We love to support locally owned and independent small businesses during the holidays. It is usually easier to find something unique, and the shopping experiences tend to be more laid back.
Shopping locally nurtures our community and keeps money in our local economy—we’ve heard that for every dollar spend at a local business, about 80 cents stays in the community!
It’s no secret that we love where we live and supporting everyone that contributes to making this a great place to raise our families. It is exciting to be able to share our ideas for keeping your gift shopping “small” this year.
The Fox Valley has so many great options to “shop local” for gifts for everyone on your list. Hopefully, this guide provides inspiration for finding as many holiday gifts locally as you can this year!
A Little Something for Everyone
It is always a dream situation to be able to stop into just a couple of locally owned shops and cross many names off your gift list.
There are a few ideas that we found ourselves able to cite over and over for gifting ideas:
- Blue Moon in Appleton has an incredible selection of Wisconsin gifts, artisan gifts, gorgeous locally crafted jewelry, and something fun for almost everyone. It has been our go-to for years for otherwise hard-to-shop for members of our families. Need something for the aunt and uncle that have literally everything? You’ll find it easily here!
- All Tied Up Floral Cafe in Appleton has a selection of gifts that are perfect for so many on our lists—lovely houseplants, fun socks, and kitchen accessories from BlueQ, hostess gifts galore, flower subscriptions, and so much more. A true bonus is being able to relax with a perfectly crafted holiday coffee drink while you review the few things left on your list when you’re done shopping here.
- Red Door Mercantile in Neenah is another spot where you can find gifts for everyone to love. From board games and unique kids’ gifts to Neenah merch and Stonewall Kitchen in between, you’re going to love checking off your list in the charming environment at Red Door.
- City Gift Certificates are a great way to help to support local shops and give a gift with all of the flexibility of a gift card. Appleton, Neenah, and Oshkosh all offer gift certificates or cards that are honored at most or all downtown stores and restaurants. These have been among our favorite gifts to receive!
State Park Pass
Did you know we have 26 Awesome Wisconsin State Parks That Are Only Two Hours or Less From Appleton? A Wisconsin State Park Pass is the perfect practical gift for the nature lover on your list! Pick up a State Park checklist from Blue Moon Emporium in downtown Appleton to round out the gift.
If you have a nature AND dog lover to shop for, check out A Dog Lover’s Guide to Hiking Wisconsin’s State Parks Paperback by Danielle St. Louis. Danielle is a hiker and dog lover from Madison and runs the popular adventure dog blog and Instagram account WI State Park Dogs, which features tips for hiking and favorite outdoor travels with Lucky the adventure dog.
Give Them a Date Night
Whether you know someone in need of a date night or pizza quick fix, food gift cards to a Fox Cities restaurant are a great option for those hard-to-buy people on your list. Maybe you can even offer to babysit! Print up a little coupon to include with your gift card. Our favorite date nights for members of the Go Valley Kids team:
- Snacks, craft beer, and live music at Appleton Beer Factory.
- Salt in Kaukauna for is perfect for cozy sharable plates, seasonal menus, craft cocktails, and award-winning ambiance.
- Brunch lovers will deeply appreciate gifts to Author’s Bar and Kitchen and SAP in Appleton for a Sunday brunch experience any day of the week.
- For a completely cozy winter gifted date, reserve your favorites an outdoor dome at Fratello’s in Appleton. They’re private, strung with fairy lights, and dial in their perfect temperature while roasting smores with a 360 river view. Make it a super personal experience with a date night Spotify playlist for them to enjoy in their dome!
Having trouble deciding? City Tins are available at lots of locations throughout the Fox Cities including our one-stop faves Blue Moon and Red Door Mercantile. These little tins are packed with deals at local restaurants, bistros, and cafes. They make a perfect gift for family or friends that love to dine out and explore new places.
Making Spirits Bright
Keep it super local with a growler from Appleton Beer Factory or McFleshman’s, a sweet little jug of fresh beer to go that can be used for refills throughout the year. Blue Moon has you covered Wisconsin-themed pint glasses to pair with the growler for a complete gift for craft beer enthusiasts.
