Writing a Holiday Gift Guide has become a tradition. I realize scouring the stores in search of the perfect gift isn’t for everyone. So I try to help out this time of year and do a little hunting on your behalf. Secretly I’m also trying to show some support for our local retailers who work so hard to find unique items that rival that of chain stores and online giants. Why buy big box, when you can buy local and boost the economy in our own backyard.
This year I’ve divided my shopping list into the following categories. I hope you’ll find something that’s just right for a friend or loved one.
Goodies for Foodies
All Geeked Out
Wine About It
Hostess with the Mostest
For the Kiddos
Goodies for Foodies
Sleeping Bear Farms Raw Honey | MI Farm Market $12.99
One of my absolute favorite food discoveries this year is this raw honey from Sleeping Bear Farms in Beulah, Michigan. This is natural, uncooked, unfiltered honey. It’s a little cloudy and granular but all the better for it. And it’s full of health benefits from the enzymes, pollen and floral essences the bees leave behind. One of my secret weapons against a cold is a teaspoon of this honey the moment I feel a sore throat coming on. Honey has antibacterial qualities. And who doesn’t love an excuse to eat a spoonful of goodness!
Cranberry Cherry Sauce | The Cherry Stop $7.00
We love our cherry products in Northern Michigan. But sometimes it’s hard to find something new for the cherry lover in the family. Here’s one I discovered on a recent trip to the Cherry Stop. Instead of the traditional cranberry sauce with your turkey this year why not liven it up with cranberry cherry sauce. No need for a recipe, the folks at The Cherry Stop have mixed up a batch with just the right blend.
Cookbook Samplers | Fustini’s $49.00
Anyone who has seen my kitchen counter knows how much I love Fustini’s. And I’ve given their oil & vinegar combinations as gifts in the past. So what’s new this year? They have a brand new cookbook, "How Fustini’s Do Fustini’s," a compilation of recipes from Fustini’s employees and customers. And for the holidays they’ve paired it with 4 mini bottles of oils & vinegars in flavor combos that work with the book. Choose from 4 sampler packages and try something new this season.
Handmade Wooden Tongs | Gallery 50 $15.00 and $19.00
Why not have a little fine art in the kitchen? Stop by Gallery 50 in The Village Mercato and choose from a selection of handmade wooden tongs. Constructed from beautiful materials like zebrawood and rosewood, and available in large or small sizes, these handmade tongs are as stylish as they are functional. Great gift idea for men and women, for the chef or the casual cook.
Sleeping Bear Farms Pepper Honey Mustard | MI Farm Market $4.99
Mustard is probably my favorite condiment, next to homemade salsa. So it’s nice to find a fun new alternative to the store bought standbys. This Pepper Honey Mustard has a great kick from real chili peppers. And of course it includes some Sleeping Bear Farms star thistle honey. Great for spreading on sandwiches, as a dip for pretzels or as a glaze on fish or meats headed for the grill.
All Geeked Out
Rocker iPhone Case | The Pod Drop $19.00
Cases for the iPhone 5 are somewhat hard to find since they’re still new on the market. But The Pod Drop has you covered. Stop by their location in Campus Plaza next to Jimmy Johns and check out the line of Rocker cases. The silicone skin pairs with a hard body case (sold separately), and comes in dozens of colors and patterns, which make these cases completely customizable. And at $8.99 for the skin, and $9.99 for the cover, they’re priced right for stocking stuffers too.
Smartphone Gloves | Nest $27.00
As you can imagine, I’m on my iPhone all the time, especially when I’m out and about town. Now that winter is here I’m constantly removing my gloves so I can answer a call, scroll through messages on Twitter or snap a photo on Instagram. I’ve tried other versions of smartphone gloves with little luck…and they weren’t very cute either. That’s why I love these knit gloves I found at Nest. Cute and functional.
FRUITstand | CityMac $10.00
Here’s a cool local product for the tech geek. FRUITstand is a simple plastic-coated stand to hold a variety of eDevices, or iDevices if you prefer. It’s small, lightweight, and best of all it’s made by a Traverse City company, PDM Industries. I discovered the FRUITstand on a recent trip into CityMac. They’re available in a variety of fresh colors. Whether you’re looking for a landing spot for your Kindle, or a charging station for you iPhone or iPad, this little stand will do the trick. And at that price if you take it on vacation and forget it you won’t sweat the replacement cost. Now if you forget your device…that’s another story.
