The 2020 Christmas Gift Ideas Guide to the Best Local Gifts & Experiences

Christmas Gift Ideas for Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids Christmas Gift Ideas & Experiences You’ll Want to Put Under the Tree

Where to Shop Local This Holiday, Local Makers Included!

A handful of friends rave every holiday season about their amazing Amazon shopping experience. By Christmas, though, they change their tune when several items didn’t arrive in time, or whatever did arrive was not the quality that was advertised.

Shopping local, putting your hands on the items you’re giving as gifts, is priceless.

My husband and I intentionally shop local for our gifts. Maybe that’s why I’ve got the title as the auntie who gives the best gifts.

Local bookstores, game stores, and clothing outlets ensure that we get what we pay for and that it’s ready to wrap and give instantly. And many local shops even offer free gift wrap!

This year, we’ve added local makers (think Etsy shops) to our Grand Rapids Holiday Gift Guide, too! Local artisans, crafters, and makers have been hard at work whipping up something unique that you can put under the tree this holiday.

I’m excited to shop locally again this season. I’ve got to keep my “best gift giver” title, after all.

Many Families Love Gift Experiences, Too

By wrapping up experience gifts rather than things, you are letting the family decide when to enjoy their present, as well as keeping in-home clutter to a minimum. In fact, some families prefer to do one or two big fun family gifts rather than a bunch of smaller items.

While it’s probably not practical to give 100% of your gifts in the form of experiences, even switching just a few over will help spread the holiday cheer throughout the year and allow everyone to think of the gift-giver year-round.


Table of Contents

Featured Gift Ideas »
Family Experience Gift & Membership Ideas »
Gift Ideas for Kids »
Mom Gift & Experience Ideas »
Dad Gift & Experience Ideas »


Important Message: Local businesses are working hard to implement procedures based on the new safety guidelines. For each of the attractions and events we mention, we include a link to the business website. Please use this link to confirm the details, hours of operation and any requirements guests must follow before visiting. Thank You!

GIFTS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Local Gift Ideas & Experiences for the Whole Family

Want a smart gift for a whole family? Let them experience many of the ideas with gift cards or passes to several West Michigan activities. Pick two or ten, and gift your family days of fun! 

Memberships

Give families a gift card or even a whole membership to a local attraction, like a zoo, museum, or family fun center.

1. Why not thrill the animal-loving family with access to John Ball Zoo? Bonus: Members save on camps and classes, and get to register early! A John Ball Zoo membership also gets the family discounts or free admission to several other zoos in Michigan and beyond.

2. A visit or a membership to Frederik Meijer Gardens offers something for the family all year long, from butterflies in the spring to holiday trees from around the world in the winter, not to mention an amazing outdoor playground.

3. Everyone in the family will enjoy the masterpieces and cultural enrichment at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

4. Get to know your city’s roots when you hang out at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Top-notch programming and stellar reciprocal benefits make this a great buy.

5. When you can’t decide which Grand Rapids experience they’ll like best, give them a taste of everything with the Grand Rapids Culture Pass. The pass includes access to many of Grand Rapids’ museums, the zoo, and the UICA. Plus discounts on many other GR attractions.

Family Fun Centers

6. Perhaps your family would enjoy some time-honored fun at the bowling alley! It’s OK if someone needs to use the bumpers, a strike is a strike when you’re bowling at Spectrum Lanes.

7. My favorite new family outing is an evening exploring anything I could imagine in Amped Virtual Reality’s virtual reality games.

8. Whether you’re smooth on your feet or falling on your backside, roller skating at Tarry Hall Roller Rink is sure to come with lots of laughs.

9. At TreeRunner Adventure Park you’ll have so much fun together (preschoolers, too!) and walk away feeling like not only a family but a team.

Family Time

Any opportunity to spend time together makes a great gift. Sometimes it’s just about getting out of the house and doing something different.

10. Make it FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Local game shops helped us come up with this fantastic list of addicting games to help you make it through the long winter.

11. Spend time together AND give back by volunteering as a family in your community. Find an option on the Kids and Family Volunteer Guide to try out together as a family.

Overnight Trips

12. Your family can make it a weekend adventure any time of year at Double JJ resort. With Horseback riding, snow tubing, the Gold Rush Indoor Water Park, and much more, there won’t be a dull moment.