All Tied Up Floral Cafe carries Stonewall Kitchen drink mixers, including a delish Sea Salt Espresso Martini Mixer. Take a short walk and enjoy the holiday feel downtown to grab the vodka to gift with the mix at Flanagan’s Stop and Shop—one of the top ten liquor stores in the United States. If you need help with more gifts while you’re there, you’re in luck because they have a wine consultant on hand daily!
Wine lover? Check out Mondo! Wine Bar & Retail, Tandem, Ledgestone Vineyards in Greenleaf or Door County Wine for specialty wine and gifts.
The Shinery Moonshine Company has a new location in Appleton. There are so many flavors of moonshine and whiskey to choose from, but we really love to bring along their delicious creams to events as a fun change of pace to add to a cup of coffee or a twist on a White Russian.
Gary’s Premium Cocktails in Freedom offers locally crafted mixes for Wisconsin’s favorite cocktails: Old Fasioneds and Bloody Marys. Gary Ver Vroot was looking for the perfect and consistent old fashioned and created it, soon finding himself overwhelmed with requests for bottles of the mix. The mixes make a perfect addition to a fun cocktail gift basket.
A completely unique cocktail gift can be found from Tapped Maple Syrup. They have made local collaborations to create an Old Fashioned Cocktail Maple Syrup that is infused with orange and a Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters Cocktail Maple Syrup that makes a perfect Tom Collins and interesting addition to an after-dinner cup of coffee.
Something for Your Favorite Packers Fan
The Packer Pro Shop in Green Bay has lots of great unique gifts. Scheels is always a safe bet to find anything from a jersey to tailgating supplies. DVSN 1 in Downtown Appleton has Packers streetwear and likely has a sneaker to match.
We’re so lucky to have an 80-year-long tradition of minor league baseball right in Appleton, with the Timber Rattlers as the low-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. This means that we can catch early talent as well as Brewers working out kinks after injuries as they get ready to rejoin their major league team. From season tickets to kids camps to merch at the Pro Shop, you’re sure to find the perfect thing for Timber Rattlers fans for the 2023 season when new improvements to the stadium are unveiled! We love all of the little things that the stadium and team offer to make these ballpark experiences fun for the whole family.
Milwaukee Brewers fans will love a Brewers Gift Card that can be used for tickets, concessions, parking, or Team Store merchandise.
Scheels has everything your favorite sports fan will need for tailgating including team branded Corn Hole and other yard games, chairs, portable fire pits and more.
Looking for something different? The Green Bay Rockers and Fond du Lac Dock Spiders are part of the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league with teams from states around the midwest competing all summer long.
Give Grilling Stuff
Every Wisconsinite knows that grilling is a year-round culinary adventure. It is perfect, because it gives so many opportunities for gifts! Vande Hey carries Big Green Egg Grills and Green Mountain Grills. The Meat Block’s BBQ Pits n’ Spits sells gourmet sauces and spices as well as grills and accessories. Jacob’s Meat Market in Appleton is a great place to give your favorite grill master a gift card to load up a basket of locally sourced meats and products.
Something to Facilitate Outdoor Winter Adventures
A key to enjoying living in Wisconsin is embracing all of the seasons! Winter sports in Wisconsin like cross country skiing, downhill skiing, ice skating and even sledding offer so many gifting options for families that love outdoor adventure and exploring:
- Ice skates from Play It Again Sports can paired with a gift card to The Plaza in Neenah or Titletown in Green Bay for ice skating.
- Find fun sleds and tubes to hit the hills at Scheels, as well as all of the winter gear you’ll need to stay comfortable outside.
- Downhill ski loving families will appreciate ski passes for Ski Brule and Nordic Mountain
- Snowshoes can be rented or purchased with gift cards for REI in Appleton and paired with a family membership to Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton or 1000 Islands Nature Center in Kaukauna. There are so many beautiful area trails to explore in the area all winter long.
