story by Julie Campbell
To find the perfect holiday present, Hoosiers don’t have to resort to scrolling endless Internet sites or scouring picked-over displays at a big box store. As the holidays grow closer, there’s no better time to start making memories with your family and friends. Grab your inner Santa, hop in the car, and get ready to feel the holiday spirit as you shop around the state
for the most unique gifts of the season. Start planning your next overnight getaway to Indiana’s best shopping areas, local boutiques, special events, and one-of-a-kind gift shops.
Since the day it opened around 18 months ago, fans of the hit HGTV show, “Good Bones,” have been flocking to Two Chicks District Co. on the south side of downtown Indianapolis. Owned by HGTV star Mina Starsiak Hawk, the home décor store in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood carries everything from home furnishings and gifts to Two Chicks branded merchandise like hoodies and tote bags. The charming shop even includes a bistro and wine bar where fans can grab lunch before browsing to their hearts’ content.
“The most surprising aspect of owning the store has been the amount, and variety, of people that have come through our doors,” said Mina. “The fact that people have traveled from all over the country just to visit District Co. is absolutely amazing! It truly means so much to us.”
It’s no wonder the store has become a destination. Since the show first aired in 2016, “Good Bones” has been an HGTV fan favorite. Episodes of the show follow Mina and her mom, Karen E. Laine, on their home renovation adventures in the up-and-coming Bates-Hendricks district and the trendy Fountain Square neighborhood, where mother and daughter both live (next door to each other).
The two founded their company, Two Chicks and a Hammer, shortly after Mina graduated from Indiana University in 2007. Karen has since retired as a founder, but she still makes appearances on the show.
“After I graduated from college, I wasn’t really sure what career I truly wanted to pursue,” Mina explained. “I knew that I didn’t want a desk job, and that I wanted something that didn’t limit my creativity. I spent time working as a waitress, until we began renovating homes full time.”
When Mina bought a house that needed a lot of love, the pair set to work renovating it, learning the ropes as they went along and, in the process, discovering their true passion.
“It just eventually grew into so much more. We began to revitalize more homes in our own neighborhood, and in time, it grew into our own dream business,” explained Mina.
In addition to her role as an HGTV star and entrepreneur, Mina is a hard-working mom of two. She and her husband, Steve, are parents to a 1-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and a 3-year-old son, Jack, who make occasional “guest appearances” on the show.
And if all this isn’t enough, Mina decided to add one more title to her resume this year: children’s author. Her book, “Built Together,” which was released in February, celebrates the uniqueness of non- traditional families.
You can purchase a copy for yourself or someone on your Christmas list at the store. Speaking of family, Mina said she has fond childhood memories of celebrating the holidays with a 17-foot tree and giant stockings to match.
Now as she creates new holiday traditions with her own family, one of her favorites is a “very competitive” gingerbread house making contest that she hosts every year.
For a unique gift that won’t break the bank, Mina suggests one of the hammer necklaces handmade by Twigs & Twine jewelry or a super comfy Two Chicks sweatshirt. For a “splurge” gift, the shop carries several stunning chandeliers that will wow even the most difficult-to-please recipient.
Just north of Indy in nearby Carmel, combine your shopping with an authentic German experience at the Christkindlmarkt, back after taking a year off due to the pandemic.
Bringing the charm of a long-standing European tradition to Indiana, the popular event will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from Nov. 20 to Dec. 24, and features a skating rink, food and gift vendors, entertainment, and more.
Shoppers at Peru’s Christkindlmarkt will find an array of handmade German gifts, including nutcrackers and ornaments. There’s also paintings from various artists, note cards, food gifts, and more. The event, taking place November 26-28, is highlighted with live German music, ice skating rink, and food vendors.
Celebrate Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, in Crawfordsville at the town’s annual Downtown Party Night. Get into the Christmas spirit with a tree lighting, visits with Santa, live music, and special sales and activities at the downtown stores.
Further south in Dubois County, Christmas celebrations begin earlier in November with the Huntingburg Christmas Stroll, Nov. 11- 14, where visitors are invited to stroll Huntingburg’s 4th Street and experience the joys of a Victorian Christmas.
