmas gift baskets that I devote what looks like a third of my guest bedroom to the storage of baskets. I did not receive these for Christmases past. Rather, I gather them in nostalgic memory of my family having received wonderously basketed goodies from afar in my early childhood. And monthly boxes of perfect pears, grapefruits, peaches ….

     Berkshirites can still order holiday gift baskets and boxes of mass produced fancy foods from HARRY AND DAVID, nation emperors of the gift basket and fruit-of-the-month club or LINDT HOLIDAY CHOCOLATES in their outlet stores. But we have more intimate, local choices grown, produced and/or gathered together right here.

     This is the third year that Christine Dupre has been making holiday gift baskets for Aleisha Gibbons' BERKSHIRE ORGANICS. These wicker baskets are the antithesis of commercial holiday food. They get delivered around the county and the region by local drivers.

The local and sustainably grown and made products nestle in recycled basket grass. The treats are Berkshire Bark from Sheffield, Matt hauk's Berkshire Biscotti Babies, local maple syrup, honey, preserves, Klara's Cookies from lee or berkshire Organics' own baked goods. There might be Berkshire maple mustard or organic olive oil. Or a traditional basket of fruit only this is organic and local. Berkshire Organics even offers vegetable or vegetable and fruit combo baskets.

     Local fruit — apples — are part of BARTLETT'S ORCHARDS gift baskets; and are boxed and shipped (as are wines) by HILLTOP ORCHARDS as well, Hilltop owner John Vittori said. Bartlett's will include any of their store products including their baked goods — muffins, cider doughnuts — but the doughnuts are only their usual wonderful if you pick up your basket and deliver it yourself immediately.

     In fact, local fruit can be part of many Berkshire gift baskets on request. BERKSHIRES GREEN GROCER, HAWTHORNE VALLEY FARM STORE, THE OLD CUMMINGTON CREAMERY, WILD OATS MARKET, the baskets BELLA FLORA makes at GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE all come to mind.

     So many berkshire Food businesses are offering gift boxes and baskets this year. Prices range from $15 to the hundreds with most in the $35 to $85 range. Ther eare simple, traditional baskets and exotic and fanciful ones.

     Each shop has loyal customers who appreciate just the way their baskets are made and the special products each has.

     GOULD FARM offers only their farm grown and produced products in their holiday gift baskets. While these have tremendous appeal for former staff and guests and their families, the general public are encouraged to order them.

     But Gould Farm's holiday baskets are popular, HARVEST BARN AND BAKERY  team manager C.J. Walton told me.

    "We probably have as much business as we can handle," he said.

     John and Dinae Tracy, owners of GORHAM AND NORTON, the longtime classic gourmet grocery on Main Street in Great Barrington, have been creating holiday fruit baskets, wine baskets and baskets full of imported chocolates, tins of tea and local maple syrup products for 50 years.

     "We have pictures if you would like to come and see what we've done," Diane said. "We can custom make them with anything a customer wants."

     Just up the road, LOCKE, STOCK AND BARREL have been making theirs for over 40 years. They are known for their Christmas shipments from Europe. They strew a basket with six gold and six silver Jordan almonds from their bulk bins. They have English Christmas pudding and Italian and German cakes, cookies and candies. Their cheeses are excellent and, sometimes, unusual.

     "We just got in a cheese," Pat Larkin, who owns the ship with her husband, Locke, said. "It's called Stinking Bishop cheese. There's quite a story with it … but we have it. It's from England."

     "My baskets are all custom-made," she said. "They are simply meant to open up and enjoy."

     "We do cheese, crackers and pates; meats, wines, chocolates. I just did one up for someone who loves to cook. We have spices from all over the world; we have about 25 different types of salt and about 12 different kinds of pepper so I used those in that basket."

     "I ask what is the person like? How much do you want to spend? Are they old? Young? What do they like to do? Do they like to cook? Then, I create them," Pat siad.

     Most designers who customize their gift baskets say the same thing as Pat Larkin about the way she knows what to put in each basket.

     MARIA'S EUROPEAN DELIGHTS, midway between those two shops, specializes in foods from Poland and Germany. Owner Maria Sekowski was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about her Middle European delicacies.

     Just a bit south, Helen and Francois Bizalion's BIZALION'S, which specializes in foods French and Irish foods, charchuterie and estate olive oils, please their customers at Christmas not only with those but also with their handmade round cheese box packagiing. Customers, in fact, insist on the boxes, Helen explained.

     Shelly Williams, owner of HAVEN BAKERY in Lenox, raved about Matt Rubiner's Shaker-like boxes and his gift baskets in general. Matt ordered 200 of them this year for his RUBINER'S CHEESEMONGERS in the center of Great Barrington. He knows his customers.

     "Often," Matt said, "they're buying them [the holiday gift baskets] for a good cook friend of their so we might do them filled with olive oil and olives and spices. Or they will want one that's an open-it-up-and-eat-it-all-in-one-sitting cookies and candies."

     "But most people want a straight cheese with crackers and nuts and dried fruit. They just come in and name their price and what they want in it and we ship 'em out," Matt concluded.