- The Reel Shot in Appleton is a locally owned sporting good shop with gear for hunters and fishers year round. If you have a person on your gift list that loves to fish for a specific type of Wisconsin freshwater fish, you can find specialized bait and gear for them here.
Help Out with Car Stuff
Car washes are a great holiday gift as we all struggle to keep salt and dirt off of our vehicles all winter long. I know we cannot be the only families that struggle to keep the inside clean and tidy during the winter months also, PDQ has convenient locations that clean cars inside and out and Chuys Royal Auto Spa makes interior and exterior detailing house calls!
Gas cards have been a favorite gift for our nieces and nephews. They are easy to pick up and so well received by older kiddos that love a break from paying to fill up their tanks!
Add to a To Be Read Pile
Do you have someone on your list whose idea of a perfect day is being snuggled under a blanket with a fresh book? A gift card to The Book Store in their new College Avenue location is a perfect fit for your favorite reader with their wide selection of new and used books.
On our gifting list is The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat . . . Everything with Ranch Hardcover by Charlie Berens and we like to check out the authors that participate in the Fox Cities Book Festival and Fox Cities Reads for ideas for holiday gifts.
Bosse’s Newstand is a 134 year old institution with a new home in DePere. This is a great place to find Wisconsin authors’ work and to support a long running locally owned shop.
That’s the Ticket!
Experience gifts are among our favorite things to give and receive. Fox Cities Performing Arts Center has tickets for single shows or season tickets for the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and Broadway show series.
The Green Bay Gamblers are a Tier I junior ice hockey team and offer fun things for kids and families like theme nights, family nights, and a kids club. Their season runs into the spring and there are plenty of home games to plan a fun night out for a favorite hockey fan.
The Wisconsin Herd is an Oshkosh based affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks. The family-friendly games take place through March at the Oshkosh Arena with entertainment on and off the court throughout the game.
Mile of Music will celebrate its tenth Mile in August 2023! Though the festival is famously free for all listeners, they offer Music Maker passes that allow holders frist reservations to events throughout the year, preferred seating for smaller venues during the festival as well as access to a Music Makers lounge with beverages and snacks to take breaks throughout the weekend.
Give a Getaway
Long Wisconsin winters make a little getaway plan almost mandatory. Even just making time for a fun day trip can be the perfect little spot of sunshine to look forward to!
We have really enjoyed visiting Door County in the winter when it is covered in snow and ice. Waterpark overnights are always a win with kids from hotels with smaller features to big Wisconsin Dells resorts, there is something for every family and budget..
For a super relaxing retreat with a chance to unplug and unwind after a busy holiday season consider a cabin rental at one of these amazing Wisconsin locations.
Big city trips can be a really great time with older kiddos. With no need to plan for naps you can pack your day with museums, sight seeing, treats, and have a blast exploring somewhere new. Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago all offer big city experiences with relatively short drives from the Fox Cities.
Bonus! Harry Potter fans will love looking forward to a trip to the immersive multi-sensory experience of Harry Potter Magic at Play in Chicago this winter or spring as part of a longer trip!
Local Pride to Wear on Their Chests
LoCo WisCo in Green Bay is owned by souvenir enthusiasts and it shows. There are so many great tee shirts with local flair and plenty of other Wisconsin gifts and treats to pick up at this great shop.
Blue Moon in Appleton has locally made and themed tee shirts and sweatshirts for the whole family.
One June Day in Seymour has unique tee shirts for nearly every local high school to show hometown pride! In addition, they have great Wisconsin, Packers, and just generally cute and sassy shirts for anyone on your gifting list.
For Culinary Queens & Kings
We all have a that person in our lives that loves to snuggle in for a baking challenge or cooking show. The person that brings the best dishes to the potluck or is always up for trying something new. Looking for a gift for a foodie on your list, we’ve got so many local options!
