Editor’s Guide to the Best Local Gifts in Denver 2021

Last year, 20% of shoppers dedicated themselves to shopping local for the holidays — and 48% of what they spent went right back into the local community. This year, more shoppers than ever (70% of shoppers according to the same data we mentioned earlier) are looking to their local communities for gifts, and for good reason. Sure, it helps the local economy, but more importantly, shopping local helps you find unique gifts for your loved ones that they won’t find anywhere else.

Everything on our list is from a Colorado business and is under $200.

Lifestyle & Culture

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Local Art

Cost: $15 – $75
The Lowdown: 
Art is a great gift for the person who has everything. With a variety of art forms and styles, you can customize your selection to the individual to make it an even more thoughtful and personalized gift. Local artist @BigAssMaps on Instagram creates colorful line drawings ($15) of iconic locales throughout Denver, making the prints a perfect gift for anyone who loves the Mile High. For the environmentalist, we’re suggesting art from Max Coleman’s collection, which features conservation-themed prints ($75). Combining artistic creation with the process of natural decay, The Terrorium curates itty-bitty-mini-worlds ($35) that preserve a small piece of nature, perfect for the naturalist in your life.

Custom Sticker Pack

Cost: $3+
The Lowdown: A small gift that packs a punch, stickers make a perfect stocking stuffer because you can build a custom pack that anyone on your gift list will have fun sticking on their laptop, water bottle or anything else. Stickhers Co creates female-empowered stickers that highlight feminist icons like Frida Khalo, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Simone De Beauvoir.

2022 Calendar

Cost: $23.40
The Lowdown: Created by Noelle Phares, a local artist with a studio in Lakewood, these calendars are an artsy way to ring in the new year. The beautiful desk calendar becomes postcards to send to your loved ones at the end of each month. Each features a new contemporary landscape painting with a month grid and a seasonal literary quote. Shop her Etsy for more Colorado-inspired art.

Books From Local Authors

Cost: $7.99 – $25
The Lowdown:
The gift of a new page-turner never fails to put a smile on a book lover’s face. Buying a book written by a local author supports the local literary community, and some of these books include thoughtful nods to Denver that make it even easier for readers to visualize the setting and immerse themselves in a new world. This year, we’re suggesting You Better Be Lightning ($18) written by Boulder-based poet and Grand Slam Champion Andrea Gibson for any poetry fans on your gift list. We’re also recommending one of our personal favorites, Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s award-winning Sabrina and Corina ($17), which follows the stories of different women throughout a selection of short narratives set right here in Colorado. For lovers of mystery, we’re pulling the Boulder-set wine mystery Killer Chardonnay ($7.99) off of our recommendations shelf. If you aren’t sure what kind of reader the bookworm on your list is, we’re recommending either Peter McGraw’s best-selling analysis of the comedy industry, Shtick To Business ($8.99) or Andrew Altschul’s revolutionary novel, The Gringa ($24.99). You can also browse our list of new pageturners from local authors. And if all else fails, gift cards to The Tattered Cover make a great stocking-stuffer.

Formulary 55

Cost: $12
The Lowdown: Made in Pueblo, these Holiday Shea Butter Bath Bars are handcrafted soaps made in small batches of saponified oils of coconut, RSPO-certified palm and shea butter. Scented with Formulary 55’s own proprietary blend of phthalate-free fragrance oils and essential oils, the products are vegan, certified cruelty-free, SLS-free, and paraben-free.

Fashion & Beauty

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Sweat-Proof Jewelry

Cost: $38+
The Lowdown:
Locally and women-owned Our Exercise Brand creates sweat-proof jewelry and other accessories that are a great gift for the fitness-focused person on your list. Not only do they offer jewelry that’s safe to sweat while wearing, but they also have bags, apparel and more. Shop their site or their RiNo store location at 2737 Larimer St. Ste. A.

Clothing Subscription Box

Cost: 3 pieces starting at $69 per month
The Lowdown:
Clothing is a common gift, but it can be the most personal and potentially stressful. Sizing, options and personal style are often very subjective, so while clothing may seem like any easy option, it can be a complex one. Denver-based company Judith & Joe has a solution. Featuring clothing subscription boxes for women and men, as well as unisex offerings, Judith & Joe also focuses on products that are either made in the United States, and are sustainable, ethically made or give back. So you can feel a little bit better about the gift you’re giving.

Ethical Skincare

Cost: $16+
The Lowdown: 
With a combined 36 years of industry experience, Denver-based, women-owned Intelligent Elixirs takes a thoughtful, science-focused approach to skincare. The brand offers cruelty-free, clean and clinical products that are accessible to consumers, that function the same as professional-grade. This hydrating skin kit retails for $57, with a total value of $68 and is the perfect set for those that struggle to find products to brave the dry Colorado winter. Add this to your list for anyone, young or not-so-young, who might be looking to upgrade their skincare routine and fight off free radicals and other elements that contribute to skin aging.

Shop online (they’re offering free shipping on orders over $75) or use the store locator on their site to find a location near you that sells the brand.

