A Guide to the Twin Cities' Best Holiday Gifts and Entertainment of 2015

Everyone knows someone who is impossible to shop for. Maybe it’s your husband, sister, coworker, or quirky uncle Bob. With the holiday season upon us, the pressure to purchase the perfect (personal, useful, thoughtful) gift can feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, the Twin Cities is home to a myriad of stores, restaurants, theaters, small towns, and salons/spas to put a warm holiday smile on any recipient’s face. Our guide to the area’s most creative gifts this season is your one-stop shop for the best in new products, entertainment and attractions, dining, and services. 

Fjallraven jacket
 

Courtesy of Fjällräven

Gifts

Unique gifts, handmade jewelry and chocolates grace the shelves and display cases inside Max’s, a one-of-a-kind store in St. Louis Park. Jewelry from more than 30 artists is available at Max’s, along with a variety of home décor pieces and fine chocolates. Find the perfect holiday gift for your loved one this season by stopping at Max’s. You may even want to visit one of their trunk shows coming up in November and December.

For top quality outerwear this winter, drop by Sweden-based outfitter Fjällräven in one of their two Twin Cities locations (their newest spot recently opened in Uptown). Durable materials and lasting gear are the cornerstones of Fjällräven’s jackets, pants, packs and other items. “Throughout our collection we use our own propriety fabric called G-1000, a tightly woven material that is infused with one layer of Greenland Wax,” says Samantha Bonizzi, Fjällräven public relations. The Ovik 3-in-1 Jacket is this season’s hot commodity. Versatile and lightweight, the jacket provides comfort and warmth throughout multiple seasons.

Midwest Mountaineering is also home to the best of the best when it comes to outdoor equipment and gear. Outfit your beloved explorer in their camping, climbing, paddling, winter sports and hiking apparel. 

The Cedar Avenue store doesn’t just lead in its products either. Knowledgeable staff will point you to the best brands for any excursion. Also, they host workshops and seminars to educate visitors about outdoor travel and adventure. 

A recent expansion of Ridgedale Center added Nordstrom, one of America’s premier retailers, along with Banana Republic, Hammer Made, Athleta, Michael Kors, Tommy Bahama, Johnston & Murphy, LUSH, and the Disney Store, among others.   Just in time for the holidays, be sure to check out our new dining options – Tiger Sushi and Oliver’s opening late November.

For a fun and stylish idea (or for a new look for yourself), buy  eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses from Specs Appeal, a premier eyewear store that carries handmade frames from across the globe. Some of their featured collections include glasses from JF Rey, Tom Davies, Lafont, Swissflex, and much more. They provide eye care services like eye exams and glasses repairs, and they’ll even knock $50 off a purchase of a complete pair of eyeglasses.

The small town of New London is a community rich with boutiques, locally owned restaurants and coffee shops, and a vibrant arts scene—the town’s mayor moonlights as an accomplished potter. Give the gift of travel with New London as the destination. Countless recreation opportunities, wineries and breweries, and more than 14 local shops await you in this west central Minnesota town. Be sure to pop into The Happy Sol women’s boutique and The Rugged Sun menswear shop for a fun experience. The two stores stand right next door to each other, making them a convenient shopping experience for everyone on your holiday list. The store’s owners strive to make every visit one to remember, handing out Minnesota-made chocolates and caramels along with every purchase.

Take a step back in time with the Minnesota Historical Society this season. Their Museum Store, located in St. Paul, is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for someone with a keen interest in Minnesota’s history and heritage. Pick up a copy of North Woods Girl, by Aimee Bissonette, the story of a young girl traipsing through the deep woods of northern Minnesota on her way to her grandmother’s house. And remember, Minnesota Historical Society members receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases in the store.