13. If a day of fun doesn’t seem like enough, extend the festivities into an overnight away from home. Whether it’s a local stay or somewhere out of town, any family would enjoy some time at one of these exciting locations:

    • It’s a few hours and world away. Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City includes a massive indoor water park, many kid-friendly activities, and plenty to do for the grown ups, too.
    • Frohe Weihnachten! (That’s Merry Christmas in German.) Enjoy a German-themed at Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth.
    • Go for the whole experience with skiing, dog sledding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain.
    • Book your train tickets to Chicago and take the whole family to the Windy City for Christmas. You’ll see the countryside along the way, and experience life in the big city.
    • Consider a night in a local hotel. Sometimes all you need is a hotel room, a pool, and a pizza to have a blast!

Other Places to Go

14. Voted one of the great public spaces by the American Planning Association, ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle is a terrific place to enjoy a winter evening on the ice.

15. Bunny hills or black diamonds, amateurs or experts. If you know a family who likes to shred or go snow tubing, send them skiing at Cannonsburg.

16. Your family may not know port from starboard, but they can learn with sailing lessons from Grand Rapids Yacht Club.

17. If you’re looking to travel but not go far, gift the family a 14-mile ride on the rails. The Coopersville & Marne Railway offers a Santa Train, and Easter Bunny Train, and more!


Family Gifts by Local Makers

Made By Meg Knitwear

What Is It?

I hand knit hats, cowls, scarves, earwarmers and other accessories to keep you and your family warm in the cold Michigan winters!

In my shop you’ll find both luxury wool pieces as well as more affordable goods.

Buy a hat for yourself or for friends and family!

Based In: Caledonia, MI

Best For: Everyone

Made By Meg Knitwear - scarf

SHOP IT

KNOWN Goods Co

What Is It?

Concrete goods for your space, to make space.

With minimalistic design always in mind, we create pieces by hand, with purpose out of concrete. Our goal is always to spark a little curiosity.

Our featured product is a table top game designed to create connection and inspire more connection. From trays to candles and all the in-betweens, we are creating for your home.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Everyone

KNOWN Goods Large Planter GR

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Katie’s Knit Creations

What Is It?

Hand-knit items for the entire family!

Hats, fingerless gloves, blankets, stuffed animals, and more. Custom orders are also welcome.

Based In: Alto, MI

Best For: Everyone

katie knit creations

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Okie Dokie Creations

What Is It?

Hand stamped metal charms and bracelet wraps , shoe-string shoe-tags, and motivational words.

Can be custom made to order. Email me to indicate what word you are ordering.

I also sell one of a kind paintings and greeting cards.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Everyone

okie dokie better

SHOP IT

Tandem For Two

What Is It?

A lot of people don’t have enough time to find personal and unique gifts.

I create products that celebrate the states, towns, and seasons we love.

Part of every sale provides homeless kids a birthday party, so you can feel great about your purchase and give the perfect gifts.

Based In: Grand Haven, MI

Best For: Everyone

TandemForTwo 2

SHOP IT

Bre’s Blankets

What Is It?

I can turn your memorable sports shirts, concert shirts, race shirts, or shirts from a loved one into a beautiful t-shirt blanket.

These make great gifts and are a great keepsake! Cost is only $5/square used in the blanket and there is no size restriction.

Check out my website for reviews, pictures, and helpful steps for ordering.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Everyone

bres blankets

SHOP IT

KID GIFT IDEAS  

Local Gift Ideas for Kids

Learn

Kids of all ages will love the gift of lessons to try something new or continue an activity they already love. West Michigan provides lots of great options to pick up or hone a skill.

1. Classes at a local gymnastics facility will give your kids access to a giant mat and some padded equipment to get out all of that energy!

2. Music and the arts enrich our lives and helps kids learn, so give them the gift that keeps on giving with lessons from Ada Piano Academy,  Ada Conservatory of Music and other local institutions.

3. If you know a horse lover, what could be better than riding lessons at Karin’s Horse Connection?

4. Send your child to cooking classes at the Downtown Market and pretty soon they will be making dinner for YOU.

5. Encourage their artistic side with a gift card to a local art studio.

6. Swimming is not only fun, but it’s also a valuable life skill. With swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School, everyone wins!

Play

Passes or gift cards to one of the many indoor or outdoor recreation areas are a fun way to get kids moving. Save these passes for a rainy (or sunny) day when everyone has some extra energy to burn.

7. Lewis Farms isn’t just a pumpkin patch. It’s also a petting zoo, a produce market, a playground, and more!

8. Climb high or dive deep. Either way, the indoor water and fun parks at the Kroc Center  and the Holland Aquatic Center are hours of family fun.

9. If you’re looking for trampolines, foam pits, and a place to play for kids of all ages, check out Sky ZoneAltitude, or Rebounderz.

10. The kids won’t want to miss the bubble dance party in between climbing, sliding, and jumping around at Catch Air.


Gifts for Kids by Local Makers

Hey Sugar

What Is It?

