Traverse City: A Holiday Shopper’s Dream

Jennifer Lake loves to shop almost any time of year – but she’s especially enthusiastic when it comes to picking out the “perfect” holiday presents for family and friends. Luckily, she happens to live in Traverse City, where the opportunities for creative shopping multiply exponentially this time of year. Below, she shares a few of her recommendations.

For more ideas on places to shop and visit in Traverse City, visit

Right now, I’m doing everything in my power to resist the leftover Halloween candy that’s sitting just out of reach on my desk. The most helpful technique?  Distracting myself with thoughts of what lies ahead.

I’m not talking about snow (did I really see flurries this morning?!), I’m talking about the holidays and all that they entail: the family gatherings, the mouthwatering food and – oh yes, the shopping!  Admittedly, I’m a shopping enthusiast. I take pride in making the perfect purchase, and I love finding things that can’t be found anywhere else. Being a designer, it’s just engrained in my psyche to seek out the unique, colorful surprise that brings a smile to the people whose names are on my list.

Fortunately, I don’t have to go far to find those special treats for my loved ones (or myself) this year, because here in Traverse City, the holiday shopping is very hip! It’s true that TC doesn’t have big malls or zillions of choices of department stores, but what we lack in quantity we certainly make up for in quality. This is a place full of boutique shops and unique markets that make holiday shopping a downright joy! It’s got one-of-a-kind items, friendly shop owners and affordability. What more could one want?

If you’ve been to Traverse City before, you know that the downtown district is brimming with old favorites and new stores to delight all kinds of cravings, especially when it comes to fashion, food, and furnishings. I could spend all morning browsing the wonders of Horizon Books and make my rounds to Sweet Pea (for my one year old), then What To Wear (for me) and on to several of the new salon boutiques (for friends) until I land myself in Amical for much needed nourishment and a big ol’ glass of red wine. And then my shopping frenzy really starts to get interesting.

I’ve found that some of the best shopping in Traverse is popping up in the revitalized Warehouse District, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and at the increasingly growing number of artist markets around town. In the Warehouse District (Hall and Garland) I keep discovering amazing gift ideas like terrariums at the Green Room, eclectic decor goodies at The Red Dresser and plenty of stylish socks and accessories at freshly opened  Relish. The Grand Traverse Commons  continues to surprise me with new stores like 27 Stitches (local, handcrafted gifts and yummy yarn) and great collections of jewelry at Silver Fox Jewelry and Gallery Fifty. (Did someone say Fordite? I’m there!)

Finally, indie art markets are becoming very trendy in the area this year, and it’s exciting to see the talent and variety of items available at these events. I hit the local Makers Market in September and I’m already plotting to attend next year with my organic knapsack ready to fill. This weekend I’m headed to The Children’s House Holiday Art Market to get my fix of adorable winter hats and scarves, pottery, soaps and ornaments – all handmade, all one-of-kind, all made right here in Traverse.

And did I mention that this shopping experience is beautifully enhanced by incredibly helpful people, no line-waiting and the numerous cozy restaurants that seem to appear around every corner just when you need a break? Traverse City shopping is a package deal! So, in case you need another excuse to visit our lovely city this season, put on your boots (from Robert Frost) and find out what holiday shopping is really all about. It’s not a chore, it’s a celebration!

‘Tis the Season, after all.

Guest blogger Jennifer Lake is the founder of Brand Tonic, a boutique design and branding firm giving a daily dose of creativity to businesses throughout Michigan. Talk with her at

Enjoying Holiday Nights as an Insider

Holiday Nights return to The Henry Ford this season! Today, Lish Dorset, social media manager for The Henry Ford, fills us in on what makes this celebration special to her and what she’s looking forward to seeing from her behind-the-scenes view this year.

Posing for a family photo in Henry Ford Museum, 1986

If you live in metro Detroit, chances are you’ve been to Holiday Nights here at The Henry Ford at some point. While Greenfield Village closes down for the season in about a week, we open back up at night during the weekends to celebrate the holiday season. This year’s Holiday Nights will be a very special visit for me – it’s my first time as an employee of The Henry Ford and my first chance to see all of the hard work that happens behind the scenes.

