The holiday shopping season begins in earnest this weekend, with retailers offering Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday deals to entice holiday shoppers. (For some of you, it may even begin Thursday. If the allure of a 40-percent-off flatscreen TV is enough to pull you away from your warm couch and turkey leftovers to battle herds of cutthroat shoppers, Godspeed my friend.)
City Pulse has scoured the area looking for ways that you, our readers, can spend your holiday budget locally. From art galleries to coffee houses to local eateries, there are plenty of options for the creative gift seeker.
Photos by Ty Forquer.
Want to be the hit of your friends’ holiday parties? Swing by Roma Bakery and pick up a tray of the bakery’s signature cannoli. Filled with chocolate chip, almond or pistachio fillings, these tasty Italian pastries will guarantee your invitation to next year’s party. And while you’re at the back of the shop, slide over to the deli counter and pick up some olives, salami and fresh mozzarella for a killer antipasto plate. The bakery also offers a variety of fresh baked bread and holiday pies made to order.
Wine and dine
Give your holiday parties some local flavor with booze made right here in the Lansing area. The region’s newest brewery, Lansing Brewing Co., offers its beer to go by the growler. Grab a growler of Spartan Dawgs Pale Ale or Dumb Ass Rick India Red, and you’ll be a hit with your beer-loving friends. Or if you prefer wine, make a trip out to Burgdorf’s Winery in Haslett. Check out the local winery’s Marquette wine. One of the first medal-winning wines made with Marquette grape, this wine features a floral bouquet and notes of juniper, oak and black raspberry.
Holidays at the Crunch
If you’re an MSU alum, there’s a good chance you spent a few too many drunken nights belting out karaoke tunes at Crunchy’s. (Yes Tina, that version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” was the most epic ever. Could you maybe get down from that table?) Commemorate those karaoke nights with Crunchy’s gear like shirts, beer glasses or window clings. For the beer snob on your gift list, the bar also offers “crowlers” — 32 oz. cans of beer made one-the-spot with beers from Crunchy’s extensive craft beer tap list.
Sick of cooking? Tired of holiday turkey and hams? Let Zaytoon Mediterranean take care of a meal or two. The westside eatery offers a family feast that includes chicken and beef kebabs, shish kafta, chicken shawarma, fried kibbee, grape leaves, hommous, baba ghanoush, tabooli and fattouch, all served over a bed of rice with a side of pita bread ($14.99 per person, minimum three people). Zaytoon also offers catering starting at $9.99 per person, including vegetarian-only options.
For your friends who need a break but are too busy to get out of town, give them a vacation experience that’s practically in their own backyard. Pick up a gift certificate to East Lansing’s Wild Goose Inn and treat your friends to a cozy bed and breakfast experience without leaving Greater Lansing. Or if they want to get a little farther away, the English Inn in Eaton Rapids offers luxurious lodgings at its elegant riverside location.
The gift that keeps on giving
If you’re in a pinch, gift certificates to local eateries are always a good option. Snag a gift certificate to Jersey Giant or Meat, and your carnivorous friends will surely appreciate it. Or grab a gift card for East Lansing’s HopCat — and you may as well get an order of Crack Fries to go while you’re there, right?
You know that one friend with the half-finished shoulder piece? (I know Tim, it’s going to look really sweet when it’s colored in.) Swing by Splash of Color and grab a gift certificate for that special tattooed someone in your life. The East Lansing shop is more than just ink, though. The shop also offers piercing, and its body jewelry shop offers everything from subtle studs to gnarly 3-inch wooden earrings.
Does your friend always seem a little high-strung? Out of sorts? Treat them to a spa day at Remedi. The East Lansing spa offers a variety of relaxation and wellness experiences, ranging from manicures and pedicures to floatation therapy and hydromassage. Or check out the offerings at Massage & Wellness. Located in the heart of East Lansing’s downtown, Massage & Wellness offers massage therapy (obviously), as well as acupuncture, facials and body wraps.
Or maybe they just need a better diet. Hook them up with a gift certificate to Foods for Living, and the crew at the East Lansing health food store can guide them to the best in organic, gluten-free, GMO-free and vegan/vegetarian options.
Perhaps some activity would do them well. Stop by Action Board Shop, also in downtown East Lansing, and check out the shops extensive collection of skateboards. (Don’t forget to grab a helmet and pads — it’s dangerous out there!)
