Holiday cheer

The holidays call forth many reasons to give gifts — as a token of gratitude or symbol of love. Yet matching the what with the who can prove challenging. To help, we went in search of Minnesota and Midwest items to find not-so-obvious treasures to surprise and delight during this season of warmth and sharing.

home & hearth

1 Shining bright

Accomplished local artist Eyenga Bokamba gives her works the three- dimensional treatment with one-of-a- kind light boxes. Made of plexiglass with a custom triangular frame, there’s room to tuck holiday lights inside to createa glowing, festive ambience any time.


2 Haul it!

Rugged and durable but also sleek and modern, this firewood carrier is hand- crafted by Chip Addington at his studio on St. Paul’s East Side, using refur-bished tools and sturdy supplies.


3 Puff piece

Interior designer Bria Hammel worked with local artist Abbey Holden to create this pillow exclusively for her Brooke & Lou line, known for being classic but not fussy.


4 Soft touch

The cold winter air will be no match for this sleek, luxurious yet cozy throw that’s designed and made in Italy.


5 Buffalo blue

Faribault is famous for using its original mills to produce high-quality woolens. This throw in a classic tri-color buffalo check meets the mark.


6 Basket basics

Sold in singles or as stacking sets, these birch-bark beauties in versatile sizes bring a bit of nature inside.

$15-$30, Minnesota Historical Society Shop,

warm & cozy

1 High-end hoodie

Sleek and supple, this deerskin hooded leather jacket by St. Paul-based J.W. Hulme fends off brisk winds while looking like a million bucks.


2 Flower power

A hoodie with pizazz by Scotch & Soda will brighten up a dreary winter day.


3 Celebrity kicks

Rugged and durable but also sleek and modern, this firewood carrier is hand- crafted by Chip Addington at his studio on St. Paul’s East Side, using refur- bished tools and sturdy supplies.

$280, Steger Mukluks,

4 It’s a wrap

Designer Kevin Kramp fashions these rib-knit scarves with luxury Italian yarns in combinations of cashmere, angora, wool and cotton. Some color combos are exclusive to MartinPatrick3.


5 Pretty in pink

Combat winter’s cold with this lush hot pink zip crop from IRO.


6 Hats on

Love Your Melon wins winter with these fair isle knit toppers. Or build-your-own beanie in their new North Loop studio.


counter & table

1 Cooking chic

Mixed-media artist Alex Prince designed a pattern from Minnesota staples — corn, butter and meat — and fashioned it into a retro-looking apron. Kid sizes are available, too, for your favorite kitchen “helper.”


2 Top notch

Pair this custom bottle stopper with a bottle of wine or whiskey for a one-of- a-kind gift. You can choose anything from sand and sea shells to wedding flowers.


3 Bar hopping

Colorful linen cocktail napkins with embroidered Hunt Slonem-designed rabbits add color and energy to any table.

$60 for a set of six, or Julia Moss Designs, Wayzata.

6 Hot times

These 7-inch leather squares inspired by blacksmith gloves can serve as triv- ets or pot holders. They’ll break in and patina over time.

$32 per pair, $18 single;

7 Dry it

Flour-sack towels embroidered with state pride from local business Made in Minn (Wisconsin is available, too) make quick work of drying dishes and can double as gift wrap.

$32 set of two,

8 Cool kitchens

Functional can be fun, too. Holy Smokes! Ceramics adds whimsy to workhorses like trivets, and elegance to classic pieces.

Pot $65, trivets $25,

9 Tiny treasures

Grab this magnet set as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer. Local artist Ash Ligon specializes in miniature foodstuffs, put- ting everything from waffles to corn dogs in magnet, earring and ornament form.

$25 for four,

4 Twin cheers

Keep the peace at cocktail parties with scripted Minneapolis and St. Paul stem- less wine glasses from North Made.

$10 each, $32 for a set of four;

5 Carefree coasters

Two local companies, Cambria and Room & Board, paired up to offer home accessories like these square coasters that can double as small plates.

$40 for set of four,

sip & savor

1 Jolly jolt

For his cold-brew coffee, Gus Dean sources beans from around the world and hand-roasts them at his Eagan roastery. Flavors change with the season, but provide smooth sipping all year long. Flavored whole bean and ground coffee are available, too.


2 Just add marshmallows

Duluth’s Dean Packingham had the idea for an all-natural hot cocoa business after label reading while making mugs of hot chocolate for his kids, Mike and Jen. The mix has only five ingredients, and he made sure it was creamy enough so you just need to add water.

$12.95 for 8 ounces, widely available in stores and at

3 Jingle bites

Minneapolis plant-based restaurant Hark! Cafe is offering appetizer gift sets, which include cranberry jam, spiced pecans and two containers of “cheese” — red pepper or chèvre style — all packaged together with a festive touch. Buy two and give one to yourself.


4 Merry berries

Proving there’s more to cranberries than what’s served jiggling on the holiday table, Tattersall Distilling’s tart but cheery liqueur offers a seasonal touch to spritzes, ciders and Old Fashioneds.

$30 for 750 ml,

5 Holiday cheer

Tired of watered-down drinks, Pete and Kelly Holzer of Jordan decided to mix business and pleasure with their Sideshow Bloody Mary mix. Four flavors — from mild to fire-breather — get holiday brunches off to a tasty start.


6 Chocolate love

Whether you’re snacking or baking, starting with quality chocolate is a must. Locally based Chocolate San José goes right to the source — their plantation in Ecuador: “We select the best cacao beans from our fields and turn them into chocolate for you.”

