(FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Brian Brinson’s popular Lizard Café is the perfect lunch combo with Prince Books in downtown Norfolk.)  

By Marisa Marsey

Time for the holidays. Yay! Time for holiday shopping. Ugh! I love pretty much any festive tradition (more mistletoe, please) but checking off my gift list leaves me listless. If only everyone I knew were naughty! ‘Tis the season, though, so I bow to convention. My secret to survival: I shop where I can sup. Here’s where to find the perfect present and still enjoy the, er, present.

Prince Books and Lizard Café

My kith and kin are unslakable readers, so books are a no-brainer (is that an oxymoron?). Prince Books, a long-established indie bookseller in Downtown Norfolk, conscientiously curates and custom orders blockbuster and esoteric fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, self-helpers, Newbery medalists, boating and sports guides, mysteries and more. I’m getting “The Poetry of Birds” for my BFF the ornithologist, Paul McCartney’s “1964: Eyes of the Storm” for my vinyl-obsessed nephew, and “The Talk” a graphic memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Darrin Bell for my colleague who wants to discuss racism with her tween. That done, I’ll treat myself to homemade country soup (chockablock with navy beans, ham, collards and tomatoes), chicken salad and sweet potato biscuits in Brian Brinson’s adjoining Lizard Café. Readers…digest! 109 E. Main St., Norfolk. 757-622-5973. Prince Books open Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Café open weekdays for lunch. prince-books.com

Sage Kitchen at Anderson’s 

I swear, Santa’s elves must scope out Anderson’s when brainstorming what to stock at the North Pole. This family business rooted in the 1950s dubbed “not your average garden center” – with a Peninsula and a Southside location – retails everything from stylish men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor, specialty foods, and, naturally, everything green thumbers could want (ho-hoe-ho!). If you can’t find it here, they probably don’t need it. Matching the breadth and depth of the inventory is the “greenhouse to table” menu at Sage Kitchen. Soups, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas and bowls (my fave: Autumn Love with house-smoked chicken, crispy potatoes, figs, fried brussels sprouts, butternut squash puree, apple slaw and toasted pepitas) featuring local meats and produce burst with flavor. There are also jolly craft beers, wines and cocktails as well as non-alcoholic fresh juices fancy enough to be cocktails. Everything here is so good, Santa himself will host breakfast on select dates (and there will be an ice rink at the Virginia Beach venue for family skating!).
 11250 Jefferson Ave., Newport News and 1925 Fisher Arch, Virginia Beach. 757-599-3510. Open daily. loveandersons.com

Kiln Kingdom

Co-owner Soner Sevi elevated his booth at Downtown Williamsburg’s monthly “2nd Sundays” street fair into this charming “shop around the corner” in August to better showcase the unique, vibrantly colored dishware, vases, tiles, tables, animal figurines, lamps and jewelry handcrafted by his brother Toprak Sevi in their hometown of Istanbul. As you deliberate among Byzantine beauties spanning price points from $6 for microwavable/dishwasher-safe bowls to $200 for ornate mirrors, set a spell at a café table and indulge in a pick-me-up of fragrant Turkish coffee brewed traditionally in copper pots on sand. Intense sweets such as chewy-soft, jewel-toned Turkish Delight (in 10 flavors including rose petal, hazelnut-chocolate and pistachio), baklava, macarons and şöbiyet (a creamy, crusty analog baklava) are ideal foils to the thick coffee’s bitter bite. There’s special relevance to all Kiln Kingdom’s goodies considering that the original gifter, Saint Nicholas, hailed from Patara in what is present-day Turkey. 447 Prince George St., Williamsburg. 757-808-5879. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. kilnkingdom.com

Syd’s FishPig Café

Restaurants themselves can be great emporia with their signature gourmet items and logo merch. Perhaps none more so than Syd’s FishPig (aka Poisson~Cochon, y’all). It’s near-impossible to divert your eyes from chef-owner-artist Sydney Meers’ brash, nouveau folkloric artwork while you’re chowing down on his extraordinarily scrumptious shrimp and grits, “real deep South Southern” gumbo or trademark smoochie bear ham and tippling cocktails by mixologist nonpareil Cat Keller (an experience so consummate that Southern Living recently saluted this Selden Market atelier-like café as one of the “South’s Best New Restaurants”), but glance over to the rustic corner-hutch – seemingly fabricated of Frosted Mini-Wheats – displaying his “Cowboy Syd’s” bonnes bouches including Not Hot Sauce, D’Lish Sauce, Hamburger Relish, Mustard Vinaigrette, Spice Rub and more. Any and all will thrill your favorite foodie. Pair with a certificate for one of Syd’s cooking classes as he is, hands down, the most entertaining and erudite of culinarians (don’t be duped by his “Ole Miss”pellings). 210 E. Main St., Norfolk. 757-904-3680. Open Wed.-Sat. starting at 4 p.m. Brunch on the first Sunday of each month. fishpigcafe.com

Rayfield’s Pharmacy

Those of a certain age may recall one of the most hilarious Christmas-centric sitcom episodes ever: the Murphy Brown where her colleagues wind up frantically shopping at a drugstore because Murph reneges on her “no presents” policy at the eleventh hour. It makes Rayfield’s Pharmacy a not-so-unlikely holiday shopping stop. Especially since this Cape Charles institution carries not only the requisite items like batteries (can’t ever get enough of them) and dental floss (not bad for trimming trees, trust me), but also Yankee Candles, Tervis Tumblers, and Eastern Shore books and art. The cherry on top is endearing servers who say things like, “You’re welcome, sugar,” while slinging breakfast, lunch and ice cream galore at its classic soda fountain. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” indeed. 2 Fig St., Cape Charles. 757-331-1212. Pharmacy open Mon.-Fri. from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sat. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Soda Fountain open Mon.-Sat. from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sun. from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. rayfieldspharmacy.com