This post was originally published in November 2021 and was most recently updated on December 6, 2023.
This isn't a sponsored post, and it doesn't contain affiliate links—I've purchased all of these products out-of-pocket and genuinely think they're awesome.
'Tis the season for holiday gift guides—from bloggers, magazines, and online publications. My third annual made in Minnesota gift guide reflects my personal tastes: think earrings and chocolate. If that's your (or your loved ones') jam too, I hope you find something here to add to your Christmas list.
Laser-cut earrings (starting at $10), MNMake
Whether you like subtle stud earrings or something bold and dangling, you'll find something for you in designer Steven Gagner's selection of laser-cut earrings. Since they're made from wood or plastic, I've found them to be lightweight and the larger styles are comfortable to wear all day. I have the MN stud earrings, geometric drop earrings, and a pair of rainbow-splattered plastic studs; I've also purchased the leather baseball earrings as a gift for my mom. MNMake also accepts custom orders.
Swedish braid bracelet ($15.50), Steller Handcrafted Goods
A subtle celebration of traditional Scandinavian textiles, these bracelets are made from braid woven in Sweden and are finished with a Nordic-style button and elastic loop closure. I own the Sami blue bracelet in medium (measure your wrist before purchasing to ensure the right fit)—other designs are inspired by Nordic flags, flowers, and hearts. In addition to jewelry, Steller Handcrafted Goods produces mittens, apparel, and purses, and stocks gift items imported from Scandinavia.
Clay earrings (starting at $18), Npauj
Hmong designer Bao Yang crafts polymer earrings that are both elegant and whimsical, often with floral motifs or bold geometric shapes. Although most designs are on the larger side, I've found them to be relatively lightweight and comfortable to wear all day (I own the Enchanted Garden abstract stud earrings in coral). Npauj also sells handcrafted hair accessories like barrettes and headbands.
Reclaimed wooden earrings (starting at $30), Melinda Wolff
Artist Melinda Wolff creates sleek, modern earrings from scraps of wood—the selection ranges from small studs to large dangling shapes. (I've been wearing the rectangle earrings for several years, and they're somewhere in the middle of the size range.) Each piece incorporates two or more different types of wood, with a clear resin coating that accentuates the natural colors. In addition to earrings, Wolff offers reclaimed wood bracelets, necklaces, and ornaments.
Beaded earrings (starting at $45), Lillie Nell
Beadweaver Holly Nolan makes each pair of her Choctaw earrings to order, handweaving an average of 1,200 glass beads per pair. The colors and designs are beautiful, and there are a wide range of styles and colors to choose from—I have the Híshi earrings in the medicine colorway. Lillie Nell also sells handmade ribbon skirts.
T-shirts (starting at $22), i like you
I've purchased several t-shirts from i like you over the past decade—the designs change frequently, but always feature clever nods to various aspects of Minnesota life. i like you also carries Minnesota-made home decor, jewelry, soaps, candles, jewelry, stickers, and more.
Pint glass ($11.99), Northern Glasses
Sip local with Northern Glasses designs including the Minneapolis or St. Paul skylines and Minnesota landmarks like Split Rock Lighthouse and Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge. As an added bonus, seven percent of sales are donated to bring safe and clean water to developing nations. We have a pair of Minneapolis Skyline pint glasses that have held up well over the years—the screen-printed designs still look crisp. Northern Glasses also sells Minnesota-themed coffee mugs, stickers, candles, and posters.
Coffee/pint sleeve ($15), Faribault Woolen Mill
Faribault Woolen Mill's famous blankets are an heirloom-quality splurge—if you're on a budget, opt for a coffee cozy made from blanket ends that would otherwise be shredded and recycled. They make your disposable coffee cup feel oh-so-cozy.
Paj ntaub embroidery kit (starting at $15), Hmong Museum
Paj ntaub is a traditional form of Hmong embroidery, and the Hmong Museum's kits make great gifts for crafters (or purchase one for yourself to make someone a gift). Beginner-friendly coaster, bookmark, and wall hanging kits are available, with all the supplies you need are to complete a project. The coaster kit was my first paj ntaub attempt, and I was pleasantly surprised with how lovely it turned out.
Utility bag ($18.00), Scrappy Products
Scrappy Products is a Minnesota-based company that uses recycled and upcycled materials like eco-canvas made from recycled plastic bottles to create their sturdy pouches. The utility bag is the perfect size to use as a makeup bag or to keep smaller items corralled in your purse. The particular pattern I purchased is no longer available, but they have a wide range of geometric, Minnesota-themed, and dog breed designs. Scrappy Products also offers eco-friendly tote bags, zipper pouches, and fanny packs.
Food & Drink
Chip Zel Pop (starting at $8.99), Funky Chunky
Chip Zel Pop is my default gift item to send to others: the mixture of caramel corn, potato chips, and pretzels drizzled with caramel and chocolate is the perfect blend of sweet and salty. There are various sizes to choose from, from an 8-ounce mini canister to a 5-pound gift tin, and the website makes it easy to ship to multiple addresses. Other Funky Chunky products include chocolate covered pretzels and gourmet flavored popcorn.
Chicago Mix (starting at $10), Candyland
If you want more of a snack than a dessert, opt for a tin of Chicago Mix: a combination of seasoned popcorn, caramel popcorn, and cheddar cheese popcorn. I know a tin of popcorn sounds like a cliche Christmas gift, but the freshness and quality of Candyland's Chicago Mix make it special. They also offer a wide variety of chocolate and candy.
Honey bon bons (starting at $10), Mademoiselle Miel
Made with single-origin chocolate, honey harvested from rooftop hives in St. Paul, and 23k edible gold leaf, these honey bon bons are a delight for the eyes and the taste buds. The three-piece box is a lovely little luxury for $10, and there are also eight-piece and twenty-piece boxes. Mademoiselle Miel also crafts artisan chocolate bars sweetened with local maple sugar and honey hot cocoa bombs.
Full disclosure—in addition to being a subscriber, I write for the Heavy Table and Racket.
The Heavy Table email newsletters (starting at $5/month), The Heavy Table
The Heavy Table is an email newsletter-based publication that covers the food and drinks scene of the Upper Midwest. The reader-supported content offers a refreshingly hype-free take, often focusing on smaller, no-frills restaurants that are overlooked by other local food media. Some articles are available free of charge on the Heavy Table website to give you sense of what you can expect in the weekly newsletters.
Racket membership (starting at $5/month), Racket
Founded by former CityPages staffers, Racket is an online alternative publication that covers Twin Cities news, politics, arts and culture, and food and drink with an irreverent, proudly progressive slant. Like the Heavy Table, their dining coverage tends to cover under-the-radar spots, often highlighting immigrant, BIPOC, and queer-owned businesses.
More made in Minnesota gift ideas
- Minnesota Monthly 2023 Holiday Gift Guide
- Minneapolis Craft Market (in-person markets and online directory of Minnesota makers)
Thank you to Josh Feist for many of the images used in this post—you can find more of his work on Instagram @jaershh.
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