The only “kids” that Team Minnevangelist have right now are Mia and Miki, the two senior rescue dogs behind @american_chis. Around the holidays, we love showering them with treats and sweaters (which they hate-wear with gusto). But where do people with children of the human variety like to shop in Minnesota?
The best local toy stores and children’s boutiques we’ve found to date include Pacifier, Kinoko Kids, Oh Baby!, Mischief Toy Store, Teeny Bee Boutique in St. Paul, Pip & Pal in Excelsior, Lulie Kids in Maple Grove, The Owl and The Octopus in Wayzata, Lark Toys in Kellogg, Bumbelou in Mankato and New Ulm, and Kiddywampus in Hopkins. For kids interested in science and nature, the gift shop at the Science Museum of Minnesota is another goldmine.
For children’s books, we turn to Wild Rumpus (and their foofy feathery chickens), Red Balloon Bookshop, the children’s sections at Birchbark Books and new Black-owned bookshop Black Garnet. And let’s not forget Babycake’s Book Stack, an inspiring bookmobile showcasing the languages and stories of immigrants, refugees, African Americans, and indigenous people in the Twin Cities.
Brick-and-mortar stores aside, we’re forever rallying behind Minnesota makers and designers. What follows is the fourth installment in our epic 2020 gift guide, highlighting #MNmade goodies for children of all ages.
1. We’re big fans of artist D.C. Ice‘s whimsical woodland creatures, but how charming is this wool bear head pillow ($95) sewn by her husband Matthew Philippi?
2. Make-believe gets a dose of the real with this finely crafted hunter sword ($40) and shield ($38) from Solid Manufacturing Co. in Minneapolis. The shield is Baltic birch; the sword is made from sustainably harvested northern white pine and black walnut and finished with a leather handle.
3. Start ’em young with a When Doves Cry kids’ tee ($25) from The Prince Estate.
4. This wool kitty cat doll ($90) from Beeper Bébé in Minneapolis was upcycled from a secondhand tweed suit jacket.
5. Local illustrator Megan Kampa makes number play fun with this jumbo set of circus-themed flash cards, $24 at Kinoko Kids.
6. Rwarrrrr! Check out this hand-drawn laser cutout of a fierce T-Rex dinosaur ($14) from Pink Linen Designs. It’s available in 18 colors.
7. Black Boy, Black Boy, What Do You See? ($18.95), written by Crown Shepherd and illustrated by Mychal Batson, answers its titular question with a powerful mantra: “Anything they want to be!” The 32-page hardcover book introduces kids to a variety of career options, from doctor to astronaut to President of the United States.
8. Gift the youngest Minnevangelist in your life this Minnesota Icons cuddle blanket ($118) from designer Abbey Pattison of Abbey’s House in Minneapolis.
9. Cutie patootie alert: The floppy-eared, blossom-printed Tulip bunny grabber ($13) from Jellycat has a rattle inside, making it super fun to squeeze and shake.
10. Forget keeping a straight face when your little one goofs around in these cheerful Candy Collective leggings ($25) from Club Kiddo in Minneapolis.
11. Non-toxic, all-natural bath crayons ($10 for three) from Pacha Soap Co. are fun to play with in the shower or tub but always wash away clean.
12. Lark Toys‘ heirloom wooden pull toys are handmade at their on-site workshop in Kellogg. Ronald the Duck here retails for $38.
14. Playmobil Minnesota Wild goalie ($9) from Kiddywampus in Hopkins.
15. Outdoorsy: A Coloring Book Celebrating Our Connection to the Natural World ($18) by Minneapolis artist Meg Erke includes 16 original hand-drawn images, including Minnehaha Falls and the Sunken Garden at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory.
16. Wheeeeeee! That’s what the whole family will be squealing when they’re whooshing down the hill on a 6-foot-long, heirloom-style classic wood toboggan ($473) from Northern Toboggan Co. The sled fits up to two adults or three children.
17. The election may be over, but Kamala is just getting started. Kids who aspire to change the world can start by rocking a Kool Like Kamala children’s shirt ($24.95) from Anthony and Stork in Minneapolis.
