By Diane Majeske
Looking for that perfect present? Gift-giving season is just around the corner, you know.
For Valentine’s Day, your own special holiday, or just because — there’s always a reason to give a heartfelt gift. And, as we all know, it is better to give than receive (although there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and then, of course).
But we also know that not everyone is easy to shop for, so we’re here to help. May we offer a few suggestions for your more … selective … friends? The majority of these ideas feature gifts from shops in southeast Michigan, some nearer than others — all worthy of a bit of a road trip —and a few available through mail-order/online only.
But only you can decide which ones are best for your friends.
For your confirmed chocoholic friend: A box of specialty confections from the new artisan shop, Bon Bon Bon, in Hamtramck, which creates bonbons in amazing flavors like creme brulee, tiramisu, cherry lux, sticky bun and many, many more. Bon Bon Bon, 2756 Evaline, Hamtramck 48212; (313) 315-1430; bonbonbon.com.
For that friend with a great kid — or the one who’s just a kid at heart: How about a teddy bear made right around the corner at Chelsea Teddy Bear Company? (Prices vary, depending on the bear you choose). There are even free factory tours at the toy museum on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Chelsea Teddy Bear Co., 400 North Main Street, Chelsea 48118; (734) 433-5499; www.chelseateddybear.com.
For that quiet friend who feels awkward at parties: “The Chat Pack” ($10.95) at Catching Fireflies offers 156 cards, each with a creative question guaranteed to spark a conversation. Boutiques are at 419 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor, (734) 531-6293; 203 E. University, Rochester, (248) 650-3318; and 3117 West 12 Mile, Berkley, (248) 336-2030; www.catchingfireflies.com.
For that artsy friend: How about a one-of-a-kind piece of art guaranteed to enhance any environment? There’s artwork galore at Art Is In Market — jewelry, paintings, pottery, metalwork, fiber arts, photography and more. The shop now has locations in Twelve Oak Mall in Novi, (246) 759-8000, ext. 300; Laurel Park Mall in Livonia, (248) 759-8000, ext. 200; The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton, (248) 759-8000, ext. 400; and Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, (734) 769-6550; www.artisinmarket.com.
For your tea enthusiast friend: This one is easy — a star-moon tea infuser from Crazy Wisdom ($9). You’ll have enough left over for a gift pack of their favorite beverage and maybe even a house mug ($12), to boot. Crazy Wisdom, 114 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor; (734) 665-2757; www.crazywisdom.net.
For that animal-loving friend: Okay, maybe a cat or dog isn’t the safest way to go. But hope is building — literally — at the Michigan Humane Society as the nonprofit group raises funds to move out of its overcrowded old building and build a new Animal Care Campus in Detroit. Make a donation in your friend’s name and follow the progress on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter. Learn more at www.michiganhumane.org/building, or call (248) 283-5690 for more details. Michigan Humane Society, 7401 Chrysler Drive, Detroit 48211; www.michiganhumane.org.
Or perhaps your friend just adopted a cute and cuddly dog or cat — you can still help out. Put that pet’s pic on selected products — water bottles, shirts, notecards — and you’ll be donating to even more animals in need (and giving your friend’s new pet all the glory!) Check out www.picssavingpets.com/ for more information.
For that friend with her head in the clouds: How about an introductory flying lesson? The nonprofit, Ann Arbor-based Michigan Flyers club will be happy to oblige! For $99, your friend will get to learn a bit about the Cessna aircraft (while on the ground), then climb in with one of the experienced instructors, learn a few basic maneuvers, then take the controls and see Ann Arbor from 2,000 feet. Michigan Flyers Club, 1075 Airport Drive, Ann Arbor 48108; (734) 994-6208; www.michiganflyers.org/learn-to-fly/.
For your herbalist friend who has a hard time finding enough mugwort or pennyroyal leaf for his needs, try The Wandering Owl. They sell herbs in bulk, and they have plenty of other interesting items, as well. (Prices vary.) The Wandering Owl, 139 N. Jackson Street, Jackson 49201; (517) 782-2780; www.thewanderingowl.com.
For your friend with the uber-sensitive skin … or the one who is just uber-sensitive about what goes on her skin: How about organic, chemical-free skincare with a beeswax base? There’s skin cream, body butter, sugar scrubs — even deodorant — all from Bee Organic in Oxford, and all available by mail at www.beeorganic.net. Also available at select businesses; call for more information: (248) 783-6450.
For your friend moving into a new house — or starting a new relationship: Perhaps some white sage for a space clearing, or maybe just a few white candles to burn for a blessing. Check out Earth Lore in Plymouth, or just look at their website for products and a wealth of information. Earth Lore, 895 Wing Street, Plymouth Township 48170; (734) 354-1877; www.earthlore.com.
For your friend who just can’t get a good night’s sleep: Maybe a lavender dream pillow ($7) would do the trick. Or perhaps a customized essential oil created to ease anxiety. Nurtured by Mother Nature in Armada specializes in just that. Prices vary — visit the online store and menu at www.nurturedbymothernature.com
For your candle-loving, creative friend: Take a trip to historic downtown Dundee, and visit the Swan Creek Candle Store outlet shop to take in their fragrant soy candles, sniff, buy, and browse. Visit on a Wednesday evening and learn how to make your own three-layer decorative candles (the class is free — for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org). Swan Creek Candle Outlet, 129 Riley Street, Dundee 48131; (888) 612-8242; www.swancreekcandle.com/dundeemi.html.
For your music-loving friend: That’s another easy one! Surely you’ve seen the wealth of CDs tucked along the bookshelves at Crazy Wisdom. There’s music to raise your spirits, soothe your soul, cleanse your chakras or transport you to other parts of the world. Close your eyes and simply relax and listen.
For the friend who … well, has everything. You know the one. The one who says, “I don’t want your presents — I just want your presence.” So what do you give that friend? You give them exactly what they deserve for being a great friend: their name in lights. Name a star after them! You can learn more about it at The International Star Registry, which lets you name a star after a loved one — or even put siblings and family members together in the sky. You’ll receive a certificate with the star chart, date and coordinates, a sky chart and other goodies. Prices start at $54; www.starregistry.com. (You’ll note on the FAQs disclaimer that you’re not really buying the star … you’re just kind of adopting it … so no, neither you nor your friend will go down in scientific history. But still — it’s a sweet gesture!)