Piperoid Paper Pipe Robots | Cool Stuff Express $15.95
For the kid, or the kid at heart, there’s a big trend in paper art and origami. These cool creations are made from printed and punched paper pipes that are folded into crazy robots. Does your cubicle need a little comic entertainment? If you thought origami was too girly, this might change your mind.
Mini Q-Man & Q-Ant Magnets | Cool Stuff Express $3.97 — $6.95
Trying to find something for that hard-to-buy-for teen in your family? Guys, gals and geeks will love these bendable, flexible, colorful magnet men and giant ants. The powerful magnets stick to each other or metal surfaces allowing for connectable, collectable fun. They’re also strong enough to support 14 sheets of paper! Hang ’em in a locker, file cabinet or on the fridge. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express
Starry Night Necklace | Becky Thatcher Designs starting at $275.00
I love a classic necklace that can dress up an outfit, or be worn with a casual sweater and jeans. That’s what drew me to this beautiful jewelry from Becky Thatcher Designs in Traverse City. Made from black spinel and freshwater pearls in a variety of shades from white to gray this necklace would be a lovely addition to anyone’s jewelry collection. And the matching earrings start at $65. Perfect.
Return of Sexy Eyeshadow Collection | Venus $48.00
Ladies who love a little drama will be drawn to this wet/dry eyeshadow collection from Too Faced. There are three color collections, 15 shadows full of sparkle and dimension, a waterproof black liner and eyeshadow insurance (a primer for your eyelids). That’s bringin’ sexy back.
Surprise Book of the Month | Brilliant Books $66.00 – $295.00
This is a brilliant idea from Brilliant Books. If you have a literary fan who is always searching for a new read, consider giving them a new title every month. Each subscription is unique because the book selections are based on the reader’s preferences in genre, author, likes and dislikes. You can give a year of hardcover books ($295) or paperback ($185) or choose 6-month or 4-month options for as little as $66. In the six years since they started the program they’ve only had three books come back for exchange — and two were because the recipient already read and loved the selection.
Felted Wool Hats by Hatty Matty | Lilies of the Alley $24.95 — $64.95
A handmade hat is a statement of style. And in northern Michigan it’s practically a necessity. I love these beautiful hats from Hatty Matty, aka Cindy Hardy the owner of Lilies of the Alley. These felted wool hats come in all sorts of styles and colors. And there are sizes for kids as well as adults with a range in prices for each. In case you’ve never been, Lilies of the Alley is tucked in the alley behind Brew and Brilliant Books in downtown Traverse City.
Lips & Tips | Venus $25.00
This cute combo comes from the folks at Butter, a London brand know for their fashion-forward colors. The nail polish and lip gloss from Butter is vegan-friendly, making this a great gift for the animal lover too. Venus carries a full line of Butter nail polish selections, but I especially loved some of their holiday line which is full of sparkle for the glam affect. Every girlfriend needs a little glitter, right?
Wine About It
2-in-1 Corkscrew & Bottle Stopper | Gallery 50 $35.00
Need a classy gift for your boss? Are you going to a holiday party and looking for something for the hostess who has everything? Choose from a selection of hand-turned wooden bottle stoppers. Twist the handle and you’ll revel the corkscrew hidden inside. I’m loving the green ones, made from box elder wood.
Stack wine bottle storage | Cool Stuff Express $9.95
This clever little black silicone wine bottle is the secret to storing your wine in a stack on the counter just like you’re supposed to… horizontally. Simply separate the bottle into two halves and position on either side of your wine bottles along a shelf or counter. The silicone grips to smooth surfaces and acts like bookends for your wine. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express
Cork Purses | Gallery 50 $45.00 – $78.00
I am crazy for corks. In fact, I’ve created a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cork crafts. But I have yet to see another cork craft like this. Artist Jean Ackerman from Kingsley, Michigan is creating cork purses, many of which are decorated with corks from Michigan wineries. If you’re looking for a unique gift for a Michigan wine lover I think we’ve got you covered.
Sport Wine Canteen | Black Star Farms $26.50
Backpackers and beach goers will love this new canteen available in Rouge (red) and Blanc (green). If you’ve ever wanted to bring a bottle of wine to the park, on the boat or on a picnic, but worried about the glass bottle this is the perfect solution. These eco-friendly metal containers will fit a full bottle of wine! Take your vino to go, and no one will know. Comes in a variety of colors. Available at TASTES of Black Star Farms in The Village.