“The decorated storefronts are filled with everything you need to complete your holiday shopping and decorating,” said Jessica Lindauer, sales and marketing manager of the Dubois County Visitors Center.
Then on the evening of Nov. 19, the city of Ferdinand kicks off its Christkindlmarkt in front of the majestically domed Monastery Immaculate Conception. On Saturday & Sunday (Nov. 20-21) shoppers can browse 200 lavishly decorated booths spilling over with quality hand-created items.
Continuing into December, O Tannenbaum Days from Dec. 3 through 5 completes Dubois County’s three festival celebration with a weekend celebration around the courthouse square and throughout downtown Jasper.
“Visit the thriving downtown to see talented artists and artisans demonstrating their skills,” said Lindauer. “Unique shopping, carolers, visits with Santa, carriage rides, special performances, and tours of historic buildings are all part of the festival experience.”
Create family memories in “Indiana’s Canal Town,” with Santa, carolers and lanterns along the Whitewater Canal during the Metamora Christmas Walk. Shops are open late–until 10pm Friday and Saturday evenings. Lanterns will line the canal and lights and decorations are throughout the entire village. Event dates are November 26-28, and December 3-5, 10-12, 17-19. While you’re in Metamora, be sure and check out Words & Images/The Train Place specializing in model and toy trains, kerosene lamps and lanterns, cast iron cookware, and more.
Handmade candy canes are a holiday specialty at Martinsville Candy
Kitchen. The old-fashioned candy store also features a soda shop and ice cream parlor. While you’re there, pick up some homemade peanut butter fudge, cinnamon logs, and cherry cordial bark for sweet gift giving. The area is also home to unique local shops like Berries and Ivy for beautiful home decor and local artwork and The Sterling Butterfly carrying unique artisan crafted products and jewelry.
In downtown Seymour, check out two popular clothing boutiques, Lea Boutique and Dragonfly. In nearby North Vernon, be sure and visit Serendipity Antiques and Hodgepodge, where you’ll find treasures from different eras, and Classic Stained Glass and Gift Gallery carrying not just gifts, but also tools to make your owned stained glass pieces.
Speaking of glass, be sure to spend some time in Kokomo, where you’ll not only find a downtown filled with shopping options, but also America’s oldest glass manufacturing company, Kokomo Opalescent Glass. Here you can take tours, classes, and shop for beautiful gifts at the Op Shop.
If buying natural products is more your style, stock up at Goat Milk Stuff in Scottsburg, where the Jonas family makes goat milk soaps, lotions, and lip balm. Find more unique gifts at Old As Time Antiques & Gifts and Renslow’s Bargain Barn.
For the wine lovers on your list, a trip to French Lick Winery and Spirits can help wrap up your shopping. Visit the tasting room for wine samples and unique gifts like souvenir wine glasses, apparel, gift baskets, and gourmet food items.
Travel up north along the shores of Lake Michigan to visit the shops in Whiting, where you’ll find art galleries like Studio 659, boutiques, and specialty shops like Mind Benders Puzzles and Games.
Follow I-90 east to Chesterton, where Santa has already visited Chesterton Toys with his magic bag. The store prides itself on being the home of
“kid powered entertainment” with most of their products not requiring batteries or electronics but rather fueled by the imagination. Chesterton’s annual Mistletoe Market will be held outdoors on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will feature live music, vendors, and even a visit from Santa. Also in Chesterton, you’ll find handcrafted gift items at Three Moons Fiberworks, ArtZ Fine ArtZ and AntiqueZ, Chelle’s Boutique & Garage, and Circles in the Wind.
If fair trade and indie makers thrill you, check out Aster & Gray in downtown Valparaiso with a selection of meaningful gifts from over 250 ethical and handcrafted small businesses. Then hunt for more treasures at Valpo Vintage or buy a unique toy for a special kid in your life at Toys in the Attic.