     Not unlike Maria Sekowski's appeal to Berkshirites with a Central European background, Sarah and Kevin Wright aim for the niche market of homesick Brits at theie L'IL BRITAIN FISH & CHIPS SHOP in Bennington, VT. They fill holiday baskets with goods to warm the hearts and tstomachs of those who miss their childhood staples: digestive biscuits, HobNobs, Quality Street chocolates, Heinz Baked Beans and other tinned and jarred foods.

     The most popular holiday gift baskets are the ones Annie Whalen makes at her BELLA FLORA business in GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE.

     She started out making Guido's baskets about 25 years ago when they were still in their tiny old store across from what was then Aster's.

     "We do them both in Pittsfield and Great Barrington," Annie said. "I expect to do at least 500, most in the last 10 days before Christmas. I'm praying for 600."

     The basic basket "has fruit," Annie said. "Grapefruit, orange, apples, pear, grapes, bananas, clementine, Bola granola and a Guido's caramel apple. It also has truffles and a mini Toblerone bar. I try to use a lot of local product when I can."

     As the price goes up Annie's basket gets fuller.

     "It starts to have Cabot cheese and crackers, Guido's Goodness trail mix, a mini Toblerone bar and truffles — same fruit but more of it."

     Even larger ones get two Berkshire Bark bars, Christmas Torrone nougat, sour candy and "lots more fruit." The list gets longer as the baskets get bigger.

     "I might be putting pineapples in this year."

     She makes up baskets that sit on store shelves to get carried out the door, she makes a variety of sizes of her "four recipes" of designed baskets to order and she makes custom designed baskets including gluten-free and vegan baskets.

     Some of the items in the gluten-free baskets are Suzie's Thin Cakes Puffed Crackers, salsa, rice sticks, Bakery on Main Granola, gluten-free pretzels, ginger cookies, bruschetta topping, olives.

     "We specialize in gluten-free. I can make any type of gluten-free basket."

     "They get more and more beautiful every year," she said.

     John and Tom Berger's BERGERS' SPECIALTY FOODS , at the Pittsfield Giudo's, has long made themed holiday food gift baskets such as one featuring Klara's Cookies, David's Biscotti, Barrington Coffee Roaster and other local products; a coffee-oriented basket including mugs; a basket of Italian cookies and biscotti. The foods they prepare themselves at the store, their cheeses and their extensive choices of tasty and decorative baked boods also make great food gift baskets.

     Berkshire gift baskets are becoming more and more popular.

     "Our basket orders are growing every year so we are encouraged," said Joe Nejaime who owns NEJAIME'S WINE CELLARS in Stockbridge and Lenox with his brother Jim.

     A couple of years ago, Joe tried an amusing experiment to find out where he stood.

     "There are commercial companies out there offering holiday food gift baskets," Joe said. "I ordered one at the mid-range price, a $50, $60 basket. When it came in, we took it apart and ate it. While it looked good as a basket of boxes, it wasn't the quality that we carry on our shelves. So, I decided not to worry about that competition."

     There are hometown gift baskets with a longtime following like the ones Earl Albert puts together at LOEB'S FOODTOWN in Lenox or those at the two HARRY'S SUPERMARKETS in Pittsfield where, "People are more into the fruit baskets," Earl said. But cheese and crackers and baskets of cookies are also popular with their customers.

     And baskets owners Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley make at THE OLD CREAMERY in Cummington."We'll make up some baskets to have in the store that people can just walk out with. But we particularly like special orders," Alice said. Then she added, "We don't like to exclude anyone so we will work with anyone's budget, from very low right up to the most upscale."

     Or at WHITNEY'S FARM in Cheshire where retail manager Martha Tanner makes the baskets including "a sweet gift basket with all of our baked goods: cookies, scones, muffins, bear claws, cannoli –anything in our bakery."

     Some other hometown holiday gift basket makers, like Erica Leopole, are newly at it. Erica and her husband Burkhart bought the PUBLIC MARKET in West Stockbridge. She wants to keep it simple and has come up with theme baskets using locally roasted fair trade coffee, local maple syrup and granola and beloved, locally made salami among other products.

     There are sweets baskets, boxes, tins, towers and platter from bakers and candymakers A-FRAME BAKERY, APOGEE CATERING AT PERIGREE RESTAURANT, BABYCAKES, BARB'S BAKED GOODS, BARRINGTON BITES, CAKEWALK BAKERY, CATHERINE'S CHOCOLATE SHOP, CHEESECAKE CHARLIE'S CHOCOLATE SPRINGS, FIDDLE FERN FUDGE, HAVEN BAKERY, IOKA VALLEY FARM, AMY'S CARROT CAKE, PEACE, LOVE AND CHOCOLATE, ROBIN'S CANDY SHOP, SARAH'S CHEESECAKE, SOMA CATERING, THE SOUTHFIELD STORE and TAFT FARMS and "yummy chocolates" at CLEARWATER NATURAL FOODS in Lenox, co-owner Ruth Wheeler enthused.

     Sharon Sutter owner and baker at A-FRAME BAKERY in Williamstown, suggested tins of her cookies, biscotti assortments, a basket of her morning pastries or a hostess gift of mini-tarts.

