And since it’s the season for holiday gift guides, I had to weigh in with some of my favorite local picks (in addition to those I compiled for my friends at Visit KC). Accompanied by my favorite shopping partner-in-crime, the lovely Dana, I spent last Saturday stopping by several locally owned shops and businesses, all with one goal in mind: finding the perfect gift for anyone on your list.
Grab your favorite winter beverage and take a look at what I’ve found—when you’re done, I bet you’ll be inspired to finish your holiday shopping in no time. Have fun!
4740 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City
This is where I make a shocking confession: I don’t like beer. I know, I know. I’ll give you a minute to recover. The good news? I still love supporting the crap out of Kansas City’s beloved hometown brewery, Boulevard Brewing Company. And even better? They’re continuing the holiday tradition of a pop-up shop on the Country Club Plaza.
Inside, you can find Boulevard-themed goodies for everyone on your list—adorable (and comfy) T-shirts and sweatshirts, Baldwin’s signature Kansas City hats in the brewery’s official color palette—even gifts for your favorite four-legged friend! A couple of my favorite picks include a line of Hammerpress-created paper goods such as postcards and coasters. And if you’re shopping for a Chiefs fan (*cough* me *cough*), isn’t this striped stocking hat the cutest?
211 Nichols Rd., Kansas City
200 E. 25th St., Kansas City
For a heaping helping of style and glamour, there’s no better local destination than Halls Kansas City. The first store opened its doors nearly a century ago, and ever since, Halls has become a destination for luxury fashion, accessories, cosmetics and more. If you have a chance, be sure to stop by the Plaza store during this holiday season. The shopping district’s iconic mainstay will close its doors next summer and a new, 60,000-square-foot store will open in Crown Center.
The gift ideas inside Halls are nearly limitless, but as I spent time browsing the Plaza store last weekend, one especially creative item caught my eye. If you’re shopping for someone who loves Kansas City, the Kansas City guidebook ornament would make a stunning addition to the Christmas tree. Having written a Kansas City travel guide, I was especially enamored with this particular design, and you can bet it will soon be part of my most treasured Christmas ornaments.
6231 Brookside Plaza, Kansas City
408 Main St., Weston, Mo.
Time for another confession: I’m a bit of a candle hoarder. Just ask my husband! And when I’m on the search for the best scents, there’s no better place to find them than 5B & Co. Candle Makers. The hand-poured candles come in an almost unimaginable range of scent combinations, including traditional favorites like Hella Vanilla and Burnt Sugar, along with more inventive options including Clean Undies and Grandpa’s Pipe.
5B & Co. is especially magical during the holiday season. Pick up some seasonal votives with scents like Frasier Fir, Midnight Mass or, one of my favorites, Plaza Lights (available in-store but not online).
Shopping for someone who doesn’t love candles? No worries! I fell in love with these two-piece holiday lanterns that come complete with a flickering light bulb—no flame required. I thought the snowman was especially cute—and perfect for my mom’s snowman collection!
316 W. 63rd St., Kansas City
Stuff is, simply put, a Brookside institution. Tucked in a row of charming shops along 63rd Street, Stuff is chock-full of crafts, candles, body products, jewelry, paper goods and more, all created by local, regional, national and international artists. The shop is co-owned by sisters Casey Simmons and Sloane Simmons, who are just as delightful as the business they own.
As I browsed through the mind-boggling assortment of treasures, I stumbled on what I thought to be a perfect gift: handpainted frames ($32/each) that are specially created for photo booth strips by hOOp dOg studiO. Seriously brilliant, right? I need about five of them, since my friends and I tend to get a bit crazy when there’s a photo booth in the vicinity. Frames are available in other sizes, too.
110 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City
If someone asked me to list my top 5 favorite local Kansas City businesses, Hammerpress would undoubtedly be among my choices. The Kansas City-based letterpress and design studio not only cranks out amazing work; they also offer a boutique filled with carefully curated gift items including notebooks, specialty books and magazines, writing instruments, cards and posters.
As you’re stockpiling all of these fantastic gifts, you’re going to need wrapping supplies, right? Head to Hammerpress for one-of-a-kind wrapping paper that puts those more conventional designs to shame. After all, the gift’s packaging should be just as fun as the actual gift! Other wrapping accoutrements, including striped twine, gift tags, washi tape and more are also available.
114 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City
Black Bamboo is more—much more—than a home furnishings store. Owner Tim Butt frequently scours China and southeast Asia for antiques and unique home accessories that add instant polish and panache to any interior. It’s also one of the best-kept secrets in terms of gift shopping. Nestled among the eye-catching pieces of furniture await a number of thoughtful, unexpected gifts ideal for any occasion.
Looking for the perfect host or hostess gift? Snag a pair of these salt and pepper stones ($12/set), designed by Chris Koens and Ramon Middlekoop of Orange Dutch Design in the Netherlands. They’re replicas of stones that have been perfectly shaped and polished by water and sand over hundreds of years, creating smooth, sculptural works of art that add an organic aesthetic to the table.
811 W 17th St., Kansas City
The last stop on our whirlwind local shopping tour took us to one of my most favorite Kansas City neighborhoods: the Westside. If you haven’t yet been, what the heck are you waiting for? Local restaurants, shops and galleries are intermingled with some of the most fabulous examples of modern residential architecture in the city, not to mention a friendly, welcoming vibe that makes anyone instantly feel at home.
At the heart of the action? Little Freshie, a handcrafted soda fountain and espresso bar that’s the brainchild of the incomparable Lindsay Laricks. What started as a snowcone stand in an Airstream trailer has morphed into a brick-and-mortar location that offers deliciously inventive sodas, mouthwatering pastries and much more.
Little Freshie also stocks a number of thoughtfully selected gifts that are ideal for anyone (especially food lovers). Pick up a Little Freshie coffee mug or canvas tote and spread the Little Freshie love. Or support a fantastic local organization, Boys Grow, with jars of locally grown and made ketchup, salsa and barbecue sauce. While you browse, don’t forget to treat yourself! I sampled the vanilla and fig soda and it was divine—delicious yet subtle. Or do yourself a favor and try the seasonal concoction, a spiced ginger cider that will warm you from the inside out.
Who’s ready to shop? Kansas City is an absolute treasure trove of amazing things, so don’t overlook the limitless possibilities as you check your list twice! Before you head out, I’d love to hear what’s on the top of your buy local gift list this year.
And most importantly? Merry Christmas! I’ve got some exciting things lined up for the blog in 2014, so I hope you’ll join me for adventures in Kansas City and beyond!