Cowles-exterior
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts; Photo by Steve Heinke

Entertainment

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is well equipped to provide holiday entertainment and a fun night out for you and your friends or family. The main stage will feature the regional premiere of Sister Act, “where music and comedy will be raising the rafters,” says Gregory Hilleren of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. The Fireside Stage will also host numerous holiday-themed concerts including Celtic Holiday Hooley (a variety show for all ages with Irish music, stories, sketches, step dance, caroling, and appearances by the Grinch and Santa), and the Rock & Roll Xmas Spectacular, and more. For another opportunity to experience enthralling on-stage talent, head over to the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. Centrally located in downtown Minneapolis, the Cowles Center took up residence in the former Hennepin Center for the Arts and transformed the space into the newly refurbished 500-seat Goodale Theater. During the month of December, enjoy Myron Johnson’s unique recasting of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. James Sewell Ballet presents Nutcracker (not so) Suite on the Goodale Theater stage. The play is an off-kilter, grittier version of the
holiday production. 

Yet another performance deserving a round of applause is Troupe America’s Church Basement Ladies at Plymouth Playhouse. The musical comedy, celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, features four distinct characters sharing a talent for cooking and baking Minnesota comfort food you’d only find in your hometown church’s lower level rec room. Book a Stay & Play Package for a holiday “staycation” and enjoy dinner at the Green Mill, see a show, then stay at the Best Western Kelly Inn Plymouth. 

Within a day’s drive of the Twin Cities, Winona rests within Minnesota’s southeastern bluff country, a beautiful expanse of craggy hills and swelling landscape. Turn-of-the-century architecture and decorated storefronts create a storybook atmosphere in the town’s Downtown Commercial Historic District. Lace up your ice skates and head out to Lake Winona for a day of fun, or view Christmas lights on a trolley tour of  Winona’s neighborhoods. 

Bar Lurcat
Cafe and Bar Lurcat; Photo courtesy of D’Amico

Dining 

Sing out “Bravissimo!” at one of the D’Amico & Partners’ Twin Cities restaurants this season, whether dining in or picking up a gift card. Minneapolis’ very own taste of Italy, the hip Cafe and Bar Lurcat, is situated right next to Loring Park. Enjoy classic Italian fare with an elegant nouveau twist in an energetic environment. A D’Amico gift card is good at Cafe and Bar Lurcat, Campiello—nestled in the northeast corner of Eden Prairie—and Parma 8200 in Bloomington, hosting live jazz music on Saturdays. Gift cards are also accepted at D’Amico & Sons restaurants around the metro area.

Spa Massage
Photo courtesy of © karel noppe – Fotolia.com,

Services

Spas, fitness centers, salons, oh my! Everyone needs some TLC from time to time. Bestow bliss with a gift card for a day of pampering.

A unique facility that combines fitness, health and a spa, The Marsh, a Center for Balance and Fitness, is a wonderful destination located in Minnetonka. This comprehensive facility has many amenities to accommodate any number of visitors, and even boasts restaurants and boutiques for shopping. The Marsh Spa Overnight Getaway is the perfect way to share the love during the holidays.

This season, give the gift of style with a Kai Salon gift card, good at either Twin Cities salon location. The original Champlin location in recently expanded to include new services, including a wax bar. As an Aveda concept salon, Kai Salon offers the best in hair care products—a new favorite being the Aveda Shampure Dry Shampoo. Additionally, Aveda supports communities across the globe, partnering with artisans in Nepal by selling handmade gifts like the organic ginger and ginger lily holiday candles.

Sometimes in our busy, go-go-go lives, the gifts we crave most are beauty and relaxation. Give a Crutchfield Dermatology gift certificate to a loved one this season—giving your gift recipient permission to spoil themselves. Enjoy one of the popular MediSpa treatments like the Fire and Ice Facial or the Detox Peel. The liquid facelift is another popular service that combines filling agents like Selphyl, Restylane, Juvéderm, Perlane, and other products such as Dysport and Botox to relax dynamic lines of the face. Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology, provides high-quality skin care in a gentle, natural manner. “To achieve dramatic results, I take a synergistic approach, blending different treatments,” he says. “My goal is not to make patients look different than their age, but to make patients look great for their age.”