It’s that time of year again: when all of us begin assembling our gift lists. But before you head to the mall (or Amazon), go for something a little different this year, and see what local artists have to offer. Not only will one-of-a-kind artist wares be out in force in Grand Rapids this season, but shopping local offers plenty of unique (and family friendly) experiences that will brighten the season.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to include art into your gift-giving this holiday season:

Shoppers at the UICA Annual Artist Market
Find gifts for everyone on your list at the UICA Annual Holiday Artists' Market. Photo courtesy of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

UICA 28th Annual Holiday Artists’ Market, presented by Steelcase

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) on Friday, December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, December 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is hosting their 28th Annual Holiday Artists' Market at the Steelcase Town Hall:

Steelcase Town Hall
901 44th St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI, 49508

 Browse jewelry, home goods, fine art, cards, accessories, toys, and more while enjoying live music, snacks, and beverages. Support local artists, have a great time, and find gifts for the whole family all in one evening or afternoon.

Shop local galleries

Art galleries might not be the first places that come to mind for Christmas shopping, but in a world of mass-produced clutter, local galleries can be a goldmine of unique and thoughtful gifts. LaFontsee Galleries, which just held its “sELECTED Works” show to launch the winter season, is full of beautiful works, large and small (in size and price, too). Rumor has it that Lions & Rabbits, Grand Rapids’ newest art gallery up in Creston, has been gearing up for the holidays with affordable, portable art starting at $25. 

If you’re downtown, Sanctuary Folk Art gallery on the Avenue for the Arts is always worth the visit.

MoDiv Store Front, Downtown Grand Rapids
Shop works of area artists at MoDiv in Downtown Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

Local artisan shops

On Monroe Center, MoDiv’s rotating collection of shops always offer something from local artists. Lately, the front lobby has been routinely packed with vibrant local paintings, and there are other gems further inside that make a visit worthwhile.

Likewise, Dime & Regal down by the corner of Cherry and South Division (at 209 S. Division) is a little known treasure trove of locally made bits and pieces, from hand crocheted washcloths and wooden coasters to essential oils, handmade jewelry, and cowl scarves. 

If you're in Eastown, we highly recommend stopping by Rebel Reclaimed, which always lives up to its motto that “giving gifts should be just as fun as receiving them.”

Gift cards, wrapping paper & one stop gift wrapping

Before you leave downtown, complete your artisan shopping spree with a stop by 6.25 Paper Studio on Monroe Center, right next to the MoDiv shops. Paper Studio is hands down the best place in town to find unusual (and outright irreverent) stationary, gift tags, wrapping paper, ribbons—the list goes on. You can also find small gifts, calendars, notebooks and unique local gifts here. But, and perhaps best of all, the friendly folks at Paper Studio will happily wrap the spoils of your shopping trip for you.

Really get into the holiday spirit by pairing your shopping with arts events and activities.