The 2018 Cleveland Gift Guide

The A-to-Z on buying local for your loved ones this holiday season

A Year of Ice Cream

If you do the math, buying a year of Mitchell's Ice Cream doesn't really save you that much money. You'd probably spend about the same amount of cash if you were to go to one of the locally owned ice cream shops and just buy a scoop every week for a year. But you're not buying it for yourself and it's not about the deal. It's about delivering sweet, sweet dessert goodness to someone else. The "Year of Ice Cream" certificates ($185) come in a tin, and each one is redeemable for one free scoop of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt at any Mitchell's. They may be used toward any item of greater value and never expire or lose value. Plus, Mitchell's regularly introduces seasonal flavors and makes its ice cream using dairy from family farms in Holmes and Wayne counties.

Blair Ritchey Handbag

No one wants to be another basic B with a Coach handbag. That's where Cleveland's own Blair Ritchey Functional Leather Goods comes in to help. Designed and finished at Ritchey's home studio in Lakewood, customers can choose bags of all sizes from the smaller Origami Envelope Clutch ($64) to the perfect-for-carrying-your-whole-life-around Lango Messenger bag ($498). The designer's bestselling Mini Penn Carryall ($390) was crafted for baby mommas, dads and everyone else and comes with an adjustable strap that can change it into a backpack. The bags are made with quality leather and constructed by the Cleveland Canvas Goods Manufacturing Company, so customers know that no matter which bag they select they're carrying a hometown original while supporting this maker's business.

Cleveland Then and Now

Last year, Plain Dealer reporter Laura DeMarco released her first book, Lost Cleveland, which explored "long-gone places and historic events" to trace Cleveland's glorious past. Set to come out on Dec. 1, her followup book, Cleveland Then and Now, returns to those sites, and many more, to explore how the city has changed and where it stands today. The book pairs modern-day photos with vintage ones to illustrate how our fine city has transformed over the past 150 years; the 144-page tome includes more than 150 photos from 67 locations. It retails for $22.95.


According to the ASPCA, close to 700,000 dogs are euthanized in the United States every year. Because of overcrowding in shelters, a good number of those dogs are perfectly healthy and just unable to find that loving home they're looking for. So why not save an animal's life, and at the same time give a gift that will become your loved one's best friend? Look, we know it's a little risky to give a living creature as a gift, so just take your giftee to the shelter and let them fall in love. And with the multitude of shelters in Greater Cleveland — like the Cuyahoga County Shelter in Valley View, the Animal Protective League in Tremont, and Rescue Village in Geauga County — there are dogs available all around the region. Plus, they're a lot more affordable than the latest designer Golden-Bernese-Yorkie-Doodle-Schnauzer-Pomeranian-CockaPug.

Ebony Watch with Corroded Metal Dial

If you're willing to splurge on something unique, the steam punk-y, adventure-inspiring timepieces from Exquisite Corpse Boutique could be the gift you're looking for this season. The Ebony Watch ($125) features a protective finish and a soft leather strap for the large, handmade nickel dial. Each piece is one of a kind and it'll have everyone asking where you (or your pal or loved one) got it.

Flanagan's Wake Tickets

Starting in early 2019, this interactive play will run at Playhouse Square's Kennedy Theatre. The comedy, which will open Jan. 5 and run every Friday and Saturday through April 28, is entering its 10th year of being performed in Cleveland. The show is an interactive Irish wake that relies on audience participation for its payoff. Flanagan, a member of the fictional community in Graplin, County Sligo, passes away and the villagers (that's you, the audience) participate in telling stories, singing songs and mourning Flanagan, while paying respects to his widow and mother. So if you're looking for a little culture in your New Year, while also getting some laughs, this is the show for you. Tickets start at $26.

GLBC Infuser

Many craft breweries feature one of their beers "infused" with a special ingredient. With the Great Lakes Brewing Co. infuser, you can do the infusing yourself.  Simply stuff the center tube with your preferred ingredient (hops, coffee, fruit) and then fill the "All Yours Infuse-A-Brew" with your favorite beer and let it steep. The item, which retails for $7.95 at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. store, is even BPA-free so you can feel good about not damaging the environment as you get sloshed.

Homage Vintage Cavs' Sweatshirt

Though the swift rejection of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2018-2019 "City Edition" uniforms was not quite universal, responses to its unveiling were in the neighborhood of 95-percent negative. The bright blue and orange jerseys, with Destination Cleveland's script "Cleveland" in white on the front, looked like absolute trash. But they served as a reminder that the blue and orange Cavs Unis from the '80s and '90s were classic editions, and worthy of throwback treatment. Items in that color scheme belong in any Cavs fan's closet. Homage, the Columbus-based apparel shop with a location at Crocker Park, has a wealth of unique vintage hoodies and sweatshirts that'll let you show your team pride while still looking fly. Our preference: the blue and orange "Cavs stripe crewneck."

