25 Brilliant Gift Ideas From Northeast Wisconsin


Finding the perfect gift for the people you care about can be fun.

But sometimes it’s a challenge.

The stress, pressure and hustle and bustle of the holidays doesn’t help – especially if you wait until the last minute to finish your list. That’s when gift giving can turn into a real pain in the youknowwhat.

I resorted to the mall last Christmas to find a few last minute gifts. That turned out to be the worst idea I ever had!

There was nowhere to park, the stores were all in shambles and there were people everywhere! I ended up leaving the mall with nothing but tears of frustration freezing down my face.

Isn’t it better when you give someone something that is unique, has a purpose or a special meaning behind it?

Most people would agree, it’s those handmade and one-of-a-kind gifts that really warm our hearts. Even a little something small and different can mean so much more than a gift card or something cliche.

This holiday season, let’s support our small businesses in Wisconsin and the people behind them. Your gift will touch the person you love as well our community!

Here are 25 gift ideas that we found. But we know there are so many more. Leave a comment with your ideas, places to check out or any Small Business Saturday deals that you know of.

1. Unique Handmade Treasures

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The Blue Moon Emporium, on College Avenue in Appleton, is packed with one-of-a-kind treasures.

Everything in the store is handmade by local independent artists and designers.

We’re talking handmade clothing, art and ceramics, screen-printed pillows, lots of Wisconsin-themed goods, quirky decor, upcycled accessories and so much more!

Look for the book, Twelve Days of Christmas in Wisconsin while you’re there.

This popular book was written by Erin Eitter Konner who grew up in the Midwest. It highlights some fun activities, history and facts about Christmastime in Wisconsin. A perfect present for little Wisconsinites.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll find something awesome and totally unique for someone you love!

2. A Cute Apron From Crazy Sweet

crazy sweet apron

Aren’t those aprons sweet? There’s no reason why we can’t look cute while we work in the kitchen!

If you think they’re cute, you can find them at Crazy Sweet – a newer candy and gift shop on College Avenue in Appleton. You can also find some old school candy, Oaks Chocolate and just new to the gift shop – Frozen themed Jelly Bellies! Now that would be a perfect topper on a kid’s gift. And a BONUS – You can get natural, handcrafted Heal My Sole bath and body products.

I’ve tried the handmade goat milk bar soaps and they are amazing. Dune Grass and Patchouli Sandalwood are two of my favorite scents! So there you have it – a cute apron, some chocolates and some smelly good soap – done.

But WAIT… there’s more!

candy bacon

You can find really fun stocking stuffers like this Candy Bacon and Cheesehead Lollipops!

3. Vintage-Modern, Antique Inspired Home Decor

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I would be like a little girl in a candy shop at the Vintage Garden in Appleton.

They have modern-vintage furniture, lots of antique-inspired goodies and shabby chic style home and garden decor.

The new holiday peace, love and joy light up marquee letters are so neat! And I’m pretty sure they only have one of each to sell.

Everything you find at the Vintage Garden is a one-of-a-kind treasure. They come and go quickly. But that’s one reason I love this store – everything is so unique.

If you know someone who might need or want home decor, weathered frames, a bed frame, a vintage armoire and a cute little desk or nightstand – this is your place!

All November 29th shoppers will get 10% and the first 20 early birds will get a goodie bag!

4. Mandles – The Candle for Men


Mandles are soy candles made for men. They have fun names, they smell good and the are healthier and last longer than regular candles. You can get them at Eco Candle in Appleton.

I think a Mandle would make a fun, light-hearted gift for any dude.

Check out our article all about Eco Candle’s Mandles to learn about five different Mandle scents including the Packer Backer, Dirtbag, Mama’s Boy, The Carnivore and the Happy Camper.

5. Locally Made Wine

Photo: Unwind and get in the holiday spirit at Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery's Holiday Open House. November 28-30 and December 5-7.

You can create a holiday gift box complete with Frozen Tundra or other wine, while you enjoy cheese, chocolate and tasty food samples at Parallel 44, this weekend and next.

As you shop, also enjoy Christmas music from local musicians and crackling bonfires that create a laid-back shopping experience.

Von Stiehl Winery has a nice deal on their Up North collection wines, too!

6. Worry Birds

These adorable birds serve a wonderful purpose. Holding them in your hands a few minutes a day is a reminder to keep our stress, anxiety and worries at bay.

Worry Birds are handcrafted by Elyse-Krista AnnaMarie Mische who lives in Appleton. Each bird is individually formed, carved and glazed so no two are alike.

This cute card with the scripture Matthew 6:25-34 comes with your Worry Bird.