For the person on your list that loves to try new recipes while cooking in the kitchen, check out Penzeys Spices. We’re so lucky to have a shop for this famous spice maker right in Appleton. They have great gift baskets around the holidays as well. One GVK team member swears by their Sandwich Sprinkle to liven up any ordinary sammie.
The Olive Cellar in Appleton has a wide selection of olives and beautiful olive oils in addition to craft vinegars, gorgeous salts, spice blends, handmade pastas, and so many more items sure to delight your favorite foodie that loves to spend time creating amazing family meals.
Linden Studios is a specialty wood burning studio that makes beautiful (and custom) cutting boards, serving boards, spoons, and more. Have a favorite family recipe? Preserve it in a custom serving board.
Be the ultimate Wisconsin entertainer this holiday party season and create a locally sourced snack buffet. Lamers Dairy in Appleton and Simon’s Specialty Cheese in Little Chute have you covered with all of the cheeses you’ll need for the perfect cheeseboard. Pick up some delicious bakery and bread from Voyager and Whisk and Arrow. Mike’s Popcorn is not only perfect for a movie night, but makes a fun addition to a snack spread.
Speaking of entertaining, All Tied Up in Appleton, Red Door Mercantile in Neenah, and Bluebird Boutique in Menasha all have Stonewall Kitchen pantry items. Stonewall is great for entertaining, everyday, and gifting.
A perfect addition to your holiday brunch menu or locally crafted gift list is a bottle (or bottles!) of syrup from Tapped Maple Syrup. The syrups are sustainably sourced right here in Northern Wisconsin, and have unique flavors like Black Umami Garlic (if you haven’t tried black garlic yet, this is your sign), Red Pepper, Ginger, and Cardamom.
Indulge Your Favorite Sweet Tooth
We have such a great selection of locally owned shops that cater to everything sweets!
Crazy Sweet in Appleton has every candy we can think of from vintage to modern. There is a wall of bulk bins to create a perfect mix of favorites, Jelly Bellies, packages items, and even hand dipped ice cream and house crafted chocolates. At Christmastimes past, we have had luck finding old-timey ribbon candy if you’re looking for something pretty—and tasty—for a sweets jar.
Since 1956, Wilmar Chocolates in Appleton has been creating decadent chocolate and caramel treats of all kinds. An amazing gift opportunity here is a custom candy bar. Create the perfect combination of mix-ins and spices and name your creation for your favorite chocolate lover. Order online for next day in-store pick up.
Vande Walle’s Candies in Grand Chute has been making award winning caramel and chocolate for decades. They make their own caramel corn that is perfect for gifting as well as towers of their most loved treats that are a consumable gift giver’s—and receiver’s—dream.
For a unique treat a gift card for Doughlicious in Appleton cannot be beat. This family owned shop offers a wide variety of edible cookie doughs in addition to decadent milkshakes, coffee drinks, ice creams and more. It is a great option for gifting to sweet lovers with special dietary needs as they offer vegan, gluten free, and keto options!
A Cup of Tea for Everyone
Fava Tea Company in Appleton is a Wisconsin based business selling hundreds of varieties of loose teas perfect for a steeped hot cup or pitcher of iced tea. Holiday favorites include Candy Cane Lane and Reindeer Drool are perfect to pair with a tea accessory and fancy sugar or honey all available in store.
Give the gift of an afternoon reset at Fika Coffee & Tea. The completely serene vibes and menu of beautiful tea drinks and loose teas make
Uni Uni Bubble Tea is the perfect spot to take anime loving kids on a date. Wrap up a copy of a new installment of a graphic novel or manga series with a gift card and get ready for a delicious and cozy time with your kiddo.
Make Someone’s Day A Latte Sweeter
We certainly have no shortage of independent coffee shops in the area! You could gather up gift cards from local shops to present your favorite latte lover with a tour of multiple spots or pair a mug a gift card from their very favorite spot.
Some of our faves:
- Copper Rock
- All Tied Up
- Seth’s Coffee
- Sweet Lair
- Kaukauna Coffee and Tea
- il Bar Cafe
- Drop Bar Cafe
- Whisk and Arrow
- Moon Water Cafe
You can give the gift of locally roasted organic coffee at home with beans from Happy Bellies Bakeshop, Seth’s, and Acoca.