In her Lafayette headquarters, internationally-known knitwear designer Lindsay Mason creates beautiful items like hats, scarves, hand accessories and more that are sold around the world through places like Anthopologie, QVC, and Sundance catalog. Every year her company, French Knot, opens up their warehouse in downtown Lafayette for their annual “open to the public” sale, offering 60-70% off thousands of overstock items and samples from large retailer orders. This year’s sale is December 3-5.
Cities and towns in Marshall County host several holiday events throughout the season, encouraging visitors to shop local.
“The Town of Culver annually hosts the Holiday Hop which takes place the first Saturday of December,” said Cori Humes, executive director of Visit Marshall County. “This festive event gets one in the holiday spirit all while supporting small businesses. The city of Plymouth hosts a Christmas light show that is synchronized holiday music with twinkle lights that be viewed through the month in December. The town of Argos has a special meet Santa night with a drive through its local park light show before you share your Christmas wishes with Santa himself.”
Over in Michigan City, search for the perfect gifts in charming downtown shops like Good News Vintage, Ballyea Celtic Jewelry Design & Irish Gifts, and Darling Boutique. At clothing store Unsalted No Sharks, 10% of their profits go to clean water charities.
The historic courthouse square in downtown Angola is surrounded by trendy shops, boutiques, and art galleries. For the antique lovers in your life, there are plenty of unique gifts to be found around town at A Wild Hare Antique Mall, MJ Uptown Antiques, Then & Now Antique Mall, and Remember When Vintage Mall.
In Indiana’s second largest city, Fort Wayne, celebrate the Days of Holly shopping event every Saturday from Nov. 27 to Dec. 18. Expanding Small Business Saturday to four Saturdays helps to limit crowds and gives shoppers room to social distance and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
In east central Indiana, The Orchard Shop at Minnetrista offers a host of one-of-a-kind gifts. The shop’s rotating inventory includes original artwork, pottery, home décor, children’s toys, assorted sweets, and local goods.
Pick up some gifts for your candy loving friends over in Hagerstown
at Abbott’s Candies. Known for their homemade, melt-in-your-mouth caramels and chocolates, the store has been using the same classic recipes for more than a century.
You can spend a whole day in Madison County, where you’ll find everything from hand-blown glass pieces to specialty boutiques, home decor, and more.
If you have yarn lovers in your life, a trip to Ply Fiber Arts in Richmond is in order. Tea lovers will cherish a gift from the Tin Cup Tea and Gift Shop. Located in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Richmond, the shop offers seven lines of tea, tea accessories, unique home decor items, and a showcase for local artists’ works.
While you’re in the area, make a visit to Warm Glow Candle Outlet in Centerville. The store will host its annual Christmas open house Dec. 2 through 5 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Enjoy Secret Santa sales, wine tastings, holiday décor, and more.
Experience the historic charm of Carroll County with unique shops in Flora and Delphi. You’ll find beautiful clothes and accessories at Urban Chique Boutique and Empire Consignment, a store like no other. Charming gifts and custom designs at Chickabiddies Country Store or Hometown Shirts and Graphix will help check every item off your holiday shopping list. Don’t forget to schedule your unique photography experience with Katey Roth Photography.
In St. John, The Gift Shoppe at The Shrine of Christ’s Passion’s is one of the most unique and largest Gift Shoppes in the Midwest. Don’t miss their annual Christmas Open House Nov. 3 thru Nov. 7.
For More Information
ArtZ: fine arZ & antiqueZ
Ballyea Celtic Jewelry Design & Irish Gifts
Berries & Ivy
Chelle’s Boutique & Garage
Find us on Facebook
Circles in the Wind
Flowers & Friends
French Lick Winery and Spirits
Goat Milk Stuff
Good News Vintage
Find us on Facebook
Hometown Shirts & Graphics
Kokomo Opalescent Glass
Katey Roth Photography
Martinsville Candy Kitchen
Metamora Christmas Walk
Orchard Shop at Minnetrista
Shrine of Christ’s Passion
The Sterling Butterfly
Three Moons Fiberworks
Two Chicks District Co.
AS FEATURED ON THE COVER!
Unsalted No Sharks
Urban Chique Boutique
Find us on Facebook
Warm Glow Candle Outlet
Words & Images/The Train Place