I first spotted them at Happy Bellies Bake Shop in Appleton. Which, by the way is an all natural bake shop with fresh and healthy ingredients.

They have really good tasting gluten free and vegan cupcakes, muffins, donuts and cakes among a variety of other things.

7. Comfy, Cozy Handmade Boot Cuffs

boot cuffs - Adore in Appleton

A’dore on the Avenue in Appleton has these cute and very popular boot cuffs for sale right now!

They have a whole bunch of random and fun gifts to be had. Like home decor, jewelry, purses and an all time favorite – the scarf wall! It’s loaded with beautiful scarves.

8. ReBetty Scarves

reBetty Scarf

It’s Wisconsin – so women get to wear scarves for a good three quarters of the year. By the spring, my hubby lets me know it’s time to see my neckline again. What can I say, I’m a scarf lady. But I think it’s still a pretty hot accessory for women of all ages.

They keep us warm and they look good too. Bingo Bango. A scarf is a caring winter gift. Especially when it’s crafted in your local community.

At Beatnik Betty’s Resale Butik, you’ll find tons of these unique handmade scarves. Along with plenty of other vintage, Fossil and Steve Madden clothes and accessories worth checking out.

9. Goodies For a Wisconsin Deer Hunter

All Things Jerky in Appleton is the place to get a fun gift for any Wisconsin hunter! Or anyone that would love some exotic meat!

They have alligator jerky, wild boar jerky, venison jerky, kangaroo jerky, alpaca jerky, ostrich jerky and lots more.

Besides some delicious hot Jamaican Style Beef Jerky, you can throw in some pickled eggs, deep fried peanuts and even some blaze orange toilet paper!

10. Garden of Lights Tickets

Our family went to the Garden of Lights last year for the first time. It was a beautiful sight. So twinkly and bright and fun to look at. An outdoor bonfire, Santa and pictures inside with tasty hot drinks and good things to munch.

The lights are on display through December 30th, so it would be a wonderful gift to be experienced the weekend after Christmas.

11. Unique Wisconsin T-Shirt

WhooNEW ShopAt the online Whoonew Shop, you’ll find t-shirts and other WhooNEW inspired things.

We made shirts to go along with some of our popular Uniquely Wisconsin articles.

One of these might make a fun gift for someone you know! Especially those poor souls who moved away and are missing the good old Badger state.

The shirts are customizable on Zazzle and made for both men and women.

Check out some of our favorites:

12. Tickets to an Upcoming Show

Another awesome “experience” gift. The gift of laughter – a memory. I think that’s pretty thoughtful.

The Meyer Theatre downtown Green Bay and the PAC downtown Appleton have some exciting shows coming up in January and March.

A pair of these tickets would kick a lot of gift cards’ you know what!

Here’s what’s coming to the Meyer in January:

Steven Wright | Comedian

steven wrightSteven Wright is an academy award-winning comedian who has appeared on The Tonight Show, Late Night With David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.

He’s coming to the Meyer on January 16th at 8:00PM.

You can get tickets online at The Meyer Theater.


The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron

the male intellectThis is supposed to be a hilarious show that answers the age old question, “What do women want?” Robert Dubac, pinpoints the differences between the sexes in his one man show.

Dubac plays five different characters and will keep you laughing for 90 minutes straight!

He’ll be at the Meyer on January 21st at 7:30PM.

Give someone you love the gift of laughter and a really cool show!

You can buy tickets online at The Meyer Theater

Here’s what’s coming to the PAC in January and March:

Frank_Caliendo_lg at the PACFrank Caliendo | Comedian

Wisconsin native Frank Caliendo is coming to the PAC on January 16th at 8:00PM. The Hollywood Reporter describes his style as a “combination between Robin Williams and Jim Carrey.” Besides a comedian, Caliendo is an actor and is famous for his impressions.

He can do Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, and many politicians and broadcasters too.

It’s definitely a must-see show and tickets would make an awesome gift!

Find tickets online at FoxCitiesPAC.com


Annie | The Musical

A brand new incarnation of the iconic original is coming to the PAC on March 24th-29th.

This is one of the world’s most-loved musicals!

This Annie production has won a Tony award and features the favorite catchy songs like, “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” and “Tomorrow.”

Find tickets online at FoxCitiesPAC.com

13. A CSA Share

CSA Week 2 Half Share

CSA from Sleepy Hollow Farm in Kewaunee

This is such an awesome gift idea if you have the money to spend, or someone really special to spend it on!

When you buy a share or even a half share of a local community supported agriculture (CSA), you’d be sending the gift of a box packed full of fresh fruits, veggies and other goodies from a local farm every week during the growing season.