     Owner Dawn LaRochelle, whose creative inspiration is behind both her APOGEE CATERING and PERIGREE RESTAURANT in South Lee, chose an unusual form as the holiday baskts she can custom-fill with Apogee's triple-chocolate fudge brownies; iced molasses cookies with crystallized ginger; eggnog bars and other cookies; tea loaves; rugalach; dried apricot, cherry and pistachio Belgian chocolate bark with fleur de sel sprinkles; calligraphed recipe cards; gift certificates — and more.

     "The sky's the limit!" Dawn exclaimed.

     Her 'sky' will be contained in, "adorable snowman hat baskets. It's a black top hot basket with a red, green and gold plaid bank like what you'd see on top of Frosty the Snowman!" she clarified.

     Helene Armet and Judy Turbin are taking order for their 6-inch BABYCAKES, also in Williamstown, in such holiday flavors as chocolate-raspberry, chocolate-mint, maple-walnut and cocoa-spice with just a hint of cloves and cinnamon in addition to usual flavors.

     Barbara Davidson is making custom holiday baskets, tins and platters at her Sheffield home bakery, BARB'S BAKED GOODS, with candies, cheese, fruit and Barb's own bars, brownies, coffeecake, cookies, fruitcake, fudge, jams, rugalach, tea breads. She is offering a huge basket for a $1 raffle. She suggests people stop in to see the giveaway basket, "to see if they like it."

     "You get enough food in it that you probably have to freeze most of it. People love to win a basket," Barb said.

     Wendy Weinberg and Sherri Gorelick have candy cane, mulled cider, champagne and hot cocoa with a mini marshmallow on top as the holiday flavors for their buttercream or cream cheese frosted mini cupcakes that they will pack in secure gift boxes for you at BARRINGTON BITES at The Chef's Shop on Railroad Street in Great Barrington.

     Chef-owner Brian Smith has added holiday offerings of his own cookies, bouche de Noel, stollen and gingerbread at his CAKEWALK BAKER in Lee.

     Kathleen Sinico has holiday boxes of chocolate coveres cordial cherries, a tin of assorted chocolate truffles in flavors like Irish Cream and tiramisu; a gold sleigh holds many boxes of chocolates and nuts with St. Nicholas watching over all; a large basket, various tins, towers and chocolate assortment boxes starting at $8.95 at her eponymous CATHERINE'S CHOCOLATE SHOP in Great Barrington.

     Sophie Petillo, who is CHEESECAKE CHARLIE, is already hard at work baking holiday sweets and sending them off.

     "I am doing a gazillion mini items as we speak: snowman butter cookies and Christmas tree cookies and mini frosted brownies and biscotti and melt-in-your-mouth almond crescent cookies. But what people seem to want most is the two-bite baby cheesecakes. People buy them for their offices and to give away as gifts."

     Besides all her usual cheesecake flavors certain ones strike her customers as more holidayish.

     "I do do candy cane cheesecakes but what is most popular this time of year is my white chocolate raspberry. You know, people are still asking for the pumpkin and cranberry. My eggnog is also popular now and it is really fun to do Brandy Alexander cheesecakes for New Year's."

     "Even though it's really complicated, I love to do my chocolate torte this time of year. It's such a rich, dark chocolate that I decorate the top by painting on a white chocolate snowman and a decorated coconut cake is very festive right now," Sophie mused.

     "Cheesecakes don't balance well in a basket so we put them in pretty boxes and wrap them with ribbon," she told me.

     Joshua Needleman is making up his holiday baskets (for pick-up only) from all the rich chocolates in his CHOCOLATE SPRINGS at The Lenox Counrty Shops in Lenox: Santa lollypops and chocolate-covered Santa oreos; fruit and nut laden chocolate slabs called holiday mendiants; his own nougat bars; chocolate-covered candy canes; chocolate nutcrackers and maple-spice Christmas tree decorations; whole or individual slices of bouche de Noel; tiny, solid, shaped chocolate snowmen, trees and bells; filled chocolates in flavors like "chocolate-spices maple that has cinnamon, star anise, maple and a touch of nutmeg, too," Joshua said. And then there's the piece de resistance: "Large, dark chocolate Santa Clauses that are hollow: you crack one open and it has all these chocolates inside: little bells and snowmen and trees and holiday pieces."

     If you are a fan of FIDDLE FERN FUDGE, owner and fudgemaker Catherine Sullivan is hanging up her apron and spoons in Alford after Christmas, so get these creamy Calebot and Valerone Belgian chocolate confections she whips up while you still can.

     Shelly Williams, owner of HAVEN BAKERY in Lenox, was giving away samples of the bakery's new fruitcake early in December.

     "Right now we are taste testing a new recipe for fig-espresso-cardamon fruitcake," she said. "We also have traditional stollen and traditional fruitcake, holiday fruit bread and holiday cookies; and we use Berkshire Mountain Distillers' rum in all our fruitcakes!"

     The Leab family put their pancake mix and maple products including maple bbq sauce and maple mustard into their baskets at their IOKA VALLEY FARM in Hancock, while owner baker Mary McGinnis is packing up trays of all sizes of her 29-ingredient, cream-cheese butter frosting slathered cupcakes at her little shop, MARY'S CARROT CAKE, in downtown Pittsfield because, "with the icing, they do not fit into a basket well,"Mary said.

