Gift Ideas: Best Local Gifts, Experiences & Unique Shopping Spots – 2021 Edition

gift ideas

Gift Ideas & Experiences You’ll Love Giving

Where to Shop FOR GIFTS THIS YEAR – LOCAL Makers & SMALL SHOPS Included!

Gathering all of the gifts you want to give can be a challenge in a normal year, but this year, with the supply chain issues, we’re looking at a lot of unknowns when it comes to the holiday season.

That’s why it’s good to know your options. Sourcing your gifts from a variety of places, both online and local, will help you get the job done.

Plus, shopping locally for gifts is a gift to the community as well. And it allows you to give things you’ll likely not find in a big box store or online.

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 but I know I’ll also be putting things in my cart online as well.

Find gift ideas below based on age. And also find local places we think you’ll like to shop listed out. And finally, don’t forget that experience gifts are awesome and appreciated, too. Those are included with each age group as well.

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!

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Featured Gift Ideas & Experiences

Wrapping up experience gifts keeps in-home clutter to a minimum and lets the gift last much longer, spreading the holiday cheer throughout the year, and allowing recipients to think of the gift-giver year-round.

grcm holiday experiences guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

** Black Friday weekend membership deal!
$15 off Dual, Family, Grandparent, Family Plus, and Friend levels
Use promo code GRCM15. **

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum is two floors of hands-on interactive exhibits and daily drop-in programs that encourage discovery and learning through play.

The philosophy of GRCM is based on the principle that children learn best when they direct their own learning.

GRCM's programs are designed with the purpose of educating the whole child - encompassing all subject areas as well as the individual learning styles of children preschool through elementary school age.

GRCM's exhibits and programs consist of materials and activities that are participatory and hands-on.

GRCM's active learning approach encourages play and self-directed exploration in a supportive environment, enabling children to gain a positive sense of themselves as learners.

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum is an environment for play, advocates for the value of play, and builds minds through play. Let's PLAY!


My kids (1 & 3) had such a great time! There were lots of fun engineering centers and activities. My son has been asking to go back since we left.

hmd boutique holiday gift guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


523 Ada Dr., Ada, MI 49301

4336 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

HMD Boutique is a magical shop that offers a bespoke shopping experience and enchanting events. Top it off with the small group dance classes for students ages 9 & under and you've got the perfect combination!

Let us help put together the perfect Christmas gift basket for you this holiday season.

We have options for the dance-obsessed, the girly girl, crafty kids and anyone who likes a little bit of glitter and a whole lot of magic. Plus we have great options for moms as well!

Looking for an experience? Mention GRKIDS for a waived registration fee for dance classes.


HMD Boutique is an adorable store with so many cute and beautiful items! So many beautiful dance wear options and the cutest gift options!

battleGR holiday experience gift guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


284 Dodge NE Suite 100, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Looking for a fun & different gift for the kids (and big kids) that have everything already? Why not give the gift of memories?

BattleGR keeps things fun & interactive with different activities: open Gym, Tactical Laser Tag, Archery Tag, Axe Throwing, E-Sports. With over 30 different laser tag games to play, no one will be bored.

You can give a gift certificate or bundle it with one of our cool shirts or sweatshirts.

We are perfect for families, kids, & adults.

Check out our website for our special events like teen night and Holiday Break Camp.


Absolutely amazing time with the most amazing staff ever!! Kids and Adults had the best time ever! So unique and fun! And great food!! Visit for a great time!

The Mud Room holiday experiences ad 2021

Featured Experience Gift


1971 E Beltline Ave NE, Ste. 103, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Does your child love arts and crafts? Are you looking for a fun play date with friends or the whole family? The Mud Room offers creative fun for both kids and adults!

Visit the studio to paint pottery or a wood sign. You can even make handprint keepsakes with your precious little ones!

Projects are available to make at home, too, and online ordering is easy and convenient.

All ages welcome; no experience needed.

A Potter's Wheel Class is another unique offering for ages 7-adult.

Can’t decide? Gift Cards are perfect to tuck in a stocking or under the tree!


This is a wonderful place to have fun with your family! The staff is so polite! The facility is clean... lots of things to paint… highly recommend! -Tricia B.

Allegan Event holiday gift guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


439 River Street, Allegan, MI 49010

Give the gift of adventure this year!

