Your holiday gift giving is about much more than placing something in a box and tying it up with a pretty ribbon.
You want to thrill your Prince-fanatic friend with the gift of a tour of the Twin Cities’ purplest landmarks. Or maybe you want to inspire the creativity of a loved one with a hand sculpted in graphite that — surprise! — doubles as an art tool. Or give your family something to savor with a holiday gift basket from the snack wizards at Surdyk’s.
With that in mind, we spread out across Minneapolis to find the best the city had to offer this holiday season and gifts that will delight their recipients long after they unwrap them.
If you’re looking for something …
… to thrill
Fat bike rental
Available to rent by the day or the week, fat bikes offer a chance to hit the trails in the dead of winter.
Farmstead Bike Shop owner Greg Neis said that depending on the time of year and ice conditions, cyclists often ride around or across the chain of lakes.
“You just point and pedal,” Neis said. “If you’re strong enough to pedal the bike, it will get you there.”
Some customers take bikes off marked trails through the woods, he said, and others rent fat bikes for excursions to Duluth or Cuyuna. Those who go on to purchase a fat bike from Farmstead can deduct the rental cost up to one month after rental.
“It’s hard to get a sense of what the bike is capable of without spending time on one,” Neis said.
The shop also rents “resort-quality” snow tubes for use at spots like Lyndale Farmstead Park.
“You get a free cup of hot chocolate when you bring it back,” Neis said.
Price: LaMere Cycles: fat bike $70 per day, electric fat bike $100 per day, high-end ebikes $150 per day; Farmstead Bike Shop: $50 for day, $120 for three-day weekend, $300 for week; Tangletown Bike Shop: $45 for four hours, $55 for business day, $65 for 24 hours, $300 for week
Where you can find it: LaMere Cycles, 2659 Dupont Ave. S. / lamerecycles.com; Farmstead Bike Shop, 4001 Bryant Ave. S. / farmsteadbikeshop.com; Tangletown Bike Shop, 322 W. 48th St. / tangletownbikeshop.com
… to adorn
Spiral perfume pendant
A dash of perfume is always within reach with this wearable vial by La Parfumerie.
The hand-blown glass is created by members of a women’s fair trade cooperative in a Mayan village, and the perfume is blended in Winnipeg. Each refillable pendant holds a three-week supply.
Shiva (pictured) contains notes of jasmine, frankincense and lotus. Natural perfumes are made with perfume oils and essential oils and come without alcohol, preservatives, animal products or animal testing. Other gift ideas at LaRue’s include fingerless gloves, handmade organic soaps, custom-fit clothing by in-house designer Kyra Deva and artisan jewelry by in-house jeweler Barb Shelstad.
Where to find it: LaRue’s, 3952 Lyndale Ave. S. / larues.com
… to inspire
Graphite drawing hand
To-do lists become a bit more inspired when they’re written with pieces that double as artwork.
The Batle Studio Graphite workshop describes this graphite hand as both a poetic metaphor, suggesting the hand’s capacity for creativity, and a functional drawing tool, writable on all surfaces and meant to last thousands of hours. The concept came from San Francisco artist Agelio Batle, who cast his own hand in graphite every day in the year 1999.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s gift shop also carries books that reflect the museum’s collection, with a seating area for flipping through pages, as well as a selection of Minnesota-made jewelry and popular Izipizi reading glasses. Museum members save 20 percent on purchases.
Where to find it: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 3rd Ave. S. / artsmia.org
… to delight
Crafty kids can create their own pompoms using this Pom Maker.
The solid beech wood pieces are tailored for kids ages six and up to make pompom bunnies and pandas. Kinoko Kids refers customers to the digs shop down the street for yarn.
Another crafty gift by Moon Picnic invites kids to cross stitch a sweater for a wooden cat. The toy store also carries lots of musical instruments for small children, including a “piano horn” that one recent customer promised is a pleasant sound.
Where you can find it: Kinoko Kids, 314 W. 38th St. / kinokokids.com
… to savor
Fresh roasted coffee
Coffee lovers can appreciate rare finds from Yemen, Myanmar or Thailand courtesy of Coffee & Tea Ltd. Beans are sourced from more than 60 countries.