     Alexandra Aronoff packs the caramel bark, chocolate bars, cookies, hot chocolate mix, truffles and other holiday gift luxuries iinto gift baskets that look like books at her all things chocolate business, PEACE, LOVE AND CHOCOLATE.

     "I wanted to have something to package in that would be tucked neatly but still have that wow factor," Ali explained to me.

     The choices with which Robin Helfand can fill her all-custom baskets at her ROBIN'S CANDY SHOP on Great Barrington's Main Street are endless– from local honey to little round purple traditional English sugarplums; from cut rock candies to locally handmade ribbon candy; minitiature spun sugar baskets and teeny, tine 4-inch candy houses.

     You think of it, you name it and, if it's a candy, Robin has it. Salt water taffy; Bonomo's Turkish taffy in all its original four flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana.)

     Remember?

     "You put it in the freezer and it cracks. You eat it at room temperature and you can pull it,"Robin reminisced.

     Truffles? Yes. Candy canes? Beyond count.

     Imported nougat; baked marzipan; Jordan almonds made into flowers; a choice of over 75 varieties of licorice from all over Europe or a 5 pound gummy bear. Centerpiece? Holiday party main course?

     And real mistletoe (don't eat it).

     Her holiday offerings include licorice-of-the-month club, top-seller-truffle-of-the-month club or her most popular sour candy-of-the-month club.

     Speak to Robin. She'll fill gift baskets until 7 o'clock Christmas Eve.

     "Last minute orders are more than welcome," she said.

     And she makes sure "there's a toothbrush in every gift basket."

     Sarah Sayers, who owns SARAH'S CHEESECAKE in Pittsfield with her husband Bill, told me, "We do do little gift baskets with little bags of our fair trade organic coffees, Italian cookies, other Christmas cookies and our own chocolate covered pretzels; and we can do baskets to order with any of our pastries — as long as I can get a basket big enough to fit in what they want. I do platters, too."

     Sarah makes many sorts of her dense, not overly sweet cheesecakes and features holiday flavors like her unexpected and memorable Dutch apple crumb, right now. She also has pumpkin spice, peppermint stick, Creme de Menthe and more. And she makes other mousse, ganache and High Lawn Farm whipped cream frosted holiday cakes.

     Tom and Loretta Tenuda will make savory or sweet food gift baskets or some combo of that at their SOMA CATERINIG shop in Richmond. Loretta mentioned special candied nuts, gingerbread men, and stollen among their holiday offerings. They are baking chocolate and raspberry Sacher tortes, buche de Noel in a variety of flavors, assorted cookies and French pastries and savories including latkes all month long.

    THE SOUTHFIELD STORE, in that village of New Marlborough, is owned and directed by Peter Platt and his wife Meredith Kennard of The Old Inn on the Green. The store houses the pastry kitchen where pastry chef Shirl Gard and her crew turn out the custom chocolates, petit fours, cakes, tartlets, desserts and other sweets that the store will turn inot custom pastry and confection food gift baskets.

     Southfield Store Manager Andrew Higgins was excited about their pre-designed basket which features a Mason Cash glazed natural stoneware batter bowl with a handle and a pour spout filled with Shirl's pancake mix, local maple syrup and two linen dishtowels.

     "Come in and see the dishtowel colors," Andrew suggested.

     The Tawczynski family's TAFT FARMS holiday gift box business has been brisk. Farmstore manager, Pennie Curry, said they were fast running out of farm made condiments they make from their own produce. She said they do still have some honey, jams and jellies and nearby Turner Farms' maple syrup.

     Martha Tawczynski is known for her baking and they are selling platters and boxes of her cookies. She is making gingerbread girls and boys, Italian Christmas cookies, special Christmas cookies, linzer cookies and "all the holiday cookies," Pennie said.

     "The biggest seller is the big ginger molasses cookies," she added.

     The holiday packs of house smoked bacon and gravalox from HOLY SMOKES in Turners Falls are among the new and different baskets, MADJACK'S BBQ in Pittsfield have a small basket of barbeque sauces, pecan tarts and sweet potato tarts with a gift certificate included. PRONTO-TO-GO in Lenox will be filling their holiday sweets with a twist and the ROUTE 7 GRILL in Great Barrington will custom make a basket with any combo of their smoked bacon, new barbeque sauces and rub, Barrington Coffee Roasters' coffee beans, Berkshire Bark chocolate bars, Turner Farms maple syrup, Baldwin's vanilla extract, their own gift cards and Route 7 Grill pig tee shirts or sweatshirts.

     Jody Soules is offering really excitingly new holiday gift baskets to feed wild birds at her WILD BIRD COUNTRY STORE in Great Barrington. This gift for bird lovers will be a treat for hummingbirds or butterflies, goldfinches, chickadees, juncos and any wild bird.

     If you want to fill your own holiday food gift baskets with the freshest, most local and home/hand made products, do not miss BIZARRE BAZAAR at the Lebanon Valley Farmers Market in New Lebanon, NY on Sunday, December 12 or the BERKSHIRE GROWN'S HOLIDAY MARKETS in Great Barrington and Williamstown on Saturday, December 18.

     Shopping local is what all these gift baskets represent. They bring Berkshire holiday cheer in the best ways.

