My 2017 Cleveland Gift Guide: Give a Little CLE this Holiday!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Listen up, Clevelanders, it's that time of year again! With the holidays fast-approaching, I've pulled together the second annual Greatest Escapist's Cleveland Gift Guide. If some of it looks familiar, well, that's because it is: So much of the 2016 guide was still wonderful & relevant that I've included it again here, rounded out with new trinkets, tchotchkes, & other Cleveland goodies for that Northeast Ohio-lover in your life.

Keep in mind that these aren't necessarily items made in Cleveland (though most of them are). They're items about Cleveland, showing off that 216 love in a variety of ways. Plenty of other gift guides will tell you where to find Cleveland-made soaps & clothing & candles & other items - but these ones are Cleveland-centric themselves.

To Eat

  1. In the Kitchen with Cleveland's Favorite Chefs by Maria Isabella: This locally focused cookbook asks 35 Northeast Ohio chefs the same question: "If you were suddenly to get a call at home from good friends who wanted to stop by, what would you prepare for them in one hour or less?" Make your own versions of recipes shared by Michael Symon, Zach Bruell, Jonathon Sawyer, & other CLE foodie faves.
  2. "Cleveland is Delicious" Chef's Apron from CLE Clothing Co.: Your favorite local home chef (or, heck, restaurant chef!) needs this Cleveland-inspired apron ($25), perfect for grilling out kielbasa & pierogi on holiday weekends. Just maybe, uh, think twice about snagging this for the vegetarian foodie in your life, please.
  3. Six-Pack of BBQ Sauce from the Winking Lizard: Have you ever had this BBQ sauce? If you've never had this BBQ sauce, stop what you're doing - yes, right now - & get thee to the Lizard, stat. The restaurant, repeat winner of local Best Wings awards, also has, in my humble opinion, the best BBQ sauce on the planet. A six-pack under the tree ($18) will keep your favorite Cleveland foodie rollin' in BBQ well into 2018.
  4. The 2018 Cleveland Independents Deck: For a few years in a row now, independent Cleveland restaurants banded together to create this deck of 52 cards ($29.95), which offers savings at 49 of Northeast Ohio's best restaurants. Each card saves you $10 on any $30 food purchase (tax & gratuity not included) at a different local joint - & it even includes two jokers so you can get repeat savings at your faves!

To Decorate

  1. Home Sweet Ohio Print from Natterdoodle: Hand-lettering is all the rage these days, & when it comes to Clevelanders doing a bang-up job of it, no one's doing it quite like local artist Natalie Keller Pariano. This sweet print, lettered atop a map of the great Buckeye State, is available in two sizes ($15 - $20) & printed on recycled cardstock. Perfect for the Clevelander who loves more than just Cleveland.
  2. The Guardians Wall Clock by Christina Sadowski: This Etsy seller has tons of Cleveland-related inventory, but this 10" wall clock is my favorite ($45). It's available in black or white frames, with hands to match, & featuring a gorgeous image of the Guardians of Traffic that watch over downtown Cleveland's Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
  3. A Christmas Story Leg Lamp: Clevelanders love their leg lamps, & I am no exception, having nearly cried with joy when I received my "major award" as a wedding gift. The movie A Christmas Story was filmed in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood & is now a local museum. Though a full-sized leg lamp costs a whopping $199.99, there are more cost-effective options, like a desk lamp ($99) & even a nightlight ($14.99). Careful, they're frah-jee-lay!
  4. District Collection Print from Cuyahoga Collective: If the Clevelander on your holiday gift list loves not just the city but his or her particular corner of it, this is the perfect gift for hyperlocal representation. With 22 options to choose from (both neighborhoods & suburbs included), they're almost sure to have a 13x19 print ($18) of your favorite Clevelander's favorite part of Cleveland.
  5. Cleveland Snow Globes from ApeMade: I collect city-themed snow globes, so I'm gonna neeeeed one of these ($74.95). Available in both White Downtown & the sort-of-hilarious Gray Steel Mills, these magical items are 3D printed with painted maple bases. Appropriately, the steel mill version includes black & rust glitter. Shipping is expensive ($17.95) but, in my opinion, wholly worth it to own one of these Clevelandy beauties.