Skaters take to the ice rink

Growing up in Birmingham, my family’s Christmas tradition has been to spend Christmas Eve morning at Henry Ford Museum. Year after year we took our family portrait of the small cousins in front of the gigantic Christmas tree housed in the museum plaza. When Holiday Nights started more than 10 years ago, our family, with us cousins now looking more like grown-ups, added that to our must-do holiday activity list. We spent hours ice skating, touring the homes, and enjoying some mulled cider as we awaited the holidays.

Warming station help keep guests and presenters warm during Holiday Nights

I had the chance to take my fiance and best friend to Holiday Nights last year for their first visits. We watched the Liberty Craftworks glass artists pull beautiful candy canes, a favorite among THF members, as we learned more about glass blowing and all the crafts they produce for the holidays. December in Michigan tends to be fairly cold, so a visit to the glass shop and their hot furnaces was a welcomed stop from my group. A visit to the Guild Beer Hall didn’t hurt, either!

Holiday Nights preparation is officially underway, even though it seems like we just put away the last of the Hallowe’en scarecrows and pumpkins! As I drive down Village Road past Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum, I’m always excited to see which decoration was put up that morning. It’s not unusual to see rows upon rows of dark green wreaths being prepared for hanging or our grounds crew surveying the best location to add more accessories.

Singing the night away...

And it’s beginning to look a lot more like the holidays inside the museum, too. The model trains have been getting a holiday makeover over by the Allegheny Locomotive, and the gift shop is packed with ornaments, brand-new toys, and the latest handmade offerings from Greenfield Village’s artisans for holiday gift giving.

While I’m lucky enough to see some of the hard work that goes into another exciting year of Holiday Nights, you can bet I’ll be out wandering Greenfield Village in just a few short weeks with my fiance and friends, celebrating the holidays and starting another round of festive traditions.

Lish Dorset is the social media manager for The Henry Ford in Dearborn. She lives in Royal Oak with her fiance and fat cat, Ronnie. When she’s not sharing some of her favorite artifacts from the collections of The Henry Ford with fans on Facebook, she’s at home crafting. You can learn more about Holiday Nights by check out The Henry Ford’s blog.

Pure Michigan December Events Roundup

The holiday season is in full swing this December in Pure Michigan! From craft shows and concerts to holiday lightings and ball drops, there is an event for everyone to enjoy throughout the month.

For a complete listing of Michigan’s December events, visit


Week of 12/2/12

Holiday Walk – Puttin’ On the Glitz
November 23 – December 22, 2012, Rochester
You’re cordially invited to celebrate the holidays in style. Step back to an age of gilded opulence as you stroll through the iconic home of the automotive aristocracy…the Dodge-Wilson family…a world bedecked with dazzling jewelry, glamorous gowns and stunning decorations at the Meadow Brook Hall’s 41st annual Holiday Walk, November 23 through December 22. Tours are self-guided and are Monday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm (last admittance at 4pm), and special evening hours Monday, December 17 through Thursday, December 20 from 11am until 9pm (last admittance at 8pm). Tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for children 17 and under (accompanied by an adult); children age two and under are free. On Tuesdays and Thursdays seniors age 62 and older will receive $5 off admission. For more information on this event, visit the website link or call (248) 364-6200.

Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic
November 23, 2012 – December  30, 2013, Flint
This is a special time at the Village, when thousands of lights sparkle like tiny stars and the Huckleberry Railroad takes you on a festive night-time ride! You’ll find villagers making vintage crafts, shops full of great gifts and Santa himself bringing smiles to faces. Your family will love this six-week-long celebration that opens November 23 with a glorious fireworks show and continues after Christmas, through December 30! Dates are November 23-25, 30, December 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 19-23 and 26-30 from 4 to 9pm. Village only – Adult (13 to 59) $10, Senior (60+) $9, Child (25 months-12 yrs.) $8. Children 24 months and under free. Village/Train – Adult (13 to 59) $13, Senior (60+) $12, Child (25 months-12 yrs.) $10. Children 24 months and under free. For details, reservations and group rates, visit the website link or call (800) 648-PARK, ext. 6.

Flurry Fest
December 1, 2012, Charlevoix
Bundle up and come to downtown Charlevoix where the Flurry fest will entertain you with activities for the whole family. Some events include a hot chocolate contest, a visit from Santa and a reindeer, a free Christmas movie and live entertainment. For more information, contact the Charlevoix Downtown Development Authority at (231) 547-3257.

