9 Last-Minute Local Gift Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of

9 Last-Minute Local Gift Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of (Wading in Big Shoes)
’Tis the week before Christmas, and wouldn’t ya know—you’re last-minute shopping and the mail’s been real slow. You know gifts are just things (in fact, the whole world should know it), but while the thought is what counts . . . you’d prefer not to blow it.

Happiest of holidays to you all, my fellow procrastinators! Every year around this time, I find myself staring at my Christmas list and wondering how on earth the previous six weeks or so collapsed into barely any time at all. I always blame this crunch on the “busyness” of the holiday season, but this year and its plethora of cancellations have revealed that it’s not just a lack of time that’s to blame—it’s more of a high expectation level combined with an even higher level of indecision. To put it simply, I want to get perfect, unique gifts for everyone—but I don’t always know where to start.

Now, I know you’ve been bombarded with tons of gift guides lately that may or may not have actually helped you in your seasonal scramble. Depending on what you’re looking for, this particular roundup could add to the noise, but if you’re searching for something that’s locally-made, affordable, and quickly attainable (without the exorbitant overnight shipping costs), I’ve put together a few of my favorite options for finding unique gift options in a pinch below.

First Things First: Take A Trip Down Main Street

9 Last-Minute Local Gift Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of (Wading in Big Shoes)
Okay, so this first tip might be kind of obvious, but I’m willing to bet that there’s at least a few of you who don’t stray far from chain retailers too often. Let’s shake things up a little, shall we? Grab the car keys (or take a walk down the block), and take a look inside a little shop that’s new to you. Small, local stores often have the best curated selection of items (so you don’t have to dig because everything is great!) and offer a great starting point if you’re looking for local makers. Bonus tip: Ask the shop owner for recommendations or additional info on products you’re interested in. When you have a story to go along with your selection, it makes that gift so much more interesting and gives you even more to share with the recipient!

Michigan boutiques that always have something new in store:
City Bird (Detroit), Rail & Anchor (Royal Oak), FOUND (Ann Arbor), After The Rain (Milford), Rebel (Grand Rapids), Dancing Eye Gallery (Northville), Dear Prudence (Northville & Grand Rapids), Sincerely Betty (Traverse City)

Support Your Local Coffee Shop

Sure, you love ordering a specialty latte and chatting up your favorite barista every Saturday morning, but have you ever considered the multitude of gift ideas that lie inside the walls of your local cafe? In addition to perfectly-crafted beverages, many coffee shops offer bagged beans and tea, mugs and tumblers, coffee-making equipment, t-shirts, drink sleeves, art prints, and more! Grab one item or a few (for gift baskets, you could throw in a gift card), and enjoy sharing a mutual favorite (or new!) business with friends and family.

Michigan Cafes To Support This Season:
Great Lakes Roasting (Detroit), Desert Oasis (Detroit, Rochester, Royal Oak), Madcap (Grand Rapids, Detroit), New Order Coffee Roasters (Royal Oak), Trail’s Edge Cafe (Wixom), Proving Grounds (Milford & Royal Oak), The Red Dot Coffee Company (Northville), Populace Coffee (Bay City), Aldea Coffee (Grand Haven & Muskegon), Lucky Detroit (Detroit)

Sweet Shop Swag

YES, chocolates and cookies make fantastic presents on their own (we all knew that, right?), but like coffee shops, sugar shops are also fantastic at creating cute, branded items that are every bit as fun as the consumable goods they’re promoting. Case in point: If you’ve followed me on Instagram this year, there’s no way you’re unaware of how much I love Bon Bon Bon and Sister Pie. What you don’t know is that I have made multiple trips to both of these dessert establishments just to pick up non-edible items. I am now the proud owner of three sweatshirts, a couple of refrigerator magnets, and a tote bag from these two shops alone, and as they continue to release more items, I see no sign of slowing down. Even my sister, who lives in WASHINGTON, D.C., owns some merch from these two places and has asked for more (even though she’s only visited in person once). Safe to say, I think bakers and chocolatiers know what they're doing when it comes to cranking out creative commodities.

Pssst: Wanna see a video of Brad painting my nails to match the Bon Bon Bon logo? Check it out here.

