December 2023: Cover Search 2023 Winners

Photography is a powerful medium, one that we celebrate at New Jersey Monthly in every issue of the magazine. But no issue honors the photographers of the Garden State and the images they capture quite like our December edition.  

Every year since 2018, the magazine, in partnership with Unique Photo, has hosted a contest to find a reader-submitted image to grace the December cover. The photograph can be taken by an amateur, student or professional photographer and must represent life here in New Jersey. This year, we received 1,310 entries. 

The editorial team at NJM, in conjunction with Unique and our carefully chosen panel of expert judges, reviewed each and every submission before choosing the grand-prize winner (whose image you see on this month’s cover) and runner-up, and bestowing 10 awards of excellence and 25 honorable mentions.

View more back issues


NJ Artist’s Jaw-Dropping Gingerbread Houses Range from ‘Bridgerton’ Mansion to Your Own Home

Molli Dowd’s Basking Ridge-based company, Edible Estates, sells custom, luxury gingerbread houses and DIY kits that would wow Willy Wonka.

Read more

New Jersey-Themed Books That Make Great Holiday Gifts

Captivating novels and nonfiction volumes by Jersey authors—or about Jersey stories—for all the bibliophiles on your list.

Read more

NJ’s Christmas Bird Count Is Humane Alternative to Holiday Hunting Tradition

An Englewood bird enthusiast started the event, which has since gained global traction, in 1900. This year’s Jersey count will take place December 14-January 5.

Read more

This Jersey City Camp Is an Arts-Centric Safe Space for Kids

Artist/educator Carmine Tabone founded Camp Liberty so that children of all ages could explore their identities in an emotionally healthy environment.

Read more

Legendary Singer Bobby Darin’s Archivist Is a Former NJ School Custodian

Jimmy Scalia lovingly preserves the legacy of the pop legend, who died 50 years ago this December.

Read more

New Jersey’s Veterans Deserve Better

New Jersey’s leaders say they are committed to improving long-term care for veterans, but now they must prove it.

Read more


’60s Girl-Group Members Reflect on Jersey Roots and Barrier-Breaking Moments

The Shirelles’ Beverly Lee and the Angels’ Peggy Santiglia Ricker also shared their stories in But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, a recently released oral history.

Read more

Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino Battled Darkness, Then Found Light With His Wife and Kids in NJ

Jersey Shore star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino gets candid about everything from his drug addiction to his time in prison to his relationship with his wife, Lauren.

Read more

The Winners of New Jersey Monthly and Unique Photo’s 2023 Cover Search Contest

See the stunning results of our annual search for local photographers’ best images.

Read more

Taxidermy Isn’t Dead! And For These NJ Women, It’s Cooler Than Ever Before

This curious subculture has evolved from deer heads in hunting lodges to more artistic oddities that are often playful, sometimes creepy and frequently beautiful.

Read more


A Cuban-American Christmas in Sussex County

Four generations of family—and lots of shih tzus—look forward to a super-festive celebration each year.

Read more


Café le Jardin in Audubon Makes French Food Accessible—and Delightful

In an unexpected area of NJ, chef Rich Cusack and his wife, Christina, are serving one of the world’s most high-end cuisines “at a calmer pace.”

Read more

Drink and Be Merry at NJ’s Most Festive Holiday Pop-Up Bars

Customers clamor each year to enjoy these pop-up bars’ whimsical drink specials and gloriously kitschy decorations.

Read more

Bloomfield Restaurant Boasts Modern Italian Fare—and an Adjacent Bakery

Enjoy shareable starters and hearty entrées at Fanny’s Restaurant & Bar. Then grab dessert at its sister dessert destination.

Read more

Don’t Leave This Monmouth County Café Without Beignets or Macarons

The French Market offers a beautiful array of pastries in addition to savory and sweet breakfast and lunch dishes.

Read more

Westville’s Speranza Serves Up Big Flavors in a Small Borough

The charming eatery is known for Italian staples with modern, flavorful twists, including wood-fired pizzas with unique toppings.

Read more

Why You Should Toast With Sparkling-Wine Cocktails This Holiday Season

Plus, a farewell from our Libations columnist of four years.

Read more


Local Journalist Finds His First Reporter’s Notebook—and a Passageway to the Past

The pocket-sized relic is a portrait of his younger self, as well as of the journalism industry nearly half a century ago.

Read more