Made in Michigan: Get Your Gifts From the Mitten

By: Toni Cunningham | December 9, 2013
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The season of giving can be a stressful one. Ideally, you want to get your friends and family great holiday gifts without simultaneously draining your bank account. If the mere thought of entering a shopping mall in December leaves you in a cold sweat and you refuse to give out yet another gift card, I have a suggestion for you.

Step away from the department store, put down the generic scarf and/or wristwatch, and consider purchasing Michigan made gifts this holiday season.

It’s the perfect solution for many reasons: you’ll be able to either a) purchase the following items online or b) in a cute little store, meaning you can avoid the mall entirely. You’ll support a local business, and know exactly where your purchase is coming from.

I guarantee you’ll find something for everyone on your list with the following Michigan made gifts:

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For the Foodie

Those who enjoy spending time in the kitchen will love this Michigan-shaped maple cutting board. Cooking will never be the same!

Good Life Granola will satisfy the healthy eater on your list. Based in Holland, each all-natural artisan blend is made with ingredients like Michigan maple syrup. There are three different varieties, all of which are excellent toppers for ice cream or yogurt: Original Blend, Apple Crisp, Nut Free and Cranberry Cherry.

You may not have heard of Blueberry Haven, since it’s a quaint little shop in Grand Haven, but it’s certainly worth your attention. This store is all about “beaches, blueberries and bliss,” and you can order items online and have them shipped right to your door. I highly recommend the Chocolate Covered Blueberries, and they have over a dozen gift packages that will surely make anyone’s holiday better.

Good People Popcorn and Will Cole Caramel Corn are delicious Michigan-made treats perfect for your movie-obsessed cousin. Good People Popcorn comes in a variety of unusual flavors like Bacon Cheddar, Caramel Apple Pie, Chili Cheese and Chocolate Drizzle. While there’s nothing wrong with the original Will Cole Caramel Corn, you also have your choice of flavors that include Butter Pecan, Michigan Cherry and Cheddar Caramel. They’re both easy to track down—Good People Popcorn can be purchased at the Detroit storefront as well as online, and Will Cole Caramel Corn can be purchased at all Metro Detroit Kroger stores.

Cherry Republic has four storefront locations throughout the state, including one in Ann Arbor. They make everything you could possibly imagine using cherries: dried fruit, sausage, condiments, jams, toppings, bakery items, salsa, candy, wine and more. It may sound like a strange combination, but the cherry salsa is quite good! Alone, it would be a great stocking stuffer for anyone who is adventurous when it comes to food.

Drinkable Gifts 

Michigan is home to plenty of coffee roasters, including the Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company of Glen Arbor (up near Traverse City). This holiday season, they’ve got an entire Christmas gift catalog packed with enough items to thrill any coffee addict. Ordering one of the many gift options is a great change of pace from Detroit’s (fantastic) local coffee shops—and since it’s further north, exotic! Gift packs range from a few bucks to $140, and include items like coffee, chocolate covered espresso truffles, fruit preserves, pancake mix and more. Best of all, it can be delivered right to your door!

Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like locally made booze! Valentine Distilling Co. of Ferndale makes vodka that surpasses both Grey Goose and Ketel One. If whiskey is more your style, Detroit’s Two James Spirits excels in that department. They’ve also got a crazy membership, the Corktown 500, which you should take a look at in the link above.

Michigan craft beer is always a sound choice.

Traverse City is Michigan’s “wine country,” and one should never show up to a holiday party empty handed. Why not bring your host a bottle of wine? Try the Chateau Grand Traverse Riesling or Ship of Fools, and while you’re at it, buy an extra bottle of each for your favorite writer (me).

Wear Your Mitten Pride on Your Sleeve

You can never have too many clothes, in my opinion! The Mitten State is based out of Grand Rapids, and this company makes some of the greatest Michigan (state of, not University of) apparel I’ve seen. They’ve got t-shirts, hoodies and more emblazoned with “Beer City USA,” “Detroit Can’t Be Beat,” “Yes! There Really Is a Kalamazoo,” and other cute Michigander sayings and phrases.

If you’re looking for a local clothing company with a great cause, look no further than michiCAN. Proceeds from “Don’t Mess with the Mitten” t-shirts and hoodies benefit the Girls Travel Club of Detroit. Products can be purchased via the official website, or at various local stores (see the link provided for a full list).

Top Pick for Him

The hipster-esque gentleman in your life will be all about anything you purchase for him from Damn Handsome Grooming Co. Based out of Kalamazoo, the company repurposes brewed ingredients from local craft breweries into soaps. They’ve also got shaving cream, beard oil, moustache wax and various other manly toiletries for purchase. Take your pick and for only $6 in shipping costs, you’ve saved yourself gas money to make it to the mall.

Top Pick for Her

For the beauty obsessed lady in your life, Whip Hand Cosmetics is a Detroit company that manufactures everything from skincare to eye shadow to lip gloss. Fellas, I realize shopping for makeup for your girlfriend isn’t going to be the easiest task (you probably don’t even know what skin toner is), so this suggestion is more for ladies to gift their best girlfriend with.

Miscellaneous Michigan-y Items

If you’ve got accessory aficionados or fashion mavens on your list, you’ll want to stop by Kitty Deluxe in Saint Clair Shores. Owner Cat Massof handmakes the necklaces, bracelets and earrings available for purchase. While, yes, you can shop online, it would be a shame to skip going to the actual store–it’s located inside of a pink house, and is decorated to the nines!

In case you missed it, The Michigan Beer Film is now on DVD. You can purchase it via the online store, along with a really awesome “Michigan Beer = Better” t-shirt that is definitely on my list for Santa.

Bus scroll canvases are a popular decoration these days, so why not gift a Michigan themed one to a friend? Detroit Scroll sells art and souvenirs, including custom scrolls and reproduction scrolls. They’ve got over a dozen to choose from, or you can create your own!

If you’re still left in a daze and haven’t purchased a thing after checking out all of the above options (I find that hard to believe), take a trip to The Rust Belt Market of Ferndale this weekend. You’ll find plenty of Michigan made items, all under one roof.

Happy holidays, and happy shopping!