In the world of Amazon, it can be fairly easy to pick a quick gift without a lot of thought or effort. For certain occasions, that’s warranted (like when you’re secret Santa to your third cousin or your uncle’s new girlfriend). But other times, you need something that comes from the heart — or at least the city that you call home. Our editors want to help you with that by rounding up some of our favorite local things to gift during the holiday season. Read on to see what we chose this year.
*All gifts come in under $150 a pop and are made or sold by local businesses here in the city.
Food + Booze
Cost: $80 for a six-month membership
The Lowdown: If you have friends or loved ones that like trying out new or hip restaurants, this is a good gift. The six-month membership includes a handful of local restaurants where you’ll get 20% off your total bill (including booze). Each month, the participating restaurants change so you can choose from four or five different options every 30(ish) days. Unlike a coupon book, the recipient gets a sleek titanium card that makes it feel more like an exclusive club than a discount deal. Pro tip: make sure to purchase the holiday membership, so their deals will begin in January.
Dining Out Denver Passbook
Cost: On sale for $45 (usually $90)
The Lowdown: If your person is more into a variety of restaurants and getting good deals — the Dining Out Denver Passbook is the way to go. Unlike Feast Locally, it is an actual paper passbook and therefore may not win points on the cool factor. But what it loses in sleekness, it makes up in utility. Featuring over 100 restaurants, the passbook is super helpful for people who can never decide where to eat. Plus the deals are hard to beat with many offers giving you buy-one, get-one deals on entrees, drinks and more. It expires in July 2019 too, so you have plenty of time to get out of the house during those cold winter months.
Denver Passport – Winter Edition
The Lowdown: To round out all the passbooks and dining deals, we had to include one that focuses on just booze. Formerly known as the Winter Warmer, the Denver Passport now has a winter option that gives you BOGO deals on drinks around the city. The highly curated list and sleek black matte design is really nice for the socialite in your life, who wouldn’t mind saving a few bucks. This year, the passport is an extra good deal since it includes coffee specials and expanded dates. Now, it doesn’t expire until April 15 — just in time for Denver to start thawing out.
Colorado Crafted Box
Cost: $33- $144
The Lowdown: The Colorado Crafted box is one of the easier ways to treat your person to an assortment of Colorado treats. From handmade hot sauce to bourbon barrel aged honey and even locally foraged bitters, the box is curated so no matter what you gift, it’ll be good. If you have a more specific idea of what you’d like to give — you can build your own box.
Website: savoryspiceshop.com and thespiceguyco.com
The Lowdown: For the chef in your life, a box of unique spices can bring their cooking to the next level. We particularly love both The Spice Guy and Savory Spice for their unique blends. If your person is more into grilling out, the Spice Guy’s gift set might be more up their alley, whereas Savory has everything under the sun. However, Savory’s Everyday Essentials spice set is super useful and won’t end up shoved to the back of their cabinet.
Sweet Bloom Coffee Subscription
Cost: Starting at $20 a month
The Lowdown: Coffee subscriptions are the gifts that keep on giving for your caffeine fiend. And when it comes to Denver coffee subscriptions — Sweet Bloom is definitely one of the best. Hand selected every month by their roasters, a fresh bag of single origin beans will be delivered to their doorstep. They also have an option to send two bags every month for $34 a month or one bag every other week for three months for a flat fee of $120. If you want to go the route of just one bag a month for a certain amount of time, make sure to set a calendar alert to cancel the subscription unless you’re feeling generous and want to give your person tasty coffee indefinitely. We wouldn’t say no to that.
Fashion x Beauty x Lifestyle
The Lowdown: It wouldn’t be the holidays without the gift of jewelry. Whether for a friend, sister, mom or that special someone, we have something for everyone. For the friend who likes statement jewelry, Lux & Luca offers a feminine and edgy line of accessories that also feature a touch of stones and gems to soften the look. From sterling bands that read “K Bye” and “Oh For F*cks Sake” ($30) to a Tax Attempt Money Clip ($35) or a one-of-a-kind gem necklace ($72). For someone in your life has more of an eccentric and colorful style, these Hailee Grace tassel earrings are sure to compliment any outfit whereas Rose & Royce‘s fun hoops — including some made with disco balls ($16) — are bound to get a million compliments.
Cost: Prices Vary
The Lowdown: For your fashion-forward friends who prefer statement pieces over subtle choices, we’d recommend Dark Denim by Jesus Perez. Practical and fashionable go hand-in-hand for Colorado winters, and fortunately, all of his pieces are both. For the environmental-focused person in your life, eco-friendly designer, Rebellelion, uses recycled textiles and ethically sourced materials to make her clothing. In fact, one of her denim jackets was featured in a previous issue of Teen Vogue — proving the upcycled trend is here to stay. And let’s not forget about your friend who likes their fashion loud and flashy. Anything from Electric Bubblegum will satisfy their desire to stand out. Created using plastic and liquid glitter, the local designer will take you right back to the ‘90s— something that is a gift worth giving.
