Last Minute Local Christmas Gifts in Downtown Cleveland

While we’re far from having enough shops in downtown Cleveland, I was able to get almost all my Christmas presents from local Cleveland stores. And the majority of the gifts were purchased right off Euclid Avenue in the heart of downtown. Plus, did I mention how absolutely beautiful it is downtown right now? Between the snow, lights and holiday decorations it really does look like a winter wonderland.

But back to gift buying, as I’m sure that I’m not the only one that waited till the last minute to shop.


I’m all about buying experiences instead of things for Christmas presents. Tickets to Playhouse Square (or a gift certificate for a show of their choosing), a concert at the House of Blues or tickets to a CAVS game are all wonderful gifts and located right downtown.

Other great gifts that don’t come in a package are memberships to the Cleveland Museum of Art (or any of our other fabulous museums), Cleveland International Film Festival Tickets or a gift certificate to the Music Box Supper Club.



We’re still nowhere near where we need to be in terms of retail downtown, but we’re starting to see more stores popping up. For the men in our lives, check out stores like J3 Clothing Company in The Arcade (their store was designed by Arhaus  and it’s beautiful), We Bleed Ohio or Kilted Bros. Women’s (and men’s) clothing can be found at Geiger’s  or the 5th Street Arcades. Cleveland Clothing Co. on East 4th Street offers plenty of clothing and gift options as well.


Home Goods

Take your choice between any of the specialty shops in the arcades downtown or head to Ohio City or Tremont for more options. The arcades off Euclid Avenue include shops like:

Cleveland in a Box: Give the gift of Cleveland, or rather all things that represent and remind the people on your list about what makes Cleveland great. Boxes start at $30.

CLE Pets: While they may only have four legs, the dogs in your life should enjoy Christmas too. Locally made dog treats and food are for sale at CLE Pets, as well as dog calendars, clothing and more.


Happy Hour Collection: This is one of my favorite stores just because the decor alone is darling. Here you can find vintage (and new) glasses for a bar, mixers, bitters, shakers and more. They even have a bitters tasting area so you can sample before you buy.


Love, Anji: Real flowers may die, but you don’t have to worry about that with Love, Anji’s paper flowers. They are absolutely gorgeous and will last forever (or until you get sick of them). The flowers shown below feature maps of Cleveland.


Monica Potter Home: I was surprised by how affordable the Monica Potter Home store is. I was expecting overpriced home items and found just the opposite. They also sell soaps, sprays and a few clothing items. Definitely worth a stop!



I’ve mentioned them before, but Marengo Luxury Spa is my favorite place to get pampered in downtown Cleveland. Their spa is awesome and they’re located in the beautiful Old Arcade. Tip: Marengo offers awesome deals twice a year (usually June/December) to buy one service and get a second for $10. Stock up during those sales for the whole year!


There are obviously a million restaurants downtown and more popping up everyday. Treat someone on your list to a great night out by buying a restaurant gift card. An alternative option is to get them a gift certificate to Heinen’s. The downtown Heinen’s is more than just a grocery store, with great beer and wine tasting events available on the second story.


Outside of downtown Cleveland there are plenty of great, local options too. Some of my favorites include Banyan Tree, Salty not Sweet Boutique and Room Service. Located in Tremont and Ohio City, these local shops offer unique gifts in all price ranges and many showcase the Cleveland love.


Creative Way to Decorate Your Home: Cleveland Art


I walked into a trendy, downtown apartment and I was immediately drawn to the art on the wall. Large black and white images of Cleveland line the hallway at The Ivory, a newly renovated building on Euclid Avenue. Looking at the prints, I was already thinking of what they would look like on my walls at home (no, I was not planning on stealing them!). I wasn’t the only one interested. At the time, I was volunteering with the Walk & Dine tour in the Gateway District and each group of guests that entered the apartment wanted to know where the owners had obtained this unique and vintage Cleveland art.

It turns out that we have a wonderful (and FREE) resource available to us. Drum roll please. The Cleveland Public Library has an entire collection of online photographs that I never knew existed. The best part is that you can download them at no cost to you and then have them printed to hang as art in your home. Simply go to to start browsing. Another great place to find old Cleveland photographs is through the Cleveland Memory Project.

