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The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide

Southerner Meets Michigan: The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide

Recently, I found myself in a predicament that I’ve become all too familiar with: the quest to find the perfect Michigan gift. With family members sprinkled between Ohio and Virginia, I’m always inspired to mail or hand-deliver something that’s unique to this area, yet still interesting to the person on the receiving end. Ideal products are found exclusively in Michigan (or Michigan and surrounding areas), and often have backstories that can be passed along with the gift when it’s delivered. The search process is a lot of fun, but I’m not going to lie—it can also be a bit exhausting. To save a few steps, I’ve put together this round-up of Michigan-made and inspired gift ideas, so you can pinpoint the perfect gift for every recipient on your list.

Food

When it comes to Michigan-made food, the options are practically endless. There are, of course, the tried and true staples—Vernor’s, Faygo, and Better Made (read about my introduction to these Michigan foods here)–but the possibilities extend far past grocery store cuisine. Check out the options below for true, mitten-style vittles that can be shipped easily or safely transported during long car trips.

  • Sanders Chocolate

If the friend you’re shopping for has a sweet tooth, check out the ever-popular line of Sanders chocolates and dessert toppings. This distinctly-Detroit brand packages delicious confections into attractive packaging that’s designed for gift-giving (read more about Sanders and the Morley Candy Company here).

  • Dave’s Sweet Tooth
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

Another chocolatey contender is Dave’s Sweet Tooth toffee. If you’re like I once was and think toffee is designed to make your teeth stick together, this stuff will completely change your way of thinking. Made with real, recognizable ingredients, Dave’s Sweet Tooth toffee is crumbly, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth good. Just make sure you snag an extra bag for yourself or that toffee may never actually make it to the person on your gift list.

  • Germack Pistachio Company

Heading to the Eastern Market? Visit Germack Pistachio Company for an assortment of nuts, candy, dried fruit, and other gourmet gifts that are perfect for the snack aficionado in your life (try the Motown Mix—a blend of dark chocolate, raisins, cranberries, almonds, and peanuts that beats your everyday trail mix).

  • Popcorn Wagon

Located in Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” this specialty shop offers popcorn in flavors movie theaters only dream of (Buffalo Ranch, Apple Pie, or Peanut Butter and Jelly, anyone?). If you can’t make it to Frankenmuth or are worried about popcorn’s limited shelf life, never fear—you can order online and have the flavors of your choice delivered anywhere in the contiguous United States.

  • Local Coffee
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

Michigan is home to so many fantastic coffee roasters—so don’t miss this opportunity to share your favorites with friends and family who have yet to make this discovery! I recommend Great Lakes Coffee (Detroit) or Madcap Coffee (Grand Rapids), but there are several other amazing options all across the state. Grab something fresh, local, and well-designed (packaging is half the battle in gift-giving!) for the coffee lover in your life.

  • Grand Traverse Pie Company

When it comes to homemade Michigan flavor, Grand Traverse Pie Company is hard to beat. With a long list of in-state partnerships (95 percent of ingredients and supplies are purchased from Michigan companies), they turn local fruit, flour, and packaging supplies into the ultimate edible souvenirs.

  • Cherry Republic

Cherry mustard, cherry salsa, cherry sausage—cherry everything! Mix and match a few bottles of Cherry Root Beer or Boom Chugga Lugga to liven up a gift basket or stock up with a case or two to take to your next out-of-town get-together.

  • Mitten Crate
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo courtesy of Mitten Crate

If you want a sampling of Michigan’s best food products (or simply can’t make up your mind), try a subscription to Mitten Crate! Choose from monthly or one-time delivery options and the recipient of your choice will enjoy a special selection of top-quality Michigan treats delivered directly to their front door (learn more about Mitten Crate here).

 

Clothing/Apparel

  • Stormy Kromer
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo Courtesy of Stormy Kromer

What began as one man’s solution to losing his hat is now a highly-recognizable, Midwest style that’s popular among Yooper residents. The Stormy Kromer is a perfect surprise for the rugged, outdoorsy type on your list.

  • Pure Detroit

Welcome to the Motor City! In addition to city-inspired and car-themed clothing, Pure Detroit carries a variety of incredibly unique Detroit merchandise. Belts and bags made from seat belts, wallets made from fire hoses—it’s a well-curated selection you won’t find anywhere else!