Get active and make thrilling memories that’ll last long after the presents are opened.

Conveniently located 30-minutes from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Holland, Allegan Event is Michigan’s largest indoor ropes course and offers endless adventurous activities for guests of all ages to explore, get active and make lasting memories.

Attractions include the heart-pumping bi-level Sky Trail® ropes course with Sky Rail® zip rails, Sky Tykes® course for small children, QUICKjump free-fall simulation, Vertical Drop Slide, Clip ‘n Climb® walls, and seasonal outdoor zip line spanning the Kalamazoo River.


Highly recommended! Had so much fun. Fun for kids of all ages and adults. The staff was very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. The pizza and ice cream were excellent!

John Ball Zoo holiday experience guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Give the gift to Get Wild with a John Ball Zoo Membership

John Ball Zoo members can get wild and enjoy unlimited free admission to visit the over 2,000 animals who call the Zoo home.

In addition, members receive free or reduced admission to over 150 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across North America, discounts and early registration for Zoo camps, classes, and birthday parties, plus exclusive members-only access to special events.

Members also receive discounts on purchases inside the Zoo from food and beverage purchases including 20% off purchases at the Gifts of the Wild gift shop, along with experiences like face painting, the zip line, and camel rides.

Air Zoo holiday experience gift guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


6151 Portage Rd., Portage, MI 49002

Inspire imagination 360+ days with an Air Zoo family membership!

With more than 100+ air and spacecraft, hands-on learning stations, memorable exhibits, world-renowned restoration center, and exciting flight-based rides and simulators, the opportunities are endless!

Members also enjoy member only events, and discounts on camps and hundreds of STEAM and Air Zoo items in the Fly Buy Gift Shop and more!

Family memberships are $100/year and include admission to more than 1200 ASTC and NARM museums and science centers.

New members in December get a free copilot pass, too!

Imagine, explore, and discover at the Air Zoo and airzoostore.org.

academy of music holiday experiences gift guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


6159 28th St SE, Ste 24, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

7647 Riverview Dr, Jenison, MI 49428

STUFF THE STOCKING AND SAVE $75!

Get your loved one a special gift for under the tree by registering them for music lessons at West Michigan’s largest music school.

Pick up the stocking at either location, or we can ship it to you for free.

We’ll prepare your fully stuffed Christmas stocking to include:
-One month of lessons certificate ($120 value)
-Free registration ($30 value)
-$15 Music Retail Certificate
-Holiday candy
-Academy Christmas ornament
-Instrument specific gift

VALUE $174 | Your cost: Only $99

It’s easy to redeem-Just call/text us, or stop by in person, and we’ll take care of the rest!


We have a great experience at Academy of Music GR! My daughter enjoys her lessons and not only improved musically, but gained confidence in herself. -Carrie B.

Fowling Warehouse

Featured Experience Gift


6797 Cascade Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Looking for a fun and unique experience gift this year? Get in out of the cold and go Fowling!

This original football bowling pin game is taking Grand Rapids by storm.

Reserve a private time for up to 10 people for 2 hours for $120 per lane. OR Unlimited walk-in Open Play for $10 / person. Winners stay, losers call next on another lane.

Bring in your own food or have it delivered. No outside beverages, but enjoy our pop, juices, and bottled water - plus two 45 ft long fully stocked bars.

With 45,000 sq ft, there is plenty of room to play, socialize, and celebrate!

goldfish swim school holiday guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


2845 Thornhills Ave. Suite S, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Gift the Golden Experience from Goldfish Swim School.

Our state-of-the-art swimming facility with shiver-free pool, is simply the backdrop to our play-based learning experience.

Our teaching philosophy, The Science of Swim Play, is used to build lifesaving water skills that are specially designed to make learning fun through guided play for ages 4 months to 12 years.

We have two Holiday Package Offers this season - both are the perfect gift for your little fish!

Legacy Stables holiday experience guide 2021

Featured Experience Gift


8001 Patterson Ave, Caledonia, MI 49316

Give the gift of HORSES, FRESH AIR, EXERCISE and great MEMORIES!

At our peaceful farm with friendly staff and over 25 well trained horses we have something for EVERYONE ~ all ages, skill levels, and abilities.