I picked five of my favorites and had them blown up to 12 x 18 ($3.99 each) at Costco. If you’ve never gotten your pictures developed at Costco, you should consider giving them a try. The quality is fantastic and the price can’t be beat. I then went to Michael’s and picked out standard black frames with white mattes ($12 each; never buy them unless they are on sale). I have a fairly long hallway upon entering my apartment, so I decided to hang them there for a more dramatic entrance.

As soon as people walk into my apartment they check out the photographs of the city. It was easy to do and it cost a fraction of the price that art can cost. Don’t live in Cleveland? Check out your local library to see if they offer a similar resource.


  • Download the pictures at their highest resolution. Then double check to make sure images are least 1 MB before printing.
  • Print a couple extras so that you can mix and match the ones that work best together.
  • The majority of pictures are in black and white, however some of them appear more aged than others. Keep that in mind when selecting your pictures.
  • Want to save even more money on frames? Head to your local thrift store and spray paint frames black for the same effect.


Gift Guide Cleveland: Local and Last Minute

As Christmas inches closer and closer, the anxiety of what to buy for loved ones continues to grow. Where will you be shopping this week as we count down to Christmas? Will you be buying “memorable” gifts at Wal-Mart or will you be supporting local shops?

Not only are local gifts so much more special, but your dollars stay in the local economy you are supporting. So try going a less traditional route this year and support some of the businesses that make our city great. Check out this list of recommendations and check out this great article on other local retailer options!

Barefoot Life: All Natural Bath & Body Products

First up is a business I’ve posted about in the past – Barefoot Life Products. Skip the traditional options like Bath & Body and buy luxurious, home-made lotions, soaps and body scrubs. All of the Barefoot Life products are made with all natural ingredients and smell amazing. I’m a huge fan of all the pumpkin scented products, but the seasonal scents sound incredible. Holiday options include peppermint mocha, peppermint and pumpkin seed. And, if you mention my blog when you place your order you’ll receive a free travel size lotion bar!

Christmas HouseSanctuary on Green: Ornaments and Art

Who doesn’t love a new ornament for their Christmas tree to remember a special trip or perhaps a new addition to the family? Head to the Sanctuary on Green for their 35th Annual Christmas Open House. Peruse through thousands of ornaments, jewelry, sculptures and so much more. They are open Thursdays through Sundays from 11:00 to 5:30 p.m. until the end of the month. Just want to be nosy? You can also tour their property while shopping! (Photo from Thomas Ondrey from The Plain Dealer)

img_06651A Christmas Story Gift Shop: Leg Lamps, Ornaments, Glasses, Apparel and More

What would Christmas be if there wasn’t a little bit of A Christmas Story in it?! While some may argue that it is a tad overdone, I would argue that A Christmas Story never gets old. I think that these novelty gift items are the perfect addition to any gift exchange. Who wouldn’t love a Leg Lamp night light? How about a Fragile ornament or some bunny slippers? Not A Christmas Story fan? They also sell Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Elf items too!

Gift Guide Cleveland: Experiences

GiftIt’s that time of year again. The time when I start to wonder what I’m going to purchase for the special people in my life. While a part of me wants to buy the items that are on their Christmas lists, another part of me always tries to figure out unique and fun gift ideas that people would enjoy but not expect.

You’ll notice a theme as you review this gift guide – everything is based on experiences. So rather than buying tangible gifts this year, think about getting something that will create memories throughout the whole year.

Cleveland Film Festival TicketsThe 39th annual Cleveland International Film Festival will take place from March 18 – 29, 2015. Your friends and family will love the opportunity to experience the gift of film at one of Cleveland’s best traditions. Gift certificates for the film festival can be purchased online or you can call 216-623-3456 x10.

Playhouse Square Broadway SeriesI’ve said it before (and written a post about it), I love the Broadway Series at Playhouse Square. Three years ago, my family and I decided to splurge and go in on this gift for my mom. You pay for the shows up front (or choose a payment plan) and can enjoy the gift of live entertainment seven months of the year. You can even buy Smart Tickets, which start at only $10 per show. Looking for less commitment? Buy a Playhouse Square gift card, which is good for any show. Want to buy them in person? During this time of year they have people outside of the theaters, making it easy to purchase without the hassle of parking.

Music Box Supper Club TicketsThe Music Box is one of the newest music destinations to arrive in Cleveland. Who wouldn’t love an intimate dining experience close to the stage, with fantastic performers swinging through? Not to mention the venue is right on the river. Buy tickets for upcoming performances or pick up a gift card so your family or friends can choose the show they want to see! Gift cards are good for shows, dinner and merchandise!

