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Wrapper’s delight: A guide to Memphis holiday gifts

The Daily Memphian’s new Holidays in Memphis newsletter series will be your helping hand this season with recipes, holiday events, gift ideas and more. Sign up here to receive holiday tips in your inbox.

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has likely been on repeat in your head since Halloween, thanks to retail Christmas creep. But the holiday shopping season officially kicks off this week with America’s annual ode to consumerism, Black Friday.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique than what you’ll find in big-box stores, look no further than our Daily Memphian staff gift guide. Our reporters, sales staff, digital desk team and others offer their suggestions for locally made products and experiences. And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also suggest a gift subscription to The Daily Memphian.


My Cup of Tea employs women in Orange Mound and teaches them life skills. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Teas and mocktail kits from My Cup of Tea:

My Cup of Tea offers a delicious selection of premium teas in their holiday sampler gift box. And you can even find mocktail kits under the “holiday gifts” tab on their website this year. If you prefer to build your own gift box, I recommend pairing the “Memphis Medley” tea with a hand-sewn tea cozie and tea pot. Part of what makes My Cup of Tea special is that it not only provides women in the Orange Mound community with employment, but it also teaches them valuable life skills such as job readiness, cooking, sewing, gardening and more. — Natalie Van Gundy

Falling Into Place candle-making workshop and candles:

Falling Into Place offers candle-making workshops. (Ashley Presley/Courtesy Falling Into Place)

Falling Into Place’s candle-making classes are a great way to peek behind-the-scenes, and you’ll be guided in the creation of three candles to take home, using the fragrance of your choice. If you can’t make it to a workshop, their candles, which are hand-poured in their shop on Broad Avenue, smell amazing, last for a long time and come in multiple sizes for everyone’s budget. My favorites are the Memphis Candle, Candied Ginger Saffron or their holiday fragrance, Mistletoe. — Maymo Hawkins

The Memphis Zoo offers meet-ups with elephants and other animals through its “Close Encounters” program. (Houston Cofield/The Daily Memphian file)


Memphis Zoo ‘Close Encounters’:

This Memphis Zoo program allows visitors to meet animals, such as elephants, sloths, otters and giant tortoises, safely and under the supervision of a knowledgeable keeper. Encounters start at $35 for members or $45 for on-members. — Aisling Mäki 

Memphis Grizzlies personalized holiday stocking:

Just because the Grizzlies don’t play on Christmas this year doesn’t mean Grizzmas is canceled. It’s a little expensive, but a customized Memphis Grizzlies stocking from the NBA Team Store can be used for years to come. Warning: Please be careful trying to hang it. We’ve had enough injuries this season. — Drew Hill

Sha’ Hughes’ Black and Beale offers Memphis-themed sweatshirts, tees, enamel pins and other items. (Courtesy Sha’ Hughes)

‘Junt’ sweatshirt from Black and Beale:

Baby, it’s fixin’ to be cold outside. And who knows? The power might go out for god knows how long. Your loved one will need a cozy sweatshirt, and Memphis-based, woman-owned Black and Beale has you covered with their Barbie-inspired “Junt” sweatshirt. Not from around here? “Junt” is Memphis-speak for any person, place, thing or idea. Example: You should buy this sweatshirt for your BFF because she’ll love this junt. While you’re on the Black and Beale website, check out founder/graphic artist Sha' Hughes’ other items, like the “You Hungry, Ain’t It, Mane?” lunch bag, the Jerry’s Snow Cone enamel pin and lots more. — Bianca Phillips

Buff City Soaps employee Elizabeth Schrader poured liquified soap into a mold. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)


Buff City laundry soap and laundry scent booster:

Buff City Soap products are my local go-to gifts. I especially love their laundry line. Plant-based and made by hand without harsh chemicals, the laundry soap and laundry scent booster infuse sheets, linens and clothing with a long-lasting clean fragrance of your choice. Fresh Cotton, a blend of juniper, sandalwood and vanilla, is a nice fragrance for just about everyone on your list. — Aisling Mäki 

