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89 Days

Minnesota musicians' holiday gift ideas for music, fashion, and more

A guitar, pedal, and amp from El Diablo Amps & Guitars in northeast Minneapolis
A guitar, pedal, and amp from El Diablo Amps & Guitars in northeast MinneapolisCourtesy El Diablo Amps & Guitars

by Lianna Matt McLernon

December 09, 2022

After the whirlwind of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Cyber Week, for some), don't fret if you didn't score the big deals. The best holiday gifts can't be rushed. And although local artists Ber, D'Lourdes, and Mayyadda have a busy few months ahead — think a new December single, a February EP, and new music in the new year, respectively — they took the time to be this year's fairy godparents of holiday shopping. Check out their favorite gifts to give or get, the shops they have to stop at, and the designers they love.

For items you didn’t know you needed

Both Ber and D'Lourdes say practical gifts can be unexpected hits. D'Lourdes uses the portable speakers her mom gave her all the time, while Ber loves the simplicity of coffee beans — Dogwood is her favorite — paired with a good mug. And if you have something in your own life that you think is a necessity, maybe someone else will think the same. "I have this handmixer that I use and make soups with that was a Christmas gift from my mom last year," Ber says. "She's like, 'You need one,' and I had no idea how true it was."

Another underrated gift shop is the bookstore, according to D'Lourdes. Twin Cities favorites include the Wild Rumpus, Cream & Amber, and Open Book, but D'Lourdes' favorite is Black Garnet Books, the state's first Black-owned bookstore.

You can double down on local with 2022 books for all ages, as well. Young readers can unwrap Bao Phi's self-affirming You Are Life or Kelly Barnhill's chapter book The Ogress & the Orphan. Other new books include Bob Dylan's The Philosophy of Modern Song, a 60-some essay collection; Peter Geye's The Ski Jumpers, a slowly unraveling family drama underneath the sports stardom; and Jess Lourey's thriller, The Quarry Girls.

A painting of a man with his forearms crossed in front of him
King T’Chadwick, 36” x 36” Acrylic & spray paint by DiO
Courtesy DiO

To go more fanciful, the vintage and antique shops on West Seventh in St. Paul or Time Bomb Vintage in Minneapolis are Ber's favorite spots for the unexpected. If you want visual art, D'Lourdes recommends DiO and his humanistic, color-saturated paintings and commissions. To capture a moment (or even new family portraits), D'Lourdes recommends Morgan Chapman Media, and Mayyadda has enjoyed working with Raygen Samone and Bryce Johnson.

You can give Minnesota makers more love at the new Xia Gallery & Cafe, which features local Asian American artists; the studios in the Northrup King Building; Rose & Loon in Roseville; and the pop-up markets Black Business Is Beautiful and Mpls Craft Market (each with online directories).

For the fashion 

While shopping for someone else's style may be tough, Ber, D'Lourdes, and Mayyadda have great taste to go off of. 037, Ber's favorite Minnesota maker, has a "Hug Your Homies" sweater perfect for staying cozy, which you can snag at the Water Wave through December or anytime through the 037 Instagram account. For other things, like outdoor apparel and boutique items, she hits up Midwest Mountaineering and Queenie & Pearl, respectively.

A clothing store with a disco ball hanging from the ceiling
Queenie & Pearl in south Minneapolis
Courtesy Queenie & Pearl

Some of D'Lourdes' favorite shops are Rewind!, a thrift store in Northeast Minneapolis, Proper and Buffalo Exchange on Lyndale, and even Ragstock. "If you're feeling edgy (like really edgy)," they add, "check out Bondesque on West Lake."

Those looking to buy some jewelry or makeup should take inspiration from Mayyadda's look. Juvia's Place and Beauty Bay, Gavissi Beauty, and Ami Colé — made especially for melanin-rich skin — are some good makeup brands, and some of Mayyadda's everyday jewelry includes necklaces from Sun and Selene and Hey Harper, and earrings from Humans Before Handles. If you're able to splurge on a higher-end fashion piece, Mayyadda also suggests Black designers such as Noel Puello and Mifland.