On a recent visit, owner Jim Cone said his first cup of coffee that morning was the El Salvador Los Pirineos ($23.99/lb). His second cup was the Guatemala Cup of Excellence Villaure ($45.99/lb). His third cup was the Panama La Esmeralda Geisha ($69.99/lb). That evening with dinner, he planned to have a cup of the Guatemala Santa Felisa ($35.99/lb), which is picked when the beans are deep purple with high sugar content.
Cone ships coffee across the country, roasting and shipping orders the same day they are placed.
Price: Prices vary
Where to find it: Coffee & Tea Ltd., 2730 W. 43rd St. / coffeeandtealtd.com
… to thrill
Vertical Endeavors gift certificate
Does someone on your list need help beating cabin fever?
Try a dose of Vertical Endeavors, which operates four indoor climbing gyms in the Twin Cities, including one on Nicollet Avenue in Whittier. The gym is open to climbers of all skill levels, including beginners, and features walls up to 58 feet high.
Manager Kevin Scott said a day pass runs $18 (or $19.40 after tax) and suggested buying a gift certificate in multiples of that amount. Another option is the 10-visit pass for $135, which never expires and can be shared between more than one person.
Both passes include an orientation for new climbers. Scott said gift cards can also be used to purchase gear. (Items like shoes and harnesses are also available to rent on site.)
Vertical Endeavors is preparing to expand its local climbing options soon. Its Twin Cities Bouldering facility is under construction just across the border in St. Paul and will open with an 18,000 square foot bouldering area for climbers to test their skills.
Where you can find it: Vertical Endeavors, 2540 Nicollet Ave. S. / verticalendeavors.com
… to adorn
Ixmukane leather bag
Among the many eye-catching, locally crafted accessories on display during a recent trip to Lyn-Lake boutique Showroom were the fuzzy cowhide bags designed by Carlos Higueros.
Higueros was raised in Anoka but born in Guatemala. Showroom co-owner Jen Chilstrom said he purchases whole cows with family still in Guatemala, and they’re used nose-to-tail, including the leather, which Higueros uses for his Ixmukane line of accessories.
The satchel-style bags are adorned with stones, and Chilstrom said they appeal to both her male and female customers. So do stone and leather cuffs from Ixmukane also stocked at Showroom.
Chilstrom said Ixmukane comes from a Mayan word meaning “queen of all queens,” and it’s the same name Higueros gave his daughter.
Where to find it: Showroom, 615 W. Lake St. / showroommpls.com
… to inspire
‘Border Country: The Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene, 1906–1916’
If there’s a reader in your life who also loves the outdoors — particularly those wild and remote places best accessed by canoe — put “Border Country” at the top of your holiday shopping list.
A large, handsome volume published this fall by University of Minnesota Press, “Border Country” collects the travel journals of Milwaukee businessman Howard Green, who in the early 1900s made a series of long summer canoe trips into northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Canada, mixing with lumberjacks and native people at the fast-retreating fringe of the wilderness.
Green was a skilled amateur photographer, and the book is illustrated with dozens of pictures of Northwoods scenery, including parts of what would become the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Price: $39.95, publisher price; $35.96 at Magers & Quinn
Where you can find it: Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave. / magersandquinn.com
… to delight
Dragonfire board game
Dragonfire is a new spin on an old pastime, the classic role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Set in that same world of orcs, elves and dragons, the board game may be just the thing for someone loving the 1980s nostalgia of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” whose main characters are a geeky quartet of D&D players.
Cate Nagel, a manger at LynLake’s Universe Games, said Dragonfire was one of the store’s most hotly anticipated new releases this fall. A cooperative game designed for two to six players, it moves more swiftly than a classic D&D quest, and the fantasy world it’s set in will continue to grow with the release of future expansion packs.
A copy was on the store’s demo shelf in November, so there’s a chance to try before you buy. There store also offers gift cards and a vast selection of other board games, including classics like Settlers of Catan and popular new titles like Pandemic.
Where you can find it: Universe Games, 711 W. Lake St., Suite 103 / universegames.com
… to savor
This sounds like a strange idea, but take a second to think about it.
Have you noticed how, in just a few years, kombucha went from a practically non-existent grocery category to one with yards of dedicated shelf space at your local market? Have you seen the sign at the co-op that give a by-the-case price for bottled kombucha?
