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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

Melissa's Picks: 'First Coast Connect' 2019 Local Holiday Gift Guide


Whether you like to shop for holiday gifts online or in-store, we've got you covered this season with a curated selection of locally produced gift ideas that will delight your friends and family, and also help support the First Coast small business community.

Hint: Small Business Saturday is the perfect day to start snapping some of these up.

From delicious food and beverage suggestions, to perfect touches for your home, crazy cool locally made fashion picks, and even some treats for the four-legged friend in your life, these are all gifts I'm happy to recommend adding to your list this season.

Happy shopping!

XOXO Melissa Ross, host of First Coast Connect


Chocolate Chess Pie


Husband-and-wife baking team Kurt and Allison D’Aurizio have scored a smash in Springfield with their popular new Main Street eatery 1748 Bakehouse. Rush to pre-order their fabulous Chocolate Chess Pie for your holiday meal. And we do mean rush, because these are so good, they tend to sell out! One slice of this celestial chocolatey bliss, and you will be going back for seconds — and thirds.


$30.00 | pickup)

Rosemary Garlic Loaf

It started as a messenger bike-delivered bread subscription. ButCommunity Loavesin Murray Hill has grown over time to a wildly popular cafe and bakery that is open for breakfast and lunch. They prioritize local, organic ingredients for their fresh pastries, bagels and sourdough breads. Their delicious rosemary garlic loaf is great for anything from sandwiches to family dinners.


$6.50 | pickup)

Craft Chews For Craft Brews - And Beyond

Friends don’t let friends drink on an empty stomach. So give yours the gift of BrewBox Foods! The locally-owned business makes fresh, gourmet snacks including cheese and charcuterie boards, house-made truffle chips and pimento cheese dip with a twist - all served in eco-friendly packaging at craft breweries and bars around the First Coast. But they also prepare upscale cheese and charcuterie boards for your holiday soiree.



$20 and up | | email to order


Winter Survival Kit

Toast to the holidays withSt. Augustine Distillery, the Spirit of Florida. Spoil your loved ones (or yourself) with a “Winter Survival Kit” featuring a bottle of Florida’s First Bourbon, an engraved rocks glass, a bottle of old fashioned mix, and a silicone large-format ice mold. And, while you’re picking up these items — or some small-batch, rum, vodka and gin — in the distillery’s gift shop, consider touring the historic facility to discover how farm-grown agriculture transforms into award-winning local spirits. 


The Winter Survival Kit is $81.50. Some of the items and many others are available online at Visit the St. Augustine Distillery in person at

112 Riberia St., St. Augustine, Florida 32084.


Odd Ball Blend


In honor of WJCT's latest podcast, Odd Ball, we’ve teamed up with Bold Bean Coffee Roasters to create an all new Odd Ball coffee. It’s a one-of-a-kind blend of Latin American and African coffees, with cupping notes of cherry preserves, dark fruit and root beer, created specifically for the oddball in all of us. Also available in a gift bundle with a reusable cup and tote bag. Enjoy a cup while listening to Odd Ball today.



Starting at $15 in the WJCT Holiday Shop.


Small Batch Teas and Spices

Cultivate Tea and Spice Company is a family owned, Jacksonville-based company that takes pride in making small batch loose leaf tea with organic ingredients. The masala chai is a traditional blend that combines Ceylon black tea leaves with cardamom, cloves, ginger, vanilla beans, black pepper, and sweet Ceylon cinnamon that can be enjoyed with milk and sugar or by itself. 


$6.99 for 1oz |

Semi-Sweet Peppermint Toffee


Semi-sweet peppermint toffee is a holiday special that puts a fresh twist on Topsy Toffee’s year-round flavors. Using his mother’s recipe, Tucker Juan makes his toffee in small batches and with natural ingredients. Topsy, the kayaking girl on the company logo, represents getting back to nature on the St. Johns River. 