18. The components in the Goofy Bird automata kit ($59) from Cecilia Schiller of Cranky Heart Automata are laser-cut from Baltic birch plywood. Kids ages 10 and up (or younger with the help of an adult) follow instructions to build their own interactive mechanical sculpture. Leave the piece raw or decorate it with acrylic paint, watercolor, or markers.
19. How can you make remote learning just a smidge more fun for your kids? With this 70-sheet Minnesota-shaped notepad ($12) from The Vintage Studio.
20. The juiciest faux leather watermelon bow ($10) by Nicole Lemmerman of Oscar & Olivia in Mound.
21. The sunshine-y Egg Pals baby bib ($16) from Sweetpea & Co. has a velcro closure for easy on-off removal.
22. The sweetest lil’ paw print mittens ($22) from Kara Crane of Mocks Mittens in Plymouth.
23. Brighten up a child’s room with birchwood rainbows ($28-$58) and wall flowers ($44) by St. Paul artist Hayley Kolar. Message her to place a custom order and look for more of her colorful work for sale at Curiosity in Northeast Minneapolis.
24. These hand-dyed mohair fur bears ($106 each) were designed by second-generation teddy maker Jennifer Murphy of Minneapolis’ Polka Dot Club.
25. If you caught the interactive exhibition at the historic Turnblad Mansion earlier this year, you already know the A to Zåäö: Playing with History at the American Swedish Institute picture book is a charming all-ages introduction to the Swedish alphabet, illustrated by Nate Christopherson and Tara Sweeney. It’s available for $24.95 at the American Swedish Institute gift shop.
26. The bamboo kids toothbrush ($3.50 each or $12.50 for four) from Bamboo Switch is naturally antibacterial, biodegradable, and available with rainbow, green, blue, or violet bristles.
27. The 13.5-inch-tall Aaliyah doll ($60) is made by Twin Cities transplant Flora Ekpe-Idang, founder of new multicultural toy company Corage Dolls. Her mission and messaging — “to elevate, educate, and encourage girls of color to be unstoppable” — is something we can absolutely get behind. For $75, shoppers can buy the Aaliyah bundle, which includes the doll, a book (Don’t Give Up, Aaliyah!), and a #BecauseRepresentationMatters pin.
28. The comfy Aspen romper ($32) from Colored Organics is made with 100 percent organic cotton and water-based dyes.
29. Got a budding entrepreneur in the family? Imagine the businesses (or library reference desks and puppetry shows) they’ll dream up with this lemonade/market stand ($154.99) from Beka Wood in St. Paul. The setup is hand-crafted from Baltic birch and hard maple and includes a black, white, or green chalkboard. You can say you knew them when you see ’em pitching Shark Tank.
30. For the family that snowshoes together: an Arctic Animals print ($17-$45), made from original artwork by Brian Schmidt of Lower Woodland Studio.
31. One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden by Minneapolis-based writer Diane C. Mullen ($16.99 at the Walker Shop) tells the story of a city community rallying around an abandoned lot to transform it into a vegetable garden.
32. Lund Studios‘ handmade adventure bags ($42) are perfect for a walk in the woods. Kids can tuck whatever goodies they find along the way — wildflowers, rocks, a curious stick — into the open top. The leather strap includes free personalization up to five words.
33. The You Serious, Clark? raglan tee ($23) from Hi, Little One is available in infant and toddler sizes. Your kid won’t get the reference, but elder Griswold fans sure will.
35. We wish the sandstone Sunset jumpsuit ($68), made in Minneapolis by Sisterland, came in adult sizing.
36. The BLOOP kids gloves ($45) from Modern Cover in St. Paul remind us of the Saved By the Bell title sequence. (Just us?) This snazzy line of gloves was started by an MCAD student from Northern China, where it also gets very, very 🥶.
37. Coolibar‘s Baby Beach one-piece swimsuit ($39), designed to fit children between 6 and 24 mos., boasts sun protection of UPF 50+ and a snap-close bottom for easy diaper access.
38. For the teen who skates: a splashy hand-shaped, hand-painted hard maple deck ($120) from Tim Hudson of Baby Skateboards in Minneapolis.
