FLORIDA – Florida is a state known for Mickey Mouse, its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, swimmers in bikinis and “Hamburgers in Paradise”.
It barely conjures up images of freshly fallen snow, horse-drawn sleds, and young people building snowmen.
The last time a significant amount of snow fell in Florida was in 1977. Without artificial snow machines, most children in Florida would never have the experience of throwing a snowball.
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Nonetheless, Floridians have their own decidedly unconventional holiday traditions: Santa Claus surfing, boat parades dotted with Christmas lights, and party people in swimsuits yelling “Santa is coming to town” of Springsteen from boomboxes. on the beach.
And when it comes to giveaways, Florida is full of artists, entrepreneurs, and products unique to the Sunshine State. So, if you are looking for last minute freebies, here are some suggestions:
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Naples soap company
Former nurse Deanna Wallin, a resident of Naples, has struggled with eczema and psoriasis most of her life.
“I have tried everything to relieve my symptoms, including products recommended by dermatologists,” she said. “When my daughter was born, I quickly realized that she too suffered from eczema.”
Wallin began to research traditional bath and beauty products in search of a cure.
“I was shocked at the number of chemicals in everyday bath and beauty products,” she said. “I started experimenting with natural and organic products like shea butter, cocoa butter and olive oil. Soon after, I saw real improvements. My skin was healthier, more sharp and less irritated, ”she said.
Today, Wallin is the CEO of the Naples Soap Company. It offers a variety of products ranging from holiday soaps for $ 9 to gift sets for $ 30 to $ 125. Click here to place an order. Use the code 20WELCOME for 20% off your first online purchase.
Florida is known for its fresh, juicy citrus fruit fortified with vitamin C, and Florida Orange has turned the state’s abundance of orchards into a gift company.
Every holiday season, Florida Orange, which is certified by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, does booming business, sending navel, tangerine, temple and Valencia oranges, ruby red grapefruit and tangerines around the world. . Citrus lovers can send box-wrapped fruit or choose personalized gourmet fruit baskets that also include squares of homemade fudge, chocolate coconut cakes, citrus candies and orange marmalade. , bell honey, pineapple and coconut orange.
A favorite is the Fancy Gator Basket which sells for $ 35.99. It features a solid chocolate Florida gator that relaxes on an island of citrus juice candies and slices of pecan bread, and slices of fudge with pecan, peanut, nutty flavors. of coconut, orange, mint and peanut butter arranged in a wicker tray.
Click here to view all selections and place an order.
On the left, the Evergreen Tree Gift Tim for $ 49.99 features navel oranges, ruby red grapefruit, an assortment of Florida fudge, marmalade, a nougat-filled pecan roll, and fruit hard candies. Just so the fancy Gator basket.
Book by author Craig Pittman
Every year, Patch includes books by a Florida author on his list of gift ideas, and you won’t find a writer who embodies the Sunshine State better than Florida native Craig Pittman.
The Pensacola-born journalist now resides in St. Petersburg where he covered environmental issues for the Tampa Bay Times from 1998 to 2020, winning the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida four times and the Best Reporting Award. investigation of the Society of Environmental Reporters twice.
He now writes a weekly column on environmental issues for the Florida Phoenix and works freelance for a number of publications including the Washington Post, Scientific American, National Geographic and Flamingo magazine.
When he’s not busy writing, Pittman spends his free time … well, writing. His passion for Florida’s endangered wildlife and endangered natural environment have been the subject of several of his books, including “Paving Paradise,” co-authored with Matthew Waite in 2009, “Manatee Insanity ”(2010), named one of the 21 essential books. for Floridians by the Florida Humanities Council, and “The Scent of Scandal” in 2012.
His 2016 book, “Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country,” was named to the New York Times bestseller list in 2016. It was followed by “Cat Tale: The Wild” Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther, “released in 2020 and now available in paperback.
In his latest book “The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife,” released on September 14, Pittman departs from his usual writings and takes a more humorous look at his home state, describing some of his funniest wildlife and people in Florida.
