Handmade wooden toys at LarkToys in Kellogg
Minnesota-made gifts—from buttery leather moccasins and sturdy adventure gear to cozy coats and kitchen wares—draw on a love of the outdoors and a passion for great food and heritage to add taste, warmth, tradition and style to the holidays.
Here’s a sampling of North Star State standouts and where to find them:
CLOTHING & OUTDOOR GEAR
Bemidji Woolen Mills stitch lumberjack-worthy coats, shirts, pants and hats in bold buffalo plaid, a tradition since 1920. Shoppers can also find blankets, hats, mittens and more at their downtown Bemidji store.
Canal Park’s Duluth Pack has been making its iconic waxed canvas canoe camping packs since 1882, with modern items from buffalo plaid totes to purple canvas purses—a nod to the Minnesota Vikings or dearly departed Prince. Machines hum through the upper floors of Duluth’s Frost River store in Lincoln Park, where it also crafts waxed canvas and leather goods such as growler bags, packs for fat tire bikes, backpacks and duffels.
On the cusp of Minnesota’s famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Ely shoppers can find locally made ribbon-trimmed anoraks and coats developed by dog sledders at Wintergreen Northern Wear and traditional moose hide boots at Steger Mukluks.
The leather gleams at Red Wing Shoes, a company that has built footwear for tradesmen and women for more than a century, and also appeals to style mavens and weekend adventurers with a full line of boots and shoes in downtown Red Wing. Red Wing Pottery fans and collectors also head to this city along the Mississippi River with wish lists in hand.
Itasca Leathergoods’ candy-aisle colors coax people into its stores in Crosslake and its factory outlet where they make the buttery moccasins, baby booties and wallets in St. George near Itasca State Park.
HOME GOODS & KITCHENWARE
Famous for its invention of the Bundt pan, Nordic Ware’s St. Louis Park factory store has catered to bakers for 70 years with hundreds of molds, specialty pans and innovative kitchen wares that add flair to the holidays.
Winona-based JR Watkins, which started selling liniment and apothecary products in 1868, has sold vanilla extract, ginger, cinnamon and other fragrant holiday spices for generations, along with aromatic natural cleaning products and lotions.
The looms at Faribault Woolen Mill have been weaving classic wool blankets since 1868, along with stadium-ready Pak-a-Robes, wearable blanket capes and even buffalo plaid placemats.
FOR THE KIDS
Kellogg’s Lark Toys offers its own line of handmade wooden toys, along with an expansive selection of imagination-sparking toys and games, nostalgic exhibits of toys from Christmases past, and the state’s most whimsical carousel.
Plush, fashionable and whimsical, Edina-based Oh Baby makes everything from crowns and wands to party dresses and masks for superheroes in training.
Austin’s Spam Museum and gift shop lets guests stock up on all things dedicated to the spiced canned ham cult favorite, from lunchboxes and T-shirts to Spam Snuggies.
Looking for spirited hostess gifts? Check out regional distillers, craft brewers and vineyards that make holiday wines and beers, and small-batch spirits that draw on ancestors’ Old World heritage.
Add flavor twists to food and drinks with St. Paul’s Golden Fig spice and salt mixes, infused vinegars, and sugars infused with flavors such as cranberry orange.
For sweet stocking stuffers, longtime candy makers can help. Look for nostalgic Nut Goodies, Salted Nut Roll and Peppermint Patties from St. Paul’s Pearson Candy Co. or Minneapolis’ BT McElrath Chocolatier’s handcrafted Salty Dog, truffles and caramels.
More regional treats include crunchy caramel corn from Candyland in St. Paul and Stillwater; “chippers” (chocolate-covered potato chips) from Widman’s in Crookston; chocolate-covered hot air (sponge candy) and buttery brittle at Virginia’s Canelake’s Candies; pistachio bark, coconut brittle and handmade ribbon candy at Knife River’s Great Lakes Candy Kitchen; and fudge and nut rolls at Tremblay’s in Stillwater.
If you need a one-stop shop for Minnesota gifts, check out nostalgic Pillsbury, General Mills and kitchen-related gifts at Minneapolis’ Mill City Museum or a wealth of local products and books at St. Paul’s Minnesota History Center gift store, as well as other Minneapolis museum shops.