Inspiring Apparel

Cost: $48 – $76
The Lowdown: Local apparel favorite Be A Good Person now has items for everyone on your list: kids, the at-home chef (they make aprons), the streetwear aficionado (hoodies and beanies galore) – not to mention leggings, bathing suits and bags. Plus, the brand’s foundation, which was built on “a passion for positivity and a brighter future that we foresee within our society,” is extremely applicable today. Why not try on a little kindness? Shop on their site or stop by their RiNo storefront, located at 1360 27th Street (in the alley right off of Larimer).

Food & Beverage

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Local Sweets

Cost: $6 – $29
The Lowdown: 
The holidays are the one time of year when it is accepted — and in many cases encouraged — to abandon dietary restrictions and eat your fill of sweet treats. This year, we’re stuffing our faces with pies from the local baking duo Bubby Goober’s — and we’re recommending you do the same. These sweet hand pies come in a variety of flavors, including salted caramel apple and cherry amaretto. And for those who can’t abandon their dietary restrictions, vegan and gluten-free pies are available as well. We’re also stuffing stockings with chocolate bars courtesy of Moksha Chocolate. We’re recommending them this year because not only are Moksha’s chocolates delicious, but they also come with a CBD-infused option for a tasty treat that’s also a perfect way to unwind this holiday season.

Monthly Bread Subscription

Cost: $25+
The Lowdown: 
Bread Club delivers baked goods from the best local, artisan bakeries straight to your door. The delivery option is available throughout the city and county of Denver, or pick up at Rebel Bread’s Production Lab at 675 S. Broadway. Enjoy fresh treats from Mile High Pie Co., Moon Raccoon Baking Co., Pandemic Donuts, Rebel Bread and Sugar Bakeshop. The menu changes each month and boxes are customizable. Purchase a gift card for the bread-lover in your life!

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Local Booze

Cost: Varies
The Lowdown:
In many households, the holidays are a time to gather around the family table and share a meal. And often, those meals also come with some kind of spirit or cocktail. Whether you need a gift for the connoisseur in your life or just want to bring something special to drink with dinner, we’ve got you covered. This year, we’re recommending whiskey from State 38 Distilling and Mile High Spirits for the whiskey connoisseur. If you have someone on your list who might prefer something a bit lighter, we’d suggest gin from Deviation Distilling or Talnua’s Barrel Finished Gin. If you’re looking for spirits inspired by Colorado’s landscapes, Dry Land Distillers and Boulder Spirits have an impressive spread. For more casual drinking, look to Hooch Booch and Dry Dock for delicious canned drinks that are perfect for laid-back holiday gatherings. Or, check out Mad Lemon, the new hand-crafted lemonade cocktail in a fun throwback can. 

Local Coffee

Cost: $20 – $25
The Lowdown: Give a gift that’s sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face every morning by gifting coffee beans from a local roaster. There is no shortage of wonderful selections for coffee in Denver, but this year we’re suggesting buying coffee from a roaster that’s making a profound impact in the local community: Wagon Coffee Roasters. Along with its delicious coffee, Wagon’s mission to help women in recovery stay sober has us hooked.

Music

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Vintage Sound System and Record Collection

Cost: $25 – $180
The Lowdown:
Wax Trax — the historic record store off of 13th — offers more than just records (though you should check out their massive new and used collections too). The store currently has a holiday stockpile of new and used record players and speakers. Pick up your favorite record and snuggle in for cozy vintage listening sessions this holiday season.

Exclusive Posters from Denver Concert Dates

Cost: $90 – $150
The Lowdown:
Nothing is worse than the regret of not buying merchandise at a concert. Once you’ve left the venue, exclusive memorabilia such as an event poster is gone forever. Or at least that’s the way it may seem. Surprise the music enthusiast in your life by picking up limited edition posters and prints from Sould Out Posters. The selection features a variety of selections from throughout Denver concert history, including shows at legendary local venues such as Red Rocks, Fillmore, Pepsi Center and more. Available online or by appointment only at their storefront 3741 South Broadway, Englewood.

Music-inspired Hot Sauce

Cost: $8.99
The Lowdown: 
At first glance, it might seem like we placed this spicy food gift under music by mistake, but if you look closely at this sauce’s history you’ll find deep connections to the local metal scene. Now known throughout town as The Colfax Killer, this award-winning hot sauce was originally called the Munsen Mango Mash – taking its name from the hot sauce makers band: The Munsens. While the name has changed, you can impress the metalhead on your gift list with the combined gift of hot sauce and a spicy fun fact about the local music scene. Pick up a bottle or two at the Denver Christkindlmarkt or order online.

Coffee Table Book

Cost: $36
The Lowdown:
The Best Record Stores in the United States from Denver-headquartered Vinyl Me Please (VMP) is a go-to guide featuring a record store in each state, plus over 175 more record store recommendations. If that’s not your jam, VMP’s memberships are the gifts that keep on giving — monthly vinyl straight to your door in three, six or 12-month memberships. Choose from a range of genres and VMP takes care of the rest.

 

All photography by Adrienne Thomas.