Tag Archives: Holidays

Ho, Ho, Ho: Meet This Year’s Montana Gift Guide

It’s no secret that I think the Christmas season is one of the most wonderful times of year. And for those of you who know me, it’s probably no surprise that I love giving presents. Like, really love it. No matter who I’m giving a gift to, I try to make sure that it’s perfect for them, that it has meaning and that they’ll (hopefully) love it. And if you’re anything like me, you want to be sure to give the people you love thoughtful, meaningful gifts.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Montana. Photo: TheBobFactor

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Montana. Photo: TheBobFactor

To help you do that very thing, I’ve rounded up my favorite Montana-lovin’ gifts and some of the best places to shop local for the holidays.

With that said, here’s a look at this year’s Montana gift guide

1. Jewelry. Chances are, the women in your life love jewelry. And I’m here to tell you that Montana has incredible jewelry makers who are creating stunning works of art. Topping my must-have list are Bellwether Jewelry, Ruby and Revolver and Rag and Stone. Located in Babb, Montana, Bellwether Jewelry is the brainchild of an adorable gal named Claire who uses Montana’s landscapes as her design inspiration. I learned about her when I was gifted earrings and a necklace from one of my dear friends (thanks Courtney!) and I’ve been in love ever since.

Two of my favorite pieces from Bellwether Jewelry. Photo: Bellwether Jewerly

Two of my favorite pieces from Bellwether Jewelry. Photo: Bellwether Jewelry

Meanwhile,  Ruby and Revolver has become one of my favorites mainly due to her instagram feed. In two words: it’s amazing. Jessie—the master creator behind the brand—creates some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen, but I’m especially fond of her rings. And if your significant other is a fan of stones, do yourself a favor and check out Erin’s work at Rag and Stone. 

2. Local spirits. While breweries have been a part of the Montana scene for awhile, in the last few years we’ve seen more distilleries open in Western Montana. Two of my personal favorites: Glacier Distilling in Coram, Montana, and Spotted Bear Spirits in Whitefish, Montana. Both distilleries are creating incredible Big Sky Country-inspired spirits and utilizing local Montana grains and products, including Flathead cherries, to do so. You can pick up Glacier Distilling spirits at several places in Montana (check out their distribution here) and Spotted Bear Spirits has adorable cute 50mL bottles that are perfect for gift giving.

The cutest little bottles I ever did see. Photo: Spotted Bear Spirits

The cutest little bottles I ever did see. Photo: Spotted Bear Spirits

3. Montana Wreaths. Truth time: I didn’t know about these until a few weeks ago and now I’m obsessed. (I’ll give you one guess as to what my Minnesota-living sister is getting for Christmas this year.) Based in Missoula, Montana Wreaths are handcrafted with grand fir and cedar trees and are absolutely beautiful. Plus, it’s like giving a piece of Montana to your family and friends across the country.

The standard wreath (AKA the wreath my sissy is getting soon). Photo: Montana Wreath

The standard wreath (AKA the wreath my sissy is getting soon). Photo: Montana Wreath

4. Montana Made Soap. Made from goat milk from goats that are raised on a farm near Dutton, Montana, Leigh is a stay-at-home mama (who also runs her family’s farm Grazing Greyn Acres) who creates her soap as organically as possible. The result: delicious smelling and nourishing goat soaps.

Goat milk, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil: I think I need this. Photo: Grazing Greyn Acres

Goat milk, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil = I think I need this. Photo: Grazing Greyn Acres

5. Leather bags. If you don’t know about T-Bird Leather and Goertzen Adventure Equipment, it’s time you do. While both companies make their handcrafted leather bags here in Western Montana, each brand has a distinct style and look that is uniquely its own. Based in Whitefish, Montana, and designed and created by Tress, T-Bird Leather is one of my personal favorites. Not only do I adore Tress, but the bags she produces are truly beautiful. Currently on my must-have list: her new mystery braids tote. Why? Because braids and fringe.

Mystery braids tote. Photo: T-Bird Leather

Mystery braids tote. Photo: T-Bird Leather

Handmade in Missoula, Goertzen Adventure Equipment’s leather bags are more gender-neutral and have a bit of a vintage vibe. Trust me on this one: their bags get better with age. Plus, they make fly-fishing equipment for the fishermen (and fisherwomen) in your life. 

