Staff picks for the perfect gift

Board games
$34.99 and up
Vault of Midnight; 219 S. Main St, Ann Arbor; 734-998-1413;

Do the young people in your life have a little board game fatigue? Why not give them some really new games? There's Castle Panic ($34.99), made by Fireside Games, which involves a castle being attacked by wave after wave of orcs, goblins, and trolls, who try to overwhelm the castle's defenses. Play is "cooperative" (as opposed to "competitive"), which means that the players work as a team against the board. On the competitive end of things, there's Ticket to Ride ($49.99), in which players get to pretend to be railroad barons of the 19th century, building expansive rail systems across the United States. There's also King of Tokyo ($39.99), in which players try to get their monsters, ranging from a cybernetic bunny to a giant ape to a huge dragon, to destroy Tokyo.

Custom Night-Light
Glass Action

What's a better gift than a handmade, custom night-light fashioned in the likeness of your favorite friend or lovely lover? Perhaps better yet, a cultural icon like Prince or Bill Murray. Carey Gustafson crafts these stained-glass night-lights in her Ferndale home and, trust us, they are amazing. We suggest contacting her early; she's a busy lady during the holidays. In fact, she's only taking orders until Dec. 8.

Beard Comb
Burton + Levy
$28 and up

Beards are super in right now and chances are you have a brother, father, boyfriend, husband, or pal that has some scraggly facial hair that needs some taming. Beard combs from Burton + Levy are the perfect answer to a disagreeable goatee or a burly beard. They're locally made and come in four different styles. They'll be on Detroit Urban Craft Fair and HLDYMRKT, if you're into purchasing wares in person. They're also available online, if you're an Internet shopper.

Detroit Map Collars and Leashes
Detroit Manufacturing

Don't forget the dog! These collars are made right here in the city and will reflect you and your pooch's love for the Motor City. They're practically indestructible, but if Fido does happen to chew through, the company will replace them. They come in three different sizes — small, medium, and large — and are easily available at local stores like Cass Corridog and 3Dogs 1Cat. Plus you can purchase them online at

Typewriter key tie tacks
$11 and up
Compass Rose Design

One needs only punch "typewriter key" into Etsy's search bar to find a host of jewelry made from vintage typing machines. These tie tacks have tons of character and make a unique and unusual gift for dad (we suggest a last initial, although "backspace," "margin release," and a simple arrow are all available and pretty cool, too), and will show a little extra thought went into picking out this new addition to his jewelry collection.

Ugly Sweaters
DeVries & Co. 1887; 2468 Market St, Detroit; 313-568-7777

These ugly holiday sweaters by FunQi Gifts take things to the next level by embracing the ridiculousness of the art form and cranking the dial all the way to 11. With designs that feature pooping reindeer and cats shooting lasers out of their eyes, you'll be sure to outdo everyone at the ugly sweater party with one of these.

Hanukkah Sweaters
$24 and up

Why should Gentiles have all the fun when it comes to ugly sweater parties? Made locally by Wet House, these designs feature dreidels, Stars of David, and menorahs, and are sure to be a hit at the next holiday party — as long as that holiday is the Festival of Lights.

Golf Club Racks
$35 and up
Handmade in Michigan;

With hooks made from golf club heads, these custom racks are the perfect gift for the avid golfer in your life. Made out of solid oak, maple, walnut, or poplar, they can hold up to 75 pounds — the perfect place to retire your flat cap and coat after a day of clubbin' (you know, at the golf club).

The Ford-Wyoming Drive-in: Cars, Candy & Canoodling in The Motor City
By Karen Dybis

For nearly seven decades, the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In theater has been a mainstay of metro Detroit since its inception. Perfect for dates, families, or a place for friends to hide out and watch films until the sun rises, this theater — known as the largest drive-in in the world — has endured the region's lowest lows, a sentiment eloquently captured by local writer Karen Dybis. A great read on one of the area's classic landmarks.

Canvas Detroit
By Julie Pincus and Nichole Christian
Wayne State University Press,

Detroit's street art scene has exploded in recent years, something authors Pincus and Christian delve into with painstaking detail, telling the stories of those who created the art. Yes, the phrase "Detroit is a canvas" has become a tired, somewhat disparaging cliche, but Canvas Detroit breathes life into the idea: Look at the way artists have transformed some of the city's most dilapidated buildings into beautiful landscapes.

Valentine Vodka, Bourbon, and Gin
Valentine Distilling Company
161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951;

Valentine Distilling has made a name for itself by ensuring each bottle of booze it produces focuses on quality above everything else. That's how founder Rifino Valentine described it to us earlier this year. And, they've already won a number of awards to support that point. Want to surprise a family member with some top-notch liquor heading into the holidays? Valentine has a number of prepared infusions, including its original vodka, the Liberator Old Tom Barrel Aged Gin, and the Woodward Limited Bourbon Whiskey.

EM Press Coffee Maker
4240 Cass Ave, Detroit; 313-831-4844;

One of the many new shops in Detroit's Cass Corridor, Hugh offers plenty of everyday kitchen items, but the EM Press Coffee Maker stands out for its reliability and sleek design. Never tried your morning cup of coffee from a press like this? Perhaps now's the time. Once you taste the difference, you might never turn back.

Refuge Skateshop
24334 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-277-5283;

Sure, the weather might be a drag, but by springtime, there will be plenty of ground to skate. If someone you know has taken an interest, Refuge Skateshop has been around for years, slinging boards, shoes, and clothes in a small shop off Michigan Avenue. Owner Eric Ziembowicz will certainly offer the best advice on what board suits whomever it's intended for.

Detroit Scrolls
Sold at various locations; 313-244-2101;

In the old days, bus drivers used to change their signs by cranking a scroll with the route names printed on it, which have been reproduced here in a variety of products that would look great in the pad of any Detroit lover. Get them in handsome 30'' by 66'' archival prints of the alphabetized sections, or order a custom scroll with select Detroit streets on it. The route names, using the original typeface, are also printed on stationery, drinkware, apparel, and more.

Pro-Ject Limited Lightning Yellow RM 1.3 Turntable
Third Man Records

The latest contraption from Nashville-via-Detroit's Jack White costs a pretty penny, but that's the price of state-of-the-art audio fidelity and cutting-edge design. Done in White's signature color palette, this turntable is loaded with features for the true audiophile. They say vinyl sounds better, and this retro-futuristic technology is basically the best that vinyl can possibly sound.

Smile Brand T-shirts

We dig this T-shirt's minimal design, emblazoned with a simple message that serves as a useful reminder. Created by artist Philip "Fresh" Simpson from Detroit's Osborn neighborhood, the instantly iconic design also comes on a variety of other products like hoodies, hats, lapel pins, and stickers.

Stealing Home DVD

What do you get the diehard Tigers fan for the holidays? A copy of the DVD Stealing Home, Jason Roche's award-winning documentary about old Tiger Stadium and the group of volunteers who keep the tradition of baseball alive at "The Corner." This doc is as much educational as it is an emotional tribute to America's favorite pastime and Detroit's favorite corner. (Full disclosure: MT's own Dave Mesrey is featured as a founding member of the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who have cared for the land since 2010.)

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