$6 for a small jar. Find retailers that stock it at

Handmade Chocolate

Chef Erika Cline of Bleu Chocolat Cafe in Springfield creates chocolate bon bons that are *almost* too pretty to eat (we said ALMOST). And, she’s introducing four new flavors for the holidays: White Chocolate Eggnog, Ruby Chocolate Peppermint, Dark Chocolate Almond Crunch and Milk Chocolate Gingerbread. Ask to have them placed in a gift box for the chocolate lover in your life — or treat yourself.


$3 each at Bleu Chocolat Cafe | BleuChocolatCafe on Facebook

Drink Local

With a whole slew of special releases this holiday season,Southern Swells Craft Brewery and Taproom in Jacksonville Beach has new products not only available on tap, but also in cans and bottles — which makes them perfect for gifting or celebrations. They kicked off the season on November 23 with cans of Extra Comfy Jeans and Freshly Picked Citra and are releasing Blueberry Cobbler Mix Cultured Sour Ale Bottles on Black Friday, followed by cans of Bold Brewed (in collaboration with Bold Bean) and Imperial Karate in the Garage Double IPA with Simcoe & Mosaic Cryo Hops on December 7. Cans of Crush NE IPA with Waimea, Citra and Chinook Lupulim and Snow Goggles (in collaboration with VOID Magazine) will be released on December 21.


Bottles start at $12 and 4-packs start at $16 in the taproom |


Crafty Cocktails 

Jacksonville-based Camp Craft Cocktails offers thoughtfully crafted cocktail kits and has created several festive new flavors for the holidays. They include butternut with all spice, cinnamon, and bitters; sage and turmeric with orange and black peppercorn; cranberry martini with lemon and orange; Hot Toddy with apple, cinnamon, star anise, clove, lemon, and bitters; and cacao cafe with raw cacao, cracked coffee beans, and bitters. Simply add 12oz of spirits (or hot water for a non-alcoholic version) to these beautiful jars and infuse for three days. After that, you’ll have a delicious cocktail that can be sipped as-is, or combined with a splash of juice, soda, champagne, or tonic — and shared with friends. Cheers!



$24 each or 3 for $64| and markets around town


A Sweet Treat

What’s sweeter than natural, raw honey? How about local honey in flavors that are perfect for the season? Bee Friends Farm is located in Jacksonville, and in addition to varieties like wildflower, clover, and tupelo, they offer also CBD-infused honey (which could be helpful for dealing with holiday stress). The company also offers creamed honeys in flavors including pumpkin spice, chocolate, and cinnamon, as well as specialty items such as roasted pecan honey and cut honeycombs.



Starting at $3.50 | and select grocers around town


Handmade Jewelry

Shannon Greene makes each piece of Gee Jewelry by hand right here in Jacksonville. They are made using polymer clay and are available in a variety of shapes, finishes and colors. We can't resist these colorful danglers, and neither can you, stylistas!

Prices vary, and the collection is available at Cultivate, Wolfgang, Declaration Boutique and Tenley Dietrich. For more info, visit the Gee Jewelry Facebook page.



Devoe Adventure Bags

Devoe’s eye-catching “adventure bags” are handmade by Jacksonville artisanClaire DeVoeusing an innovative technique called mono-printing. No two prints are alike. Water- and fade-resistant and machine washable, these unisex products are raw, authentic, yet sophisticated and durable for all kinds of everyday adventures. Grab one at the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s pop-up shop at Markets at Town Center, or online.



Prices: various |

Jax To A T

A local concern first established at the Beaches back in 2003, 8103 Clothing now calls Springfield home. And, that’s where the brand’s limited-edition, hand screen-printed tees (like the Minshew/Uncle Rico ones pictured here), are made. The brand also includes flannels, hoodies, custom-fitted hats, denim, jewelry and accessories. Keep an eye out for a capsule collection designed in collaboration with local artist Malcolm Jackson, which includes tees, skate boards, totes, and hats, and is being released November 30, for Main St. Nights.