East Lansing’s Espresso Royale has a special gift option for your favorite caffeine fiend. Earlier this year the coffee shop introduced the Jug, a refillable half-gallon growler. The Jug itself costs $4, and patrons can have it filled at Espresso Royale with cold press coffee ($10.80), house-made chai tea ($13.50), whole leaf iced tea ($8.25) or fresh-squeezed lemonade ($10.35). Whether you need some late-night essay-writing fuel or just need a little kick to get you through the afternoon doldrums, a half-gallon of house-brewed coffee or tea in your fridge is a good friend to have.
Keep it poppin'
Cravings, Lansing’s premier purveyor of popcorn, is rolling out its array of holiday offerings. For convenient gift-giving, the shop offers pre-packaged gift baskets stuffed with seasonal candy cane- and sugar cookie-flavored popcorn and specialty sodas ($25-$40). For the real popcorn fanatics in your life, Cravings offers refillable tins of its gourmet popcorn in 1-gallon ($15) and 3.5-gallon ($42) sizes. While you’re there, we recommend picking up a few bags of Old Town Mix (a mix of caramel corn and white cheddar popcorn) to set out for unexpected holiday guests. And maybe pick up a bag of dark molasses caramel corn with sea salt for after the kids go to bed — it goes great with late-night movies.
Packed with deals
If you watch any local TV, you’ve probably heard the jingle telling you to “expect the unexpected” at Kellie’s Consignments. The 13,000-square-foot Okemos shop is packed to the gills with vintage clothes, used couture items, home goods, furniture, jewelry and more — and since it’s a consignment shop, there are deals to be had.
There are plenty of gift-able items for men and women, including classy hats and scarves and designer sunglasses and handbags. Kellie’s Consignments even has a limited number of actual Spartan Stadium seats ($250) that were removed during renovations. They’re a perfect addition to any Spartan sports den.
The obvious play here is a holiday classic: the poinsettia. Smith Floral offers the seasonal favorite in several sizes in classic red, as well as yellow, pink or festive tricolor varieties ($5.75-$40). In non-floral offerings, the shop carries a variety of seasonal and year-round home and garden decorations. Lansing history junkies should check out the shop’s selection of beverage coasters featuring historic Lansing landmarks. The coasters are $11 each, and if you buy four you get a free wooden display stand.
Fifty shades of Christmas
Bradly’s Home and Garden offers a multitude of options to bring the spirit of the holidays into your home. The Old Town shop offers several takes on holiday décor, including classic, rustic and garden-themed holiday fare. There’s even a “greige” Christmas tree. A mash-up of grey and beige, greige décor features a soothing, muted color palette that is popular in contemporary interior design. For gift ideas, check out the shop’s array of hip faux-rustic items, including ceramic deer busts and metallic deer antler coat hangers ($17.25-$51.75).
Even Greater Lansing’s art galleries are getting in on the Michigan’s craft beverage obsession. East Lansing’s Mackerel Sky has a killer selection of barware, ranging from faux-vintage cocktail glasses and funky pint glasses to stainless steel, Michigan-shaped bottle openers and hand-fashioned corkscrews. For the college student on your guest list, the gallery offers three cookbooks by Toni Patrick using that staple of dorm room cooking: ramen noodles. It even carries a spork specially designed for slurping up your noodly concoctions. The gallery also has a respectable collection of Stormy Kromer hats. These made-in-the-U.P. plaid hats are so hot right now among the urban lumberjack crowd.
Take a look, it's in a book
The hottest item at Schuler Books & Music right now is coloring books — for adults. From intricate, Zen-inspired designs to elaborate cityscapes, Schuler’s collection of grown-up coloring books is a great way to bring some whimsy into a friend’s life. The bookstore also carries the latest releases, so whether you need to pick up this week’s John Grisham legal thriller or the new book by that one girl from Youtube, Schuler’s has you covered.
If your tastes tend more toward the obscure, head over to Ray Walsh’s Curious Book Shop in East Lansing. A Lansing-area staple since 1969, Curious Book Shop boasts a collection that should please even the snobbiest of book snobs. The three-floor bookstore is packed with rare and early edition books, old school posters, classic science fiction magazines and much more. MSU sports fans should definitely check out the shop’s collection of vintage MSU football programs, and comic book fanatics will love sifting through the shop’s boxes of graphic goodness.