Terra Verde Coffee in Chilton features a rotation of organic coffee from around the world fresh roasted on site delivering the freshest and most environmentally friendly cup of coffee available. They have a variety of local partners throughout the Fox Cities offering their coffee and/or contributing to their fresh and locally sourced menu.
Perfect Gifts for Pet and Animal Lovers
We all have someone in our life that loves all their furry family members as much as the humans! We have some great options for indulging them—or your own favorite animal friend—with a fun holiday surprise:
- DePAWsitory, Downtown Appleton
- Lucy’s Closet Pet Boutique, Downtown Neenah
- Wildbird and Backyard, Grand Chute
We have 15+ Petting Zoos & Farms near the Fox Cities for Animal Lovers and many offer yearly family memberships! NEW Zoo memberships include Aquarium and Zoo Society Reciprocal benefits that give members a reduced or free entry at participating destinations, such as Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
Blue J Studio & Boutique in Little Chute makes hand-painted ornaments. The pet portrait ornaments make great gifts.
Sanctuary Aquatics in Oshkosh has sweet glass bowls with live plants and betta companions. Both the fish and the plants are a breeze to care for, making it a great gift to brighten up an office or for a first time fish parent.
Find a unique accessory, cozy sweater, or perfect statement piece at one of the many independent boutiques in and around the Fox Cities!
Try one of these fun spots to shop:
- Apricot Lane in Appleton
- Lilian’s of Appleton
- Elements Unleashed in Neenah
- Beatnik Betty’s Resale Butik, Downtown Appleton
- Elements Unleashed, Downtown Neenah
- Uptown Girl Beauty & Boutique, KaukaunaThe Revival in Neenah
- Blue Bird Boutique in Menasha, Winneconne and New London.
- Sugar Rushlow Boutique in Appleton
- My Soul Loves in Neenah
- Moss and Grant in Oshkosh
- Atomic Katz in Oshkosh
Give a Little Sparkle
You can never really miss with a perfect piece of jewelry! Try Avenue Jewlers, Downtown Appleton for something extra sparkly or Blue Moon just down the block for unique and locally made jewelry. Visit J Anthony in Neenah for something fancy or Tricia’s Treasures for trendy and fun casual pieces.
For the Artists
The Frame Workshop is a perfect place to frame a special piece from the artist in your life or to hold a special creation that you’d like to give this holiday season.
Anderson Pens has fountain pens, inks, and stationery. If you have someone on your gifting list that loves a good planner, they are the only local shop carrying Hobonichi planners, covers, and accessories. The Japanese planners are known and loved for their unique paper, lie flat design, and flexible planner layouts.
HobbyTown has locations in Appleton and Green Bay for art supplies as well as model kits and supplies.
MKM Pottery Tools in Appleton has everything for clay throwers and builders. Fired Earth Pottery in Appleton has classes and studio space for experience gifting.
For the Crafters and Makers
Is your sister never not knitting? Maybe your mom makes epic quilts or your grandma makes everyone beautiful scrap books. No matter how the crafters in your life create, there’s a local shop to find something perfect for them.
Casting On, Downtown Appleton and Fibre, Downtown Neenah have gorgeous yarns and all of the best supplies, accessories, and gear that fiber crafters would love to receive.
Ana’s Sewing Studio, Fox Cities Quilt Co, and Going to Pieces Quilt Co. in Appleton are independent quilt shops with a wide variety of fabrics.
Valley Stamp & Scrap, LLC, Neenah, and the Paper Cut in Appleton both have everything a paper crafter or scrapbook maker could ever want from supplies to classes to gift cards.
Sometimes, it is really a treat to get to make a creation and not to have to manage all of the supplies or intense clean up. Perfect for this is a class or gift card for The Fire or Pinot’s Palette in Appleton, or the Fire Esacpe in Oshkosh! All of the project with none of the hassle. Projects from these spots are also super giftable.