A well-loved leather bag from Goertzen. Photo: Taylar Robbins

A well-loved leather bag from Goertzen. Photo: Taylar Robbins

6. Shoes and moccasins for the babes (as in babies) in your life. Hands down, these may be the cutest baby gift in all of Montana. Made my mountain mama Melanie, Starry Knight Designs crafts the most perfectly adorable items for babies, kids and toddlers I’ve ever seen.
Sidenote: anyone got a baby I can dress up in these? 

Bison booties, gray desert boots and fringe booties. Photo: Starry Knight Design

Bison booties, gray desert boots and fringe booties. Photo: Starry Knight Design

7. UPTOP. Owned by Montana boys and brothers Luke and Colt Anderson, UPTOP embodies the love of Montana that people who live here—and those who visit—have for this state. While their “Montana Til I Die” tagline may be the most famous to date, the boys have a wide variety of UPTOP gear that includes T-shirts, hats, hoodies and kids’ gear.

Montana over everything + Montana Til I Die. Photo: UPTOP

Montana over everything + Montana Til I Die. Photo: UPTOP

8. Shop local stores. As part of a family-owned business, I understand the importance of shopping local. When we’re all able to spend our money in locally owned businesses, it makes a difference. Here are a few of my favorite Montana shops: Electric Buffalo Gallery in Bigfork, Monte Dolack Fine Art in Missoula, Think Local in Kalispell, Montana Shirt Company in Whitefish (and online), Sora & Company in Missoula and Great Falls, Cloth & Crown in Missoula, Crown of the Continent Discovery Center in West Glacier and Great Gray Gifts in Charlo (just opened in May 2016 and is one of my favorite stores – they also carry abundant made in Montana products). You can also check out additional stores, boutiques and shops here.

A selection of the made in Montana items at Great Gray gifts. Photos: Great Gray Gifts

A selection of the made in Montana items at Great Gray gifts. Photos: Great Gray Gifts

And with that, happy shopping, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

xo,
TT

PS: For more gift ideas, check out my top 10 made in Montana gift list here.

 

14 Must-See Holiday Events and Happenings in Western Montana

The holiday season is officially underway in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. And as someone who loves Christmas (you can read more about my obsession with all things Christmas as well as my top picks for made in Montana gifts here), I feel like it’s my elfly duty to let you know about all of the holiday happenings taking place in Big Sky Country.

Whitefish, Montana decks its halls for the holidays.

Whitefish, Montana decks the halls for the holidays. Photo courtesy Brian Schott.

Here’s a look at 14 of Montana’s must-see events taking place this December.

1. Carriage Rides in Downtown Missoula.
Head to E. Pine Street in Missoula from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays (now through December 20) for free carriage rides, courtesy of The Resort at Paws Up.

These two beauties give carriage rides in downtown Missoula. Photo courtesy Taylar Robbins.

These two beauties give carriage rides in downtown Missoula. Photo courtesy Taylar Robbins.

2. Whitefish Christmas Stroll.
The cute mountain resort town of Whitefish decks its halls for the holiday season, with their Christmas Stroll really kicking off the festivities. Held from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday, December 11, the Whitefish Christmas Stroll features concerts, a tree lighting ceremony, Santa (who arrives in a wagon because Montana) and wagon rides from Bar W Guest Ranch.

3. Christmas in Bigfork. 
Located on the bay of Flathead Lake, the cute village of Bigfork goes all out for Christmas. Two days to note: Saturday, December 12 and Saturday, December 19. On those days, Santa comes to Bigfork, along with carolers in downtown, free live music and live theater with “A Totally Awesome Christmas Carol” at the Bigfork Center for Performing Arts.

Twinkling lights in downtown Bigfork.

Twinkling lights in downtown Bigfork.

4. Santa at Missoula’s Southgate Mall + Holiday Performances.
Southgate Mall, the region’s largest shopping center, gets into the holiday spirit with photos with Old St. Nick, as well as a gingerbread house contest display and holiday performances. For a complete rundown of happenings at the mall, visit www.shopsouthgate.com.

5. Treasure State Chorale Christmas Concert at the Historic St. Ignatius Mission. 
One of the most beautiful churches in the state, the St. Ignatius Mission will host a Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 12 as the the Treasure State Chorale performs the Christmas Story.