Signature Furniture and home goods
Cost: Prices vary
The Lowdown: For the friend who likes their home to look as if they have traveled the world, you can travel just a few blocks to find something one-of-a-kind. Modern Nomad brings decor from all over the world, including new and vintage furniture, eco-friendly home goods, apothecary products, clothing, jewelry, plants and more. Want to travel back in time? Meek Vintage is the one-stop-shop for all the ‘70s nostalgia. The shop carries an array of vintage items including clothing, accessories, home goods, plants and apothecary items.
Local Beauty Products
Cost: Prices vary
The Lowdown: Give the gift of self-care. For the friend with sensitive skin, Fig + Yarrow creates handmade, small-batch skincare products made from natural ingredients (Fun fact: Target recently picked up this local line). For the friend who prefers the pretty nails, Basecoat Nails provides non-toxic nail care from top coat to base coat. No self-care would be complete without a custom facial. Womenfolk Crystal Healing Facial corporates rose quartz throughout the facial as well as other types of crystals to target certain chakras.
Tickets to DAM’s Dior Exhibit
The Lowdown: This gift is a no-brainer for a fashion lover as the exclusive exhibit is truly one-of-a-kind. Lucky for us, Denver is the very first to debut it in the US. Curated by Florence Müller, the exhibit explores the legacy of House of Dior, founded in 1947. Inside, you’ll find more than 200 garments spanning seven decades that range from red carpet gowns to ones worn by historical figures. The exhibit lasts all the way until March 3, so they’ll have plenty of time to make the trip to the museum before it ends.
Art + Culture
Denver City Guide
The Lowdown: Wild Sam books aren’t your typical travel guides. Written by Denverites and filled with stories and interviews with local legends — the book is equally as useful and entertaining for someone visiting as it is for those of us that live here. Plus it’s gourgeous to look at with drawings done by Denver artist John Vogl — whose work is a gift in itself.
Website: Jitterbugart.com and Denverzinelibrary.org
The Lowdown: Comic fans and local art lovers alike will love receiving a zine. Both beautifully drawn and poignantly scripted, local zines are a unique and inexpensive gift that can capture a variety of topics. We particularly love Latasha Dunston’s self-care zine. Drawn during the month of October, the book details all the ways Dunston took care of herself while battling an auto-immune disease. It’s a helpful reminder to slow down and give a little love back to yourself — especially during the holiday season. If you are looking for something different, Denver is home to an amazing Zine Library at 2400 Curtis. While you can only check out Zines at the location — they often host events where you can meet the artist and purchase a book. The next one is on December 1 and will celebrate the Zine’s 15th anniversary (go here for event info).
CRUSH Walls Art Book
The Lowdown: If you have someone in your life who appreciates street art, especially the RiNo street art scene, the official CRUSH Walls art book will be a welcomed addition to their bookshelf or coffee table. Filled from front to back with high-resolution images of some of the most stunning murals painted in RiNo during the annual street art festival in 2017, the book is like taking home a piece of the streets. Plus, there are in-depth descriptions of some of the participating artists including Patrick Kane McGregor and founder of the festival Robin Munro.
Reclaimed Skateboard Art
The Lowdown: Denver native artist Derek Keenan has repurposed old skateboard decks since 2006. Using a laser cutter, Keenan dissects the old decks and creates wearable art as well as decor. His work is now in demand all over the world, but here in Denver, you can pick up a variety of his designs at RiNo Made and other various gift shops. These skull wall hangings are appropriately-sized pieces of original art to buy for someone in your life, especially if you aren’t sure how much space they have on their walls. Plus, each skull is unique, upcycled and crafted with the patterns of the skateboards in mind. Keenan also creates skateboard earrings, belt buckles and other accessories available at RiNo Made.
Cost: $3 – $12
The Lowdown: Everyone knows someone who loves stickers. So this holiday season, stock up on sticker packs designed by local artists (most of the street art variety) and stuff some stockings with the super affordable gifts. The ones pictured are by legendary Denver artist Koko Bayer for $8. Koko often adds wheatpasted posters of her designs around RiNo on dumpsters, in alleys and on advertisement boards and has been an influential figure in the neighborhood for a long time. Give the gift of supporting a local artist this year, and give your sticker-junkie friend another piece of “flair” for their car, water bottle or computer.
