Our FAVORITE things

We know. Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be one tall order. No worries. City Pages is out with its second annual list of our favorite things. This year all the items are available locally and easy to find. Remember, when you shop at locally owned businesses, more money stays in the Wausau area, helping schools, paving streets, offering support to nonprofits and keeping our community thriving.

We asked five staffers and one of our delivery drivers to come up with their best ideas—wonderful things they’d love to give or receive—for this year’s ultimate holiday shopping list.


Shereen Siewert, news editor

Earlier this month, I wrote a story about how much I loathe the cold of winter. So it’s not much of a surprise that warm, wonderful things top my gift list (and not just this year!)

Swittens are all the rage—those handmade cozy mittens created from upcycled wool sweaters and fleece. Last year I tried making my own, which only proved how inept I am at crafting. Why sit and swear at the sewing machine, when you can buy a pair, probably made by local crafters? These coveted hand coverings are available at a variety of Wausau shops, including Second Peek Boutique and the Center for the Visual Arts gift shop. If you really want to try making your own, check out the tutorial here.

Speaking of swearing, we all have that person who likes to “tell it like it is.” What if they could wear those thoughts on their feet? Evolutions in Design carries a huge, colorful assortment of Blue Q Socks, or what I call “swear socks.” Each is embroidered with gut-busting quotesranging from the benign (“Cute but Psycho”) to the unrefined (“Spoiler Alert: People can be a*@#holes”). My stepdaughter, Megan, bought me a pair for my birthday this year, and though I can’t print what they say, I can tell you they make me laugh every time I put them on.


Shereen Siewert/City Pages

My late father and I loved putting together jigsaw puzzles on cold winter nights. Puzzles make a terrific family gift, and Janke Book Store has an enormous selection. My puzzle this year has to be the Then & Now Wausau puzzle, which is especially perfect for Wausonians with a strong sense of nostalgia. Then & Now Photography combines two photo frames of the same location—one from today, one from decades ago. Then & Now’s Wausau puzzles are selling like crazy at Janke’s, so snap one up before they’re gone.

For a creative hostess gift, go to the Center for the Visual Arts gift shop and pick up a handmade bowl and spreader set. Whip up your own dip to fill the bowl and hand it to your host. I’d also include a copy of the recipe, tied to the bowl with a brightly colored ribbon.


Brian “B.C.” Kowalski, news reporter

The best way I’d describe the Comix Page is that it’s a comic store not for your typical comic book fan. You won’t find many spandex-clad superheroes with all their POWs and BLAMMOs. Instead you’ll find a thoughtful collection of artsy and literary comic books, many in graphic novel form. Each contains a Post-it note with a personal message about the work by Comix Page owner Evan Cass.


B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Comix Page King-Cat Studio 7

So it was with King Cat Comics. I bought issue No. 75, a “zeen” format comic book with a personal story from John Porcellino. The story, All-Maisie, is about the author’s cat, Maisie, their unlikely meeting, how she stuck with him through a marriage and divorce, through his budding career as a comic artist and several cross-country moves. My own cat snuggled in my lap as I read, I was ugly crying by the end. Porcellino has a great way using simple illustrations to convey great meaning. Find something for just about anyone at The Comix Page, in the basement of Studio 7 on Third Street in downtown Wausau.

Greenwood Hills Golf Course’s winter membership is a tempting experience. For $30, you can buy a pass to fat bike, cross-country ski and snowshoe around the beautiful, hilly grounds for the entire winter. The membership allows you to use Mulligan’s Lounge, which is open to members only. Enjoy traversing the trails then grabbing a bite to eat. Passes available at Mulligan’s Lounge, 2002 Poplar Lane, Wausau.

It’s beard season, so I can’t be showing up at social events with a scraggly snarl of scruff.


B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Enter Northwoods Beard Company with a line of products including beard oil and beard balm to keep your shag soft and smooth, and smelling nice. Made in Schofield by a guy with a pretty righteous beard himself and his girlfriend, the products come in a nice selection of scents, from lumberjack to campfire to morning joe. Order at NorthwoodsBeard.com or purchase at Pearl Luvs Earl, the new boutique store near Athletic Park in Wausau.


Alex Eichten, graphic designer

Let’s face it. Christmas is a little awkward.  Trying to come up with the “perfect gift” is a pressure we all dread. My secret for the perfect gift every time: experiences!

My first suggestion: knitting classes from the Black Purl. They offer a variety of classes for all knitting levels ranging from $15 to $45 depending on the session. Plus, if your beloved really gets into it you can expect some awesome handmade gifts for the holidays to come. So it’s basically a gift for you. #winning

Second: boozy stuff. Local craft beers are always easy dude gifts, but consider the cool events that happen in Wausau. On January 27, Wausau Events hosts the Wausau Winter

Three sampling glasses of beer in a bar

Three sampling glasses of beer in a bar

Three sampling glasses of beer in a bar

Brew Fest, which features over 40 craft beers and wines from all over the state. There’s live music and a potato bar too, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. Tickets are $25 till January 1. If your friends are more sophisticated than mine, and unlimited beer samples aren’t their scene, there are always a few wine tasting events happening at Allister Deacon’s Coffee House. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple. Next tasting is scheduled for January 19.