A-FRAME BAKERY     1194 Cold Spring Road @ intersection of Route 7 & Taconic Trail, Williamstown; Sharon Sutter baker.owner; (413) 458-3600; aframebakery@verizon.net; open Tuesday thru Friday 6:30-5; Saturday & Sunday 8:30-5; pre-order custom gift baskets with holiday goodies, cakes, tortes, biscotti, spice nuts, lemon curd, raspberry conserve and more; order by Wednesday, Dec. 22.

 APOGEE CATERING AT PERIGREE RESTAURANT     1575 Pleasant Street, South Lee; Dawn LaRochelle owner; (413) 394-4047; www.apogeecatering.com; apogeecatering@aol.com; custom designed snowman top hat baskets with over-the-top sweet treat, recipe cards and cift certificates; buy $100 in gift certificates get $20 free gift certificate; Berkshire County delivery available.

 BABYCAKES     Williamstown; (413) 458-8778 or (413) 458-9930; BabyCakes2468@gmail.com; Helene Armet & Judy Turbin, bakers/owners; simple rich cakes no larger than 6-inches in festive, wintry flavors; order by Thursday, Dec. 23.

BARB'S BAKED GOODS     46 Main Street, Sheffield; Barbara Davidson; (413) 229-8091; SheffBarbara@yahoo.com; open daily 8-5; Xmas Eve to 2; custom gift baskets, tins and plattters and a $1 raffle drawing for huge basket; delivery in Sheffield, Great Barrington and Canaan, CT.

BARRINGTON BITES     31 Railroad St., at the back of Chef's Shop, Great Barrington; (413) 528-0660; www.barringtonbites.com; open Thursday thru Saturday 12-4; Xmas Eve to 4; Wendy Weinberg and Sherri Gorelick woners/bakers; custom designed miniature cupcake gift boxes in holiday flavors; order by Tuesday, Dec. 21 for pre-Xmas pick-up.

BARTLETT'S ORCHARD    575 Swamp Road, Richmond; (413) 698-2559; www.bartlettsorchard.com; Cindy Bartlett; open daily 8-5:30; Xmas Eve to 12; custom baskets with apples and any store products; shipping available.

BELLA FLORA FULL SERVICE FLORIST AT GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE     1020 South St., Pittsfield; (413) 496-8242; 760 South Main St. Route 7, Great Barrington; (413) 528-9255; www.guidosfreshmarketplace.com; Annie Whalen, owner/florist; open Monday through Saturday 9-7; Sunday 10-6; Xmas Eve 8-4; ready-made and custom holiday food gift baskets in 4 recipes plus gluten-free and vegan; delivery within Berkshire County; order by Monday, Dec. 20 for shippping.

BERGER'S SPECIALTY FOODS AT GUIDO'S FRESH MARKETPLACE     1020 South Street, Pittsfield; (413) 442-1989; www.guidosfreshmarketplace.com; bergersspecialtyfoods@hotmail.com; John Berger & Tom Berger; open Monday thru Saturday 9-7; Sunday 10-6; Xmas Eve 8-4; themed baskets such as New England, Italian or Breakfast or custom including prepared foods and baked bgoods; delivery to Lenox, Lee, Pittsfield and Dalton; shipping available; order by Saturday, Dec. 18 for shipping.

BERKSHIRE GROWN HOLIDAY FARMERS' MARKETS     Searles School gym, Bridge St., Great Barrington; Saturday, Dec. 18 9-1; Williams College Towne Field House, Latham St., Williamstown; Saturday, December 18, 10-2; www.berkshiregrown.org; at least 30 farmers and other food and farm product purveyors at each market with fruits and vegetables, honey and maple syrup, cheese, other dairy and eggs, baked goods and confections, prepared foods, flowers, holiday decorations and ornaments, body-care products, traditional crafts, books.

BERKSHIRE ORGANICS     813 Dalton Division Rd. @ corner of Williams St., Pittsfield; (413) 442-0888; www.berkshireorganics.com; Aleisha Gibbons, owner; open Sunday thru Tuesday 10-4; Wednesday 12-6; Thursday thru Saturday 9-6, Xmas Eve to 3; pre-designed baskets in several sizes, natural and/or organic and/or local products for pick-up or delivery throughout Berkshire County and some NY towns; order by Saturday, Dedc. 18, shipping available.

BERKSHIRE GREEN GROCER     42 Park St., #2, Lee; Ryan & Emmy Davis owners; (413) 243-1775; http://berkshiresgreengrocer.com/gift-baskets.html; open Monday thru Friday 8-6; Saturday 10-6; Sunday 11-4; Xmas Eve to 2; pre-designed and custom baskets featuring local and organic products; delivery in the Berkshires; order by Tuesday, December 14 for shipping.

BIZALION'S FINE FOOD     684 Main St./ Route 7 #3, Great Barrington; (413) 644-9988; www.bizalions.com; bizalion@bizalions.com; Francois & Helen Bizalion; open Monday 10-4, Tuesday thru Friday 8:30-5, Saturday 9-5:30, Sunday 9-4; pre-designed or custom holiday gift boxes of olive oils, condiments and more for pick-up, delivery available, order by Sunday, Dec. 19 for shipping.