$30 and up |

Fashion In the Heart Of Murray Hill


What started as a mother/daughter alterations shop has developed into the very chic Momni Boutique. And we are all better for it. Make a statement in the new year with everything from long dresses to funky earrings and wallets.


various |

Beard Care Set


Handmade natural products aren’t just for women. Mancanics is locally owned and makes outstanding beard oils and balms for that great guy in your life. Check out their cool Beard Care Set to give your designer stubble a healthy and well-manicured look.


$35.99 |

WJCT Socks


It’s almost wintertime, and everyone could stand a new pair of socks to keep those tootsies warm. What better way to support thoughtful dialogue than to pick up a stylish pair of WJCT socks? With two sporty styles to choose from, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for the 89.9 FM fan in your life. Plus, you’ll now have more than just that old NPR tote bag to show your love of public radio. 



$20| WJCT Holiday Shop

Play it Local. Play it Loud.


The folks at Void Magazine released their second North Florida-centric music compilation, Void on Vinyl Volume Two, earlier this year. It includes tunes from local faves like Mr. Al Pete, Honey Hounds, Folk is People, Trail Diver and more. It’s the perfect playlist for holiday get-togethers!


$20 at Bold Bean, Southern Roots, Eraser Records, and Coast to Coast Records pop-ups throughout the region. More info at

Minshew Prayer Candles


These utterly irresistible Minshew prayer candles from designer Bobby K are perfect for that special someone in your life who still has Minshew Mania — or is in need of some straight-up Minshew Magic. With three options, there is something for every Minshew fan, but the “We Minshew A Merry Christmas" burner is by far the most festive. And don't worry if Minshew isn't your cup of tea - there are also Nick Foles and Shad Khan candles, as well as countless other notable local and national figures.


$14 each |




Lemonade Bath And Body Oil

A natural and organic herbal apothecary is making a delicious-smelling splash in the city. Auntie Peaches is winning raves from around the region for her locally sourced, handmade line of lotions, potions and teas. Located on Pearl Street in Historic Springfield, she’ll cure what ails you. We especially love Auntie’s Lemonade Bath and Body Oil (which smells so good you could also use it as a perfume).


$16.95 |  

Celebrity Experience Portrait Session

Renowned First Coast photographer and makeup artist Renee Parenteau is a wizard with lighting, composition, and her deft touch with a wowza palette of professional makeup. Get the full celebrity treatment with a session that includes makeup application, an hour of studio time and outdoors shooting, and three wardrobe changes. Included in the package, three hi res retouched images. Your head shots will be the envy of everyone on your Facebook and Instagram feeds! (Just check out her glamour shot of Jax Symphony conductor Courtney Lewis, and swoon).


$350.00 |


Natural Skin Care Set



Created by former Florida Times-Union journalist Caren Burmeister, Second Nature Skin Care offers eco-conscious skincare products that use the natural ingredients your skin needs - without the chemical and synthetic irritants it doesn’t. The Intro Kit is a great gift and starting point for your natural skin routine. Included in the kit is a gentle Lavender and Oats Cleanser, soothing Coco Mojo Face Lotion, and an incredible Dead Sea Mud Mask.    

$36 | 


Holiday Ornament Box

Jacksonville nonprofit Rethreaded has won plaudits worldwide for its unique model: upcycling old materials into something new and beautiful, and employing women leaving the exploitation of sex trafficking. The new limited-edition Rethreaded ornament box is full of goodies for your tree - handcrafted, exquisite, and made by local women “sewing a new story.” 


$40 |

Standard Raised Bed Food Gardens

Itinerant Urban Farmer, Entrepreneur, Educator, and Community Organizer, Nathan Ballentine is known to all as the“Man in Overalls.” His mission: to teach all of us to “grow our own groceries.” Nathan’s standard raised bed food gardens (4 x 8 is the most popular size) are ready to plant with loads of tasty produce, and constructed, installed, and filled with the Man in Overalls' “Magic Mix.” 