The fermented tea has become a regular part of so many people’s diets that Whittier’s Gyst Fermentation Bar recently launched a subscription program for their house-brewed kombuchas, which come in a rotating variety of flavors (including, recently, ginger-peppermint chamomile and aronia flavored with Wisconsin-grown berries). Gyst will deliver two 32-ounce growlers of kombucha to any Twin Cities door on a monthly or biweekly basis.
If that sounds a little too adventurous for anyone on your holiday shopping list, know that Gyst’s online shop also includes gift cards and its popular Motherboard To-Go, a selection of cheeses, meat, olives and other nibbles that works as a gift or an all-in-one party spread.
Price: $30 for monthly delivery; $55 for biweekly delivery (minimum three-month subscription)
Where to find it: Gyst Fermentation Bar, 25 E. 26th St. / gystmpls.com
… to thrill
Riddle Room tickets
Riddle Room was the Twin Cities’ first escape room business when it opened in May 2014, according to owner Art Allen. It has expanded to include three different games, a number that will likely increase to five by January.
All the games are family friendly and can be played by four to eight people, Allen said. One of the games is capped at six people.
The concept of escape rooms originated in Japan and Korea and arrived in the U.S. via San Francisco, according to Allen. He said Riddle Room’s games are slightly different from traditional escape room games, since the object of its games isn’t actually to escape from a room. Objectives range from stopping a pretend missile from launching to proving that a king isn’t the rightful heir to a throne.
Gift certificates are available and never expire. The company can run large groups. It’s open seven days a week, does same-day bookings and can book online or over the phone.
Price: $25 per ticket
Where you can find it: Riddle Room, 507 E. Hennepin Ave. / riddle-room.com
… to adorn
“Fine Arts” sweatshirt
This classic crewneck pullover is designed by Megan Huntz, an Atlanta-based designer. It runs true to size and is sewn in a fair-trade factory in the Dominican Republic.
The merchant, Hazel & Rose, sells sustainable and ethically made clothing, jewelry and accessories. Its products are all natural and have a minimal impact to the environment, according to its owners. The people who make their products are paid a fair and living wage.
The boutique is located in The Broadway, a building at the intersection of Broadway & Central. It offers gift cards and online shopping, too.
Where you can find it: Hazel & Rose, 945 Broadway St. NE, #220 / shophazelandrose.com
… to inspire
These stainless-steel bracelets have inspirational messages, such as “you got this” and “fearless.” The cuffs are intended to promote a lifestyle of optimism, positivity and mindfulness, according to Bibelot, which sells them. They’re 18K gold overlay on gold and rose gold bands and are adjustable to fit most wrists.
Bibelot has a wide range of women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, toys and more, with an emphasis on sourcing fair-trade and environmentally responsible products and locally designed and crafted items, according to its website. The store offers e-gift cards as well as physical ones and has a small selection of items available on its website.
Where you can find it: Bibelot, 23 University Ave. SE (Northeast) or 4315 Upton Ave. S. (Linden Hills) / bibelotshops.com
… to delight
State-inlay products from Woodchuck USA
Woodchuck USA’s state-inlay products feature the state of your choosing etched into the product’s front side. The company’s website features state inlay designs for its wood journals and flasks, though other products can also be customized.
The Minneapolis-based company’s products are made in the U.S. The company plants a tree for every product purchased and has planted over 1 million trees in seven countries worldwide.
Woodchuck USA also sells a variety of accessories, from business card holders to money clips and iPhone cases, in addition to journals and bar products. It also sells Macbook skins, maps, closet storage and gift boxes. The company offers free shipping on orders over $100.
Price: $40, state inlay classic wood journal; $50, state inlay wood flask)
Where you can find it: woodchuckusa.com
… to savor
Surdyk’s gift baskets
Surdyk’s offers a variety of gift baskets for the holidays. This year’s baskets are filled with a selection of the store’s favorite things, including nuts, jams, salami, bakery treats like flatbreads and seasonal cookies, Spanish-pressed fruit, hand-crafted spiced chocolate and a variety of cheeses handpicked by their cheesemongers. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic options are all available.
Products come from a list of producers that includes Isadore Nut Co, Poorboy Candy, Olympia Chocolate, Rustic Bakery, Matiz and Red Table among others.