Holidays in Lakeside
December 1, 2012, Muskegon
There will be Santa, carriage rides, carolers, merchant specials, a community bake sale, holiday film showing and an abundance of holiday cheer from 11am – 5pm in downtown Lakeside. The Hoop Happy hula-hoop is planned for 11am at the Harbor Theater with lessons and demonstrations. For more information visit the website or call (231) 755-7606.

Holiday Craft Extravaganza
December 1-2, 2012, Novi
The Holiday Craft Extravaganza promises to be a trove of one-of-a-kind gifts, fine jewelry, gourmet treats, holiday décor and more. It takes place at the Suburban Collection Showplace December 1-2, 2012. With tons of crafters under one roof, the Holiday Craft Extravaganza will bring a unique and festive shopping experience to the Metro Detroit area with the list of exhibitors growing daily. For event information, visit the website link or call (248) 348-5600.

Downtown Midland’s Holly Jolly Days
December 1-9, 2012, Midland
Enjoy a festive atmosphere in Downtown Midland while doing your holiday shopping or enjoying a bite to eat with your family. Saturdays and Sundays – December 1 & 2, 8 & 9 – Downtown Midland will provide a holiday atmosphere from noon until 4pm with FREE horse-drawn carriage rides, strolling carolers, FREE hot cocoa and great holiday deals at participating stores. Call (989) 837-3330 for more information.

Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village
December 1-27, 2012, Dearborn
Step into a Christmas card from the past. Don’t miss the most popular holiday event in the area, complete with candlelit paths, live entertainment, costumed presenters, horse-drawn wagon and Model T rides, delightful holiday shops, Santa and live reindeer, ice skating, a spectacular fireworks display and more. Dates include December 1, 7-8, 14-16, 18-23 and 26-27; 6:30pm-10pm.  For more information visit the website or call (800) 835-5237 or (313) 982-6001.

Christmas Tree Festival
December 1-30, 2012, Monroe
Get in the holiday mood – bring family and friends to the holiday event at the Monroe County Historical Museum. Trees and wreaths are decorated with creativity by Monroe classrooms, clubs & organizations! Also see the beauty of the festive Victorian room, and the museum itself is decked out in finery! For more information, call (734) 240-7780.

Jack Frost Festival of Lights Parade
December 7, 2012, Ironwood
This annual event kicks off the holiday season with visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and Jack Frost plus Gingerbread House display and Gogebic Range Band Christmas Concert. For more information contact (906) 932-1122.

Imlay City’s Winter Playground
December 8, 2012, Imlay City
The Polar Express Parade will set foot at noon on Saturday, December 8th and march through the streets of Imlay City (Third Street and Main Street). Santa will greet children after the parade at the Historical Museum on Main Street. Mrs. Claus will be telling stories inside Focus Studio. Other Winter Playground activities include horse drawn wagon rides, a culinary expert creating a sculpture out of ice, and much more. For more information on this event, visit the website link or call (810) 724-1361.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
December 8, 2012, Flint
Renowned director Neil Goldberg re-imagines the holiday season with sparkle and suspense one can only dream of in Holidaze. An international cast of over 30 multi-talented and brilliantly costumed artists come to life and perform astonishing feats of disbelief. Experience gingerbread men flipping mid-air, toy soldiers marching on thin wires, snowmen balancing daringly, icemen powerfully sculpting, penguins spinning, puppets dancing, and reindeer soaring high above a landscape of holiday wonderment accompanied by an original music score. For more information or showtime/ticket information, visit the website link or call (810) 237-7333.

Northpole Express
December 8-9, 2012, Owosso
Share the joy this holiday season by taking the family on a magical train ride to the North Pole. This exciting four-hour Journey includes hot cocoa, visits with Santa, holiday rides, model railroad displays, live entertainment, holiday crafts and shopping at the Kris Kringle Mart. Enjoy the nostalgic ambiance of riding the American rail while viewing the winter scenery of Mid-Michigan. Passengers depart from Owosso, Michigan, and ride in vintage passenger cars pulled by one of the Great Lakes Central’s historical Diesel Locomotives. Wearing pajamas is suggested-just like in the movie! General admission is $70 for adults and $40 for children 12 and under. Saturday & Sunday departure times of 10am & 4pm. Nov 24 & 25, Dec 1 & 2, Dec 8 & 9, and Dec 15 & 16. For more information, visit the website link or call (989) 725-9464.