CAKEWALK BAKERY AND CAFE     56 Main St., Lee; (413) 243-2806; www.cakewalkbakery.com; Brian Smith baker/owner; open Tuesday thru Sunday 7-4; pre-order buche de Noel, stollen, gingerbread boys & girls, holiday cookies for pick-up only.

CATHERINE'S CHOCOLATE SHOP     260 Stockbridge Rd., great Barrington; (413) 528-2510; Kathleen Sinico, owner; http://catherineschocolate.net; open Monday thru Saturday 9-6, Sunday 10-5, Xmas Eve to 4; pre-designed and custom chocolate and candy baskets, boxes, tins, towers; order by Wednesday, December 15 for shipping.

 CHEESECAKE CHARLIE'S     Lenox; (413) 637-2411; c.charlie@verizon.net; Sophie & Ralph Petillo, chefs/owners; any cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more; cheesecake a specialty; hand drawn and painted decoration available; delivery from Pittsfield to Great Barrington and surrounding area; order by Saturday, December 18 for shipping.

CHOCOLATE SPRINGS     56 Pittsfield Road #3 at the Lenox Country Shops, Lenox; (413) 637-9820; www.chocolatesprings.com; Joshua Needleman chocolatier/owner; open daily 11-9, Xmas Eve to 7; custom chocolate fantasy baskets including Santa oreos and lollypops, mendiants [thick nut and fruit bars/chunks], candy tree decorations, chocolate-covered candy canes, chocolate bells, trees, snowmen, nutcrackers and more; order by Tuesday, December 21 for shipping.

CLEARWATER NATURAL FOODS     11 Housatonic St. #1, Lenox; (413) 637-2721; www.clearwaternaturalfoods.com; Maggie Sadoway & Ruth Wheeler owners; open 9:15-6 Monday thru Saturday; 11-3 Sunday; custom baskets and boxes; lots of Christmasy things, including blender bottles, yummy chocolates, organic honey; delivery in Lenox and Pittsfield; order by Monday, December 13 for shipping.

FIDDLE FERN FUDGE     278 Green River Rd., Alford; (413) 528-2563; Catherine Sullivan proprietor/fudgemaker; boxes of impeccable Belgian/French chocolate fudge; local delivery; order by Monday, December 20 for shipping.

GORHAM & NORTON     278 Main St., Great Barrington; (413) 528-0900; John & Dinae Tracy owners; open 8-6 Monday thru Saturday; Xmas Eve to 5; making custom gift basket for the last 50 years; delivery in Great Barrington.

GOULD FARM HARVEST BARN BAKERY & CAFE     100 Gould Rd. off Route 23, Monterey; (413) 644-9718; www.gouldfarm.org; CJ Walton baker/manager; custom baskets of farm products including maple syrup, honey, dressing, pancake mix, cookies and more; shipping available.

HARRY'S SUPERMARKET     290 Wahconah St., Pittsfield; (413) 442-9084; open Monday thru Saturday 7-9, Sunday 9-5, Xmas Eve to 5; 37 Elm St., Pittsfield; (413) 443-7247; open Monday thru Saturday 8-6; Sunday 10-5; Xmas Eve to 5; www.harryssupermarket.com; bob4harrys@aol.com; standard mainly fruit or any special order; delivery to Pittsfield and Lanesborough.

HAVEN BAKERY     8 Frannklin St., Lenox; (413) 637-8948; www.havenberkshireculinary.com; Shelly Williams executive chef/owner; open Monday thru Friday 7-9, Saturday & Sunday 8-3; baskets of teas, coffees, condiments and Haven confections including stollen, holiday breads and fruitcake; local delivery available between Monday, Dec. 20 and Friday, Dec. 24.

HAWTHORNE VALLEY FARM STORE     327  Route 21C, Ghent/Harlemville, NY; (518) 672-7500 x2; www.hawthornevalleyfarm.org; Dana Wagner general manager; open Monday thru Saturday 7:30-7, Sunday 9-5, Xmas Eve to 2; custom baskets including farm cheeses, baked goods and other products; order by Monday, December 20 for shipping.

HILLTOP ORCHARD AND FURNACE BROOK WINERY     508 Canaan Rd/Route 295, Richmond; (413) 698-3301/ (800) 833-6274; www.hilltoporchards.com; www.furnacebrookwinery.com; mashman@berkshire.rr.com; John Vittori owner; open Wednesday thru Sunday 11-5; no local baskets but wine and apples shipped throughout the US; order by Friday, December 17.

HOLY SMOKES BBQ DELICATESSEN     52 Avenue A, Turners Falls; (413) 863-5426; www.holysmokesbbq.com; infor@holysmokesbbq.com; Leslie and (Papalu) Lou Eccus owners/chefs; open Thursday thru Sunday 11-7; holiday packs of Holy Smokes-smoked bacon or bacon/gravlox bacon lovers' packs; overnight shipping; order by Sunday, December 12.

IOKA VALLEY FARM     3475 Main St. (Route 43), Hancock; (413) 738-5915; www.iokavalleyfarm.com; Missy, Judy and Don Leab; open Saturday and Sunday 9:30-4:30 thru December 19; pre-designed or custom maple gift boxes and collections, includes syrup, bbq sauce, mustard, candies, butter, cream, Judy's jams plus Xmas trees, fresh wreaths and decorations.