Inductee Class of 2018 Mug

The Rock Hall Class of 2018 was one of the weakest in the Rock Hall's 25-year history. But don't let that stop you from buying this cool travel mug. Akron-based artist Leandra Drumm drew the imagery, which features Jon Bon Jovi holding the American flag, because he was the top fan-vote getter and everything. Ric Ocasek of the Cars holds a small car, a member of the Moody Blues has a Mellotron in his hand, and the words "Sultans of Swing," the name of a Dire Straits tune, are on the mug as well. At press time, the travel mug was no longer available for purchase through the Rock Hall website, but you could still buy an inductee magnet, an inductee bottle opener and various inductee T-shirts.

Jungle Plants from Lakewood Plant Co.

Go to any Instagram influencer's page these days and it seems their homes are heavily stocked with green, living things. Succulents, cacti, air plants and more make any bright white space pop with color. For those wanting to take that jungle and/or desert influence and apply it to their own home (or a giftee's home), Lakewood Plant Co. offers all sorts of exotic-looking plants at it's Lakewood store. Running between $5 and $90, quality vegetation is available for those with even the leanest of bank accounts. For another unique gift possibility, sign up a loved one for one of the company's multiple workshops, which teach people important skills like how to make macrame plant holders or fill terrariums correctly.

Karats from Wanderlust Jewelers

When words aren't enough, diamonds can say what your vocal cords can't. Thankfully, Wanderlust Jewelers in Cleveland Heights is here to make sure your next high-end jewelry purchase for the one you spend your life with is not only handcrafted right here in Greater Cleveland but won't be confused with anything Vera Wang is selling on TV. Since 2011, Wes and Heather Airgood have been designing and making jewelry with the most precious of metals and gems. Each ring (engagement, wedding or otherwise), bracelet, necklace or set of earrings is made to order. Buyers can choose from stunning designs on the website or work with the jewelers directly to create their own special piece. From simple gold bands to the most extravagantly diamond-crusted rings, nothing here comes cheap. But even today, some things are worth all the time, effort and money. Visits to the studio can be made by appointment only.

Loganberry Book of the Month Club

Loganberry Books is routinely mentioned as one of Cleveland's best bookstores, and the mesmerizingly large scope of its collection is only one piece of the literary puzzle. Another is the bookstore's programming. Beyond all the regular events at its Larchmere location, Loganberry offers a Book of the Month Club, a perfect gift idea for the bookworm in your life. Just fill out a form with the recipient's age and reading tastes, and every month the staff at Loganberry will send them a new book. It makes for a thoughtfully curated reading list for only $12, $24, or $36 per month. (The priciest tier includes special and out-of-print editions and hard-to-find titles, for even more pizazz.) It sure beats Netflix, right?

Mayfield's Thursday Night Color Rush Browns Hat

What better way to commemorate a resurgent Browns' franchise for the Cleveland sports fan in your life than with the very ball cap that quarterback Baker Mayfield wore on the sidelines during the victory over the New York Jets on Thursday, Sept. 20? The brown-on-brown "color rush" snapback cap, with "BROWNS" on the front and two orange horizontal stripes on the side, is not only a memento of the first Browns win in more than a year, it's just a dope-looking piece of headgear. Once you start wearing it, we guarantee you'll wake up feeling dangerous. This is an extremely popular item, and is selling out at various online shops, but ask for the "New Era Color Rush 9FIFTY Snapback" at the Browns team shop or your local Lids location.

Nutcracker Ballet Tickets

What better way to usher in the holiday season than by attending a performance of The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet that takes place in an enchanted world on Christmas Eve. Performed by the Cleveland Ballet, the show will be here for a seven-show run, Dec. 13 through 16, with matinees on Dec. 14 through 16 at Playhouse Square's Hanna Theatre. Tickets start at $25 and go up to $79. In 2017, all the Cleveland shows sold out, so act quickly. Ballet artistic director Gladisa Guadalupe brings her own interpretation of the classic Christmas ballet to spice things up.

One Pan, Whole Family Cookbook by Carla Snyder

Hudson cookbook author Carla Snyder knows all about the challenges of getting dinner on the table, which is why she's created her most recent book, One Pan, Whole Family: 70 Complete Weeknight Meals ($24.95 paperback, $19.95 Kindle). Divided into sections by protein choice, the book is easy to flip through and decide what's for dinner, depending on your taste for chicken, red meat, seafood or meat-free options. Recipes like roasted broccoli with peanuts and brown rice and stove-top lasagna with spinach are a breeze to cook with Snyder's guidance. Best of all, everything really is made in one pan, so cleanup (the worst part of any meal) is minimal. Each recipe also comes with notes from Snyder on how to make a meal more hearty, more flavorful, and, most importantly, which wine or beer pairs best.

Prathermade Record Storage

For that vinyl lover in your life who stores their albums on bookshelves, in milk crates, and stacked on the closet floor, you'll want to scoop up one of Prathermade's sharp, modern and super-functional record storage pieces. Available in a wide range of finishes and stains, they've got options for all kinds of collectors and fans, from the minimal series up to signature creations for folks who have enough albums to run their own radio station.

