Midwest Living Holiday Gift Guide 2012
Creative cookie tools
Whetstone Woodenware French rolling pin Your favorite baker will treasure this satin-smooth, elegantly tapered and surprisingly lightweight maple rolling pin made in Silver Lake, Indiana. $19.95. (800) 253-3670; whetstonewoodenware.com
Greenfield Village cookie cutter canister Hand-forged at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, these five quaint cutters come stacked in a tin and look like set pieces from Little House on the Prairie. $43. (313) 982-6144; giftshop.thehenryford.org
Fancy Flours cookie stamps Step away from the frosting. All you need is firm cookie dough to make a great impression (pun intended) with these tools. The Home Made stamp (at left in picture, $17) presses balls of dough into adorable medallions. The Message on a Cookie gadget (at right in picture, $20) comes with tiny moveable letters to spell names or greetings. One idea: Edible place cards! (406) 587-0118; fancyflours.com
For a modern alternative to the classic cookie tin, tuck treats in white bakery boxes, available at crafts stores. We dolled ours up with a cheerful red ribbon and lined the inserts with coordinating paper.
When you want to give more than a card, but less than a gift, slip a cookie or two in a plastic treat bag (available at crafts stores) with a solid-color piece of scrapbooking paper. Fold contrasting paper over the opening, punch two holes, then tie with ribbon.
Cross-country snowshoes Clarence Iverson began constructing snowshoes from Michigan white ash, rawhide and copper on the Upper Peninsula in 1956. Whether you hang them on the wall or wear them into the woods, they’ll last a lifetime—or several. From $227. (877) 452-6370; iversonssnowshoes.com
Good-for-you gift For a memorable and healthy gift, pack a pair of wool socks or cozy gloves in a bag with a Midwest hiking guide, then add a note inviting the recipient on the winter walk of their choice in the New Year.
Duluth Trading Company bags
The women on our staff fell hard for these rugged travel purses. Durable and attractive, with zippers that slide like a dream, they’re an affordable sure thing for any on-the-go gal. From $30. (800) 505-8888; duluthtrading.com
Several companies publish books about day hikes in and around Midwest cities. Priced around $18, they make great gifts, especially for someone who just moved to a new town. A few we like: Moon’s Take a Hike, Falcon Guides’ Best Hikes Near, Menasha Ridge Press’ 60 Hikes within 60 Miles and Wilderness Press’ Walking.
That’s potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, clustered with thick chocolate and chewy caramel. The Minneapolis snack company’s signature treat is sweet, salty and oh-so-addictive. $22 for 20 ounces. (888) 473-8659; funkychunky.com
Mojo Spa hats In addition to cosmetics, the Chicago company sells handmade accessories, including irresistibly flirty crocheted hats. Colors and styles may vary. $38. (773) 235-6656; mojospa.com or etsy.com/shop/mojospastyle
LazyTcrochet button-up shawl Garrettsville, Ohio, fiber artist Tricia Hodson’s cozy crocheted wrap elicited oohs and ahhs when we walked it down the office hallway catwalk. Chunky round buttons and a great price seal the deal. $40. etsy.com/shop/lazytcrochet
Duluth Pack log carrier Made of durable canvas with attractive leather trim, the Minnesota-based company’s carrier easily rolls or folds for off-season storage. A great pick for anyone who loves a wood-burning fire. (800) 777-4439; duluthpack.com
Baabaazuzu boot liners An unfortunate husband-dryer incident (we’ve all had ’em) inspired the Leelanau, Michigan, company’s passion for stylishly upcycling old sweaters. $40. (231) 256-7176; baabaazuzu.com
Bemidji Woolen Mills mittens Trust a company that’s been working with wool for 92 years (and in Minnesota, no less) to keep your fingers warm. These ragg wool mittens and gloves have practical deerskin palms and soft pile lining. $29.50. (888) 751-5166; bemidjiwoolenmills.com
Start a new tradition
You hum along every year-—but have you ever eaten a chestnut roasted over an open fire? Midwest-grown chestnuts are readily available online starting in late fall, and Jacob Bromwell, a 193-year-old Cincinnati-founded company that crafts classic kitchen gear, sells this stove- and fire-safe roaster. You may only use it once a year, but when you do, you’ll know the holidays have arrived. Instructions and recipes included. $44.99. (800) 683-2626; jacobbromwell.com
Four Midwest jewelry designers make the details of your life their business, printing birth dates, names and initials on sweetly simple pieces.
