The Weekend Tourist // Holiday shopping done in a snap in White Bear Lake

Holiday shopping should be fun. I love giving gifts, but finding them shouldn’t be a chore. Superstores and malls tend to make me crabby so I make an adventure out of holiday shopping by heading somewhere new. It’s like a little vacation for myself and I can shop all day without feeling guilty. What’s better than that? 

This year I headed to White Bear Lake. It only takes 20 minutes to get there. If you haven’t been there lately holiday shopping is a good excuse. The quaint downtown takes up about 10 square blocks. I spent several hours in town and didn’t have time to venture much further than the five blocks listed below. The charming town really put me in the mood for the holidays though. Two-story buildings with holiday displays lined the streets, historic light poles were decked out in pine boughs, and banners welcoming me to White Bear Lake flew overhead. These stores are lovingly cared for with owners and buyers who look for fun and unusual products. They buy local and they are local. No major chain stores here. 


Truly, handmade and artistic creations including wacky animal wall trophies, gorgeous scarves, crocheted earrings, and if you plan in advance, for a dollar you can make your own pinback buttons from color laser prints then adhere them to bookmarks or a ring or bracelet. If you have a fruitcake lover on your list Grandmas’ Bakery makes them fresh right in White Bear. Part clothing store, part kitchenware, part gag gifts, Goodthings packs in treasures for any hard-to-buy-for friend. The deep store has numerous themed areas for special interests and ages as well as plenty of gift-worthy holiday decor. For the quilter in your family Bear Patch Quilting must be the largest quilters store in the greater metro area. Colorful bolts of fabric, lots of equipment, and even classes are sure to please any seamstress on your list. 


Gifts, toys and fun clothes for infants to young teens at Enchanted Tree House. Corkscrews, bottle bags, accessories galore and everything but the wine at Winemakers @ the Lake — including kits to make your own. Oddly enough, Autumn Harvest Oil is one of three olive oil stores in White Bear. Since it’s a gift, go for the more unusual or exotic: jalapeno- or chocolate-flavored oils. Artists have always been attracted to lake areas and this one’s no exception. From framed paintings to beautiful note cards, Art Preserve gifts will recall summer memories on a lake. 


Luscious hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns will make any knitter drool at Sheepy Yarn Shoppe. Sheet music, instruments and guitar pick earrings are among the items packed into Evan’s Music. Gifts for pet fanatics at Lulu & Luigis will bring a smile (or bark) of pleasure. 


Environmentally responsible products and lots of locally-made make The Nest a great gift store. Repurposed items and those with a storied patina fill ReUse ReStyle. Who can’t use another book? Lake County Booksellers has a nice Minnesota section too including novels by area resident LaVyrle Spencer. They’ll giftwrap and mail too. While Fussbudget is mostly a party planning business/Scout bag retailer, this store will creatively wrap then ship your packages for you! Bring addresses. You have no excuse now.


Packed with fine craft, cute craft, Christmas trimmings and plenty of gifts, The Farmers Daughter is truly a unique store. Next door, White Bear Antiques stocks groovy cocktail shakers, antique toys and vintage Christmas ornaments from the ages.

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