We make small batch cotton candy in flavors like Bubble Gum, Tropical Punch, Root Beet Float, Confetti Cake and Salty Caramel.

We package it and also serve fresh spun cones. Our classic tubs and zip bags makes great gifts!

Based In: Muskegon, MI

hey sugar gift guide

SHOP IT

Arrow Town Designs

What Is It?

We create a wide variety of Handmade decor products ranging anywhere from home, weddings & baby!

We also offer wooden & acrylic alphabet puzzles, custom name puzzles, shape puzzles & numeric puzzles.

Based In: Lowell, MI

Best For: Baby, Everyone

arrow town 2

SHOP IT

MadeByShellmo

What Is It?

MadeByShellmo provides whimsical handmade items for kids of all ages!

You can find multicultural dolls, double sided and adjustable aprons for kids (with pockets!), giant slug stuffed animals, dress up face masks, and so much more at MadeByShellmo!

Custom orders like pet ornaments, baby gift sets, and inspiring pennants make for unique gift opportunities.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Babies, Kids

madebyshellmo

SHOP IT

A. Marie Handmade

What Is It?

A. Marie Handmade creates quality baby and kids items with a heavy emphasis on use for everyday wear and use.

I’m an average gal with high quality taste and that’s just what I strive to have A. Marie exude.

Based In: Allegan, MI

Best For: Babies

A. Marie Handmade

SHOP IT

GIFT IDEAS FOR MOM

Grand Rapids Gift Ideas for Mom

Are you looking for an experience gift for mom? We think that moms do a lot and they deserve a lot for the holidays! Whether they work outside the home, stay home with the kids full-time, or something in between, moms deserve to do something amazing.

Self-Care

1. A spa day is a perfect way to say “We love you!” and every mom deserves a massage. And a facial. And a mani/pedi. And everything else the spa has to offer! If you don’t know her favorite spot, try our list of mommy & me pedi spots around town.

2. Moms can refresh and nourish their mind and body through yoga classes.

3. A great and unexpected, way to explore downtown Grand Rapids is on a horse-drawn tour of the city with Classic Carriage Rides.

Performances

4. The Civic Theatre has a full season of shows that Mom is sure to love.

5. Maybe Mom is into classical music and would enjoy an evening at the Grand Rapids Symphony.

6. Or perhaps her style is more country or rock n’ roll. In that case, score her some tickets for a concert at the Van Andel Arena.

7. If a mom in your life enjoys the thrill of suspense, why not bring her to a Murder Mystery Dinner? Not only will she enjoy a three-course meal, but she’ll become part of the show!

Classes

No matter how busy a mom gets, it’s always a joy to do something just for her, something to take her mind off of everything else. For the holidays, encourage her to try her hand at something new or practice a skill she already loves.

8. If she doesn’t cook, she may enjoy learning. And if she already does the cooking, she might love to learn new techniques and recipes. Grand Rapids offers several options for adult cooking classes, from amateurs to experts.

9. Give her the opportunity make something beautiful with a floral arrangement class at Eastern Floral.

10. Sign her up for language classes at Grand Rapids Community College. Then plan an international trip to let her use her new skills!


Gifts for Moms by Local Makers

Maggie Ann Soap Co

What Is It?

Since 2014, Maggie Ann Soap Co. has been practicing the art of clean. I don’t just create soap; I create little masterpieces. Each product is made with love, care, and respect  – for my craft, for my customers, and for our planet.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Maggie Ann Soap Co bars

SHOP IT

Brambles Woodwork

What Is It?

I create natural wooden jewelry. I don’t use stain or dye and let the wood speak for itself.

I love trying to always create something new and interesting!

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Moms, adults

Brambles Woodwork - wooden earrings

SHOP IT

Artist Hilary Berens

What Is It?

My artwork is full of texture, metallics, mixed media, blended bright colors, creating abstract and floral images.

In most pieces you will see layers on top of layers and more details on top of that.

I create custom pieces, gift ideas, and more.

Based In: Cedar Springs, MI

Best For: Everyone

Hilary Berens artwork

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Jenison Designs

What Is It?

My husband and I make custom cutting boards, serving trays and charcuterie boards.

We are a home based business and have our current selection of boards at the Rustic Corner in Jenison.

We are also able to make custom boards and can wood burn names and dates as well.

Based In: Jenison, MI

Best For: Adults

jenison designs - charcuterie boards

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Freebird Woven

What Is It?

I hand craft woven tapestries for your wall or shelf.