Finally, how about music lessons?  We all secretly aspire to some sort of musical endeavor in our lifetime. Give someone a reason to make it happen! Holly Ann Music in downtown Wausau offers a variety of classes including voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, flute and drums for both kids and adults. Lessons are only $20 per half hour session. 


Kayla Zastrow, Big Guide boss

Nothing says relaxing like a glass (or bottle) of wine. My favorite is Moscato, since I’m a sucker for anything sweet. Trig’s Cellar 70 carries bottles of Primo Amore Moscato, which is absolutely delicious! Trying new wine is also a treat. Downtown Grocery has a selection from Wisconsin and Lil’ Ole Winemaker Shoppe has a variety of fun flavors (Pomegranate Zing!) as great gifts for the wine connoisseur in your life. Pair the bottle with a set of glasses for a complete holiday gift.

Knit Man Scarf For Cold Day

Knit Man Scarf For Cold Day

Knit man scarf for cold day in winter hobby leisure with handmade gift for father day woman hand knitting from yarn nice present in vintage color

My mother always says that busy hands are happy hands. As someone who loves binge-watching TV shows, I need to keep busy while conquering 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. So I knit scarves as gifts. Head to the Black Purl for a selection of yarn and knit a personalized, handmade gift. If you know someone who loves to knit, a new set of needles or yarn is an exceptional gift.


For busy college students like me, the holidays are a time to chill out until the spring semester begins. One way I like to relax is with a Buddha Board. Use water to paint designs onto the board and watch them fade away, encouraging the Zen idea of living in the moment. It’s a gift of relaxation and creativity. Buddha Boards are found locally at Janke Book Store.

 Coloring is no longer just for kids. A wide variety coloring books aimed at teens and adults make for amusing gifts. Enliven local scenery with Coloring Time: Scenes from Marathon County found at Janke Book Store, the Center for Visual Arts gift shop, and the Woodson History Center. This collection of black and white drawings by local artists features scenes throughout Marathon County. And you can buy it local online! Find it and other local history items at marathoncountyhistory.org.


Tim Nyenhuis, delivery guy

For someone like me, a retired teacher and empty nester, the gift of luggage is perfect. A great suitcase or travel bag is a must, but it’s one of those things people hate to sp


end money on themselves. Our daughter and son-in-law live in Seattle, and our son now lives in Orlando. That’s given us some great travel destinations, and a need for new luggage.

Younkers, Kohl’s and TJ Maxx all have a wide variety to choose from, and the Baggalini totes and travel bags found at Janke Book Store and other downtown retailers are perfect for packing smaller items.

Many birds stay in the state throughout the winter, and backyards do matter when it comes to their survival. A perfect gift for bird-lovers: bird feeders and bird seed, which you can find at a variety of Wausau-area shops. Wild Birds Unlimited in Rib Mountain has a selection of holiday-themed seed cylinder and feeder combos perfect for holiday gift giving. Fleet Farm also has a ton of seed in stock year round.

If you haven’t heard, vinyl is back, with record sales surging to a nearly 30-year high in 2016. Records are a hit with both young and old, and if you know someone with a record player, head to Inner Sleeve in downtown Wausau, where Mike Capista carries a robust collection of vinyl albums. There are plenty of classics, but even today’s most popular artists like Adele are releasing their latest on vinyl.


Tammy Stezenski, publisher & editor

One of my favorite things is the farmers market. And Wausau’s Winter Market is brimming with food stuffs that make a fabulous “made in Central Wisconsin” gift basket or package: maple syrup, honey, jams-jellies, beautifully canned vegetables, locally roasted coffee, and even herb wreaths. You could throw in some storage vegetables like those gorgeous purple turnips or radishes. The market runs Saturdays 8 am–noon at 212 River Dr. It will not be open Saturday, Dec. 24.

Another “taste of Wisconsin” option is to order a gift box of meats and other goodies from Country Fresh Meats in Weston or Neuske’s in Wittenberg. Pick them up at the stores, or order online and have them shipped. Both companies say you should order by Dec. 19 to ensure delivery by Christmas.


The new wise mantra is, spend money on experiences not things. New research shows this applies to gifts, as well: receiving an experience is more meaningful. Maybe that’s why I love to give and receive gift certificates to local businesses. Think massage therapy, local restaurants and even yoga classes. For example, a gift certificate to 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness can be used for yoga, massage, meditation, pilates and even belly dancing. How about signing someone up for an art class or painting party—perhaps to do together with you? I’d love to see these things in my stocking.

Speaking of art, two places that I consider must-sees for gifts are the Center for the Visual Arts gift shop, and  319 Gallery & Bistro, both in downtown Wausau. Each sells works by local artists in such a variety that it’s hard to imagine what you’ll find. A sampling:  ceramic tea pots, handmade cards and jewelry, cutting boards, kitchenware, home and garden décor. The CVA gift shop is found inside the Washington Square Lifestyle Center, 300 Third St.; 319 Gallery is located on Fourth Street, a block south of the Grand Theater.