Rosé of Cabernet Franc | Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery $26.00
With hundreds of Michigan wines to choose from, it’s tough to narrow it down to one. So this is one of many that make up my list of favorites. The Rosé of Cabernet Franc from Forty-Five North is a great choice for holiday gifting because it suits so many palattes. I drink mosty whites, and lean toward the sweet, but this wine I love. My husband loves a good red, and he too was drawn to this rosé. Notes from the winemaker alude to big aromas of cherry and raspberry, a creamy mouth feel and noticeable tannins. This wine is great to give as well as receive. Image courtesy of Forty-Five North
Hostess with the Mostest
Soy Votive Candles | Red Ostrich $6.95
Looking for the hot seller this season? Search no further than these little beauties from Red Ostrich. Forget the tequila, pick up a double shot of soy. Soy candles that is. They carry 25 scents including the popular orange vanilla, black pepper and holiday spice. These tiny 2 oz. candles are an eco-friendly gift that everyone can enjoy. They burn clean and smell wonderful and are Made in the USA. Image courtesy of Red Ostrich
Paper Blanks | Premier Floral $17.00 – $29.00
It’s so much nicer to keep a journal when the process of holding and opening it are a pleasure. This collection of lined and unlined journals from Paper Blanks are really beautiful. I love the texture of the covers, and they have a lovely metal latch closure that harkens back to locked diaries and forbidden secrets. With traditional patterns these designs would also be suitable for man who loves to write or draw, or for use as a cottage guest book.
Turtle Doves Soaps | Venus $32.00
Your friends will feel so special when presented with this pretty package dressed in silver moire. Open it up and discover two turtle doves made of silky soap scented with tulip and hyacinth, resting in a porcelain bowl. It’s elegant enough for your mother-in-law to put next to the towels in the guest bath or thoughtful enough for your dearest friend.
Dog Pillows | Premier Floral $25.00
If your friend is a dog lover they’ll fall for these colorful and cozy pillows inspired by their four-legged friends. The moment I saw the Boston Tea Terrier I thought of my best friend who grew up with the bug-eyed little cuties. There are several designs to choose from including Eager Beagle and Black Lab Summer Cottages.
Twig Pencils | Gallery 50 $7.50 or $9.50
If your host is a letter writer, or they love the lodge look, these pencils will be a handy addition to their desk. If not, they’ll look great in a cup next to the phone at the cottage. Either way, these fat twig pencils, available in traditional or colored varieties, make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer for the kids. Need to get to the point? Simply carve with a knife to sharpen the tip.
For the Kiddos
Magnetic Boards | Sweet Pea $14.95 / $22.95
Room decor is tough when the kids interests change every year. So why not keep it flexible and give them a magnetic board that looks great and can be decorated with the recipient in mind. These scalloped-edged metal squares are available in 12" x 12" or 18" x 18" sizes in several colors. This company sells a huge variety of magnet designs to completely customize the board. From alphabet letters to animals to holidays and more.
GamaGo Phoney | Cool Stuff Express $4.95
The latest trend coming from Japan are these cute little animals to decorate your tween’s phone. They plug into the headphone jack, which means they’ll fit nearly any style smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. "A friend for your phone," they say. Kids will love to collect these little plastic pets and customize their tech gadgets.
Children’s Books | Brilliant Books $15.99 – $16.99
I stopped in to Brilliant Books to get a few recommendations for new titles the kids might like. Extra Yarn, The Cloud Spinner and This is Not My Hat would be great books for children 4-9 years old. They have colorful illustrations and stories that help children appreciate the value of Things. For more recommendations visit Brilliant Books and ask for Heather or Jack.
Crazy Candy | Cool Stuff Express prices vary
Kids always love what’s gooey, gross and flavored in unexpected ways. Cool Stuff Express on Union Street in Traverse City has a huge collection of all of the above. Some of this year’s most popular trends include anything with mustaches or bacon, tongue tattoos, flavored lipbalm and mints. And for the boys and girls who were less than cheery this holiday season: the classic gummy candy coal.
Elf on the Shelf | Toy Harbor $31.00
If you’re looking for a fun and engaging activity book to share with your children or grandchildren during the holiday season pick up an Elf on the Shelf. The book comes with an elf (boy or girl elf options now available) and a story book explaining how Santa sends scout elves out each Christmas to report on chilldren’s behavior. Once opened the children can name and register the elf at elfonashelf.com. Thanks to Christmas magic the elf travels each night to see Santa, and reappears in your home in a different location. My kids love finding out what our elf, Scuttle, has been up to while we were sleeping.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my collection of Holiday shopping ideas. You can find all of these items in northern Michigan stores, and many are available on their respective websites as well. Please spend some of your time and money this season supporting our local economy. Your gifts will be more unique, and your money will stay in the community.
Happy Holidays from Traverse Traveler!