A Touch of Glass in Amherst is a great spot for glass blowing, jewelry, DIY beading kits and LOTS of beads! Design earrings to gift from their Bead Buffet—every pair is amazing!
Give a Gift of Togetherness with Puzzles & Games
We love spending time around the table playing a game or working on a puzzle with our families and we bet you know someone else who does too! Games and puzzles make perfect holiday gifts and we’ve got lots of options to pick up something new and fun while supporting local small businesses. Some of our favorites are:
- Alexandria Games in Ripon
- Hobbytown in Appleton and Green Bay
- Pro-puzzler Tip: Look for Cobble Hill Family puzzles here. They are great for gifting to families or as an activity during holiday gatherings. The pisces range in size from what you would expect to see in a 100 piece puzzle box to the size of a standard 1000 piece. You would think this would be awkward, but it works really well and gives everyone ample chance to contribute to finishing a puzzle. They are easily done by two or three people in part of an afternoon.
- Caramel Crisp in Oshkosh
- The Schoolhouse in Green Bay
- Chimera Hobby Shop in Appleton
- Boardlandia in Appleton
- Blind Tiger Games in Neenah
- Items of Interest in Appleton
- Atlas Science Center formerly the Paper Discovery Center just got a huge amount of new STEAM gifts and activities for their gift shop!
Keep Hands Busy with Fidgets
Fidgets are here to stay! Hobby Town in Appleton and Green Bay has a wide variety of fidgets from handheld puzzles to little cute squishies.
Handmade Gifts Even for Those Short on Time or Talent
If you love the idea of handmade gifts but just don’t have the time to make something special for everyone on your list or are a better shopper than maker, there are plenty of spots ready to help you out around the area!
Renewed and Reclaimed in Menasha is a modern day market with both new and vintage home decor, paper art, soaps, and so much more
Downtown Appleton, you’ll find The Vintage Garden full of unique iems including lots of handcrafted items for home, baby and more.
Antiqued Up in Kimberly has booths that offer fun handcrafted items for everyone on your list. In addition to fun things like kitchen accessories, home decor, personal care items, and jewelry, this is also a great stop to find unique clothing and accessories for the American Girl doll lover in your life!
Urban Evolutions in Appleton is a dream destination for finding unique gifts. From art pieces to plants to jewelery, you’re bound to find that perfect something here.
Memberships — A Year Long Gift!
Zoos, farms, museums, gyms and more are all perfect sources for gifts that will bring the recipient a whole year of fun. You can find lots of ideas in our Experience Gift Guide for local memberships. Many times, memberships include benefits at museums all around the state and country!
A Little Something for the Newest Members of the Family
Babies seem to need a whole lot of supplies and Lullaby Shop in Appleton is a natural stop for all of the gear that babies need.
Blue Moon in Appleton has fun onesies for all of the Wisconsin babies.
Put Your Gift in a Tote Bag!
Two gifts in one and a little less wrapping paper to clean up. Tote bags are great for keeping in the car or by the door for trips to the store or library. Little Chute Public Library has totes that feature Cabbage the library bunny, other libraries also have them at the circulation desk for purchase and are a natural choice for the book lovers that appreciate support for their library! Lots of the suggested shops for other gifts will have tote bags also.
Antique for Something Unique
Sometimes, the best gift has been around for ages. Antique shops are a great place to find a vintage toy that you know your partner loved growing up, a perfect piece of jewlery that won’t be found anywhere else, one of a kind home decor, or a collector’s edition of a favorite book.
Fox River Antique Mall in Grand Chute is a large location that features antiques, collectibles, jewelry, toys, sports cards, fishing items, furniture and more.
A fun stop with a fun name is Ye Old Goat in Appleton. Make sure you have plenty of time to explore here, there is something around every corner!
Neenah Vintage Mall, A Look Back in Time in Kaukauna, and Antique Up in Kimberly are great places to explore and find fun things to gift during the holidays.