Rust Belt Tarot Deck

If you're struggling to hit that sweet spot of a gift that combines original art, the Rust Belt and centuries-old occult practices, Belt Publishing has you covered. The Rust Belt Tarot Deck is absolutely gorgeous, thanks to 78 watercolor prints from David Wilson, who also co-wrote and illustrated Belt Publishing's Rust Belt Arcana book. "We are confident this is the first-ever Rust Belt-themed tarot deck, and pretty sure it is the prettiest one as well," Belt says. And we'll put up no argument against either assertion. Pick it up for just $40.

Quirky Furniture from Heck's Revival

Going to flea markets can be a perfect family outing, as it was for Cleveland native Caley Coleff, who first began collecting home goods from flea markets years ago with her Grandpa Heck. Starting Heck's Revival in 2011, her vintage and custom-home operation continues to bring out droves of customers to her brick-and-mortar store on Madison Avenue, and to her booth at the Cleveland Flea. Folks come for the refurbished furniture, but stay for the warm environment and expert advice. Looking for something to jazz up a loved one's drab abode this Christmas? Look no further.

Superelectric Pinball Parlor Party Pack

Superelectric Pinball Parlor is one the coolest and most unique establishments in Cleveland. On the corner of Detroit and West 65th in Gordon Square, it's an awesome place for a date night or just to spend an hour before or after a movie at the Capitol Theatre, testing your pinball skills on games like Iron Maiden, Dr. Who and Funhouse while sipping on dad beers and craft brews alike. It also happens to be a rad venue for a private party. For $100, you'll get $5 in pinball tokens for 20 to 25 guests and reserved tables for your gang. (Reduced rates for smaller groups are also available.) If you want the run of the place, you can rent out the whole establishment for $200 per hour, which includes unlimited free game play. If you're tired of generic bar crawls or don't have the energy to clean your house before your next soiree, Superelectric's the ticket.

Tickets to Watch-it Wednesdays at 78th Street Studios

Tickets to Watch-it Wednesdays, the monthly interactive behind-the-scenes tour of 78th Studios, would be an exhilarating gift for the art lover or aspiring artist in your life ­— the kind of person who loves the Third Friday open house, but doesn't take kindly to huge crowds. Each Watch-it Wednesday event lets ticket holders get up-close access to about 15 Cleveland artists as they work on their latest projects. You can chill with them and ask about their techniques and creative process.  The $15 advance admission ($20 at the door) includes one complimentary drink ticket and an artist-made gift to take home. Food and beverages are also available on-site from Local West.

U2 Poster for the 1981 Agora Show and the 1983 Show at Music Hall

Clevelanders who lived here in the '70s and '80s will often tell you about all the bands that came through town on their way to super-stardom. U2 is one of those bands. WMMS championed the group early on, and the Irish rock act played the Agora in 1981 and Music Hall in 1983. These posters commemorate those concerts. At press time, the posters were no longer available on the Rock Hall site, but you could still buy a number of other cool rock posters, including ones featuring photos by esteemed rock photographer Herb Ritts.

Visible Voice Loyalty Membership

One of the best bargains in town, the Visible Voice Loyalty Membership provides its subscribers with a series of great perks. For just $25, you get $10 off of every $100 spent, one coffee or tea and pastry or one glass of the Tremont bookstore's featured wine or beer per month, an e-newsletter announcing new arrivals, upcoming events and special deals, and the opportunity to meet authors. Subscribers will receive an email each month that provides specific details regarding the coffee/tea/beer/wine perk.

Wine Pourer Stopper

 The Cleveland Museum of Art gift shop sells a special Savora Pourer Stopper that's designed to pour wine drip-free and with ease. The thing will even reseal the wine bottle for later use. It features a colored, glossy, soft-grip base that you press into the neck of the bottle. The pour spout is made of polished stainless steel, and the thing comes with a polished metal handle too. It retails for $14.99 and comes in crimson and white. You can find it at the art museum gift shop and on the CMA website.

XXL Clothing from Re/Dress

The modern boutique in Lakewood caters to plus-sized individuals and, in that regard, is a rarity on the local fashion landscape. You might have seen them at the Cleveland Flea, but you can also stop by their brick-and-mortar location in Lakewood to peruse their offerings during normal business hours. Or set up a private fitting and style consultation before or after digging into their online shop.

Yellowcake Accessories

Valerie Mayen blasted off like a rocket in 2010 when she landed her first appearance on Bravo's fashion game of thrones, Project Runway. The then-28-year-old Cleveland designer behind her own Yellowcake label — a funky and colorful line of clothing and accessories that would look cool on chic space invaders — has since been keeping Cleveland looking great. Drop by her site and snag something special for a favored fashionista from her collection of outerwear, dresses, jumpsuits and more.

Membership at the Cleveland Zoo

The zoo, in the middle of winter??? Well, that's why we have the RainForest. Starting at $59 for seniors, and going up to $164 for a family select pass, there is a package that works for everyone. While each package is different, each pass includes free unlimited daytime admission for at least the pass-holder and one guest to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and RainForest for one year — and you don't have to wait in line. A pass also includes discounts on daytime admission to more than 150 zoos nationwide, gift shop discounts, deals for camps and other educational programs and for select attractions and experience packages. Everybody loves the zoo, and that makes it the perfect gift for your loved one this holiday season. Stop monkeying around and do it!

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