It can be so tempting to grab a generic item from a big box store for everyone on your list, but once in a while it's a lot more fun to seek out some unique stuff that you can be sure no one already has.
One of our favorite places to do that is Etsy.com. The site features artists from all over the world and their handmade wares. However, it's not so easy to navigate through hundreds of thousands of sellers if you're not exactly sure what you're looking for.
And you can, ironically, use the Internet to shop locally. Etsy has a "shop local" tool you can use to search by entering your city or state and what you're looking for if you have an idea. We entered Detroit and found more than 19,000 items. By sifting through these results on Etsy, you can find some artful Detroit talent, like Emily Bingham and Lou Blouin. The journalist couple created foundmichigan.org, a site dedicated to delivering the rich stories of real people all over Michigan.
Emily says they wanted to "tell stories that would help people understand what Michigan culture and identity is about. ... It's sort of rediscovering your home state." They use their Etsy site to sell beautiful Michigan-inspired T-shirts and support their Found Michigan project.
Here are some other great Michigan-made gifts we found in our clicking and searching at the site:
What Good Crafts features a couple of different talents from artists' Mary Cronley and Trevor Walters — from hand-sewn dolls to screen-printed onesies. But our favorite Michigan pride product is a hand-etched, laser-cut puzzle. The puzzle is perfect for a little one; it features Belle Isle Casino, Fox Theatre, Masonic Temple, Belle Isle Aquarium and Majestic Theater. The detail is stunning for $30.
LittleJemsByJax has a huge selection of handmade jewelry categorized by style such as "Edgy/rocker/steampunk" and "Bohemian and exotic." Jax was inspired to make jewelry by her interest in gemstones. Her crystal geode earrings are the perfect sparkly touch to a holiday outfit for $30-$40.
If you know someone that treats their body as a temple and avoids all those yucky parabens in their make-up or facial care, DressGreen has the perfect gifts for your granola-crunching friends. They have two different gift sets — one is $21 and another $31. They include soap, lip balm, lotions and body scrubs in a variety of scents created with natural ingredients.
Most of us know a gaming geek or two that would be pumped about seller Harmonden's wares. They sell hand-crocheted pixilated-looking rugs in the form of Minecraft and Mario characters starting at $20 each. They go great on the floor or wall of any Mario-obsessed kid (or grown-up kid).
Visit the seller Beatifical for handmade alternative children's toys, games and stuffed creatures made by Courtney Dixon. She designs some crazy toy monsters in the vein of Where The Wild Things Are. Our favorite is the Cyclops "Grey Beastie" for an affordable $35.
LilacPop sells beautiful urban photography by local artist Janna Bissett. Her photos are black and white and printed on metallic paper. It was difficult to pick a favorite, but we recommend checking out the "Outsource to Detroit" skyline piece. You can get an 11-by-14 print for $45, and there are many other sizes to choose from.
City Bird has a great selection of Michigan-themed products online at Etsy as they do at their retail store in Midtown. They have T-shirts, earrings and ornaments. On the Etsy site, our favorite is the glass votive holders silk-screened with vintage Detroit maps. We like how they're subtly prideful of the city for $12 apiece.
Found Michigan is the name of Emily and Lou's shop. They create vintage-inspired screen-printed Michigan shirts for adults and kids. The shirts are fun, unique and affordable, averaging $16-$18. Our favorite is a T-shirt perfect for any Michigan proud dude; it features a silhouette of the mitten with the native cereal slogan: "They're Gr-r-r-eat!"
DetroitCityDepot features some unique Detroit-driven wall art. The posters designed in the style of vintage bus scrolls are available in two sizes, 18-by-24 for $46 and 20-by-49 for $124. They feature destinations such as Ferry Park, Ford Rouge, Eight Mile and Livernois. A variety of posters are available with different locations.
Emily Riopelle is a Metro Times intern. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.