First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is enjoying their time with their closest friends and family today. Seeing how it is Thanksgiving, tomorrow is Black Friday and Saturday is Shop Small Saturday, so I figured this is the perfect opportunity to give my readers a gift-giving guide that supports local Kentucky products and businesses.
Black Friday is the day where people all over the U.S. pour their hard-earned money into the pockets of major corporations such as Target, JCPenney, Macy’s, etc. I’m not going to tell anyone to not shop at these major corporations because let’s be real, who doesn’t love Target? But, I wanted to discuss something very important to me and an alternative to handing money over to massive corporations — shopping local.
When we buy local products, shop at local businesses and companies, we support our community directly. The money that we spend at small businesses in Louisville and Kentucky, in general, helps feed families and ensures that people in our state have jobs. It also creates an awareness of local artisans, farmers, designers and entrepreneurs. I love supporting my local friends and local business owners because I know that the money I spend goes to helping their families and maintaining jobs for their employees.
With all of this being said, I’ve come up with a list of what I believe to be as some of the best local finds for the holidays and a way that you can surprise your mom, aunt, uncle, brother-in-law, cousin, and even grandma with something original and local. The following 15 locals businesses and products (in no particular order) are my top choices.
Who would I be kidding if bourbon didn’t make this list? When someone says the name “Kentucky,” people either respond with “Derby,” “fried chicken,” or “bourbon.” Although I know that there is so much more to our state than these three things, I must admit that I love two of the three. Derby and bourbon. With that being said, bourbon makes for a great gift. Plenty of bourbon distilleries make mini bourbon bottles that are great stocking stuffers, and if a family member (or yourself) needs that extra push through the holidays because, well, it’s the holidays, then bless them (or yourself) with the gift of bourbon. It also helps for those awkward moments when your family is fighting at the dinner table at Christmas. (Sips bourbon.) My top three bourbons that are great tasting and easy on the wallet are Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, and Four Roses Small Batch. There are too many bourbons to name, but if you are just now entering into the bourbon realm, these are a good start.
Lots of people enjoy indulging on sweets during the holidays, and I include myself in that group. Kentucky is known for bourbon, and one of the best things made with bourbon is bourbon balls. A mix of semisweet chocolate, bourbon, and chopped nuts are just part of what makes the yummy chocolates that melt in your mouth and leave you with a bourbon after taste. Sometimes I don’t know whether I ate chocolate or if I sipped bourbon; either way, I love it. One of the best places to buy bourbon balls is at Muth’s Candies in Louisville. It is Louisville’s oldest candy shop and is right in the heart of Nulu. If you can’t make it to Louisville or if a trip downtown sounds like too much of a headache, you can purchase their amazing sweets online. They make great gifts for anyone and since their gift boxes range in sizes, you can even use them as stocking stuffers. You can never go wrong with bourbon balls from Muth’s.
3. Holiday Mug from Play With Clay
Clay is a local artist who creates hand-painted mugs and takes special orders. She has painted famous people such as Frida Khalo and Cardi B and has even created cups of people’s pets per their request. Her unique request mugs cost between $20-$30 per cup, and they are the perfect way to give a personalized gift to someone you love. During the holidays, she is running a special on holiday mugs. They are $15 per holiday theme mug. I got this Grinch and Max cup from her for $15. She is currently creating holiday mugs and taking Christmas orders, so if you are looking for a great way to give a loved one a personalized gift, feel free to reach out to her via Instagram or Facebook.
4. Revelry Gallery
Besides being an art gallery, Revelry Gallery features handmade jewelry, art, prints, photography, and home décor that is all made locally. It is one of my favorite places to purchase handmade jewelry, and right now, they have tons of cute jewelry for the holidays. It is also one of my go-to shops for local souvenirs. I have purchased drink coasters for my sister and brother-in-law there because they contain local images such as Old Louisville, Butchertown, etc. Another excellent souvenir gift that they sell is posters of local Louisville neighborhoods. When I was living out of the country, I would also stop by here and pick something up so I could have a little piece of home with me wherever I went. They are another great NuLu find. They will be having special discounts this Saturday for Shop Small Saturday and will also have a Cyber Monday special incase you want to avoid driving around town.