Purchase a Gift Certificate for Lessons, One-Time Rides, ‘Own-A-Horse’ Camp, Equestrian Vaulting, Therapeutic Riding, and More!

Bring your family and visit our special “Christmas Land” with PONY and take pictures. Two large indoor arenas allow riding in any weather.

Blandford Holiday gift guide 2021 2

Featured Experience Gift


1715 Hillburn Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Blandford memberships include FREE year-round admission, discounted prices for year-round programming, events, and gift shop purchases.

Plus members get early and discounted registration opportunities for Summer Day Camp and Farm CSA program, reciprocal admission at over 125 participating ANCA nature centers nationwide, and more.

Visit our website to read more about membership benefits and the different levels offered.

All gift memberships purchased by Friday, December 17th will be delivered by mail in time for the holiday!

Gifting an Experience? Here are Clever Ways to Wrap it Up

-Wrap a zoo membership card in a map of the zoo or tie it around the neck of a stuffed animal.
-Wrap theatre or concert tickets in a giant box to throw them off the trail.
-If the gift is dance lessons, wrap the studio’s brochure with a new tutu.
-Make an adventure part of the gift by drawing a map and sending the recipient on a treasure hunt as they search for the gift!

Gift Ideas: Little Kids

BABIES, TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS

Little kids are the easiest to buy for! So many little kid gift ideas!

Baby gifts are the cutest! Baby toys, baby clothes – there a lot of adorable, colorful things to choose from when it comes to gifts in this category.

Finding Christmas gifts for toddlers, those little kids around 1 – 2 years of age, can be a lot of fun because there are so many options for this age group.

On the other hand, the sheer number of options can make choosing a Christmas gift for the toddler in your life overwhelming.

Preschoolers are into everything and oh-so curious, which makes gift-giving to this age group precious.

You’ll start to see them engage in outings and likely they will remember the experiences you gift them for a long time.

Use this list of hand-picked gift ideas to help you find just the thing for your little kid this year.

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Gift Ideas: Kids

ELEMENTARY KIDS

School-aged kids are influenced by what’s cool at school – and by the things that the older kids are into. Look at what last year’s 10 year-olds were into – that might just be what this age group wants right now.

Gift-giving gets more challenging as the kids get older. Giving experiences is a great option if you’re faced with a child that doesn’t really want toys anymore.

These gift ideas for kids aged 5 -10 were handpicked to promise a stellar gift-giving (and receiving) experience.

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Gift Ideas: Middle & High School

TWEENS & TEENS

How many gift cards is it okay to give? Does it help if you wrap them up in clever ways? (Yes, yes it does – the Saran Wrap candy ball method is an amazing way to gift a gift card.)

In all seriousness, though, you’ll probably find yourself giving gift cards at this age. But, if you know what the tween or teen is into, you might just get lucky with one of the items or stores we chose in our teen gift ideas list.

And there’s always a good fallback option of video games, cell phone accessories and clothes (if your teen is into fashion). Don’t dismiss experience gifts either!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2021 2
Click to find tween and teen gift ideas

Gift Ideas: Adults

MOMS, DADS, GRANDPARENTS & TEACHERS

Trying to decide what to give the important adults in your life?

We’ve compiled a list of some of our top picks for a great gift for moms, dads and grandparents. Give Mom a day of relaxation and she’s golden.

Don’t stress over Pinterest-worthy gifts for teachers. Gift cards are great as well as homemade gifts — from your child.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2021 3
Click to find adult gift ideas

10 Gift Ideas for Families

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  1. Give families a gift card or even a whole membership to a local attraction, like a zoo, museum, or family fun center.
  2. Everyone in the family will enjoy the masterpieces and cultural enrichment at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Go for the whole experience with skiing, dog sledding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain.
  7. 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.
  8. Consider a night in a local hotel. Sometimes all you need is a hotel room, a pool, and a pizza to have a blast!
  9. 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!
  10. Make it FAMILY GAME NIGHT.

West MI Gift Ideas Magazine

More Holiday Fun

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Where to see Christmas Lights in West Michigan
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Santa Events around West Michigan
nutcrackers-in West Michigan

2 thoughts on “Gift Ideas: Best Local Gifts, Experiences & Unique Shopping Spots – 2021 Edition”

  1. The links under “More Holiday Fun” looks like they’re from 2020. Is there an updated list of those activities somewhere for 2021?

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