The wine basket includes a bottle of red wine and white wine, and the beer basket includes four beer varieties. The entertaining crate is non-alcoholic, but the store can include wine or sparkling wine as an add-on.
Price: $150 each
Where you can find it: Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop, 303 E. Hennepin Ave. / surdyks.com
… to thrill
Prince: The Tour
Prince left a mark on many Minnesotans through his music and larger-than-life personality. For the Prince lover in your life, check out this tour from WaconiaVille Tours.
The bus tour will take fans of the Purple One from the Meet Minneapolis Minneapolis Visitors Information center on Nicollet Mall to several Prince-related landmarks — from First Avenue, which famously appears in Prince’s 1984 film “Purple Rain,” to several murals and art pieces made in his honor. The tour then moves from downtown Minneapolis to Chanhassen’s Paisley Park, where the artist lived and recorded.
This might be the perfect gift for super fans or people who can’t stop dancing around the house to “Let’s Go Crazy.”
Price: $89 per person
Where you can find it: Minneapolis Visitors Information, 505 Nicollet Mall / princethetour.com
… to adorn
TBH Café x LWM coffee sleeve
A coffee sleeve won’t exactly turn heads at a company gift exchange, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great gift.
This coffee cup sleeve featuring subtle branding from The Bachelor Farmer Café turns a simple cup of coffee into a fashion accessory thanks to black leather from St. Paul-based Leather Works Minnesota. The sleeve, which fits most to-go cups, would also make a great stocking stuffer for a friend or loved one who wants to stick out in the office crowd or reduce waste by cutting out those cardboard sleeves.
What’s not included is what’s brewed behind the bar at the Bachelor Farmer Café, but a sleeve could be paired with some coffee beans or even a few treats from the bakery for a larger gift to wow your resident coffee lover.
Where you can find it: Askov Finlayson, 204 N. 1st St. / askovfinlayson.com
… to inspire
For a friend who’s looking to make changes in their life or a coworker who’s always looking for advice, here’s a different kind of planner then what’s on the shelves of office stores.
The Happiness Planner won’t buy you happiness, but it will get the recipient thinking about the positive things in their life and develop mindfulness. The planner features guided exercises, prompts and weekly reflection pages to help someone to make goals, while regular quotes and words of wisdom will keep them going.
Weekly plans, pages for meal plans and more allow your giftee to work through the goals, making incremental changes over 100 days. This could be a thoughtful gift for a friend who is already thinking about New Year’s resolutions.
Where you can find it: russell + hazel, 219 N. 2nd St. / russellandhazel.com
… to delight
Minnesota patchwork baby blanket and play mat
You can’t get more local than these baby blankets and play mats from Pacifier, a Minneapolis-based kids boutique.
One of the 3-foot-long blankets, which double as festive play mats, features a map of Southwest Minneapolis landmarks, from the Lake Harriet Bandshell to Minne, the city’s resident lake creature. Another locally themed blanket features a quilted pattern of all things Minnesota, from lakes and loons to food on a stick.
The cotton and minky blankets will help friends and loved ones raise their young Minnesotan in true northern style, and the little ones will have fun finding their own favorite designs — not to mention subconsciously becoming Minnesota Twins fans. For a stocking stuffer or another little gift, there’s also a small matching baby security blanket for another $20.
Where you can find it: Pacifier, 219 N. 2nd St. / pacifier.me
… to savor
Sushi 101 class
What better way to escape endless winter gatherings than with an evening making sushi? Instead of watching a chef roll you sushi, the chefs at Cooks of Crocus Hill can teach you how to roll your own Japanese cuisine at a “Sushi 101” class, no airfare required.
Take a friend or loved one to the North Loop kitchen and retail store, and in a couple hours, you’ll both be practicing expert fish-slicing techniques, experimenting with authentic Japanese ingredients and, yes, rolling your own sushi. Make it a date and you’ll have a romantic time putting together salmon and tuna nigiri and California rolls.
The class is one of the store’s most popular, but if your giftee doesn’t do raw fish, check out classes on making pho or taking a tour of Italy through food.
Price: $75 per person
Where you can find it: Cooks of Crocus Hill, 208 N. 1st St. / cooksofcrocushill.com