  • The Mitten State

For vintage-inspired style that captures the spirit of Michigan days gone by, The Mitten State has your back. Here, you’ll find conversation-starting t-shirt designs that focus on sports teams, historic events (“I Survived The Blizzard of ’78”), and even Euchre references. These souvenirs offer an awesome alternative for anyone who wants to avoid generic, touristy slogans.

  • High-Five Threads
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo Courtesy of High Five Threads

In a self-proclaimed “ode to the Michigan Hands,” Traverse City-based High Five Threads combines a recognizable logo and clean design to create a line of cool, casual apparel. This collection of shirts, hats, totes, and more is a great way to share Michigan culture with friends and family.

  • Michigan Awesome

The name says it all! Holland’s Michigan Awesome features products with a traditional Michigan map logo—perfectly understated for the person who loves all things classy. Miscellaneous matching gear is also available, including drinkware and a selection of artisan foods.

  • Michigan Mittens
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo Courtesy of Michigan Mittens

Help out-of-towners understand the whole “my hand is a map” thing with these fun Michigan Mittens! Located in Pontiac, Michigan Mittens they not only sell various other items like pins and pennants, they offer many different types of mittens like these great oven mitts!

 

Toys/Educational

  • Uncle Goose Blocks

I first saw these beautiful creations at Detroit Mercantile in the Eastern Market, and they made me want to be a kid again! Handcrafted in Grand Rapids with materials sourced from the Great Lakes Region, Uncle Goose blocks are well-made, educational, and multi-faceted. Buy any of their block sets for a kid or adult who loves to learn . . . it’s a gift that will be passed down for generations.

Artisanal 

  • The Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village

The gift shops at The Henry Ford Museum have some of the most beautiful, well-made items I’ve ever had the privilege of drooling over. Choose from a gorgeous selection of hand-blown glass, wood-fired pottery, tin crafts, and other items, all made onsite in Greenfield Village.

  • Pewabic

I visited this Detroit nonprofit for the first time earlier this year and haven’t stopped dreaming of it since. Tiles glazed in one-of-a-kind colors are all the rage at Pewabic – representing artistic creations that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

  • One Acre Ceramics
The Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide
Photo Courtesy of The Henry Ford

The designers behind this Milan studio produce some seriously beautiful work, and I’m not just being nice because one of them is a Virginia-Michigan transplant like me! Greatly inspired by their travels and learning experiences, Thomas (former Motawi Tileworks production manager) and Sarah Gelsanliter (former Greenfield Village production potter and Pewabic Pottery workshop instructor) of One Acre Ceramics have created a selection that holds its own—even next to much bigger organizations.

 

  • Salt Labs (Michigan Oven Mitt)

After years of seeing Michigan oven mitts in every gift store I wandered into, I did a little research and realized that many of these are produced in random places—Alabama, the moon, and who knows where else. I have, however, located this made-in-Michigan option, which looks even better than the typical gift store version!

  • Michigan Mapleworks (Cutting Board)

Michigan-shaped cutting boards are everywhere—big box stores, craft fairs, you name it. These particular boards and chopping blocks, however, are created from Michigan maple and cherry wood at a farm workshop in Gaylord.

  • Lake Art Wooden Maps

Meticulously designed and produced, these multi-level maps make a gorgeous addition to any wall—anywhere. Choose from several different lake designs, each representing a different region.

Jewelry & Miscellaneous 

  • ShinolaThe Awesome Mitten-The Ultimate Michigan Gift Guide

 

Fairly new to Detroit but already synonymous with Midtown, Shinola is a force to be reckoned with. The watch-bicycle-leather goods manufacturer fares a bit on the higher side when it comes to pricing, but the brand’s commitment to quality ensures excellence with each product.

  • .sprouts. .roots. (Jewelry)

Etsy is a fantastic place to find Michigan products made by local artists. One particular duo I have my eye on is Rose and Thom Kren, designer and creator of these beautiful Michigan necklaces, rings, and pendants.

  • Snow + Ivy

At the end of the day, you can’t beat a good handwritten letter. Add a personalized touch to your mail with these Michigan-themed (and Michigan-made) cards and stamps.

What’s the best Michigan gift you’ve ever given (or received)? Comment below!

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