Mighty Lights offers light dedications in your loved one’s honor. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian file)

Mighty Lights bridge dedication: 

Show your loved ones how much they shine with a dedication of one of the Mighty Lights on the Hernando De Soto Bridge. You’ll have the chance to personalize a randomized light for as long as it glows, and your gift is tax-deductible. — Christin Yates

Cheryl Mesler (left) and Corey Mesler own Burke’s Book Store in Cooper-Young. (The Daily Memphian file)

Gift card from Burke’s Book Store:

I always try to buy books locally, and with Burke’s being near my home, it serves as my usual stop to help build out my burgeoning home library. Whether it’s a classic, something new or just an interesting cover, a gift card lets your loved one choose their own books and gives them the satisfaction of supporting a local, small business. — Ben Wheeler


New Harbert Candles:

Since I grew up in Midtown Memphis, I love New Harbert Candles simply for their names: Avalon, Vance and Union are available now. I have Madison, Belvedere and McLean with enough wick remaining for one more lighting. Don’t worry, they all smell amazing. Handpoured in 38104, these candles make me feel like I’m back at Central High School. Get yours here. — Alys Drake

Beverly Doggrell (left) and Carol Buchman walked Barkley in the Old Forest of Overton Park. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian file)

A walk through the Old Forest in Overton Park:

Take your choice of the main paved Forest Loop or any of the many gravel trails through the woods. Make it a suitably crisp day. Don’t forget to look up, and take someone you have a lot of memories with but haven’t talked to in a while. The forest has inspired Memphians long before it was a state-protected area. Trust it with your solitude as well as your memories, and then enjoy a cup of warm apple cider. — Bill Dries

Artist Natalie Cooper sells Memphis-themed prints in her online shop. (Courtesy Natalie Cooper)

Artwork by Natalie Cooper:

Pop artist Natalie Cooper, owner of Custom Art By Nat Coop, offers a variety of Memphis-themed prints, magnets, pillows and even a puzzle (!!!) that could make great additions under the Christmas tree. I have purchased things from Natalie before, including a custom portrait of my cat Noel (2023 commissions are closed), and I’ve been happy every time. — Natalie Pilgrim

Thistle & Bee helps survivors of human trafficking and sells honey and handmade products to benefit the nonprofit. (Jim Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Thistle & Bee’s ‘Love Me Chunky’ granola:

This locally made granola, available online and at local retailers like High Point Grocery, makes a great gift. Ingredients include rolled oats, banana chips, raw honey, pecans and crunchy peanut butter. Best of all, it’s made by a Memphis nonprofit that helps survivors of trafficking and prostitution build a new life. — Aisling Mäki 

Faith Farms Goat Milk Soap products are manufactured in Moscow, Tennessee, and sold at Crosswalk bookstore in Collierville. (Beth Gooch/The Daily Memphian)

Faith Farms’ beard oil, goat’s milk soap and more:

A herd of dwarf goats in Fayette County provide the milk used to produce lotions and hand-poured soaps sold by Faith Farms Goat Milk Soap. The Moscow, Tennessee, business also offers beard oils to keep whiskers itch-free, soft and shiny, and lip butters in flavors like root beer, vanilla coffee and black cherry. The products are available at Crosswalk bookstore in Collierville— Beth Gooch

The Mighty Olive, located at 4615 Poplar Ave., sells locally bottled olive oil. (Kelsey Bowen/The Daily Memphian)

The Mighty Olive’s oil and vinegar set:

Tucked into a nook of stores off Poplar Avenue, The Mighty Olive is a local shop with gifts for olive your loved ones! The store is studded with stocking stuffers and presents for experienced and novice home cooks, but the best deal is the olive oil and balsamic vinegar set. Choose from their locally bottled oils and vinegars to customize the set (here’s the pairing list), or just grab a pre-made set. A crowd favorite is their Tuscan herb olive oil, spiced with dried basil, marjoram, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary and crushed red pepper. I always pair with the fig balsamic. The bottles come in a cardboard box, so all you need to do is add a bow and sign your name — my favorite way to wrap gifts! — Kelsey Bowen

Playhouse on the Square is running “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in January and February 2023. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Tickets to a local theater production:

This holiday season, why not give the gift of live theatre? For years, my siblings and I have gotten my mother tickets to a show for Christmas, and it’s always a surefire winner. Tickets can double as a gift for yourself if it’s a show you want to see. Some options: Theatre Memphis is putting on “A Raisin in the Sun” in January and February, “The Glass Menagerie” in February, “Steel Magnolias” in April and May and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” in June, among other offerings. Over at Playhouse on the Square, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is scheduled for January and February, and they have many more shows at their sister theaters The Circuit Playhouse and TheatreWorks @ The Square. And, of course, you can go for the touring Broadway shows at the Orpheum, which include “Les Miserables” in February, “Mrs. Doubtfire” in March, “Wicked” in April and “Mamma Mia!” in July. — Nick Lingerfelt

Novel bookstore in Laurelwood Shopping Center has a local Memphis interest section, New York Times bestsellers, children’s books and loads of gifts and games. (Houston Cofield/The Daily Memphian file)

Books and local gifts from Novel bookstore:

I love all our local book stores. My neighborhood shop, Burke’s, has already received a shout-out from Ben Wheeler on this list so let me mention Novel. The East Memphis store’s longtime staff provide personalized recommendations for all kinds of readers and are happy to help you choose the right book, whether you’re seeking a spicy “new adult” beach read for your BFF, a World War II history tome for your pops or a graphic novel for the artsy teen in your life. Novel also sells loads of of gifts, games, journals and stationary. They have a handy dandy section for locally made products and a Memphis book section, too. — Holly Whitfield

Charles “Lil Buck” Riley played ‘Memphis Angel’ in the 2018 performance of Nut Remix. (Andrea Zucker)

Tickets to a ‘Nutcracker’ production of your choice:

Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” is a classic and has long been the introduction to classical ballet and classical music for countless young people. It was the first ballet I saw — I was in third grade — and it still holds a special place in my heart. In Memphis, ballet groups offer an assortment of versions. There’s Ballet Memphis’ “The Nutcracker,” which is getting a refresh this season. There’s Tennessee Ballet Theater’s “Clara & the Nutcracker,” and there’s New Ballet Ensemble’s “Nut ReMix.” Charles “Lil Buck” Riley stars as “Memphis Angel” for New Ballet’s version, which is set on Beale Street and also includes jookin’, Spanish and West African dance. Other inaugural cast members and New Ballet alumni are returning for this year’s production. Singleton Community Center’s Esprit de Corps dance troupe will perform the “Nutcracker” at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center. And the Buckman Dance Conservatory will perform “Nutcracker: Land of Enchanted Sweets” at the Buckman Arts Center at St. Mary’s School. — Elle Perry

Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous offers seasoning and sauce that would make great gifts. (The Daily Memphian file)

Make your own Memphis barbecue kit:

Fill a roasting pan with goods from Memphis’ best barbecue joints. My favorites are the Famous Rendezvous Seasoning and the Original Rendezvous Sauce from Charlie Vergos Rendezvous, The Dancing Pigs sauce and seasoning from The Bar-B-Q Shop, and the grilling collection from Corky’s. The Commissary offers a seasoning pack with their mild and hot sauce and dry seasoning, and you can order an apron from them as well. Add a gift card for their homemade banana pudding — it really is “so good, y’ull slap yo’ mama.” — Clay Bailey

Looking for even more ideas? Check this episode of Sound Bites, where Holly Whitfield, Bianca Phillips and Natalie Van Gundy share their favorite food gifts. 

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