Local Artist T-Shirts
Cost: $24 (men), $29 (women)
The Lowdown: If your art lover has too much art already, it might be time to branch out and find them something artsy that they can use or wear. Local apparel company Made of Space offers a variety of t-shirts that fall right into that category because the designs come from local artists. Each shirt or hoodie comes with a quote from the artist about their inspiration for creating it. In the picture, the women’s t-shirt comes from the beautiful mind of Jaime Molina, who explained, “The experiences you have and the stories that make up who you are shine through and leave trails that brighten up our world.” The men’s t-shirt is from Ava Goldberg who wrote, “My designs always circulate around the same theme: the friction of being alive.”
Dirty Desserts Enamel Pins
The Lowdown: Local artist Kaitlin Ziesmer has a playful style that is catching on in Denver. Her studio is at Helikon Gallery — where you can also find some of her pins, prints and stickers — and she’s exhibited at many galleries around the city, most recently Sally Centigrade. These enamel pins are particularly fun for gift giving since they have “dirty” undertones — read: phallic — but are not naughty enough to deserve an X rating. Some of her other pins avoid the sexual innuendos and instead showcase her typical style — cartoonish but oddly realistic. Ziesmer is an artist to keep your eye on in the coming years and we wouldn’t be surprised if these pins end up at a big, corporate store soon.
303 Music Vol. 1
Cost: $24.74; go here to order.
The Lowdown: Our very own record is an incredible compilation of some of the best music Colorado has to offer, including an exclusive track by Flobots. In addition, 80 percent of the profits generated from the album go directly to local non-profit Youth On Record. Artists on the album include GRiZ, Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony, Trev Rich and Wildermiss, to name a few. The album includes splattered wax, a photo book and exclusive artwork by Denver’s John Vogl.
Red Rocks Live
Cost: $55; go here to order.
The Lowdown: In honor of Red Rocks’ 77th birthday, Denver Arts and Venues compiled 20 songs from the most legendary concerts played at the venue and packed them all on three records. The records contain songs by bands ranging from U2 and the Grateful Dead to Shakey Graves and Florence + the Machine. This is a guaranteed Christmas morning breakdown for that person in your life who loves Red Rocks.
Colorado Music Festival Tickets
The Lowdown: As cool as it is to get things for the holidays, it’s 2018 and everybody loves experiences these days. There are a number of music festivals in Colorado including Arise, Grandoozy, Underground Music Showcase, Sonic Bloom and many more. Get your loved one, pal, or concert buddy tickets to go see a collection of your favorite music, and get yourself a ticket while you’re at it. Tickets are now on sale for Sonic Bloom, ARISE and WinterWonderGrass. Tickets for Telluride Bluegrass Festival go on sale December 6. Be on the lookout for more soon.
Moon Magnet Volume 4
Cost: $16; go here to order.
The Lowdown: Moon Magnet’s Volume 4 cassette tape is a rapidly produced compilation of various songs from various artists, all of whom are from Denver. Moon Magnet is a multi-faceted far out media company whose main focus is giving the artists the creative freedoms they deserve. The tape contains 21 songs from local musicians like déCollage, Retrofette, Moon Hammer and many more. The album art is by Ancient Future (Jacqueline Sophia Cordova) as well. Go here for more information on the album.
Personalized Gift Box from Remixed Gifts
The Lowdown: The name of the game for Remixed Gifts is curating gift bags and their wares as if it were a mixtape. From music themed holiday cards to totes, poster prints and so much more, Remixed Gifts is a one-stop shop to pleasing the casual music fan to the fanatical. The shop, located on South Broadway specializes in music from the ‘80s – Blondie, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees amongst others. Likewise, Remixed Gifts allows one to even musically enhance their non-musical gifts, with an array of “Rapping” gift wrap paper.
Music Festival Survival Kit
Cost: About $100
The Lowdown: Though we’re far from it, your festie friend is undoubtedly already craving festival season — especially because a lot of summer festival tickets go on sale around the holiday’s and lineups get announced in the months to come. Fuel that excitement with a combination of local gifts turned music festival survival kit. Most urban festivals today require clear backpacks or nothing larger than a fanny pack — so check out B-Fresh fanny packs or snag an Electric Bubblegum clear glitter backpack (pictured in the fashion section). Local brand Kelty makes great outerwear for those cold nights in (or outside) a tent like our favorite, the bestie blanket. Then let’s save our festie friend a headache and get them a Portable Phone Charger from REI so they never miss taking that epic video or get lost from the group. Likewise, everyone enjoys an attention-grabbing outfit to get down with, and there is no better place in Denver than Buffalo Exchange and Goldmine Vintage. While it’s a little early to pre-purchase an entire outfit, a gift card to one of these establishments will open the door to conjuring those outfit ideas and making them a reality.
All photography by Kyle Cooper
Model: Vivian Louthan
Location: Fort Greene Bar
Shoot Stylist: Brittany Werges