Swag Holiday Shops Guide

Twenty-six must-shop stores for the holidays.

Swag Holiday Shops Guide: ‘Tis the Season to Shop

'Tis the Season to Shop Guide

General Store of Minnetonka
General Store of Minnetonkaminnetonka_175.jpgIt’s certainly one of the most festive places to shop, with its enormous assortment of ornaments and holiday décor. Customized gift baskets are always a great option at any price point (When shopping for out of towners, we love to fill ours with Minnesota favorites like Nut Goodie Bars and Knudsen’s Caramels). But don’t stop there: retro toys, personalized baby items, women’s apparel, bags, charm jewelry—this local gem is the cure to the common gift card. Recharge at the in-store café, then get ready to knock some more names off your list. 14401 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka, 952-935-2215,

GatherGather_175.jpegGather has moved beyond traditional tableware and decorative accessories to offer lots of sure-fire gifts, like home fragrance and stationery. Check out the Vinoice wine pourer with chill rod, $28—for your own fete, or as a hostess gift, it’s the party essential of the season. 5041 France Ave. S., Ste. 1, Mpls., 612-920-1400, 

Alfresco Casual Living
Alfresco_175.jpgServewear from brands like Mariposa and Peggy Karr Glass is meant to be gifted. But beyond the core of home décor, this must-stop Stillwater shop offers plenty of surprises, from fragrance to loungewear, garden art to imaginative toys. The emphasis is on boutique brands, with some local artisans mixed in. 321 S. Main St., Stillwater, 651-439-0814,

Paper Hat
Alfresco_175.jpg Rest assured, you won’t see this merchandise at every other gift store in town. Paper Hat takes care to feature artisans, both local and national. Everything from picture frames to handbags to scarves is handmade, with a unique spin. You’ll find plenty of options for less than $50. 2309 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-886-3892,

American Swedish Institute Shop
Alfresco_175.jpg The more prominent new store within the recently expanded American Swedish Institute is full of affordable, modern design objects including wooden toys, scarves, and hand blown wine glasses from Scandinavian lines. Plus, we love a gift shop that’s next to a café. Make an afternoon of gift shopping by touring the contemporary new building and having lunch at Fika, the Nordic inspired café. 2600 Park Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3378,

Alfresco_175.jpg We, too, are guilty of prioritizing this locally owned, contemporary home store only when shopping for big items. Don’t wait for your next sofa purchase—Roam has amped up its assortment of small gifts, from Alessi kitchen tools to cool canvas bags, high tech gadgets and many more modern gift ideas. 2914 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-377-6465,

Alfresco_175.jpg You could close your eyes, point, and be certain you’ve hit on a gorgeous gift at this top shop. Make a beeline for the exclusive Faribault Woolen Mills shop, where you’ll find the full line of classic wool blankets, scarves, iPad covers, and stylish coffee cup sleeves, a perfect stocking stuffer at $9.95. In the apothecary department, you’ll find beautiful candles, soaps, men’s grooming products and bath and body brands everyone loves to receive, including Kiehl’s, Molon Brown, and Tocca. Galleria, 952-920-2118,

Alfresco_175.jpg For those who love to give the latest and greatest, look no further than the new Aesop shop—martinpatrick3 is the only place in town to buy this distinctive unisex bath and body line, which offers some gift sets under $50, including one with travel sizes for the jetsetter. Ties, socks, baseball hats, shaving sets, notebooks, or full-on fashion, you really can’t go wrong. 212 3rd Ave. N., Ste. 106, Mpls., 612-746-5329,

The Foundry Home Goods
Alfresco_175.jpg For that person on your list who is a little intimidating to buy for, because she has such amazing taste, try this new home accessories store for a set of simply elegant tumblers or a gold glazed dish, which, at $20, looks more expensive than it is. The cheese boards make a nice gift under $30, and they are made locally for the store. Just add a hunk of Camembert and deliver. 125 N. First St., Mpls., 612-209-2121,

Grand Hand Gallery
Alfresco_175.jpg Grand Hand is stocked up on smaller gifts including leather bags, ornaments, and jewelry, all handmade by American artists and artisans including many local and regional. Send the men on a Thursday in December for beer, chips and salsa and shopping advice (Dec. 6, 13 and 20, 5 to 7 p.m.) 619 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-312-1122,

Alfresco_175.jpg Just in time for holiday shopping, the Guild made space for Mio Modern, a new “shop” perfect for gift giving, including mugs, candles, totes, table décor, and doodle pads for the kiddos. The leather and fur trimmed bags and bracelets from Belle Vache also make great gifts, and be sure to scan the cases for unique jewelry. 4414 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-378-1815,