The St. Ignatius Mission.

The St. Ignatius Mission.

6. Lantern Tours at the Historial Museum at Fort Missoula.
The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula will offer guided lantern tours Friday, December 11 – Sunday, December 13. The tours will provide a look into past winters (complete with plenty of Christmas moments) and will end with cocoa and cookies. Call 406.728.3476 (extension 1) to purchase tickets.

7. Guided Christmas Tours at Kalispell’s Conrad Mansion.
The home of one of Kalispell’s founders, Charles Conrad, is completely decked out in Christmas decorations during December and the mansion offers tours every Friday and Saturday (at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.) through December 26.

Christmas at the Conrad.

Christmas at the Conrad.

8. Christmas Light Trolley Tours in Kalispell.
Hop aboard a cozy trolley and set out to view the holiday lights in Kalispell with Montana Trolley Co. Tours are offered from December 12 – December 28. Click here for specific dates, times and additional info.

9. Christmas in Hamilton. 
Celebrate the season in downtown Hamilton on Tuesday, December 15, with a visit from Santa and Parade of Lights.

10. Handel’s Messiah with Glacier Symphony + Chorale.
A popular holiday tradition, the Glacier Symphony and Chorale will perform Handel’s Messiah in Bigfork (December 11), Whitefish (December 12) and Kalispell (December 13).

11. Yuletide Affair 12 at Alpine Theatre Project.
A tradition in the Flathead Valley, this year’s Yuletide Affair will feature Broadway talent, including David Ackroyd and Luke Walrath. Performances are at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 20 and Monday, December 21. You can snag tickets here.

12. The Nutcracker in Missoula. 
A holiday tradition, Montana’s Garden City Ballet will perform The Nutcracker. Performances take place Friday, December 18 – Sunday, December 20.

13. Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
A Christmas Eve tradition, every year Santa comes to the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort where he leads a torchlight parade on snow-covered Big Mountain. An added bonus: Santa gives out gifts in Ed and Mully’s after the parade.

14. New Year’s Eve in Polson. 
Plan to spend New Year’s Eve with dinner and dancing at Western Montana’s newest hotel, Red Lion Ridgewater Inn & Suites Polson.

You can also check out a full listing of holiday events at www.glaciermt.com/events.

Wishing you all a joy-filled holiday season!

xo,
TT

The Top 10 Made in Montana Gifts for Holiday Shopping

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know how I feel about Christmas and the holiday season. And if you’re a new reader, welcome! I’m glad you’re here. Either way, the fact of the matter is this: I LOVE THIS TIME OF THE YEAR. And whether you wish people “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Hanukkah,” I wish the same sentiment back to you.

My view last Christmas. They is really no place like home for the holidays.

My view last Christmas. There is really no place like home for the holidays.

A big part of the holiday season is giving presents and you guys, I have to tell you, I love finding the perfect gift for the people on my list. I’ll literally spend hours (it’s okay, as I love to shop) searching for the one thing that my mom actually wants (she’s really hard to shop for) or scooping up the perfect gift for my nephews and little sister. The other thing I love: shopping local. My family owns a general store (bought by my great-grandpa and grandpa many years ago) and I so appreciate the people who choose to shop locally as it makes such an impact not only in my family’s business, but in the community. Anytime I can purchase a made in Montana item for the people on my list, it makes the gift that much more special.

And since shopping is one of my strengths, I’ve compiled a top 10 list of made in Montana holiday gift ideas.

1. T Bird Leather. There are a few reasons to love T Bird Leather. 1) Tress, the genius artist behind T Bird Leather is nice and adorable. 2) Her totes, wallets and clutches are beautiful. 3) My nickname is T-Bird. I also have to tell you that I have one of the totes from T Bird Leather and I’m obsessed with it. It has traveled all over Montana with me and gets prettier with age. Currently, you can pick up her items at The Toggery (with locations in Whitefish and Kalispell) and upcoming events.

A T Bird Leather Tote (with a custom Glacier Country Montana brand).

A T Bird Leather Tote (with a custom Glacier Country Montana brand). This branded tote is available here.

2. Huckleberry anything. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that people can’t get enough of huckleberry-flavored items. (Check out these blogs from Quirky Travel Guy and Camels + Chocolate for more proof). While there are a few places to pick up huckleberry goodness in Montana (hello Polebridge Mercantile and your homemade huckleberry macaroons), The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse has a wide variety of items. Plus, you can order items online.