Contact for quote |

Lavender Handmade Soap Bar

Renowned for their handmade quality soaps, the Jacksonville Soap Companycrafts beautiful, healthy alternatives to harsh commercial soaps. Using the most natural herbs, spices and pure essential oils, there are no synthetic preservatives or petroleum in these luscious bars!  Our fave: the gorgeous Lavender.


$6 per bar |

A Succulent Choice

Using quirky, vintage mugs and containers turned into planters, Succulent Arrangements gives knick-knacks a second life and creates beautiful, sustainable greenery for your home or office. Most arrangements come in upcycled containers like coffee mugs or vintage dishware. And, every arrangement comes with care instructions, for all those of us without a green thumb. 


$10 and up |

White Birch Scented Candle

Custom-designed and hand-poured here in Jacksonville, the White Birch soy candle from Favor can be found in-store at Industry West on the San Marco Square. The 13.5 oz. pillar brings the fresh smell of evergreen trees and snow-covered pine cones right indoors. This milky white holiday candle transitions gracefully into the new year.


$30 |


Upcycled Turtle 

It's a gift that goes further than just a conversation piece.Ocean Sole Africa upcycles flip-flops that are found along the beaches of Kenya. The goal: to raise awareness of the litter the discarded footwear creates. They create jobs for locals who collect, wash, and cut the flip-flops into amazing decorative products. We especially like this cute turtle, for the creative slowpoke in your life.


Starting at $35 |

Hand-Crafted Dinnerware

Looking for unique, eco-friendly, U.S.-made, healthy-lifestyle products for yourself and your home? If so, be sure to add Cultivate Jax to your shopping list this season! There, you’ll find items like this dinnerware, which was made by local artist Cat Scratch Ceramics, and will make a picturesque addition to any holiday tablescape.


$20 and up |

Holiday Stress Relief

With all the shopping and prep during the holiday season, it can be hard to find time for yourself. However, CBD Supply House is here to help! From now through December 24, all of their tinctures, produced in St. Augustine from pure broad spectrum CBD, are discounted - plus they've got organic MCT oil and a hint of organic peppermint.


$65 and up before discount at and markets around town


Apple Pie Doggie Treats

A classic dessert treat your dog can enjoy. These apple pie doggie treats from Pawfection Bakery are slow-baked to perfection and are sure to delight your four-legged friend. This locally-owned company crafts pet chews from locally sourced ingredients that are free of common allergens, fillers and preservatives.


$6.99 |


Pet Pampering


This holiday season, your furry friends can indulge in some pampering, too. With two urban core locations, BARK on Park/Main dedicates their time to spoiling your dogs and believes in treating pets like they are your children. Go for a deluxe grooming for your four-legged pal, and pick up some pet treats too!


Prices: various |


Downton Abbey Cocktail Book




PBS fans, and all lovers of appropriate libations for every occasion, will adore the new Downton Abbey Cocktail Book, available at beloved independent bookstore San Marco Books and More. This well-curated selection of recipes is cleverly organized by the rooms in the Abbey in which the drinks were served. The collection features character-specific variations such as Downton Heir, Turkish Attaché, The Valet, and The Chauffeur. With a foreword by beloved series creator Julian Fellowes, it’s a must-have for fans of the Crawleys, Highclere Castle, and all things Downton!   

$25 at



Sustainer Gift


For that cultured person in your life who already has everything, it’s easy to make a donation to WJCT in his or her name. Turn the public radio fan in your family into a sustainer, by making a one-time gift on his or her behalf - or a monthly contribution. 

Starting at $10 a month |


Journalism - Yes, Journalism

We are in full-throated support of this community’s newspaper of record, the Florida Times-Union. From their strong reporting on local issues, to columnists Nate Monroe and Mark Woods, the T-U is required reading for anyone looking to stay informed on what our public officials are up to. Give the gift of a newspaper subscription and support democracy! 


$59.99 per year |  


First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross app
Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
Heather is the senior producer of WJCT 89.9 FM talk shows including First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, the Florida Roundup and What's Health Got to Do with It?