39. From Oh Baby! comes this heart-meltingly adorable bunny-themed character set ($99.95). It includes yoga footie pants, a long-sleeve onesie, and a bunny ears hat. Sizing options cover 0-3 mos. or 3-6 mos.
40. For the tween or teen inventor, you can’t beat the award-winning MN INVENTS books, Volumes I and II ($15 each). The title digs into the stories behind Twister, Tonka Trucks, Scotch tape, rollerblades, Pacemakers, Oregon Trail, pop-up toaster, water skis, SPAM, Zubaz pants, Nordic Track, and other wild Minnesotan inventions. Bonus: Fifty percent of profits are donated to Minnesota charities.
41. Inspired by Scandinavian folklore, the polar fleece-lined elf hats ($36) from Steller Handcrafted Goods come in numerous styles. This one was upcycled from a wool sweater and finished with Nordic ribbon.
42. How special are these personalized rainbow name crayons from Rhonda’s Reborns in Slayton? They’re made from 64 different colors of non-toxic Crayola crayons. Pricing starts at $12.75 for one to five letters and inches up from there.
43. A copy of Darrin Lunde’s Whose Footprint Is That? ($25), featuring illustrations by Kelsey Oseid of Kelzuki in Minneapolis.
44. Cue Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” The kid-sized quilt coats from Farewell Frances range from $135 to $200 and each is one-of-a-kind because it’s sewn with scraps from vintage quilts.
45. Got a big tree in your front or backyard? Throw up a handmade oval or bench-style swing ($75-$200) from The Original Tree Swing in Minneapolis. The swings are handmade from local ash and walnut trees and may be personalized with a brass nameplate.
46. CatStronauts: Digital Disaster ($8.99 at Moon Palace Books) is the sixth and latest installment in Minneapolis artist and author Drew Brockington’s popular comic book series for young readers (ages 6 to 10). Signed copies are available.
47. New from the University of Minnesota Press: The Range Eternal ($17.95) by beloved local author Louise Erdrich. The story is set in the Turtle Mountains, where a magical wood stove is the heart of hearth and home.
48. Gift your favorite family a subscription box ($49-$65 per quarter) to Cooper & Kid in Minneapolis. Themed boxes are mailed four times a year, each one packed with experiments, games, and recipes targeting kids ages 5 to 11.
49. For youngsters who were gutted about not riding the Giant Slide in 2020: a Minnesota State Fair kids snapback cap ($22) by Chapeau Patrick.
50. How rad is this? A coloring book ($19.99 at Birchbark Books) packed with 21 original designs by Minneapolis-based Anishinaabe artist Frank Big Bear Jr.
51. Need an easily customizable gift? Each letter in the name trains from DoodleTown Toys in Big Lake costs $4.95. The engine and caboose cost $9.90 for the pair. All pieces are produced in-state using sustainably harvested Northern White Pine.
52. To get your brood giggling and grooving, crank up Let’s Imagine, the second studio album from Northfield’s Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band. This fun-loving duo writes songs about rodents, spaghetti, and princesses, oh my.
53. Musical Lili Llama ($50) from Manhattan Toy in Eden Valley has four spinners, two gears, two clacking saddle blankets, two mallets, a five-bar xylophone, a washboard, and a maraca for a tail.
54. Super-cozy 30″ x 40″ Kaleido dino blankie ($35) from Uplift Illustrations. Cool to note: For every 10 handmade products sold, owner Nicole Hinds donates one to a local school, library, or family.
55. Honey, I shrunk the kids! MODplayhouse in Duluth makes custom finger puppets ($20 each) using your personal family photos. They can even make one of the dog.
56. Moon phases night rainbow ($155) from local fiber artist Mandi Smethells.
57. Melt their little mouse heart with this double pom-pom beanie (from $38) from the knit stars at Nickichicki.
Still shopping? Check out our other holiday roundups, including…
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Art + Home Goods
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Jewelry
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Food + Drink
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Pets
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Clothing + Accessories
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Beauty + Wellness
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Sports + Recreation
Minnevangelist’s Epic Minnesota Gift Guide: Experiences