For the experience

Experiences were the most memorable gifts that all three artists received or gave. For Ber, it was the Mumford & Sons concert her mom and uncle took her and her friend to when she was 14 — a weekend trip to the Twin Cities from her hometown of Bemidji. For Mayyadda, the favorite gift she ever gave was matching sibling tattoos with her brother, courtesy of longtime family friend Joy Spika at BlackEnd Tattoo.

And D'Lourdes' stand-outs have been receiving Ali Wong tickets, a personalized video from Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and a life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Glover. (Okay, this last one is definitely an object, but we couldn't not include it.)

A grilled piece of chicken on a banana leaf next to a mound of rice
Food from Filipino-American restaurant Apoy
Courtesy Apoy

Don't sweat it if you're worried about picking the best experience. Throwing it back to elementary school days, Ber has made little coupon books for her family to treat them throughout the year. Consider the time-tested dinner and a show: D'Lourdes always champions Filipino restaurant Apoy and the Asian American theater company Theater Mu (where they have also acted and where I currently work). You could also pair a meal at the new Apostle Supper Club with the Xcel Energy Center across the street, or the soon-to-open, plant-based Francis Burger Joint in northeast Minneapolis with any North Loop/downtown Minneapolis venue that's 10 minutes away.

For the music

The trio named the classic places to go for either gifts, gift cards, or a bequeathed shopping spree, such as Twin Town Guitars, El Diablo's Amps and Guitars, Sweetwater Music, and Guitar Center. If you're unsure what to give your musician friend but want to wrap something, try thinking about the little everyday things. For example, Mayyadda regularly heads to Heal MPLS to pick up herbs for throat maintenance, and the Wedge co-op has her favorite local honey and throat lozenges. Guitar strings will also go a long way, Ber notes.

Tried-and-true gifts for music lovers include a playlist, vinyl, or random noisemakers. As Ber said, you can find the weirdest things on producers' desks for a reason. (Her friend may have a can of dried beans that he has integrated into the beats of his songs.)

With the countdown to the holidays already in full swing, it can be easy to get stressed. If you're still feeling the pressure after all these ideas, just take a breath and think about why Mayyadda recorded her EP, Holiday Joint. "I made [the EP] largely to amuse myself because I'm pretty darn Grinchy," she says, "but I wanted to make something that even the Grinchy amongst us can enjoy, while reminding us all that we are allowed to actually rest and find peace during this season, instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle."

For community support

Does your beloved already have everything? You could make a donation in their name to one of these organizations hand-picked by Ber, D'Lourdes, and Mayyadda.

●      Capri Theater: This historic venue is a center for youth, family, and adult education and arts programming for the North Minneapolis community.

●      The Cedar Cultural Center: The Cedar promotes intercultural appreciation through global music, dance, and other events.

●      InTENtions: The Brooklyn Center-based nonprofit began in 2021 to provide youth-centered enrichment.

●      Memorialize the Movement: Founded to save the plywood murals created after George Floyd's murder, this organization continues to collect art from the social justice movement and provide community art-making spaces.

●      MIGIZI: This nonprofit provides educational, social, economic, and cultural services to American Indian youth.

●      MN350: This organization focuses on climate justice with the ultimate goal of getting CO2 levels to 350 parts per million or lower.

●      Penumbra Center for Racial Healing: Nationally reknown for its theater, Penumbra is in the midst of expanding its wellness services to further serve the Black community.

●      Reclaim the Block: Since 2018, this organization has advocated moving police funding into other services that lift up community health and safety.

●      The Trevor Project: LGBTQ young people are four times more likely to attempt suicide; this organization is hoping to stop it through crisis services, an online safe space, and more.

A collection of icons of winter clothing, food, recreation
The Current's 89 Days of Winter brings together highlights of the season for music, entertainment, and more.
Alexis Politz for MPR

This feature is part of The Current’s 89 Days series, helping you enjoy the best of the season with weekly guides to events, entertainment, and recreation in the Twin Cities.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.