Finding the perfect gift can be a daunting task around the holidays. Shoppers want to make sure they find something their loved one will use, and that it is something they don’t already have.

The options for finding that perfect present are seemingly endless, from malls and big-box stores to online shopping. To help make the holiday season a little less stressful, Southwest News Media has compiled a holiday gift guide featuring local businesses and locally made products to help you find that perfect present, whether it is a hostess gift or for a loved one.


Kristi Neary 2

Kristi Neary makes honey butters, jams and pickled vegetables from her farm in northern Minnesota under the name Rock Meadow Farms.

Rock Meadow Farms' collection of jams, honey butters and herb dips are a game-changer at any holiday meal. Spread a dollop of sweet jam on a bread roll or drizzle some savory honey butter on, well, anything for instant delight.

What's even better is this homemade product is Minnesotan, through and through.

Owner Kristi Neary raises cattle and grows herbs and berries on her farm in Swatara, Minnesota, and packages them to be sold at the seasonal pop-up Northwoods Boutique in Eden Prairie Center and at farmers' markets throughout the year.

-Eden Teller

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Locally-owned Rock Meadow Farms makes dozens of honey butters for a sweet holiday treat, available at Northwoods Boutique in Eden Prairie Center.


art gallery

Richard Kochenash reaches for a portrait in his studio, located at 112 East Second Street in downtown Chaska. He’s taught classes in this space for seven years.

A local art studio and gallery might be a creative answer for those looking to give a gift this holiday season.

Richard Kochenash’s fine art studio offers classes in oil painting, including this winter when two classes will be available for painters of all levels. Kochenash provides all materials for the three-hour sessions.

“We start out with a blank canvas and you walk out with something to mail to the Louvre,” he said.

To register or learn more about a class, contact Kochenash at 952-738-2505. All studio art is for sale including commissioned pieces like portraits. He also offers gift certificates.

-Amy Felegy

art gallery display

A display in Richard Kochenash Fine Art features some of the still life he paints with class participants. “Art is good for the heart,” he said.


Andrew Peterson diaries

The Andrew Peterson diaries have been translated and indexed. Books are now available and will be accessible online later this year.

With today’s highly mobile society, it’s difficult to develop a sense of place. Most residents are transplants, leaving their hometown far behind.

History books can help fill that gap.

For instance, a new book published by the Carver County Historical Society, “Diaries of Andrew Peterson,” includes tales ranging from a burial at sea to fighting off locusts.

A reissued book by the Chaska Historical Society, “Chaska: A Minnesota River City,” tells readers everything from the city’s first automobile to revelry of the Schnitzelbank Club.

The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society offers several books walking readers through the rich history of the lake communities.

Give the gift of history this holiday season.

-Mark Olson

Chaska: A Minnesota River City


Minnetonka Center for the Arts - Arts of the Holidays 1

Stephanie Windler and her cutting boards are among the pieces made by local artists that are for sale during the annual Arts of the Holidays event at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.

Arts for the Holidays is a curated art show and sale at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts featuring works by more than 130 artists, the majority of whom are local residents, art center teachers or students.

The curated art sale aims to provide a one-stop shopping experience for the holidays. Robert Bowman, the art center’s exhibits director and retail manager, makes it a point to select artists who use a variety of mediums, such as fiber, glass and pottery, in order to offer pieces people can use, not just look at. The sale features handcrafted gifts such as ornaments, jewelry, scarves, mittens, pottery, cutting boards, quilts, trinkets and decorations. 

“You want to give something that they don’t already have three of, you’d like to give something that starts an interest of theirs or reflects an interest of theirs, and this room is full of all that kind of stuff,” Bowman told Southwest News Media.

The sale benefits the featured artists and the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.

-Melissa Turtinen

Minnetonka Center for the Arts - Arts of the Holidays 3

The Arts of the Holidays sale features pieces from more than 130 artists. Handcrafted gifts available include ornaments, jewelry, scarves, mittens, pottery, cutting boards, quilts, trinkets and decorations.


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Mike Maki uses reclaimed wood from docks on Lake Minnetonka to create products like this checkers board.

Mike Maki makes unique, handcrafted gifts — and the card that goes with them.

He takes reclaimed wood from docks on Lake Minnetonka and turns them into special products perfect for a holiday gift. His pieces include wooden frames, clocks and even a large chess or checkers board, including a set of buoy checkers.

Maki also turns the photos he takes of Lake Minnetonka and surrounding cities into greeting cards.

His pieces can be found exclusively at Lake Effect, a shop in downtown Excelsior.

-Frances Stevenson

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Some of the products at Lake Effect in downtown Excelsior include Mike Maki’s reclaimed wood clocks, frames and chess/checkers boards.



The Arboretum gift shop has one of a kind items including the birchwood bowl ($322) is made by Richard Aasness of Anoka. The handmade glazed terracotta mirror ($185) is by Sharon Miller of St. Paul.

Gardeners and outdoor nature lovers alike will find one-of-a-kind gifts at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Gift shop manager Patti Mirabelli loves to find and feature Minnesota artists and artisans. She selects locally made items that represent the Arboretum’s mission of conservation, the appreciation of plants and education.

As a cabinet maker, Richard Aasness, of Anoka, hates to see the remnants of beautiful woods go to waste. So he turns them into beautiful bowls that highlight the grains of the many varieties of woods he works with.

No shape of wood is too challenging; one particularly striking bowl is seemingly made from the knot of a tree, creating a free form bowl that is as artistic as it is functional.

Artist Sharon Miller, of St. Paul, works in terra cotta clay, metals and iron, creating bird houses, bird baths, handmade mosaics, mirrors, plaques, garden art, gates, trellises and railings. The colors, shapes and themes of her work are at home anywhere but especially well-suited for homes with a nature aesthetic.

 -Unsie Zuege


Sharon Miller’s iron sculpture of cattails ($185) can add a touch of whimsy to a garden.

Melissa Turtinen is the community editor for Lakeshore Weekly News and Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.


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