Gift ideas from local artisans support Northern Michigan
By Rick Coates
Each year during the Christmas holiday season there are always those hard-to-buy-for family and friends. Here are a few suggestions that certainly will please even the toughest person on your list and help to contribute to the local economy:
Cherry Republic Gift Box
You can never go wrong giving the gift of food. Cherry Republic located in Glen Arbor on the Leelanau Peninsula takes all the stress out of gift giving with their assorted gift box selections. These cherry-themed gifts will please even the most difficult person on your list.
If you own a business and want to send gift boxes to your clients and customers this is the way to go. Simply make one call to Cherry Republic and they are able to process and ship several orders.
Cherry Republic also will include a handwritten, personalized card with each gift box and they ship anywhere in the United States. You may choose from the several pre-selected gift boxes or you may customize your own.
Be sure to include the Confiscated Fruit Mix in every gift box, this blend of peanuts, almonds, cashews, bananas, sesame sticks and of course cherries is one of those cant-stop-eating-em-snacks. With more than 175 items from jams to salsas to candy to choose from, creating customized gift boxes is easy.
Here is the fun thing about this gift idea: Go to their Glen Arbor, downtown TC or Charlevoix locations and sample before you send. They have a great selection of their goodies available for tasting (no charge). Info: www.cherryrepublic.com.
Homemade Scarf from Inish Knits
Everyone loves gifts that are homemade because of the personal touch. Knitting has made a big comeback and Melissa Kelenske, the passionate knitter from Cedar and owner of Inish Knits, contributes to the crafts revival. Her downtown Cedar store is loaded with yarns and accessories. Kelenske also hosts free knitting nights on Tuesday evenings and free spinning nights on Wednesdays. Whether you are an expert knitter or just getting started, you will feel welcome.
Currently Kelenske is posting a new pattern each week on her blog, known as the The 12 Knits of Christmas. Patterns range from beautiful scarves to wine bottle cozies to Christmas decorations.
According to Kelenske there is plenty of time even for the beginning knitter to finish a homemade knitted gift for that someone special. Of course if you dont finish in time just save it for next year. To learn more go to her website www.known.com/inishknits or, call 231-228-2800.
L Mawby FIZZ Wine Club
Wine clubs are fun and this is a great gift for that friend or family member who enjoys vino. You cant go wrong signing them up for L. Mawbys wine club called FIZZ. Members are Bubbleheads and a one-year membership includes three shipments of four bottles each along with a hip newsletter written by winemaker and English major Larry Mawby.
L. Mawby has built an international reputation for its quality sparkling wines so this gift will please even the toughest wine critic. Wine club members who purchase two cases of wine will receive 25% off on the purchase of future wines.
Check with your favorite winery in the region for other wine club opportunities. To learn more about FIZZ go to www.lmawby.com.
Log Art Wine Cabinet
Robin Lee Berry is well known around Northern Michigan and folk circles across North America for her musical talents. Several years ago when she was remodeling her home near Boyne City she met woodworker Anthony (Tony) Williams. They ended up marrying and starting Log Art, Inc. The couple crafts beds, dining tables, cabinets, railings, small tables and all sorts of wood accessories from downed trees in the region.
They recently established a new gallery in Boyne City that features the work of Michigan artisans. They also do custom and commission work. Check out their gallery online at www.logartinc.com or call them at 231-582-5057.
Family game nights are making a comeback as more and more families turn off the electronics for a few hours one night each week to gather for a regular game night. Now Camp, made by Education Outdoors right here in Northern Michigan is receiving rave reviews as an excellent family board game.
What differentiates Camp from other board games is that it is structured to challenge everyone regardless of their level. So parents may play with their children of all ages as questions are asked based on level of knowledge. A young child would play a level one while a parent would play at a level four.
Players learn fun facts about animals and the outdoors and there is also a travel version of the game. Camp is sold at stores through out the country, or go to their website at campboardgame.com.
Free Dining Gift Certificates
Gift certificates are always a safe bet. Locally-owned Red Mesa and Pearls have become popular eateries in the region. Pearls in Elk Rapids specializes in Cajun/Creole cuisine while Red Mesa with locations in Traverse City and Boyne City focus on Latin specialties, Mexican dishes and margaritas.
Here is the kicker, for every $100 in gift certificates you buy in November the restaurant will give you a $20 gift certificate for free. The certificates can be purchased online at www.magnumhospitality.com or stop in to one of their locations.
Paperworks Studio Handmade Cards
The Paperworks Program started nearly 20 years ago when Traverse Bay Intermediate School District teacher Tim Coffey developed the concept to help his students who have severe and multiple disabilities. Tim wanted to get his students involved with recycling as a job opportunity. Paperworks grew out of his classroom to become the onsite work training experience for students, age 16-26, who are in need of functional real world life skills.
Paperworks joined forces with Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan to grow job opportunities for individuals who have barriers to employment and need a more supportive environment.
Paperworks makes greeting cards from recycled paper for all occasions To see their complete offering go to www.paperworksstudio.com.
Again, this is just a sampling of local ideas. Be creative; make your customized Northern Michigan gift box or basket. Create your own Northern Michigan club and ship a unique item from the area each month. Gift buying doesnt have to be stressful -- consider local and be creative.