5. Cross Stitch Coven
Cross Stitch Coven are two local girls who have taken your grandmother’s favorite pass time and turned it into a statement piece that can be placed anywhere around the house. If you have a great sense of humor and you . are not easily offended, then this is about to be your favorite thing. Although their cross stitch features funny phrases and a dose of realness, they also do customized cross stitch pieces and trust me, some of the detailed work that they do is just insane. You can follow them on Instagram and message them directly with your customized order, or you can purchase off their Etsy website. They also have some of their work for purchase in Works The Metal, another local business that features local art and is also excellent to check out for holiday gifts. My recent personal favorite is this one below. If you are from Kentucky or if you keep up with the news, then you know that saying goodbye to Matt Bevin as governor was the best Christmas gift this state could get.
6. Magnolia and Fig
In a city filled with cute boutiques, it’s hard to pick and choose which to go to and what has the best options. After moving home from Panamá, I found Magnolia and Fig in Middletown. What impressed me the most about this cute boutique isn’t just the adorable clothes and jewelry, but it is the fact that they carry sizes S to 3X. Living in a small “big” city, many women want to wear something and not worry about running into someone with the same outfit. Magnolia and Fig provides that same experience to women of all sizes and shapes. They are having tons of Black Friday specials tomorrow, and if you haven’t heard of them and you want to brighten up your closet or surprise someone with a cute beanie or necklace, head over and take advantage of their sale.
7. Pastelitos by Annia
Annia is a local baker who is originally from Cuba, and to represent her roots, she has brought a traditional Cuban recipe to Louisville that will send your taste buds spiraling. Annia uses her family’s original pastelito method to create these delicious pastry puffs. The different flavors include coconut, guava, guava with cream cheese (my favorite), Nutella, dulce de leche, and cream cheese. Each pastelito costs $1 and she asks that you order at least two days prior to the date that you need them. The holidays mean office parties, family gatherings, and potlucks with friends. Take the hassle out of baking something yourself and order some pastelitos. They will be a hit no matter where or with whom you choose to celebrate the holidays. I also suggest eating them for breakfast as actual Cubans do.
8. 4peaks Woodwork
What holiday setup is complete without a cheeseboard? Any good host would tell you that no party is adequately set up without a meat and cheese board. That’s where Tommy at 4peaks Woodwork has everyone covered. Tommy is a local craftsman in Oldham County who creates fantastic pieces of art made from wood. He makes everything from the boards you see here to furniture. Tommy sells his pieces on Etsy, but he can be contacted via Instagram, Etsy, or Facebook if you are looking for a customized piece. His meat and cheese boards are the perfect gift for the person who loves to host parties, the chef in the family, and if you are looking for one for yourself, then look no further.
9. Produce from Faul Family Riverside Farm
Andre is a local farmer who raises organic poultry, beef, pork, and shrimp. He uses a style of farming that ensures that the animals are always moving around the farm and that they have plenty of space. I recently did a feature of him on my blog and the fantastic job his farm does of delivering a product that is organic, fresh, and delicious. The farm is running specials on some of their meats during the holidays, and it’s the perfect gift for the office, your dad who can’t get enough of summer sausage or the person who wants to know that their product is ethically farmed and produced. Besides you are going to need some meat to fill up the board from 4peaks Woodwork.
10. Serena’s Soaps and Salves
Mother/daughter duo Lora and Serena sell homemade goat milk soaps, lotions, and healing salves for a variety of skin conditions. They use all organic products to make the soaps and salves, and I can vouch that they smell and feel amazing. I met Lora at the beginning of fall, and she told me that her daughter, Serena, has Down Syndrome, and they created the business because they wanted her to prove to herself and others that her condition will not keep her from accomplishing anything. Every product is packaged and labeled by Serena herself, and she is very involved in the business. Hearing her story instantly inspired me, and when I checked out their products, I fell in love. Not only are their products incredible, but the fact that they are local and Serena’s story makes supporting them that much better. During the winter our skin tends to get dry and crack, give someone the gift of smooth, healthy skin by gifting them a soap or lotion from Serena’s Soaps and Salves.