Check Social Media For Pop-Ups

Because of overhead costs that come along with brick-and-mortar storefronts, a lot of small businesses start out selling exclusively online. Just because you know a maker from their Instagram page, however, doesn’t mean you won’t ever see them around town! Sign up for email newsletters and check your favorite shops’ social media pages regularly for announcements on special events—especially during the holidays—when merch stands may show up at your local farmers market, bookshop, cafe, park, you name it! Sometimes, you might even discover pop-ups from businesses that have brick and mortar stores, but have decided to travel to surrounding communities to reach more people. This offers a great opportunity to chat with business owners and reps, grab some goodies to go, and be done in a jif without worrying about shipping times and what inventory is still available.

Detroit-area shops that rock the pop-up game year-round:
Kiloh + Co., The Lipstick Journey, Bon Bon Bon

Local Restaurant Love

9 Last-Minute Local Gift Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of
While the guidelines around indoor dining may keep changing, the restaurant industry is still here and ready for your patronage. From takeout to igloo dining, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy food from your favorite local spots—and your support could make all the difference in keeping these places around for future enjoyment. Send gift cards to friends, keep some for yourself to use later, cater an at-home Christmas dinner with an assortment of your favorite comfort foods . . . you’ve got choices, my friends!

Independent Salon/Barber Gift Cards

Has your friend been wanting to try a new nail salon? Won’t let anyone touch their hair aside from their favorite stylist? Treat your BFF to a mani/pedi or cover the costs of their next set of highlights—it’ll be a much appreciated gesture that saves them money AND supports the technicians that depend on each and every purchase that comes their way to stay in business.

Museums & Art Galleries

Museums and galleries are fantastic sources for fun gifts—especially if the person you’re shopping for is creative or likes things that are quirky or “out of the box.” Art prints, stationery, educational toys, colorful scarves and umbrellas, fun foods, replicas of historical items, and handmade ornaments are just a few of the treats I’ve found when shopping some of my favorite museum and gallery gift shops in the past, and the assortment is always changing based on new artists and exhibits.

Metro Detroit museum and gallery shop favorites:
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Artists Market, The Henry Ford Museum

When In Doubt, Do It Yourself

9 Last-Minute Local Gift Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of
Strapped on cash? Make your own locally-inspired gift! It’s easier than you think, I promise. All you need is a picture frame, piece of card stock, some tape or glue, and an item from a fun day or weekend trip that means a lot to you and the recipient you’re gifting to. Put that item in the frame, wrap it up, and voila! You’ve got a quick, inexpensive gift that’ll mean a whole lot more than any random toy you picked up last minute on Amazon.

Need help deciding what items to feature? Ticket stubs, maps, brochures, and stickers look great in frames and can even be combined to make collages or mini scrapbooks. Paper coffee sleeves are another favorite of mine, and I collect them from all over. In fact, I’ve framed a few of these myself and they’re currently hanging in my kitchen! See how I did it here.

If You MUST Do Big Box . . .

Okay, okay. I get it—sometimes, you really have no option at all other than Walmart or Meijer or a gas station or whatever. You know what? You might still be able to find a local gift at any of these places that’s just as nice as if you’d ordered directly from the manufacturer itself. To find truly authentic local gifts, I’d recommend checking grocery stores first, as food is often the easiest type of local good to find. I’ve spotted Grand Traverse Pie Co. pies at Meijer and Kroger, Sanders chocolates at . . . well, everywhere, and of course, Faygo and Better Made are always popping up in grocery stores across the midwest. Many grocers also specifically label and feature local brands, so follow the signs and get ready to assemble an A+ gift basket!

Occasionally, you can also find local, non-food items in chain retail stores. For instance, The Lip Bar, a cosmetic brand owned by Detroit native Melissa Butler (with flagship location in downtown Detroit), has products available at over 450 Target stores across the country (and gift sets at some Walmart stores!). Rustic MAKA, a metro Detroit natural deodorant and skincare brand, can also be found at select Whole Foods and Plum Market stores across Michigan. Store locations can be found on these brands’ websites, so you can narrow down your search before heading out to pick up what you need.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it! Finding the perfect, local gift can be daunting if you’re new to the game, but it definitely doesn’t have to be tricky. In fact, due to proximity, laser-focused inventory, and specialized staff members, small businesses can actually remove a lot of stress that comes with shopping—especially when you’re looking for that extra dose of guidance and convenience. Already have a location or two in mind for where you’ll stop this weekend? I’d love to know what types of small businesses you’ll be supporting! Leave a comment below with your favorite ideas, click here for more shopping tips, or follow me on Instagram for more Michigan small business inspo!

Which of these small/local business ideas will you try this holiday season? Leave a comment below!