Huckleberry heaven.

Huckleberry heaven.

3. Sapphires, Montana’s most precious gemstone. Sapphires, a precious blue gemstone, can be mined in Montana, specifically in the cute town of Philipsburg. Both Gem Mountain and The Sapphire Gallery offer their customers a chance to wash gravel and find their own precious gemstones. Gem Mountain also ships gravel so the sapphire lovers in your life can mine anytime…like Christmas morning! You can also shop for made in Montana sapphire jewelry from The Sapphire Gallery here.

My recent sapphire haul.

My recent sapphire haul.

4. Glacier County Honey for your honey. Billing itself as “the best raw honey you’ve never tasted” and made by bees in the shadow of Glacier National Park, Glacier County Honey has a variety of bee-created products. While you can purchase raw honey, Courtney (Mrs. Beekeeper) also has a variety of gift baskets comprised of jars of honey, beeswax ornaments and local Montana tea. Glacier County Honey is found in a variety of stores in Montana (including in Browning, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Augusta and Kalispell) and online.

Hey honey.

Hey honey.

5. Hand-painted artwork. Home to the work of Montana artist Randy McIntyre, Elk Camp Arts has a variety of hand-painted items that make great holiday gifts. Randy has a variety of items in his shop, including canvas paintings, greeting cards and hand-painted beer mugs and wine glasses.

Western painted shot glasses.

Western painted shot glasses. Photo courtesy of Randy McIntyre.

6. Homemade preserves. A Montana staple for more than 60 years, Eva Gates Homemade Preserves has a shop in Bigfork as well as an online store where you can order made in Montana preserves, fudge and Christmas gift boxes.

Eva Gates shop in downtown Bigfork.

Eva Gates shop in downtown Bigfork.

7. Montana love for your love. You’ve probably noticed that I have a couple of items I wear on repeat: a Montana love T-shirt and a Montana love hot pink hat, both made by the folks at Montana Shirt Co. The two reasons I wear them: 1) I love Montana. 2) Um, they are so cute. I’ve also gifted similar items like this to my out-of-state friends and family who also love Montana and they’ve been a big hit.

Needless to say, these two items are on repeat in my closet.

Needless to say, these two items are on repeat in my closet.

8. Montana-lovin’ jewelry. Truth time: I love jewelry. And I blame (or in this case, THANK) my mama for my love of jewels. There are a few shops and artists that I adore for picking up made in Montana jewelry. They are Miakoda Creations (located in the Stumptown Marketplace in Whitefish and online here), Poisonberry (located in a few local shops and here) and Ruby and Revolver. Another local favorite: the Montana Shop at The University of Montana.

On the left: my bracelet from Miakoda. On the right: my friend's bracelet from Poisonberry.

On the left: my bracelet from Miakoda. On the right: my friend’s bracelet from Poisonberry.

Silver necklaces from The Montana Shop at UM.

Silver necklaces from The Montana Shop at UM. Photo courtesy of The Montana Shop.

9. Belt buckles. It doesn’t really matter where you live or what you do for a living, chances are at some time or another, you’re going to need to wear a belt. And in my mind, if you’re going to wear a belt, you ought to have an awesome belt buckle to go with it. My favorite belt buckles to date are from Wild Horse Steelworks. Because who doesn’t love a belt buckle in the shape of Montana?

A made in Montana buckle, complete with Montana barbwire.

A made in Montana buckle, complete with Montana barbwire.

10. Beautiful pottery. I’m not going to lie to you, when I was younger I thought there was no way in the world I’d ever own a piece of pottery. Well the joke is on me because the older I get, the more I appreciate and love having beautiful dishes. One of the best places to get a variety of pieces is Whitefish Pottery. Located in downtown Whitefish, they have a variety of mugs, baking dishes and serving bowls. You can pick up pieces at the store or peruse their offerings online here.

A look at some of the items from Whitefish Pottery. Photos courtesy Tom, Whitefish Pottery.

A look at some of the items from Whitefish Pottery. Photos courtesy Tom, Whitefish Pottery.

You can also check out items on our shopping cart at www.glaciermt.com/shop. And in the meantime, Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, Seasons Greetings and Joy to the World.

xo,
TT