Other unique experiences include:

P.S. Other great gift ideas (tangible ones) will be coming later next week!

Christmas Comes Early – First Small Box Retailers Hit Downtown

20141111_101533 (1) We all know that retail in Cleveland is pathetic at best. What once used to be a mecca for fabulous department stores- Higbees, May Company and Halle’s – has dwindled to a few mediocre options. As downtown continues to expand with residents, the city will be forced to address the lack of quality retail options for those who dwell downtown.

To kick us off in the right decoration the Warehouse District is introducing Small Box retail shops. What is Small Box? It’s a collection of local retailers that have converted old shipping containers into cozy storefronts in the heart of downtown. Currently we have The Wardrobe, Banyan Box and Cleveland Browns shops set up in the parking lot on the corner of West 6th and St. Clair.

In addition to providing Cleveland residents with some shopping choices (which is especially important as we inch closer to Christmas), they were also designed to spruce up surface parking lots in the area. On warmer days, you can also enjoy “The Lawn”, which is a combination of recyled seating and a park like vibe surrounding these new shops.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m particularly excited about the Banyan Tree expanding downtown. They usually have a fabulous collection of clothes and decorative household items. The Wardrobe is derived from The Wandering Wardrobe, which is much like a food truck but sells clothing and accessories. Next time you are headed downtown, add a few extra minutes and check out these fun shops. Shops are closed Mondays and Tuesdays and are open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday. Sunday hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Post Update 9/30/17: Since this original post was written, the Small Box Retailers have left downtown.

Shop Local and All Natural – Barefoot Life Products

A few short weeks ago, I returned home to Cleveland from my relaxing vacation in Punta Cana where the temperature had been 85, to it being a mere 11 degrees. I could literally feel my skin getting ready to peel off right then and there. Not only had I been tanning for the past seven days on a beach, I was now exposing my skin to negative wind chill. Lucky for me, I had a surprise waiting when I got home – samples from Barefoot Life Products. I could practically hear my skin jumping for joy at the prospect of replenishing the moisture it so clearly had lost.

I started sampling the products right away. I tried the Whipped Shea Butter first. As I read the label, I realized that I actually knew what each of the ingredients were in the Shea butter. So often I find that there are all kinds of ingredients in the products I use and I have no clue what they are. For example, I just learned that many of our cosmetics and hair care products use parabens to make the products last longer. Unfortunately paraben is not a natural substance and when absorbed into the skin it can alter our endocrine system.

It turns out that Georgette and Jim, the founders of Barefoot Life Products, started their home based company for that exact reason. They wanted to find an alternative to the harmful chemicals that are found in almost all of the products we use – from moisturizers and soaps to cleaning products and more. By using products made of 100% natural ingredients, we are reducing the amount of chemicals that enter our blood stream and cutting down on the amount of toxins in our bodies. Many of these toxins have been linked to cancers and other health issues, so why risk it?

So back to the Shea butter. Basically, I love it! And my peeling, now un-tan skin loves it too. The Shea butter is silky soft and leaves my skin super moisturized. Plus, I now know that I’m not absorbing harmful chemicals into my body. The Whipped Shea Butter that I sampled is called Bergamot Blend, which reminds me of a lighter Aveda scent. It also comes in Lavender and Peppermint Candy ($11). One tip: After applying the Shea butter, wait a few minutes before putting your clothes on. It takes a couple minutes to really soak in.

I also tried their lotion bar in Eucalyptus Peppermint. I accidentally used it as lip balm the first time, as it comes in a container that looks similar to chapstick. It turns out that it works great for both your lips and skin. It is super compact and easy to carry on the go. After scouring through their website, I found that they also sell Pumpkin Seed Butter Lotion Bars, which I’ll need to order next as pumpkin is one of my favorite scents. The travel size is only $3, which is the size of a normal chapstick and the 2 oz size is $9.

The more educated I become about the products I use and the food I consume, I find it more difficult to ignore the fact that we need to actively find better alternatives. Barefoot Life Products provides one opportunity to impact the amount of chemicals that come in contact with our bodies, and you’re supporting a local business in the process!

To learn more about Barefoot Life Products and to order products click here.