Sunday, November 22, 2009

Milwaukee Holiday Gift Guide

Photo from RetinalFetish

I know it's early. But we all have to do our shopping and it's best to just get it out of the way. Last year, I tried to buy all of my gifts from local stores/businesses. It's possible, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to go. Here's a quick guide that I hope will make it easier for you.......


Brewery tour: Lakefront, Miller, and Sprecher all have gift shops with the usual T-shirts, pint glasses, and sampler packs that guys love. I suggest getting Beer Soap found at the Sprecher Brewery, made by their brewmaster, Jim Olen.

Hit the gym: Buy them Marquette or UWM basketball shorts and a sweatshirt. Go to Laacke & Joys for even nicer outdoorsy options and camping gear. They get comfortable and stylish duds and you don’t have to put up with their gross old gym shorts. Consider it a Christmas present to yourself.

Creative side: Everybody likes concert tickets. Upcoming shows at the Pabst include: New Year’s Eve with Jim Gaffigan or with Spoon, Anthony Bourdain, and Kevin Smith. Gift cards are available on their website. Vinylville, a Milwaukee artist, sells some nice guy-friendly artwork on Etsy. In particular, the large canvas print of the Hoan Bridge is great for that bachelor pad or man cave. Landmark Theaters (The Oriental and Downer theaters) have gift cards available, too. Pair it up with a good ol’ Milwaukee classic DVD like “American Movie” or another locally filmed movie.


Coffee/Tea fan: For the tea drinkers: the world renowned Rishi Tea is based in Milwaukee. Good options are the Green Tea Set or the 2009 Award Winning Sample Set. For the coffee drinkers: Go to Alterra Coffee. Not only are there 1lb bags of the BEST COFFEE ever, but lots of shirts, hats, and quality travel mugs and tea sets. During the holidays, they usually have gift sets of Hot Chocolate and Mint Hot Chocolate.

Your BFF: check out Loop in Riverwest for yarn and knitting supplies or Soaps & Scents on Downer Ave. where you can stock you up on “better than Bath and Bath Works” quality amenities. Local artists are always abound on Etsy and at craft shows in the area. Amy Marcella designs great prints like the “Fall Bouquet” one above. She will be at Art vs. Craft next month.

Clothes Horse: My favorite Milwaukee options are Miss Groove, Lela, and Chartreuse, but there are dozens of others. When it comes to buying clothes, make sure you know your friend’s style, aim for something small, and always include a gift receipt. Matt & Nat wallets at Miss Groove or eco friendly scarves at Chartreuse are great gifts. When in doubt, G-I-F-T C-A-R-D.


The Cholive company from Milwaukee makes chocolates to put in your martini. These unexpected bite-sized truffles are popular at any party they make an appearance. You can’t go wrong with beer, wine or cheese. The Milwaukee Public Market is the easiest place to stock up on local options of all three. Pick up small italian cookies at Peter Sciortino's Bakery on the Brady St. where already prepared party trays are available. Lastly, there’s always chocolate and seriously, who hates chocolate? The best (and weirdest) place to go is Northern Chocolates in the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood. A few tips: Knock really loud at the door, Don’t wear fur, Bring cash, Always take your shoes off. Sounds like a lot of hoops but the mint meltaways are totally worth any encounter with the Chocolate Nazi. You can also find Omanhene Chocolate (Milwaukee-Ghana Fair Trade company) in most Milwaukee grocery stores.


Subscriptions! Personally, I’m worried about losing any more local publications than we already have, so support what’s around. The Journal Sentinel has a Sunday paper subscription (the ‘rents love this). The Milwaukee Magazine is well put together, but more editorial in nature. M magazine and Milwaukee Home and Fine Living Magazine would surely please your stylish friends.
For cookbook ideas, see the post a couple days ago here. In the Third Ward, Broadway Paper sells lots of greeting cards (many handmade), stationery, and MoleSkin notebooks.


The Spice House is one of the best kept secrets in Milwaukee. The aromas, tastes, and new discoveries are worth the trip alone. If it's too hard to pick out which spices you want, look for the gift sets: "Some like it Hot" with stuff like Cajun seasoning, Fire Salt, and Chili Powder; or the "Italian Food Lover's" that includes Pesto seasoning and the Little Italy blend. George Watts & Son is well known for their beautiful expensive dishes, but they have lots of affordable cookware and home decor, too. Carving sets, serveware, dining linens, or even a gift card for the famous Tea Room are all gifts that would surely impress a gourmet connoisseur.


I don’t know many kids that like getting clothes for the Holidays but that may change if their moms go to freckleface. These designer kids clothes are a little pricier, but once a year it’s OK to splurge. For less expensive options, check out the adorable little “Converse” style socks. I, like many young girls, asked for a pony for Christmas. I’m pretty sure this still goes on. A reasonable alternative would be to sponsor an aquatic animal at Discovery World, or Aquadopt as they call it. It comes with a plush animal version of the adopted animal and some nifty “official” paperwork. If teenage girls are on your list I feel sorry for you, but you may win them over with a gift card for the Girls Spa-ahhhh Therapy Works Package at Actaea Works, Ltd in Bayview or Shorewood.


The Our Milwaukee business directory for local businesses
Our Milwaukee Buy Local for the Holidays Fair Sunday December 6th at Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden, 1-5pm.
Urban Garage Sale featuring Milwaukee local shops. Saturday December 16th at Turner Hall Ballroom, 10:30-5pm.
Art vs. Craft 2009 November 28th at Humphrey Scottish Masonic Temple, 10-7pm
Lakefront Brewery
Sprecher Brewery
Miller Brewery in Milwaukee
Marquette Gift Shop
UWM Bookstore
Laacke & Joys
Pabst Theater gift cards
Vinylville on and the Hoan Bridge print on canvas
Landmark Theaters gift cards
”American Movie” website
Other movies filmed in Wisconsin
Rishi Tea website
Rishi Tea Green Tea Set
Rishi Tea 2009 Award Winning Sample Set
Alterra Coffee website
GQ Magazine ‘s “The Most Important Drink of Your Day” article naming Alterra Coffee
Loop yarn store
Contact info for Soaps&Scents
Amy Marcella’s Etsy Shop and Fall Bouquet print
Miss Groove
Lela Boutique
Charteuse eco-friendly boutique (They just moved to Brady St. this month)
Cholive Company
Peter Sciortino's Bakery
Omanhene Chocolate Co.
Milwaukee Public Market website: Thief Wine Shop and Bar, West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Subscription
Milwaukee Magazine Subscription
M Magazine Subscription
Milwaukee Home and Find Living Magazine Subscription
Broadway Paper
The Spice House
George Watts & Son
freckle face
Aquadopt Program at Discovery World
Actaea Works Ltd.

1 comment:

  1. FOR HIM...i might also suggest the bier gift packs at Cafe Centraal & Hollander....they have a nice belgian bier included and the specific glass you're supposed to drink it out of....comes in Triple Karmeliet, Kwaak, Duvel & a number of others...



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