To me that says unique, helpful, caring and smart! And if a share is not in your budget, you can send someone a few whole, organic chickens!

14. Wisconsin Cheese Curds


People love squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds. There are so many X-Wisconsinites who crave them now that they’ve moved away.

So if you know a former Wisconsinite who just might be missing the dairy state for good reasons, send them some delicious Wisconsin cheese curds.

Scray’s Cheese in De Pere ships cheese curds anywhere in the United States!

15. The Book With No Pictures

the book with no pictures-at the readers loft

You know the character, Ryan from The Office? That’s BJ Novak, who I recently discovered is not just an actor – he’s a comedian, screenwriter, director and author. He wrote a completely unique book for kids that is so different than any book you’ve ever seen!

pottery reader's loftYou can get his book at local Green Bay area bookstore – the Reader’s Loft.

This independent bookstore is a fun place to visit. There’s even a large space for children.

Besides all the books, there is an art gallery where local artists display and sell their work.

You’ll find some other gift items too – like pottery and soy candles.

You have to watch this quick video of Novak reading his book to a big group of kids.

It sold me!

16. A Handcrafted Hoop

hula hoop

If you’ve been to the downtown Green Bay Famer’s market on Broadway in the summer, you’ve probably seen people shaking their booty with these handcrafted hoops. They are larger and heavier than traditional hoops so they are easier to use – and so much fun!

Mary, the owner of Hooked on Hooping and leader of the Hoops for Kids campaign, believes in the benefits of hooping. She makes the custom hoops, teaches classes and is inspired to help reverse childhood obesity.

You can find Mary’s hoops at Pro Fitness in Green Bay or contact her at mpulak50@gmail.com to see about making your own custom hoop!

17. Small Batch Roasted Coffee

Luna Cafe in De Pere roasts their coffee in small batches using a pre-WWII German roaster. Some people I’ve talked to say it’s the best coffee around and the only coffee they will drink!

The Fair Trade beans are roasted daily and the flavors are so clever. They sell them by the pound – in whole bean or coarse and fine grind.

New this year, you can get a Luna Tin Trio. It has a tin of Luna Coffee, a tin of Omanhene Hot Cocoa Mix and a tin of their homemade granola.

Find Chai, cold brew coffee, wall art and more small gifts available there as well. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or a fresh cup of coffee and pick something out for someone you love!

18. Bacon Jam

balsamic-smoked-bacon-jamI have to rave a little bit about Carmella’s and SAP in Appleton. They use healthy ingredients. Both restaurants have a cozy atmosphere. And it’s awesome food.

I’ve only been to SAP so far, but I hear a lot of good things about Carmella’s too. It makes sense, they are owned by the same family.

At SAP you can grab a really good lunch and pick up a few nice Christmas gifts for someone special. You could go with something a little fun and different – like that bacon jam!

Or, they have Carmella’s original sauces, noodles, coffee and other goodies to choose from. Here are some pictures to give you a look at SAP’s food and foodie gifts.

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19. Garlic EVOO & Aged Balsamic

Sicilian Blend Bread Dipping Seasoning & Dish SetIf you’re a fan of the show Shark Tank, you might have seen the owner of The Oilerie, Olive Oil Bar in Fish Creek, Door County.

He was on a recent episode asking for an investment. He got good and bad news. The Sharks seemed to like the oils (Exception: Mr. Wonderful) but – he didn’t land a deal.

I’ve heard good things about The Oilerie’s products. They offer much more than oils and aged balsamic. They have a lot of really neat gifty foods. Like, bread dipping herbs to add to your olive oil, chilie lime corn nuts and masala roasted chickpeas.

Check out everything they have to offer here!

20. The Secret Ingredient for Green Bay Chili: A Bowl of Red

Bowl-of-Red If you know someone who loves Chili John’s chili in Green Bay – this spice mix could help you make a very similar version in your own kitchen.

Chili John’s is a century-old Green Bay tradition. This A Bowl of Red product is a super gift for any home chef.

We can’t say it is exactly the same seasoning Chili John’s uses – but if you like meaty chili on top of spaghetti noodles, this stuff just might blow you away.

Read more about A Bowl of Red and the Chili John’s tradition.

21. A 64oz Kombucha Growler

Kombucha growler

Have you ever tried kombucha tea? I discovered Tapuat Kombucha at the New Leaf Winter Farmer’s market in Green Bay where I sampled it for the first time. It’s delicious.

They turned me into a customer right then. I loved the little bit of bubble, sweet, fresh tea flavor and the fact that it’s so good for you. It’s fermented so it has tons of beneficial bacteria or probiotics.