To Wear   

  1. "Cleveland or Nowhere" Tee from Knowlita: LeBron James made this shirt famous when he wore it to Game 6 of the 2016 World Series last fall. There are lots & lots of locally made Cleveland T-shirt options (for much less money!), but if you've just gotta have what the King's wearing, you can score this simply but sassy cotton graphic tee ($58) from Saks Fifth Avenue
  2. "Cleveland is Home" High-Top Chucks from Fresh Brewed Tees: In case it's not enough to broadcast your Cleveland love across your chest, now you can say it with your feet, too, in this pair of custom Chuck Taylors ($99), available in both men's & women's sizes. Just remember not to ruin them in the muck of our Cleveland winters!
  3. "Our Lil' Pierogi" Onesie from Lil' Burritos: Your favorite Cleveland baby should rep your favorite Cleveland food. This local kidswear company ships all its onesies wrapped in aluminum foil... to look like actual burritos, of course! This bright red outfit ($18) features a joyful, babushka-wearing pierogi family of three, & while it doesn't explicitly mention the CLE, well, this city is basically synonymous with pierogi by now, right? (Psst: The "our" is a tiny kielbasa!
  4. CLE Skyline Necklace from CLE CLothing Co.: "Come see both of our buildings...!" Voted a Best of Cleveland item by Cleveland Magazine, this dainty necklace ($30) features Terminal Tower, 200 Public Square, & Key Tower. It's made of stainless steel & available in both gold & silver tones - & it fits handily into a Christmas stocking.
  5. Guardians of Transportation Neckties from ApeMade: Available in nine colors, these satin-finish polyester ($28.95) ties are screenprinted by hand & feature Cleveland's one of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge's famous art deco pylons. Let's just say that my husband is lucky I didn't find these before our wedding.
  6. Ohio Map Wood Tie Bar from Bearded Woodcraft: Lest the Guardians tie be a little bit too much Cleveland for your tastes - or if you want to double up & get extra Clevelandy - this tiny, wooden tie bar is made in Columbus but solidly reps the CLE. I could actually include everything from this brand in this guide; go check them out for all things handmade & Ohio-loving.
  7. JR Smith Tattoo Shirtless Shirt from Fresh Brewed Tees: This is literally the tackiest & most wonderful Cleveland item I've ever laid eyes upon, & I only wish I knew someone ridiculous/brave enough to wear it. If you know such an individual, please, please, please snatch up this limited-edition T-shirt made to look like Cavs' small forward JR Smith's tattooed chest ($34.99), as seen in the flesh at the 2016 Cavs parade. It's even JR-approved! 

To Drink

  1. Great Lakes Brewery's Beer School: Most Clevelanders have been on GLBC's brewery tour, but they can step it up a notch with Beer School ($35), which provides a full tour of the production brewery & a tasting of six beers, plus a two-hour course (snacks included!) on the history of the company & the brewing process. All "students" leave with a T-shirt, a tasting glass, and some serious beer knowledge.
  2. Local Cocktail Mixes from Pope's Kitchen:Your booze deserves the best - & the Clevelandiest! Put together a gift basket of mixers from Pope's, a growing regional brand that uses fresh local ingredients in all their products. Try the Bloody Mary or chill a little with the Mellow Mary ($4-$11); get sugared up with the Strawberry Daiquiri mix ($11); or go a little unusual with a syrup like like lavender lemon or orange habanero ($10).
  3. Fifty Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio by Rick Armon: Sure, this new release is available on Kindle, but don't the CLE beer-lovers on your list deserve a paperback copy ($17.95) to mark off their progress as they drink their way through? Armon's roundup also includes brewer profiles, Cleveland-centric food pairings, & more. Cheers!
  4. CLE Skyline Wine Glasses from 2CraftyHons: Yes, there are tons of options for CLE-themed drinking glasses, but I especially like these hand-etched, made-to-order options from Etsy. They come in other cities' skylines, too, but do other cities even really matter...?
  5. Cleveland Drinks Card GameWarning: Only Clevelanders will understand this game - but it's sure to get a room full of them laughing & drinking - & pretty quickly drunk. The deck ($20) was co-created by the local comedian who coined the phrase "Factory of Sadness" (the Browns), so you know it's gonna be a funny one. Rules include, for example, "10 Cent Beer Night: Whoever has the cheapest beverage drinks."