11. A reading from Alex Grant Medium and Psychic
Maybe you’ve always been curious about what it would be like to see a medium, but you’ve been afraid to do so. My friend Alex Grant is a local medium who offers her services for group events to help take some of the fear of seeing a medium out of the way. Alex is extremely professional and has a very laid back personality that will make anyone feel comfortable. Alex provides answers that make sure that people leave feeling better than when they walked in. For her Black Friday special, Alex is having discounts on all of her one on one readings tomorrow. People also request her services for parties during the holidays as a fun way to spice up a holiday party and get a message from spirits. Contact her through her website or Instagram to book a group party session.
12. Wine from Old 502 Winery
Kentucky may be known for bourbon, but Old 502 Winery has something for those who pass up the bourbon and go straight for the vino. It is Louisville’s only urban winery, and a fun fact is that all of their wine is created by ingredients that are provided by Kentucky farmers. Although they focus on wine, they haven’t ignored the strong connection that Kentucky has with bourbon. The first-ever wine that they sold is called Bourbon Barrel Red. It is also my personal favorite. It is a red wine aged in bourbon barrels, hence the name. It is my go-to local wine, and I enjoy both the reds and the whites. Their wine is a great way to lift spirits at any holiday party. If you don’t live in Kentucky, you can purchase them online on their website, and they even create cute gift baskets just in time for the holidays. Besides, with the holidays and the amount of things that you have to do, who doesn’t want a great glass of wine-or two?
13. Bourbon Barrel Foods
For that person who will take any chance they can get to fire up their grill, or for the aspiring chef, and/or for the parent who likes to add a little flair to their family meals, let me introduce you to Bourbon Barrel Foods. Bourbon Barrel Foods is a local company that is known for its microbrewed soy sauce called Bluegrass Soy Sauce. It is the only microbrewed soy sauce in the U.S. and the first ever to be aged in bourbon barrels. If soy sauce isn’t something that tantalizes your palettes, then no worries, they have plenty of other products that are sure to please any chef. From grilling spices to bourbon smoked sweeteners, they’ve pretty much created it all. My brother-in-law swears by their rubs, and I can vouch for them as well. You can purchase their products online or in their store on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville. They have tons of gift sets available to make your holiday shopping that much easier.
14. Create your own ornament at Glassworks
Each year our local glass studio provides the ability to create your own art by blowing your very own glass ornament. It is a way to get hands-on and create a decoration that you will cherish for a lifetime. If you don’t want to blow your own glass ornament but know someone who would, it also makes a great gift. Flame Run is part of the Glassworks family and has a list of several decorative options to choose. You can even blow your own bourbon glass, which is perfect for all of the bourbon you plan on drinking during the holidays. Check them out on their website or visit them in person at Glassworks at 815 West Market St.
15. By Any Means Fitness
The holidays are a time of gathering, drinking, and eating. By the time December is over, we all have to adjust the waistbands on our pants and take a sad sip of reality tea and face that we’ve gained the typical holiday weight. It’s understandable; we are living our best lives. The truth is that the best gift that you could ever give someone or yourself is the gift of your health. Djuan Means and Jordan Parker Means are a dynamic duo of personal trainers that can help you lose those holiday pounds and begin a journey to a healthier version of yourself. They do everything from personal training, HIIT classes, and even female-only boot camps. I go to their gym and swear by them because they are always motivating and inspiring their clients to achieve their goals. They have several different pricing packages depending on what training you are looking for. I have their $99 a month plan where I can go to unlimited boot camp and HIIT classes. Right now, you can get $100 off personal training from today until December 7th when you pay in full. A membership to the gym is an excellent gift for someone that you know wants to improve their health. It’s a wonderful gift to give yourself, as well.
No matter what holiday gifts you choose to purchase this season, remember to support our local businesses, artists and products. They are what makes Kentucky proud and what keeps Louisville weird.