From $4,

7 Cook’s choice

Food lovers will appreciate the attention owner Rebecca Bouchier gives the olive oils and vinegars she hand mixes in her Minnetonka shop. Choose from dozens of flavors, from jalapeño or blood orange olive oils to chocolate espresso or ginger fig balsamic vinegars. They deliver, too.

From $13,

bright & beautiful

1 Purple reign

Let relaxation rule your world with this Prince-inspired gift set from Kobi Co. Kobi Gregory launched her online store after touring a historically Black college and university and realizing she’d need to make money to attend. She recently created a scholarship, too.


2 Skin so soft

After years of research helping burn patients recover, German scientist Augustinus Bader uses his patented nutrients and technology to change the face of home skin care, too. The rich vegan cream is ideal for dry skin and cold climates.


3 Story time

After her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease and her son developed a tree nut allergy, Carmen Kubista refor- mulated her skin-care line to be gluten- free, with natural preservatives and egg- shell membrane as a “secret weapon” ingredient.


4 Nail it

The mavens from Haven Nail Studio in Edina commissioned this silky, chemical- free cuticle oil with a brush applicator to eliminate product waste. It fits their safer, smarter mantra. Pair it with Intelligent Nutrients’ Hand and Nail Balm.

$20; balm $29,

5 Zip-ups

The perfect size for corralling lipsticks, earbuds and other basics, these Moore & Giles leather travel pouches look good sitting on a counter and can be tossed in a tote or suitcase.

$70-$95, Billy Reid at Edina’s Nolan Mains, in-store only

6 Scrub-a-dub

Santosha’s organic products have heavenly scents and good looks. They’re sourced in part from plants grown at owner Ashlee Assadi’s Iron River, Wis., farm.

Soap trio, $25,

fun & games

1 Tic-tac-toe go!

Choose traditional X’s and O’s, state shapes like Minnesota and Wisconsin, or loons and fishes. Made by Hagen and Oats, aka Two Sisters and Some Tools; available online and in select area stores.


2 Oh,baby

After becoming a mom, Minneapolis maker Emily Abbott used her design background to foster imaginative play for her daughter by creating these sweet dolls.

From $40; Etsy shop PiccoloPesca,

3 Noise makers

Babies love to discover how to make a noise with these crinkle toys.

$14 each, PiccoloPesca on Etsy

4 Write and right

For each set of pencils sold, Minnesota- based global humanitarian organiza- tion Alight gives one to a child starting school in Pakistan, Uganda or Somalia. Over the past three years, Alight has helped a million kids get back to class.


5 Art of the deal

Popular local artist Adam Turman’s work decorates this Paul and Babe poker deck. We bet you’ll like them.

$10, Minnesota Historical Society,

6 Peg board

Show a little state pride during family game night with a wooden cribbage board made in the shape of Minnesota.


7 High-low tech

Minnesota scientist Paul Boswell invented the Turing Tumble to get kids off their screens with a non-electronic, kinetic toy that, ironically, teaches them how computers work. Extra fun: The instruction book is in the form of a manga-style graphic novel.


this & that

1 Carry on

Made with wool from its Minnehaha Falls throws and sturdy leather handles, Faribault Woolen Mills’ classic tote will never go out of style.


2 Class pack

Roomy and sturdy, this J.W. Hulme Bison Rucksack will wear well and develop a patina as it ages, adding character to a classic.


3 Speak volumes

For the bookworm on your list, these sleek, modern bookends — a collaboration between Minnesota’s Cambria and Room & Board — are a practical choice. Flip them up or sideways.


4 Hop on it

Artist Hunt Slonem brings his colorful bunnies to home goods. Keep treasures in this lacquer box, which is a treasure itself.

$225, or

5 Play footsie

Who says adult socks have to be boring? Dinosaurs and mushrooms make these fun.


6 Natural Beauty

Chip Addington’s hand-formed leather pine cone ornaments spruce up trees, wreaths and gifts. Much like the pine cones found in nature, no two are alike.

From $5,

7 Sand trap

This divot tool with a magnetic ball marker can be customized with sand from your favorite beach, grass clippings from your favorite course or whatever else you putt over to artist Barb Owen-Boerger.


cats & dogs

1 Cause for cuddling

This blanket by local business Cuddle­ Mutt was designed especially for dogs — blue is one of the few colors dogs can see — but it’s so soft and warm you’ll be the one begging to share. For every blanket bought, founder and dog foster mom Kristen Farris will donate one to a dog in need.


2 Canine chic

Handmade flannel bandannas and cozy neck scarves provide warmth and a sense of style for pooches of all sizes; several colors and styles available. CuddleMutt donates 20% of proceeds from all accessory sales to a pet shelter or rescue.

From $28,

3 Feline fine

Minneapolis maker Julie Steller does wonders with upcycled wool sweaters — mittens, ornaments, purses — and now she’s letting pets have some fun. Woolen mice are stuffed with fiberfill and organic catnip, and adorned with a Swedish braid tail.

$10 each,

4 Kitty letter

Steller also features the work of other local artists on her site, including these hand­painted patterned notecards by designer Kirsten Sevig. The cheerful cards are inspired by the artist’s love of cats.


5 Pet portraits

These custom woodcut pieces capture the essence of your four­legged friend. You send in a photo, and the artists at Hagen and Oats cut and dye pieces of wood to create the mosaic. They currently require three to four weeks to process.

From $199,

6 Treat time

Let your pampered pet enjoy safe treats baked specifically for them by Just Dogs! Gourmet. Find a variety of Minnesota­ made everyday treats for dogs of all sizes, cookies decorated for the seasons and custom­order canine cakes for special occasions.

From $1.50;

7 Walk on

Bridle leather, copper rivets and brass hardware make this reinforced, 5­foot leash a sturdy choice for daily dog constitutionals.