Alfresco_175.jpg We love a one-stop shop, and this new Uptown lifestyle store is great place to find on-trend party clothes for him and her, and plenty of accessories, both fashion and home, for everyone on your list. For the fashionista, consider a bold, beaded statement necklace or bag by Buba London, one of many hip brands you’ll discover here. 3105 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-545-5636,

Spruce Flowers & Home
Alfresco_175.jpg We’re always impressed by the artfully displayed greens at this underappreciated shop. There’s a cool, organic vibe to the space and the merchandise: wooden vessels, hanging glass vases. But this is also a great place to pick up some pretty bangles or a chic candle by Nest, Tocca, or Oprah fave, Carriere Freres.4751 Chicago Ave. Mpls., 612-767-1101,

Alfresco_175.jpg Stacey Johnson’s jewelry is great to get, and even better to give because it looks so much more expensive than it is. 212 Third Ave. N., Ste. 105, Mpls., 651-808-7663,

Weisman Art Museum Shop
Alfresco_175.jpg It’s worth the trip every time, particularly for gifts with a local connection or deeper significance, like recycled materials or artisan made. We’re drawn to the wooden bowls, the nicely priced jewelry, and of course the Frank Ghery cubes. 333 E. River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9495,

Alfresco_175.jpg Shopping local feels so right at this independent store, which features a polished mix of gifts with an emphasis on Minnesota-made and artisan created lines. Find something everyone: kids, pets, him, her, and home. 4646 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-276-0198,

Bee Cottage
Alfresco_175.jpg Gift shopping is the perfect excuse to make the drive to Excelsior and meander through the rooms of this charming historic home-turned-store where you’ll find a collection of unique gifts from local artisans. We love to give Jennifleur candles, handmade in recycled wine bottles, and the pretty pillows and antique jewelry make for memorable gifts. The fun is in the find. Generally open just one weekend a month, expanded holiday hours include Monday, Dec. 17 straight through Christmas Eve. 441 2nd St., Excelsior, 612-787-2233,

Tradition Creek
Alfresco_175.jpg From respected brands that have not been overtaken by hipsters (think Marmot), to authentic army surplus gear, this new store is a great place to shop for camping enthusiasts. We love the buffalo check vests made in Bemidji and hats by Outdoor Research. And who couldn’t use a new headlamp? W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-330-5735,

Alfresco_175.jpg The best gifts are the ones you never even realized you needed, but suddenly can’t live without, like the Boogie Board, an electronic note pad, or the No-Drip Chip Bowl. You’ll find everything from stocking stuffers and toys to charm jewelry and women’s fashion. Two metro locations including 2184 4th St., White Bear Lake, 651-426-8006,

Twiggs Home & Garden
Alfresco_175.jpg Not just for those with a green thumb—this Linden Hills corner store is a great place to find jewelry, picture frames, bath and body products and sentimental objects, which always make memorable gifts. 4301 Upton Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-8944,

Mara Mi
Alfresco_175.jpg Go for the cards and gift-wrap; stay for cool gifts like tote bags, journals, art kits for kids, and much more. When you’ve crossed everyone off your list, celebrate with a cupcake at the in-store café. 201 S. Main St., Stillwater, 651-689-1730,

Judith McGrann & Friends
It’s hard not to be happy at this colorful shop where you’ll find sweaters, scarves, fun fashion accessories, stationery, and many other surprises. 4615 Excelsior Blvd., Mpls., 612-922-2971,

Alfresco_175.jpg Break out of the box, and shop somewhere new this season. We never regret a trip to this Warehouse District gallery, with its impeccable selection of candles, soaps, picture frames, and art. 213 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-676-0696,

Alfresco_175.jpg You can be sure to find the latest delights and trends for everyone on your list at the store that has become synonymous with gift giving in the Twin Cities. Where to do we begin? The candles, soaps, ornaments and kitchen gadgets make great gifts. There’s jewelry, gadgets, some surprisingly fab handbags, toys, and books. But we love Patina’s eye for what’s now, and what’s next, whether that’s a moustache grooming kit or anything avian themed. Like, anything. Six metro locations including 5001 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls., 612-821-9315,

Creative Kidstuff
Alfresco_175.jpg When you want to just Get. It. Done, this is the foolproof destination for toys that are all about creative play, rather than licensed characters—gift wrapped while you wait. Every toy, game, art kit and play object has been tried and tested by staff members, who will be happy to help you find the perfect thing for the kids on your list. We can’t wait to give the Kwid watch, which helps kids learn to tell time and Cool Circuits is the perfect antidote to video game obsession. Six metro locations including Galleria, 952-926-4512,

Alfresco_175.jpg The season is not complete without a visit to this local gem, which always impresses us with its festive assortment of ornaments and gifts. Rare is the holiday that does not include a trip to Bibelot, for holiday décor and so much more, including Thymes bath and body products, unique jewelry, gadgets, toys, and scarves.  Four metro locations including 1082 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-0321,