Gifts that give two ways

Shopping is rarely altruistic, but when buying from Wilton’s nonprofits, such as Woodcock Nature Center, Wilton Playshop, and the Turnover Shop, gift-giving takes on a new level of generosity. Purchasing a gift through them benefits the community and the recipient receives a gift not easily bought anywhere else.

The Wilton Historical Society, whose gift shop is the Betts Store, is unusual, as one visitor recently observed, because it does not force patrons to walk through it on their way out. Nevertheless, it is worth a stop for its impressive collection of made-in-America gifts.

Shopping here offers a third benefit in that, along with supporting the historical society, purchases support the artisans or companies that produce the items. This is the case with zkano socks, made of organic cotton by a family company in Fort Payne, Ala.

Historical society co-director Allison Sanders explained that the company had been a major employer in the town but fell on hard times because of overseas competition. The founders’ daughter, after attending business school, realized the company needed a new direction and came up with the idea of whimsical socks for men, women and children.

“We just thought that was such a great story,” Sanders said, pointing out the brightly colored socks with stripes and polka dots, “we wanted to carry them.”

Filling the small shop is an impressive selection, including animal pillows and tea towels with otter designs by Hearth and Harrow, rustic birdhouses from Beautiful Leaf of Minnesota, wooden star ornaments made from New England sustainable lumber, Wilton mugs, and scarves from Faribault Woolens, a Maine company founded in 1865.

New this year are hand-carved and hand-painted wooden owls from Jac Johnson of Virginia, whimsical tear-off paper placemats, wooden puzzles, new shapes of beeswax candles by Greentree Homes, and cotton napkins in a variety of designs from a company called Oh, Little Rabbit. There is also a selection of books, from cooking to hiking.

Parents looking to unplug their children will find a host of low-tech gift ideas, including wood building sets, marbles, tatting kits, wooden blocks, and a plethora of train-related items to complement the Great Trains exhibition, including a wooden tic-tac-toe game called Tic Tac Toot.

The Wilton Historical Society is at 224 Danbury Road. Information: 203-762-7257 or visit

Turning over a new leaf

The Turnover Shop in Wilton Center is an institution in town, probably because each visit is like a treasure hunt. Whether it’s finding a holiday decoration, something to give as a gift, or something to wear to a Christmas party, there is no end to the offerings.

A visit last week found holiday-themed china, home décor, toys, ornaments, and stockings. Gift ideas included pillows, glasses — from etched wine glasses to barware — jewelry, a chess set, soup tureens, plates, and entertaining pieces — some new, some vintage — candles, decorative boxes, frames and pictures, even a cookie tin with the image of Winston Churchill, and a Hammond organ.

The Turnover Shop supports the Wilton PTA Council, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, and other local charities. Over the years, it has contributed more than $1 million.

The Turnover Shop’s regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 10 to 4 and Saturday from 10 to 1. Donations are always accepted during these hours. The final public consignment for 2017 will be taken Thursday, Dec. 14. For information, call 203-762-3160.

Animals as teachers

Monty the python, Waffles the bearded dragon, and Juanita the box turtle are VIPs at the Woodcock Nature Center. These and all the other animals at the nature center on Deer Run Road work for their living, helping to teach children about native and exotic species. Hundreds of children visit the nature center for educational programs throughout the year and summer camp.

The nature center has about 30 animals and four birds — the exotics are mostly pets their owners no longer wanted and the native animals have been injured and cannot be released into the wild.

It costs $15,000 a year to pay for their food, bedding and lighting,  which is a big part of the center’s budget.

Adopting one of these animals helps pay for their upkeep. There are several adoption levels, but a one-year sponsorship costs $75 and the donor receives a 5-x-7 photo, a letter from the animal, a certificate of adoption, and a natural and personal fact sheet. The animal stays at Woodcock.

Photos of the animals are online at For information on adopting, email or call 203-762-7280.

Books and art

Kathy Baxter and her mother, Isabella Abbott, were recent visitors to Wilton Library’s Holiday Book Sale and they thought it was “just wonderful.”

“I’m finding gifts for the kids and my new granddaughter,” Baxter said. In addition to checking out the children’s selections, she was looking through a generous offering of cookbooks.

Abbott, who has lived here for 66 years, said this year’s show is “gorgeous.”

“The number of books and the shape they are in is wonderful,” she said.

Tables and shelves fill the gallery with new and gently used holiday-themed books, craft books, art and history books, novels, cookbooks, gardening books, travel books, and children’s books. There are also new, shrink-wrapped CDs and DVDs. The selection is replenished regularly.

On the library’s gallery walls is the art exhibition Unhung Heroes, with works by a number of area artists. The majority are available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the library.

Those who would like to give a gift to the library itself may pick an ornament off the Giving Tree. These ornaments represent the library’s wish list to add to its collection or augment its many programs.

Information: 203-762-3950 or

Enriching ideas

Giving the gift of entertainment is possible with tickets to a show presented by the Wilton Playshop. The playshop has been presenting live plays and musicals since 1937 in its converted barn on Lovers Lane. Run by a group of volunteers, three major productions are presented each year as well as special events such as youth productions.

The next show is Buyer and Cellar, March 9-11, followed by West Side Story, April 27-May 12.

For gift certificate, ticket and subscription information, visit

Those looking to give a gift of personal enrichment may want to consider a Wilton Continuing Education gift certificate.

Valid for any class offered in the Wilton Continuing Education catalog, the gift certificates never expire, and a simple gift card code allows the cardholder to use any or all of the amount given at any time.

To purchase a gift certificate, visit

To learn more about Wilton Continuing Education and its programs, call 203-834-7694 or visit

Help at home

Looking for a gift for an older person who doesn’t need another sweater or coffee mug? A Stay at Home in Wilton gift certificate offers value every day. When a member finds himself or herself needing a ride or help with a small household task like changing hard-to-reach lightbulbs or sagging curtain rods, Stay at Home volunteers are there to help.

The group also offers numerous social events, such as holiday parties and day trips.

An annual membership is $360 for a single person and $480 for a couple. For gift certificates or to donate a scholarship, call Janet Johnson, executive coordinator, at 203-762-2600.