Week of 12/9/12

Galloping Gourmet
December 13, 2012, St. Claire
Enjoy an evening of exquisite tastes and the merriment of a horse and carriage. Cuddle up in a horse-drawn carriage that will carry you around to St. Clair’s delightful restaurants where you’ll be served their finest cuisine. A wonderful holiday evening to share with friends and family! For more information, call (810) 329-2962.

A Christmas Carol
December 13-16, 2012, Petoskey
Charles Dickens classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is brought to life on the stage in this beautiful downtown Petoskey venue. The Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will all make an appearance. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and $10 for matinee performances. Thursday – Saturday performances are held at 8pm and Sunday performances are 2pm matinees. The play will be held again December 20th – 22nd. For event information, call (231) 348-1850 or visit the website

Greek Christmas Celebration
December 14-15, 2012, Marquette
Experience the local Greek Christmas customs which will include pastries, music, dancing and traditions of the season. Free with Marquette Regional History Center admission. 1pm – 3pm. For more information contact (906) 226-3571.

Kalamazoo Reptile and Exotic Animal Show
December 15, Kalamazoo
Buy, sell and trade a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and other exotic pets. Admission for adults is $4, children 6-12 $2, and under 6 free. There is a family max – $15. The event is from 10am-3pm in Room A at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. For more information visit the website or call (269) 779-9851.

Week of 12/16/12

Home for the Holidays – Concert
December 21-22, 2012, Detroit
Share Detroit’s favorite holiday musical tradition with family and friends, and thrill to the spectacle of the season. It’s a sparkling holiday celebration. And yes, there will be a Santa Claus! For information visit the website or call (313) 576-5111.

Week of 12/23/12

Ski Free with Santa on Christmas
December 25, 2012, Bellaire
Ski free with Santa on the slopes of Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resorts from 9am – 4:30pm on Christmas Day, for more information contact (800) 678-4111.

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl
December 26, 2012, Detroit
Come and enjoy the annual football game and festivities in downtown Detroit at Ford Field – Home of the Detroit Lions! The teams slated for the match up are the MAC #1 vs the Big Ten #8. Visit the Pizza Bowl website for more information.

Full Moon Night Skiing
December 28, 2012, Roscommon
Experience the magic of winter in a whole new light! Every full moon during the ski season we will light the Trapper’s Cabin trail with torches, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience. We will also have a bonfire and serve hot chocolate at Trapper’s Cabin from 6-8:30pm. Skiers who need to rent skis must do so before 6pm, as the store will close at 6pm per the usual schedule. Join us for an evening you’ll never forget! For event information, call (800) 832-2663.

Week of 12/30/12

New Year’s Fest
December 31, 2012, Kalamazoo
New Year’s Fest is a community performing arts celebration in downtown Kalamazoo. The event features 24 performing artists in 10 buildings surrounding Bronson Park. Musical entertainment includes classical music, rhythm and blues, jazz, bluegrass and Christian contemporary. Performing artists include magicians, clowns, jugglers, storytellers and tricks. It’s a great event for families and for young adults with food featured at many of the sites. Admission is $5 for everyone over four years of age. For more information visit the website or contact (269) 388-2830.

Northville Nite
December 31, 2012, Northville
Happy New Year! Join us in traveling “Through the Decades” this New Year’s Eve! As you enter the gates you will travel back in time to the Roarin’ 20’s and travel through the decades all the way to the future! Enjoy activities like crafts, huge inflatable games, entertainment and much more. Make sure you stay until 7pm for the New Year’s Eve countdown! 4pm – 7pm.  Located at the Recreation Center at Hillside.  For more information, visit the website link or call (248) 349-0203.

Zac Brown Band
December 31, 2012, Detroit
Grammy Award-winning and multiplatinum-album selling Zac Brown Band will ring in the New Year at Joe Louis Arena at 8:30pm with special guests Blackberry Smoke and Levi Lowrey. For information call (800) 745-3000 or visit the Olympia entertainment site here.

Downtown Marquette Ball Drop
December 31, 2012, Marquette
Celebrate the New Year at the Downtown Marquette New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and watch the annual drop from the Savings Bank Building starting at 11:30pm at the corner of Washington and Front Streets in Marquette. Call (906) 228-9475 for details.

Don’t miss your chance to see what else is happening in cities across Michigan throughout the month. Visit for a complete listing. What event or festival are you most looking forward to in December?