Lisa Hopkins Design carved tree West Lafayette, Indiana, metalsmith Lisa Hopkins’ nostalgic tree design (far left in picture) scored big points with our staff. $64. lisahopkinsdesign.com
J Lynn Creations dog tag Chesterland, Ohio, artist Jacquie Lynn’s necklaces (second from left in picture) will suit new daddies—or grandpas! $44. etsy.com/shop/jlynncreations
Amy Cornwell miniature monogram Noblesville, Indiana, artist Amy Cornwell’s simple gold monogram charm (second from right in picture) would appeal to any age, but we like it as a special gift for a young girl. $25. amycornwell.com
Jeneri Jewelry necklaces Naperville, Illinois, artist Jennifer Neri offers an array of pieces stamped with dates, names or Braille letters (far right and middle necklace in picture). From $48. (216) 870-6838; etsy.com/shop/jenerijewelry (December 2012 update: Artist is on vacation and will not take further orders until January.)
The inspiration and source for Nadine Leo’s jewelry flows right outside her door. At the Mississippi River Pearl Company in Alma, Wisconsin, Nadine sells earrings, necklaces and rings she makes with Mississippi pearls. Prices vary, starting around $50. (Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth have both worn her pieces.)
The endangered status of freshwater mussels adds to the mystique of Nadine’s work. Because invasive zebra mussels threaten the local kind’s population levels, harvesting is no longer permitted, so the number of pearls available is finite. But Nadine says she has enough to last her for years to come. (651) 301-1204; nadineleo.com
Michelle Brusegaard screen-print scarf
The Grand Forks, North Dakota, artist prints hipster-friendly earrings, stationery and colorful, soft-as-your-favorite-tee jersey scarves—as affordable as they are stylish. $25. etsy.com/shop/michellebrusegaard
Veronica Riley Martens tagua necklace
Adorn yourself with lusciously hued necklaces made of slices of renewable tagua nuts from the Amazon rainforest. Bold, beautiful and “green.” What’s not to love? From $60. etsy.com/shop/veronicarileymartens
Don’t forget the pooch!
Potter Kim Berger makes gorgeous bowls and tasty treats for lucky dogs and cats (and humans, too) at her East Troy, Wisconsin, studio. The brightly colored dishes come in several sizes (from $15) and are heavy enough to withstand a dog’s eager mealtime rush. She uses eggs from her chickens in the biscuits, which come in a cute paw-printed box ($14). Bowls and biscuits can be personalized for no extra charge. (262) 210-5846; etsy.com/shop/kboriginalsetc
Nestle special “ingredients” inside ball ornaments for thoughtful, budget-friendly party favors or decorations. You can use wintry natural materials like we did, or let your imagination fly.
What you’ll need
Plastic ball ornaments
Pine tree clippings
Place items inside one ornament half. (Leave them loose, or secure with a dot of hot glue.) Top with the other half, string with ribbon, and presto, you’re done!
Artful home glass ornaments
Order exquisite, jewellike ornaments from all over North America at this beautiful online gallery based in Madison, Wisconsin. From $29. (877) 223-4600; artfulhome.com
Tazza Glass candy canes
Mike Grau blows hundreds of glass ornaments every year at his studio in Medina, Ohio. Browse the huge array of balls and teardrops, or order several of these sparkly candy canes, available in a rainbow of sweet colors. $10. (440) 570-7172; tazzaglass.com
Le Papier studio ornament
A Chicago company puts silhouettes on ornaments (and many more items). Pick a standard form, or for $10, submit a photo. $34. (847) 922-6474; lepapierstudio.com
Paper Source wreath kit Chicago-based Paper Source makes holiday crafting easy with a variety of wreath kits. Punch out, fold, and adhere petals and leaves to the included wreath form. Great for beginner crafters! $19.50. (888) 727-3711; paper-source.com
Do-it-yourself Advent calendar Give family and holiday guests a festive fireplace surprise. Pop pieces of candy, small toys or clues (to find larger gifts hidden in the house) in 24 tiny envelopes or muslin bags. Rubber-stamp numbers on circular labels to seal envelope flaps, or write numbers on bags with a marker. Hang envelopes or bags along the mantel with mini clothespins. Shop your local crafts store for similar supplies, or find pictured items at Paper Source. (888) 727-3711; paper-source.com
Page Russell stoneware vase “Gnaw marks” add fun texture to the matte white Bad Beaver Vase (pictured at left on mantel), one of many mod gifts we love at Chicago’s Unison. $78. (877) 492-7960; unisonhome.com
Faribault Woolen Mill Co. Soho throw
Of all the wool throws we snuggled under, this was the softest. Made in Minnesota, it’s a timeless Christmas gift that will cozy up the back of your sofa for winters to come. $130. (507) 412-5510; faribaultmill.com
We love this festive, easy-care houseplant as a long-lasting alternative to poinsettias. Find it at Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart this December. Because it’s not a traditional gift plant, you may want to dress up the pot. Center pot on a square of felt (sized so that ends fold up to reach the pot’s rim). Bring up one corner; hot-glue felt to the rim of the pot. Bring up adjacent corner, folding under excess, and hot-glue. Repeat with remaining corners. Finish with a ribbon and tag.
