By Jaimie Julia Winters

Gifts that give back and are local can be the perfect choice for those hard-to-buy-for people on your holiday list.

Whether you have an art lover, historian, gardener or theater lover on your list, Montclair groups offer unique gifts that will make your friend or family member feel special with a thoughtful gift.

For the history lover

This year, the Montclair History Center is offering personalized map posters from either the 1906 Atlas, 1926 Tax Maps, or 1934 Sanborn Insurance maps. You send in the address and which map you’d like and they’ll select the map from that book includes your address.

History Center offers a local history.
History Center offers a local history.

Each map is very different in the way it looks, customized with your address, and includes the name of the atlas and the date. They also have a non-customized map from the 1906 Atlas of downtown Montclair with Lackawanna Station.

A membership to the Montclair History Center offers recipients free admission historic properties, reduced prices on select programs, behind the scenes programs for members, 10 percent discount in our Museum Shop, complimentary use and assistance in the Albert P. Terhune Research Library to research your home, and two complimentary passes for guests at public tours.

They also have a cookbook belonging to Fanny Crane, a member of one of Montclair’s founding families, as well as a DVD on the history of the Montclair YWCA. Call 973-744-1796 or email for more details.

For organic food chef

Support local farmers by giving the gift of community-supported agriculture through Boxed Organics.

Every other week the recipient will get a box of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits and eggs from as close to home as possible, keeping our local dollars in the hands of our local farmers.
Each pickup also includes has recipes. Pickups are at Elm Street in Montclair.

Go to or call Melina Macall at 973-910-0708 for more information.

For the garden lover

The Van Vleck House & Gardens originated as a 12-acre private estate more than 140 years ago when Joseph Van Vleck Sr. today it offers a quiet retreat and nature programs for both adults and children. A membership to Van Vleck Gardens offers discounted prices to its nature programs including birding and gardening, yoga series in the garden and concerts at the mansion.

For more information, call 973-744-4752 or visit

Van Vleck Gardens holds many programs for the garden lover.
Van Vleck Gardens holds many programs for the garden lover.

Shop the Presby Iris Gardens gift shop, The Bloom Room, from Dec. 5-16 for unique gifts that support the upkeep of the iris gardens.

For the theater lover

Studio Players is a non-profit theater company located in Montclair, Since 1937, Studio Players has offered top theater in Montclair’s backyard.

Theater lovers will love a pair of tickets to upcoming shows January through June that include “Some Girl(s),” “Cinderella or the Story of Bigfoot,” “Born Yesterday,” “Rapunzel,” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!”

Go to to purchase tickets.

4th Wall Theatre in Bloomfield offers subscriptions for $60. Upcoming shows include “Intimate Apparel” and “Bright Star.” Go to to purchase individual tickets or subscriptions.

For the film lover

Montclair Film offers film screenings, classes and —of course — the annual Montclair Film Festival. The gift of a membership to Montclair Film includes advance access and discounts on tickets to all screenings and to the hard to get festival tickets, invitation to member-only nights and discounts for classes.

Montclair Film offers classes in script writing and editing and more.
Montclair Film offers classes in script writing and editing and more.

Why not give the gift of screenwriting, editing or makeup design by purchasing a class for the film lover on your list? Go to or call 973-783-6433.

For the health-conscious

Give the gift of health with a YMCA membership. Membership categories at both branches include kinder, youth, teen, young adult, adult and active older adult. The YMCA offers aquatics and exercise such as yoga, belly dancing and boxing programs,  and also science and theater programs for children. Call Park Street Branch 973-744-3400 or Geyer Family Branch 973-783-7640 or visit

For the animal lover

Give the gift of unlimited access to the Turtle Back Zoo. Members also get free admission to members-only “Night Moves” events, a 15 percent discount at the Turtle Back Zoo Gift Shop, free subscription to the Zoological Society of New Jersey’s newsletter,
“Turtle Talk,” and free admission to more than 110 affiliated zoos and aquariums across the country.

Adopt a Red Panda for the animal lover on your list.
Adopt a Red Panda for the animal lover on your list.

The zoo also offers an adopt-an-animal program. Wouldn’t someone on your list love a Red Panda or Gibbon for Christmas? Proceeds go toward feeding and vet bills. The adoptee will receive an adoption certificate suitable for framing, a fact sheet about the animal, a photograph of the sponsored animal to display in your home or office, and an “I Adopted An Animal” magnetic frame.

For more information, go to or call 973-731-5800.

For the winter sports lover

The historic Clary Anderson Arena on Chestnut Street offers skating lessons through May. The group lessons follow the Ice Skating Institute “We Skate” guidelines. Ice skating is a great fun for everyone.

All ages are welcome as it is never too late to learn, said the staff. Visit or call 973-744-6088 for more information.

For the art lover

A membership to the Montclair Art Museum includes unlimited admission for the year, members-only exhibition openings, free access to the Museum’s Drop-in Studio, participation in Open Studios on Sundays (offering members the opportunity to gain painting and drawing experience with models), discounts on Yard School of Art classes, events, lectures, trips, film screenings and more. Or purchase an art class for the art lover on your list.

The Yard School offers drawing, painting pottery and more. The Museum Shop offers unique artsy gifts as well. Go to or call 973-746-5555.