It includes a love story involving the world’s most tattooed woman, an in-depth dive into the state’s professional mermaid industry, and an investigation into a battle between residents of a nudist resort and the U.S. Postal Service. .
All of Pittman’s books can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books & Books.
But if you order them from Tombolo Books, 2153 1st Ave. S in St. Petersburg, you can ask Pittman to autograph them.
“I live about 10 minutes from the store and they text me whenever they need me to drop by and sign books,” Pittman said in his usual folk way.
Queen of seashells
Her friends know her as Shannon Webster, but her fans call her the Queen of Seashell Art, which is also the name of her Deland-based business.
When this artist isn’t exhibiting at arts and craft shows statewide, she’s selling her seashell-inspired designs on her Etsy site, queenofshellart.
Among them are framed shell mosaics and souvenir boxes reminiscent of those made by 18th and 19th century sailors on long voyages at sea, commonly referred to as sailor’s valentines.
She also produces a variety of elaborate shell-inspired jewelry.
Ybor City Cigars
For cigar aficionados, the Ybor City Development Corporation highly recommends a gift of hand-rolled cigars, made in the same way they were produced 100 years ago, when Ybor City was called the Cigar Capital of the World.
Although hand-rolled cigars are no longer the town’s main industry, many of the original cigar factories continue to thrive. In fact, cigars are one of the most requested items by troops overseas. So for the past 10 years, the Ybor City Development Corporation and its member cigar factories have participated in “Cigars for Soldiers,” a joint effort with the nonprofit, Support Our Troops, to send cigars to troops.
Traditional Ybor City cigars can be purchased from these manufacturers:
Tarpon Springs Distillery
Outside of Greece, you won’t find a better ouzo than Papuan Ouzo, produced by the Tarpon Springs Distillery.
Inspired by Greece but with a touch of Florida, Ouzo de Papou is infused with flavors of anise and fennel with a hint of orange on the nose. Served on ice, it releases its aroma and turns white like milk.
Ouzo de Papou is one of a variety of spirits produced at the Tarpon Springs Distillery, located in the former Stephen Katzaras Sponge Company at 605 N. Pinellas Ave.
Katzaras emigrated to Tarpon Springs at the age of 17 from Symi, Greece, eventually opening his sponge business in 1945 and operating it for 60 years with his family. Between sponge hunting trips in traditional scuba diving suits with the distinctive copper helmets, Katzaras made ouzo and moonlight in his sponge business.
Barry and Lisa Butler bought the sponge company when the Katzaras family sold it in 2013. There they produce artisanal spirits from scratch, including a version of the moonlight and ouzo that Katzaras made. once behind a burlap curtain in the warehouse where his still, nicknamed Amazing Grace, remains in use.
The Ouzo de Papou is named after Stephen Katzaras, who was known as Papou or “grandfather” to his family and clients.
If you’re not a fan of ouzo, the Butler ‘also produces Gramling Woods Oaked Moonshine, conditioned with oak to bring out hints of vanilla and caramel and a smoky nose. It tastes like bourbon, but it’s made with moonlight as soft as silk.
Anclote Gin is named after the Anclote River, home port for the sponge industry in Tarpon Springs. It is a silky, silky distilled gin made from premium malt grains, juniper, coriander, black peppercorns and the zest of lemons, limes and grapefruit.
Anclote David Douglas Gin is a distilled gin named after the botanist who discovered Douglas fir. It starts with mashed rye, pecan smoked barley and sweet corn, and adds juniper, Douglas-fir needles, rosemary and cilantro.
Anclote Hot and Dirty Gin is distilled with juniper, cilantro, green olives and a proprietary blend of bell peppers, including Florida bird peppers. It’s basically a dirty martini in a bottle, shaken or shaken.
Claresso, a unique spirit distilled from mashed cereals with sugar and espresso, comes from the Spanish word “claro” which means clear and espresso. Unlike all other coffee spirits on the market, the flavor is distilled and not infused
All of the award-winning spirits are produced from scratch on-site, from malted grains from heirloom seeds or from gin plants grown in the Butler’s Garden.