Using many different types of yarns and fabrics, I weave circular and rectangular/ square woven pieces of art. This is done using a lap or floor loom depending on the size of the piece I am working on.

Based In: Ada, MI

Best For: Everyone

freebird woven

SHOP IT

  DAD GIFT IDEAS  

Dad Gifts That Aren’t Ties or Tools

Dads deserve a little pampering, too, and no matter how he likes to spend his time, West Michigan has something to offer. Read on to find the perfect experience gift for him!

Sports

1. For the baseball fan, don’t just send him to a West Michigan Whitecaps game, give him the chance to throw the first pitch of the game!

2. For the basketball fan, send him to a Grand Rapids Drive home game. Wrap the tickets in some team swag for an added touch.

3. Don’t let the snow stop Dad from hitting the links this winter. With X-Golf, the innovative golf simulator, he can practice his swing all year long.

4. He’ll be telling fish tales for days after a guided fishing trip with Betts Guide Service in Newaygo.

Classes

Dads might enjoy all the same lessons and classes as mom, and vice versa, but here are a couple more ideas to encourage anyone to pick up a new talent.

5. It’s never too late to pick up a martial art. Whether it’s Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or kung fu. Whether it’s a serious passion or a casual pastime, there are many options in West Michigan.

6. When you give someone the gift of photography lessons, not only do they enhance a skill, but you could score some beautiful photos! What could be better?

7. Grand Rapids is a great place to live for a beer lover. You can take a home brewing class, join a tour of one of dozens of local breweries, or go all in with the Grand Rapids Beer Tour.

Entertainment

8. Any movie buff will appreciate a gift card to Celebration Cinema to watch the latest films on the big screen. Throw in a restaurant gift card and make a night of it.

9. Part scavenger hunt, part puzzlers, The Great Escape Room will challenge Dad and his chosen team to “escape” in 60 minutes or less.


Gifts for Dads by Local Makers

RCrawley Art

What Is It?

Original artwork consists of acrylic paintings on canvas.

Subject matter consist of animals, things in nature, and “doodle” design.

As for digital works, I create images that will work on apparel or prints. Since there is no physical piece, I like sharing them on clothing and reproducible art prints.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Teens and up

rcrowley art

SHOP IT

Hides and Stitches

What Is It?

Through Hides and Stitches, we aim to provide customers with high quality, hand-made heirloom leather goods constructed with careful thought—pieces worthy of being passed on through generations.

We place great importance on using the best raw materials we can find and construct everything by hand ourselves, including hand-cutting, punching, dying, and hand-sewing each piece.

Whenever possible, we source our materials from producers in the United States, including leather from Horween Leather Company and thread from Maine Thread Company.

Based In: Grand Rapids, MI

Best For: Adults

hides and stitches

SHOP IT

InBooze

What Is It?

Cocktail kits to infuse your booze using dehydrated fruits, spices and herbs!

InBooze® is owned by Ashleigh Evans, a mother of 4 and cocktail lover.

In 2018, she wanted an easier (and healthier!) way for everyone to enjoy drinks at home. By infusing with simple fruits, spices and herbs, you know exactly what is in your cocktail!

Based In: Grandville, MI

Best For: Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Adults

in booze

SHOP IT

And, just in case you’re looking for more ideas to put under the tree, browse this list of handy things to bring in to your quarantine bubble for the winter.

  PRESENTATION COUNTS 

Give Them Something to Unwrap

To add to the fun, you can find creative ways to wrap these gifts and make opening the gift an experience in itself, even if the recipient can’t use it immediately.

For example, wrap a zoo membership card in a map of the zoo or tie it around the neck of a stuffed animal you’d find at the zoo. Wrap theatre or concert tickets in a giant box to throw them off the trail. If the real gift is dance lessons, wrap the studio’s brochure with a new tutu. Or make an adventure of it by drawing a map and sending the recipient on a treasure hunt for their gift!

The Gift of an Experience Will Last a Lifetime

Whomever you’re buying for or whatever you choose to give, you will be glad you replaced some of the holiday “stuff” with experiences that create lasting memories. Unlike toys and gadgets, gifts of experience don’t lose their novelty. So go ahead and buy that amazing “thing” you know they’ll love, but also wrap up the gift of a great experience!

And no matter what or how you celebrate, we hope that you’ll find moments to make great memories with the people you love. Happy Holidays!

1 thought on “The 2020 Christmas Gift Ideas Guide to the Best Local Gifts & Experiences”

  1. Another great local store to buy Christmas gifts this year is Guelaguetza Designs off 28th and DeHoop. It has the cutest handmade Mexican decor, clothing, jewelry, and toys.

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