LEBANON VALLEY FARMERS MARKET BIZARRE BAZAAR     Midtown Mall/ Routes 20&22, new Lebanon, NY; Sunday, December 12 10-2; produce, fresh-canned tomatoes and sauces, herb infused oils, grass fed beef, free range chickens' eggs,sheeps milk cheeses; breads, honey, sweets, goats' milk soaps, candles, handmade wooden toys, hand made pottery, Xmas tree decorations, jewelry and other crafts.

LI'L BRITAIN FISH & CHIP SHOP     116 North St., Bennington,VT; (802) 442-2447; www.lilbritain.com; Sarah and Kevvin Wight owners/chefs; open Tuesday thru Saturday 11:30-8, Xmas Eve to 3; reopen Feb. 1, 2011; custom baskets of nostalgic British packaged goods such as Bisto Gravy, Branston Pickles, digestive biscuits, Heinz ZBaked Beans, HobNobs, mushy peas, piccalilli, Quality Street chocolates and more.

LOCKE STOCK & BARREL     286 Stockbridge Rd./ Route 7, Great Barrington; (413) 528-0800; Locke and Pat Larkin owners, Amy Christie assistant manager; open Monday thru Saturday 9-6, Sunday 12-5, Xmas Eve to 4; making custom baskets for over 40 years with unusual cheeses and wines and such things as silver and gold Jordan almonds, gin and tonic turnip preserves, fennel pollen ini addition to select Berkshire items and imported traditional European Xmas goodies; delivery in Egremont, Great Barrington, Sheffield and Stockbridge; order by Monday, December 20 for shipping.

LOEB'S FOODTOWN     42 Main St. at corner of Housatonic St., Lenox; (413) 637-0270; www.loebsfoodtown.com; loebstown@aol.com; Earl, Lesley and Michael Albert proprietors; open daily from 7, Monday thru Thursday and Saturday to 6, Friday to 7, Sunday to 4, Xmas Eve to 5; making custom gift baskets for over 40 years with fruit, wine, cheese, fancy crackers, meats, prepared meats and other foods.

 MADJACK'S BARBECUE     117 Fenn St., Pittsfield; (413) 442-2290; www.madjacksbbqonline.com; owner@madjacksbbqonline.com; Jabari Powell and Sarah Kochapski owners, Jabari Powell chef; open Monday thru Thursday 11-7:30, Friday 11-8, Saturday 4:30-8:30, closed Xmas Eve; smalll baskets of the three house sauces, pecan tarts, sweet potato tars and a gift certificate.

MARIA'S EUROPEAN DELIGHTS     67 State Rd./ Routes 23 and 7 near the fire station, Great Barrington; (413) 528-3456; Maria Sekowski owner; open Tuesday thru Saturday 9-6, Sunday 11-2; custom baskets of imported packaged German and Polish specialty foods such as candies, cookies, condiments, mushrooms, pickles, preserves, flavored syrups, composed salads, herring, smoked fish.

MARY'S CARROT CAKE     21 Union St., Pittsfield; (413) 464-2127; open Thursday thru Saturday 12-5; Mary McGinnis baker/owner; carrot cakes and cupcakes with cream cheese frosting only; undecorated; various sizes.

NEJAIME'S WINE CELLARS    444 Pittsfield Rd/ Route 7, Lenox; (413) 448-2274, (800) 946-3988; 60 Main St., Lenox Village (413) 637-2221, (800) 946-3978; www.nejaimeswine.com; info@nejaimeswine.com; Joseph Nejaime, James Nejaime owners; open Monday thru Saturday 9-9, closed Sunday except Dec. 19th 12-5; Xmas Eve to 6; pre-designed and custom baskets of wines, cheeses, crackers, tapanades, preserves, chocolates; some delivery in Berkshire County; order by Saturdya, December 18 for shipping.

OLD CREAMERY GROCERY & CAFE     445 Berkshire Trail/Route 9, Cummington; (413) 634-5560; www.hidden-hills.com/oldcreamery; Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley owners; open Monday thru Saturday 7:30-7:30, Sunday 9-7:30, Xmas Eve closing early; predesigned themed or custom gift baskets for all budgets, such as chocolate lovers, Mediterranean-Italian, all local, on shelves & to pre-order; local delivery, order by Tuesday, December 21 for shipping.

OLD INN ON THE GREEN AT THE SOUTHFIELD STORE     (413) 229-5050/STORE (413) 229-7924/INN; Southfield/ New Marlborough; www.southfieldstore.com; Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard, owners, Shirl Gard, pastry chef; open Monday thru Saturday 7-5, Sunday 8-5, Xmas Eve closing early; pre-designed, themed or custom food gift baskets including confections, coffees, teas, and handmade coffee cups and bowls by Grenadier Pottery; coffee pots and teapots.

 PEACE, LOVE AND CHOCOLATE     36 Main St. in The Mews, Stockbridge; (413) 298-0020; www.peaceloveandchocolate.biz; ali@peaceloveandchocolate.biz; Alexandra Aronoff owner; open daily 11-6, Xmas Eve to 5; custom book/boxes for all budget created from an array of local, regional, national and imported chocolate products; order by Monday, December 20 for shipping.

