Our $3.50: Local gift ideas that’ll earn you major points

Our $3.50Buying local holiday gifts is the way to go. I don’t need to tell you why when there’s an awesome info-graphic that’ll do it for me. That info-graphic is posted at the bottom of this post, which is guaranteed to make you a gift-giving superhero. I’ll sort it by the following topic areas: Food, Household/Decorative/Art, Experiences, etc.

Ready, set…GO!

Foodie gifts

It’s hard to imagine how you could go wrong by giving the gift of local food. I like to either print out a menu and offer a meal to one of these places or buy a gift certificate. The first one let’s me get in on the gift. Here’s a quick stream-of-consciousness list of responsible restaurants we love: Arbor Brewing Company, Earthen Jar, The Grange, Jerusalem Garden, Raven’s Club, Zingerman’s DeliZingerman’s Roadhouse.

The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market has tokens that would make an awesome stocking stuffer…you can use credit to buy them at the Market Manager’s office.

Homeowner gifts

Energy audits!? This might not seem impressive, but you’ll be saving someone you care about loads of money in utility expenses.  It’s thoughtful, creative and often something folks struggle to get the ball rolling on. Contact these folks and they’ll hook you up.

Signing someone up for our BetterBuildings for Michigan program, is a great gift idea — it’s a nonprofit and government backed program where folks can get a comprehensive energy audit for only $100, and then get access to incredible instant rebate dollars and special financing to make more improvements, with pre-qualified contractors.

Of course, getting a cozier house for the winter can be pretty appealing.

Again, WARM and the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office are offering this program in SE Michigan and you can sign up at MIHomeEnergy.org.

Transportation gifts

All of these places have amazing items to help people ride their bicycles or walk more. As a frequent biker/walker, I can honestly say I am always secretly hoping for gifts from every single one of these amazing local businesses:


Experiential gifts

Nichols Arboretum at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is an absolute treasure — especially when you’ve had it with dreary winter days. And, if you can’t beat it, join it  – Pack some snacks, put some hiking boots on and check out great local trails at Saginaw Forest, Bird Hills, Barton Nature Area, or one of many local Metroparks. Too stressed to think of anything good on your own? Let Huron River Watershed Council do the work for you. Their events calendar is full of cool stuff that’ll make you look smart.


And, of course, you can buy an Ann Arbor 350 “subway” tee to support our work and make one of your friends’ wardrobes cooler!



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