Tapuat is actually located in Door County, Wisconsin and the tea elixirs are made in small batches with organic ingredients that are all Fair Trade certified.

They have some pretty neat concoctions and in November they have Growlers on sale at Woodman’s!

22. Brewer’s Best Brew Kit

If that’s not the type of brew you’re looking for, how about this beer brewer’s kit from House of Home Brew in Green Bay…

It has pretty much all the gear a beginning brewer needs to make some of his or her very own beer.

House of Home Brew also has equipment and ingredients to make your own wine, tea and cheese, too!

23. Good Earth Soap

Good Earth<br/>Blissfully Pure | Simply Natural

Good Earth Soap products are thoughtfully created by a couple, Tracy and Michael, who live in Kewaunee, Wisconsin.

They use natural ingredients that come from the Earth, like essential oils and natural butters. They make everything from scratch.

You can find Good Earth lip butters, bar soaps and Mason jar soy candles at Natural Healthy Concepts in Appleton.

If you stop in at Natural Healthy Concepts on Small Business Saturday, you can get a free chair massage from 1-4:30PM, free tea and smoothie samples, giveaways, lot of free samples, big savings and many other great gift ideas!

BONUS – you’ll get a free coffee mug with any purchase – while they last.

Also, through December 1st, you have a chance to win a pretty sweet spa prize package with A Good Earth Mason Jar Lavender soy candle, and Aromafloria’s Stress Less collection. It includes bath salts, massage oil, bubble bath, inhalation beads, body polish and the special item you choose to add to it!

24. A Toy or Game From Kid Works

kid works

I wrote about Kid Works after we took a Family Day Trip to Fish Creek, Door County a couple summers ago. This is Door County’s largest toy store.

I thought it was really fun to look around at all the unique toys, games and gadgets to entertain kids and even adults! You’ll find classic specialty toys, handcrafted items, games, puzzles, books and more.

They even have a large play area for kids if you want to bring them with you! They have a huge annual after Thanksgiving day sale with 40% off almost everything. The big sale is this weekend, November 28th-30th.

Some other local shops where you can get interesting and educational toys are the School House near Bay Park Square in Ashwaubenon and The Learning Shop near the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute.

25. Handcrafted Steel Yard Art


We often drive past Carl Vanderheyden’s steel art in Bellevue. He has some really cool works of steel art on display in his front yard on the corner of Bellevue Street and Hoffman road. Carl’s been creating sculptures out of scrap for 10 years. He’ll use old oil drums, an old horseshoe from a junkyard or other old forged steel items.

Some of his work can be quite costly and might not be in your Christmas budget. The buck pictured above is one of the most expensive, but the smaller stuff is definitely affordable.

I was so excited to find his site when I looked for it online! And check out this Local 5 News interview featuring him.

Give someone a steel metal work of art for their garden. If I lived in the country, I would love to have a few of his metal flowers!

Watch this video interviewing Carl and find some more of his work here.

Now hopefully you have a few great places to start…As a last minute resort, the New Leaf extended holiday winter farmer’s market in Green Bay is on Saturday, December 20th. You’d probably find a bunch of great gifts there too.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Tell us if you saw anything you like and share your local gift ideas with us!

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Featured image credit courtesy of wrapped gifts under tree via Flickr.com


  1. Well, I clearly need to get out more and check out these shops. Great gift ideas, thanks for the help with my Christmas shopping! Helpful post!

  2. Raidergrode says

    I live in California… I am forwarding this to my relatives… maybe this year I will not
    get a tie!!

  3. Thank you, I now have a list of gift shops to go to along with the list of coffee shops you provided earlier. These will make good gifts for my pet sitter and house sitter over Christmas. I already got one of your shirts (It’s a bubbler!) and as for cheese curds…it’s true. I never cared about them until I couldn’t get them anymore. I watched the clip about the steel artist. Man, Kris Schuller is getting old! That’s one thing every time I come back, I’m amazed at how the news people have aged. But I guess they don’t stop just because I can’t see them. 19 days until I’m back! (2 weeks isn’t long enough to be there. Only forever would be long enough.)

    • Also forgot to mention my love for mom and pop book shops like The Readers’ Loft that goes back to my childhood at Aronson’s. Anyone remember that place? I loved their dachshund mascot. They knew me there and always put aside the new Star Wars books when they came out for me. That’s the beauty of small businesses.

  4. I’m new to the State, living in Oneida County, and now I know where I’m doing my Christmas shopping. You’ve listed a variety of great ideas. Thanks for the extensive list. I can’t wait to check out Appleton!

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