Tackling your holiday gift list can be stressful. On top of figuring out the perfect thing for everyone on your list, budgeting and doing the shopping (preferably locally), there’s so much else to manage — from cleaning and decorating the house to organizing and cooking a meal. Taking a page from the iconic Oprah Winfrey, here are a few of Allison’s “favorite things”- her top picks for locally sourced gifts this holiday season.

A gorgeous candle

Nothing gets you in the holiday mood like a seasonal candle. Allison recommends keeping the scents natural and, of course, those with hints of spruce are so evocative at holiday time. Candles come in every price range from under $20 to over $100 making this choice suitable for all budgets. One of her favorite candle company discoveries is Pomeroy 142 which she discovered on a trip to the Berkshires. You cannot go wrong with any of their scents as they are all sophisticated and lovely, especially the “lavender and sage”. Local stores like Meus in Maplewood or Paper Ribbon and Wrap in Millburn, NJ are also great spots to pick up a yummy one.

A cozy throw

A luxurious, soft throw blanket is something you might not splurge on for yourself but would love to get. A throw adds a touch of color and texture to a living room, family room or bedroom and is super cozy at this time of year. Allison loves the selection at Perch Home in Maplewood, NJ.

Extra fancy EVVO

Instead of that bottle of wine, why not bring a bottle of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil as a gift for your host? This is another great choice for home chefs. Olive oil is used in so many recipes, and there’s a big difference between a really good bottle and those you find on the grocery store shelves. You don’t even need to spend a fortune to score a good bottle. We love the brands available at Baker St. Market in Maplewood, NJ. Shorline Vine in Madison, CT has delicious flavored oils and vinegars. Allison recommends the citrus varieties on salads and fish.


Charcuterie boards seem to be all the rage. You might purchase a beautiful wooden charcuterie board and knives from a local kitchen shop and pair it with some wonderful spreads or olives so that your host can serve this at another time. You could even add a gift card so that the recipient can order the best cheese and meats when they are ready. Check out Montclair’s Van Hook or Maplewood’s Baker St. Market for the best selection of charcuterie that you can purchase for gifting, arranging yourself or order a ready made platter. There are also tons of great cookbooks out that can show you “how to” create beautiful grazing boards.

Gifts for pets

Finally, if your recipient is a pet parent, then gifting a little something to their best friend can make you their favorite guest. For dogs, you can buy them a fun toy or leash. Those with cats would enjoy toys stuffed with catnip, a soft bed or new collar. If you want to spend a bit more, the gift of a custom portrait from a photographer like Julia Maloof Verderosa would be appreciated by any pet owner. Julia actually photographed Allison’s dog, Archie, last year! Many folks adopted pets during the pandemic, and bringing your host something they can use from a local shop like Pet Wants in S. Orange, NJ will surely be a big hit.

The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing real estate team based at Compass in Short Hills, NJ. We are local market experts, specializing in real estate and homes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills, Montclair, West Orange, NJ and the surrounding towns. We are driven by earning great testimonials and referral business from happy clients. You can read our testimonials here.