To Stuff a Stocking

  1. Cleveland Babe Canvas Pouch from Oceanne JewelryMake it easy for your favorite makeup-toting Clevelander to take her love of the city on the go with this cute canvas pouch ($15) from local maker Anne Harrill. Hew new storefront recently opened in Gordon Square, so if you want to go beyond this adorable item, go check her out in person. May I recommend the Cleveland is My Paris necklace ($48)?
  2. Peanut Butter Coffee Porter Soy Candle from Weird Beard Candle Co.If you've ever enjoyed a pint (or two or three) of Willoughby Brewing Co.'s Peanut Butter Coffee Porter ($14), you'll love the scent of the 8oz soy candle it inspired. I burn it throughout the winter to keep my apartment smelling cozy & delicious & extraordinarily Clevelandy.
  3. "Bitch Please I'm From Cleveland" Mug from Banyan TreeI own this in tote bag form & carry my laptop around in it every day, but I can't seem to find it available anywhere online. Enter, instead, this scappy little mug ($16), which will keep your coffee warm and let everyone know which city you love most.
  4. Ohio Shaped Bottle Opener Keychain from Midwest Opener Co.Never struggle to open your favorite locally made craft beer again! This Ohio-shaped bottle opener is available in both a polished & tumbled finish, with or without a a heart over your city of choice ($9.99 - $12.49). At 2" x 3" & made of stainless steel, it'll look great adorning a keyring and opening a cold one.
  5. Cleveland Snow Soy Candle from the Cleveland Candle Co.Fine, fine, Cleveland probably smells the same as other snowy cities - but this fun take on a snowy Northeast Ohio day ($15) will keep your home feeling cozy & smelling fresh as the flakes fall outside your window. Other locally inspired scents include CLE Magic, Ohio Harvest, & Lake Erie.

Just for Fun

  1. Cleveland in a BoxI've now sent two of these customizable Cleveland boxes as gifts, one to a friend living out of state & another to friends who just bought a house. Choose from their selections of local & iconic Cleveland goods, from Dichotomy Popcorn to Cleveland tees to Pope's Hot sauce & beyond. It's $30 for a box of five items or $50 for a box of 10 - & they ship worldwide!
  2. 100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die by Nikki DelamotteThis 2016 release ($12.94) is exactly what it sounds like: a list of the very best Cleveland has to offer. The only problem? Plenty of new & exciting places have opened up since the book's publication! Still, this is a perfect starting point for new Clevelanders, as well as for longtime residents who want to be sure they're experiencing the city's best.
  3. Subscription to Cleveland MagazineFull disclosure: I interned here in the summer of 2007, just before I first moved to D.C., & it marked the summer I fell in love with the CLE. I still read the magazine religiously to see what's new & cool not just in Cleveland but across Northeast Ohio. A new yearlong subscription is $14, which is 75% off the cover price.
  4. Memberships, Subscriptions, & Event TicketsInstead of loading up your loved ones with more stuff, consider investing in experiences instead. Check out tickets to shows at Playhouse Square or Cavs games, or memberships to any of Cleveland's many museums, the Botanical Gardens, the Zoological Society, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Cleveland Orchestra... the list is endless.
  5. You Gotta Know Cleveland Sports: Your favorite Cleveland sports aficionado will love this 500-question sports trivia game ($19.95) - & hopefully they've got a similarly sports-loving friend to play it against. They can play the game the "official" way (first one to 21 points wins), or just ask their friends the questions over a few (local, of course) beers. Playyyyy ball!
  6. Charlie Browns Cornhole Set from CLE Clothing Co.: See if you can score better than CLE's not-so-beloved-these-days football team; it shouldn't be too difficult to one-up, considering their longtime losing streak! Painted in Browns colors in the style of the perpetually mopey Peanuts character, this handmade cornhole set ($225) is a big-ticket item sure to bring oohs, ahhs, & "Ugh, the Browns" lamentations. 
So there you have it! Will any of these make it under your tree this year (or next to your menorah, depending on how you handle the holiday season)? And if you've got Cleveland favorites, tell me: What other CLE-themed gifts would you add to the list?

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