PRONTO COOKING SCHOOL AND PRONTO TO GO     19 Franklin St., Lenox; (413) 637-3949; Elyse Etling owner/chef; open Wednesday thru Saturday 10-3, Xmas Eve to 1; custom and pre-designed baskets filled with foods all made by hand at Pronto like Chinese spiced nuts, cheddar crackers in black poppy seeds, small biscotti and cookies, tea breads, spice blends, dry mixes; order by Wednesday, December 22 for shipping.

PUBLIC MARKET      8 Main St., West Stockbridge; (413) 232-8595; Erica Leopold and Randy Burkhart owners; open Monday thru Saturday 5-8, Sunday 5-6, open Xmas Day 6-12; custom and a variety of themed baskets pre-made or by order inclugin a breakfast basket, small and deluxe cheese board with board, hostess fruit and nut, wine and cheese; delivery to great Barrington, lenox, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge; order by Tuesday, December 21 for shipping.

ROBIN'S CANDY SHOP     288 Main St., Great Barrington; (413) 528-8477; Robin Helfand owner; open daily 11, Monday thru Thursday to 7, friday to 10, Saturday to 9, Sunday to 8; custom basket of confections of all sorts; extensive vbvariety of licorice, licorice of the month club, sour candy of the month club, truffle of the month club, a toothbrush in every gift basket; order by Friday, December 17 for shipping throughout the US including HI and AK.

ROUTE 7 GRILL     999 South main St./ Route 7, Great Barrington; (413) 528-3235; www.route7grill.com; Lester Blumenthal owner; open Monday thru Thursday 5-9, Friday 5-10, Saturday 11:30-3 and 5-10, Sunday 11:30-9; custom baskets of Route 7 Grill products including bbq sauces, bacon and tee shirts; some delivery available in Berkshire County, ask for details; order by Tuesday, December 21 for shipping.

RUBINER'S CHEESEMONGERS     264 Main St.,Great Barrington; (413) 528-0488; Matthew Rubiner owner/cheesemonger; open daily at 10, Monday thru Saturday to 6, Sunday to 5; custom baskets of cheeses, crackers, olive oils, spices, nuts, dried fruit, candies, cookies andmore ina lidded Shaker-like box; Berkshire delivery from Pittsfield south & east to Lee, some CT and NYS deliveries; order by Wednesday, December 22 for shipping.

SARAH'S CHEESECAKE     898 Crane Ave./ Pittsfield; (413) 443-6678; Sarah and Bill Sayers owners; www.justtheberkshires.com/sarah.htm; open Monday thru Friday 7-6, Saturday 8-3; custom baskets and platters with cookies, pastries, chocolate pretzels and coffees; delivery to Pittsfield businesses.

SOMA CATERING     2089 State Rd., Richmond; (413) 698-3400/store, (413) 854-1720/ Loretta; www.somacatering.com; Tomm and Loretta Tenuda owners,  Tomm Tenuda chef; open Tuesday thru Saturday 8-6, Friday to 7, Xmas Eve, New Year's Eve and new Year's Day to 4; pre-designed savory, sweet or combo baskets with SoMa candied nuts, cookies, gingerbread men, preserves, stollen and packaged items in shop or by order and custom baskets; order by Wednesday, December 22 for shipping.

TAFT FARMS     119 Park St. Route 183 at corner of Division St., great Barrington; (413) 528-1515, (800) 528-1015; www.aftfarms.com; Tawczynski family owners/farmers/bakers; Pennie Curry manager; open daily 8-6, Xmas Eve to 4; gift boxes of Taft jams and jellies, breakfaxt box including pancake mix, honey and maple syrup, custom boxes of Martha's cookies and gingerbread boys and girls; order by Thursday, December 16 for shipping, by Wednesday, December 22 for store pick-up.

THE STORE AT FIVE CORNERS     6 New Ashford Rd., Williamstown; (413) 458-3176; www.greenriverfarms.com; Frank Lewis and family; open daily 7-7; standard and custom baskets; local delivery; order by Friday, December 17 for shipping.

WHITNEY'S FARM MARKET     1775 South State Rd. Route 8, Cheshire; (413) 442-4749; www.whitneysfarm.com; open daily at 9 Sunday thru Wednesday to 6, Friday and Saturday to 7, Xmas Eve to 2; custom or pre-designed themed baskets, corporate, gardener, holiday, student and sweet which include local maple syrup in most baskets; delivery in berkshire County; order by Friday, December 17 for shipping.

WILD BIRDS COUNTRY STORE     783 South Main St./ Route 7, Great Barrington; (413) 644-9007; www.wild-birdstore.com; Jody Soules proprietor; open Monday and Wednesday thru Saturday 9-6, Sunday 11-4, Xmas Eve to 2; custom brid-themed baskets of food and accoutrements for bird lovers and any wild birds; order by friday, December 17 for shipping.

WILD OATS MARKET     320 Main St., Williamstown; (413) 458-8060; www.wildoats.coop; Nicole Young holiday gift basket contact; open daily Monday thru Saturday 8-8, Sunday 10-8, Xmas Eve to 6; custom baskets using local, organic and fair-trade products and Wild Oats bakery's gingerbread men, Italian, Xmas and gourmet cookies, pastries, stollen and holiday breads; order by Thursday, December 23.