Death’s Door Spirits gin
This Middleton, Wisconsin, distillery takes its name from the dangerous water between the Door County peninsula and Washington Island. Ingredients include Washington Island juniper berries and wheat. $30 for 750 ml. (608) 831-1083; deathsdoorspirits.com
Try it in our Jolly Gin Fizz, an effervescent, gingery cocktail, sweetened with pomegranate juice and spiked with gin.
Skip the grocery store gherkins, and try these guys, made in St. Joe, Indiana, since 1921. Candied-orange-flavored spears taste the way clove-studded oranges smell: Perfect for Christmas! $16.95 for a four-jar gift box. (800) 332-5461; gourmetpickles.com
Pierrepont Hicks tie
Style doesn’t always start on the coasts. Since 2009, Minneapolis couple Mac and Katherine McMillan’s hip-yet-classic wool ties have been a fashion-blog staple. $120. pierreponthicks.com
J.W. Hulme iPad sleeve
Based in Saint Paul, J.W. Hulme has crafted canvas and leather goods since 1905. (The company supplied Army tents during WWI.) Their iPad sleeves can be monogrammed and make great gifts for business travelers. $125. (800) 442-8212; jwhulmeco.com
The Henry Ford Wright Flyer
Indulge your inner 10-year-old boy—or an actual one on your list—with this 20-inch model from the Michigan museum’s gift shop. Bonus: It really flies (and, we’ve found, survives crash landings in soft grass). $55. (313) 982-6144; giftshop.thehenryford.org
Grandpa Shorter’s cheese knife
The beloved souvenir-and-more shop in Petoskey, Michigan, sells elegant knives with handles made of Petoskey stone, the speckled fossils found on area beaches. $53. (231) 347-2603; grandpashorters.com
Daisygirl lotion and body butter
Made in Elk Horn, Iowa, the nongreasy formula leaves just enough scent to remind you (or your better half) that you’re wearing something special. Our pick: Pomegranate Grapefruit. From $5. (712) 249-5253; daisygirlbath.com
DB Infusion bars
A confetti of spices, fruits, nuts and tea flavors these beautiful chocolate bars from Madison, Wisconsin. We love the No. 2, with curry powder, cinnamon, honey, orange zest, mango, coconut and almonds. $5.25 apiece, or $31.50 for a seven-bar gift set. (608) 233-1600; infusionchocolates.com
Salt Sisters vanilla infusion kit
Pour vodka over the beans, and in two months, you’ve got a giant bottle of vanilla extract. Made by a Goshen, Indiana, gourmet seasoning company, the kit and beans can be reused for another batch. $25.95. (574) 276-8871; saltsistersonline.com
Show your state pride with mix-and-match vintage-style frosted glasses. (The website has scores of other cool goodies; enter with caution.) $12.25 each. (800) 819-3367; catstudio.com
Amy Butler smartphone skin
The Granville, Ohio, designer’s signature bold floral patterns will make any phone stand out from the crowd. A great stocking stuffer, they are available to fit a variety of models. $15. (866) 380-8130; skinit.com
Cleveland Heights, Ohio, artist Pat Garmhausen hand-prints these luxurious linen napkins. Stash a set or two for last-minute hostess gifts. We’re equally smitten with her cheery dish towels and pillows. $40. etsy.com/shop/giardino
Visions of sugar rubs
Give the gift of relaxation with seasonally scented body scrubs. They softly exfoliate, leave skin nourished and are oh-so-easy to make.
What you’ll need
Essential oils (try peppermint, cinnamon or sweet orange)
Mix 1-1/2 cups of sugar with 1/3 cup of olive oil. For chocolate, add 2 tablespoons cocoa. Add 2 to 3 drops of desired essential oil and a few drops of food coloring for a festive hue. Spoon scrub into crafts store jars and tie on decorative labels.