When it comes to making sure you have something special for everyone on your list, it’s easy to stop by a chain store when you’re working through your list. But, there’s nothing more charming than the small businesses and local attractions that make our city more unique and creative. These business owners work tirelessly (especially this time of year) to produce goods and create experiences that spread holiday cheer to their community and beyond.

So this holiday season, skip the big box destinations and support local instead. Here’s a local gift guide to help you as you’re making your list and checking it twice for the holiday season or anytime you’re looking for a special something that's local from top to bottom. Happy shopping!

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

See Grand Rapidians in action as the cast of Civic Theatre productions.

Photo by Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

One of my favorite activities in town is catching a show at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. It never ceases to amaze me that the actors in their shows are community members. 

If you’re looking for an experience instead of an item, wrap up tickets to one of their shows. Their first two shows of the new year are Clyde’s, and one for the entire family, Disney’s Descendants: The Musical! If you aren’t sure which show to choose, they also have gift certificates available so your giftee can choose their own adventure.

Another option: Keep the magic of community theatre alive-you can donate in someone’s name as a gift.

Flights of Flavor at Love's Ice Cream

Pints of Love's Ice Cream can be sent to loved ones throughout the country.

Photo by Ashley Wierenga for Experience GR

Love's Ice Cream

Delicious ice cream and decadent treats sound good no matter what season it is. Give the gift of deliciousness all year long with Love’s Ice Cream’s Year of Pints or Year of Chocolate Clubs. With the Year of Pints, you can stop by their home in the Downtown Market each month to pick out a pint of your choice. With regular flavors on rotation and seasonal favorites like Peppermint Stick or White Russian, this is easier said than done!

For the Year of Chocolates, you get four bonbons each month. Best news yet? Once you complete your 12 monthly pick-ups, you get a bonus pint or bonus chocolates for free!

If you have folks on your gift list who are out of town, Love’s offers nationwide shipping of their pints. Make your selections, they box them up on dry ice, and the receiver enjoys hand-packed ice cream right on their doorstep.

*Local pick-up is required for the Year of Pints or Year of Chocolate memberships.

Grand Vin Wine Club

For the wine connoisseur on your list, Grand Vin is a one-stop shop. They have wine club memberships where you can a curation of 3 bottles each month. The selections are chosen by Grand Vin Owner, Tom who is a Certified Sommelier, complete with producer notes and pairing suggestions. Wine clubs can be purchased on a month-to-month basis or for a 12-month period.

If you prefer a gift that isn’t monthly, you can also purchase a mixed box of wine (all red, all white, or a few of each) for $175, $250, or $400. Grand Vin offers a 15% discount on cases if you prefer to make selections yourself.

Cooking class at the Local Epicurean

The Local Epicurean offers cooking classes, gift cards, and sells their made-in-house pasta.

Photo by Haley Chicoine for Experience GR

The Local Epicurean

For the they-have-everything-what-should-we-give-them person on your list, how about a cooking class at The Local Epicurean? They offer a wide range of classes to accommodate everyone from a beginner to an expert. Classes are offered 7 days a week and start at $99 a person. All classes are in a private setting and can accommodate group sizes from 2-48 people.

If you aren’t sure which class and want them to choose their own cooking adventure, you can purchase gift certificates that can be redeemed for their various class offerings.

Family at Meijer Gardens during University of Michigan Health-West: Christmas & Holiday Traditions

Besides the beauty of the art and gardens, which is even more special in the winter, the gift of membership to Meijer Gardens comes with many other perks.

Photo by Ashley Wierenga for Experience GR

Meijer Gardens Membership

Unlimited visits? Presale for the iconic summer concert series? Early entry? Discounts on classes and workshops? If all of those perks sound good, a Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park membership might be the perfect gift.

The gardens offer different types of membership to help you shop for anyone on your list, including Student, Individual, Dual (two adults residing in the same house), Family (one or two adults and children living in the same household), and Grandparent (one or two adults living in the same household and grandchildren).

Memberships can be easily gifted online (choose the membership type and then ‘Give As A Gift’), in person at the gardens, by mail, or by calling the membership office at 616-977-7689.

Local Coffee Shops

When it comes to drinking local, we are quite spoiled in Grand Rapids. Not only are there endless fantastic coffee shops to cozy up in, many of them roast their own coffee. Give the coffee obsessed on your list the gift that keeps giving…every single morning they brew it. Here are a few of the local shops where you can find bagged coffee that they roasted locally:

Sticky Fingers

Walk through the door at Sticky Fingers and you will be transported to a whimsical world of delicious treats and nostalgia-inducing candy. They have a little of everything from well-loved classics to new items that are sure to delight any sweet tooth in your life. It’s the perfect place to wander while you put together a basket of fun, discover treasures to use as gift toppers, or load up on stocking stuffers galore.

2022 Mokaya Chocolate and Confections Boutique

Mokaya makes their hand-crafted artisanal chocolate in Grand Rapids, but you can send them anywhere in the U.S. through their online shop.

Photo by Ashley Wierenga for Experience GR


Certain people on our lists are just tough to shop for Mokaya is a perfect and delicious solution for the folks you are stumped on. Their artisan treats are handcrafted in small batches to ensure quality making these a beautiful gift. Each day, their shop is stocked with options from confectionery items to uniquely flavored bonbons that are *almost* too beautiful to eat. All products are available in their shop or you can order online for pick-up/shipping.

Mokaya also does limited edition holiday collections that often move quickly, so don’t wait to order.

Smelling candles while shopping at Wax Poetic Candle Bar.

Wax Poetic presents the unique opportunity to create a candle with a customized signature scent.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR

Wax Poetic

There’s nothing so cozy as a candle flickering while the snow falls outside. Give someone this gift, courtesy of Wax Poetic in Eastown! The owner has created a unique creative opportunity where you choose the combination of smells that you would like. Once you have your customized signature scent, soy wax and a cotton wick is added to complete your candle. The only thing left to do is name your one-of-a-kind creation.

When it comes to gifting, Wax Poetic provides a few options. Book an appointment to enjoy an in-person experience, purchase a DIY candle kit that can be done at home, or purchase a gift card so your giftee can schedule candle-making on their own time.

Dime & Regal

When it comes to jewelry, Dime & Regal is always my first thought. They make the shopping experience easy for anyone on your list since their home on Wealthy Street is perfectly curated with various styles, all from local jewelry artists, including the owners themselves.

Their Eternity Bracelets (permanent jewelry) are a fun way to give a gift that’s also an experience. Dime & Regal does accept walk-ins for their eternity bracelets, but I recommend booking a time on their website, especially if you have more than one person in your party. You choose the chain you would like, get linked on the spot, and can shop their cases of unique pieces throughout the process.

If you have a specific project in mind for a special someone on your list, you can book a consultation to discuss a custom-made piece with their team of experts.


Whether you’re shopping for the holiday season or other celebrations throughout the year, I hope this has given you a few ideas to jumpstart your shopping. Where are your favorite places to shop local? Let us know in the comments below!