Show Your Colorado Love With These 10 Gift Ideas

colorado gifts

You don’t have to live in Colorado to LOVE Colorado! There is so much to do and enjoy in our amazing state (which we think is the best!). Whether you are an active person who loves the outdoors or someone who would rather enjoy the comforts of a majestic view from a car, RV, or hotel, the draw of the mountains and blue skies leaves a permanent kiss on our souls.

In honor of all those souls who are touched by this land, we offer a few suggestions for gift ideas that show our Colorado-Love.

by Gary Blehm

grin big colorado springs

When life is unfair…GRIN BIG!

Gary, a long-time resident of Colorado Springs, loves to spread his message of positivity in the midst of frustration through his art. He is the originator of Penman, created in his childhood and rose to fame in the 90s. Penman, once relegated to comic strips across the country, has now jumped off the pages of paper and onto a larger stage to spread his optimism and life outdoors.

Grin Big offers tees for men and women, showing Penman in a variety of mountain activity settings. A great way to share your optimism and love of Colorado!



If you live in Colorado Springs, you MUST stop by the lemonade taproom in downtown! Pikes Peak Lemonade is located at 224 N. Tejon Street. While you are shopping for these awesome camping mugs with hot cocoa, try out their Hot Cocoa bar or their lemonade tasting stand.



colorado drink local mug

What a great way to show your love for all things local with this bowl and mug set. Handthrown by Colorado Springs artist, Chris Burch. You can also customize a set to reflect your style!

This particular design was created exclusively for SPARROW HAWK COOKWARE. You can purchase this set, or order it, through Allen at the store in downtown Colorado Springs.

120 N. Tejon St, Colorado Springs

Looking for a customized option? Contact Chris Burch directly through his Facebook page.


While browsing through a local boutique, MacKenzie & West, I stumbled upon these fun finds by Blu Bottle! Your ski-bunny friends and family will love the vintage design of the bottle and the matching tea towels. And for the mountain biking enthusiasts, the mountains with bike bottle fits perfectly in the beverage holder. These containers can hold hot or cold beverages (you know, like a hot cocoa for after a run down the slopes, or refreshing lemonade while exploring backcountry trails!)

2530 W. Colorado Ave

ETSY, BUNGALOWBOOcolorado gifts

100% recycled Bamboo cutting boards are so useful. Why not get one with Pikes Peak engraved on it (there are other mountain ranges available as well) plus add a custom message? A good idea for those who love to cook, entertain, or at least make their kitchen look like they do!



Coloradoans are proud of their state. Whether you want to show off where you live or your love for the mountains, this is a unique idea. No matter who you are, one look at this decal will bring a smile to your face and recall memories of, or longing for, an adventure in the mountains.



By far the BEST presentation of fine Colorado photography!!  To see these images in person, framed by the slate or oxidized porcelain, is wonderfully moving. The rugged look of the stone sets the natural stage for the amazing images of Colorado landscape come to life! Sizes range from 12 ” x  12″ all the way to very large wall masterpieces suitable for a large wall or office space.

Visit Dave’s Gallery in Old Town, Ft. Collins or shop online here.


yet tees mountain biking

If you love the outdoors, you can’t have enough t-shirts that show your passion for all your activities. This one is so simple, but tells a very clear message about where your heart belongs!



Handcrafted in Colorado Springs, these are simple but lovely silver bracelets. Several options available, as well as customization. Maybe you want a favorite mountain range or a peak that you have summited? Perhaps a favorite camping spot for your family. Other Colorado-inspired jewelry items available, too!



14er summit register

Many people come to tackle the 14ers in Colorado! There is a special pride for them as each peak is conquered. Give them a gift that keeps track of their accomplishments. As each summit is completed, an included “SUMMITED” stamp is used to mark off the peak. Display quality.



I hope this gives you some ideas for your gift-giving needs. While many of these products are produced by Colorado artists, not all of them are. Be sure to check out our last blog post that features all Colorado-sourced gift ideas.

10 Colorado-Sourced Gift Ideas For 2017

Each year we pick ten small businesses to recommend for possible Christmas gift ideas.  It is a privilege to highlight and bring attention to the artists and small businesses based in our state and community. Plus, it is such a fun article to put together!

As more and more people move toward looking for locally-made items, or services owned by those in our local community, the possibilities and choices expand each year. The hunt for Colorado-made gifts always turns up the unusual and unique.

Below are 10 independently-owned small and micro businesses in Colorado representing a variety of interests and industries. Step out and explore something new this year!

Take a look back at what we recommended in 2016, here.


leather and pine wall hanging

Leather and Pine was created by Bethany Kicz of Denver. Her household decor items draw inspiration from modern art, photography, design, fashion, and her travels. Most notably, her designs follow a definite minimalistic element. Her simple, yet boho-inspired items range from wall hangings to the popular triangle hanging shelf, and even leather luggage tags. You can find Bethany’s Leather and Pine Co. on Facebook or her etsy shop.




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I admit I have a weakness for leather bags. I discovered these stone and leather purses on Instagram and immediately fell in love. Her first leather bag was created in an 8th-grade history class after a unit on medicine bags. (It’s amazing where we get our inspiration for life!) All of Jay’s bags are handmade in Denver, Colorado with locally-sourced materials.

Order yours here (psst…check out the Wyatt & Jay series!) 

3.  JANE E ROBERTI (Men’s and Women’s mixed metal accessories)

Jane’s designs are a bit unexpected and lean towards a dark nature. I found myself drawn to how she repurposed vintage pieces, especially the flasks. Jane states, “As a Nature Girl and Literary Geek, I like to say I am inspired equally by both the beautiful and the terrifying things in nature and literature.” I can definitely see her personality in the creations. Well done, Jane! If you are looking for the interesting, and especially something for men, you’ll enjoy this shop.


I love that there is a large surge in people of all ages embracing their creative side. Whether it is lettering, drawing, writing, watercolor…or you just have a knack for organizing your day in a beautiful way, notebooks are everywhere. and for everyone. I’m always on the hunt for a great notebook (literally. I have dozens of notebooks that are full!) When I stumbled on Make My Notebook I’m pretty sure I just condemned myself to spend lots of money! To be able to personalize your notebook sounds like heaven for a writer, artist, or just someone who loves to organize!

Based and manufactured in the Denver area, it is a 100% US sourced product.


Now that you know where to get that perfect notebook for you or anyone else, you can create an entire gift set for your artist family and friends!

Greenleaf and Blueberry is a husband and wife company that handmakes materials and supplies for the traveling artist. I was so impressed with their work. (Check out their hand-carved paint brushes!!) Their best selling items seem to be the travel tins of watercolor palettes.

One important note: Their products sell out quickly. They open their online shop on a regular basis and then all items are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. So get on their email list and keep track on when new supplies are being offered for sale!


Coffee isn’t the only hot drink that is a hot item for gift giving! Tea is making a big resurgence (most likely thanks to our friends across the pond). What a joy to find someone who grows her own herbs in Colorado for artisan-crafted tea!

Her flowers and herbs are organically homegrown in Colorado Springs, hand-picked and oven-dried at the peak of flavor and freshness. They create their blends in small batches to preserve freshness.

They also offer bath items and other tea accessories. Click here to browse their site.


Last year I featured another leather shoe/slipper maker from Buena Vista. There’s something about handmade leather shoes, bags, and accessories. In this case, Caity and Marcus have a unique heritage suitable for hand-stitching their adorable booties, mocassins, and backpacks with local Yak leather. (Marcus was taught to make moccasins by a native man when he was a child.) Tough, adorable, and perfect for that person who loves nature and being in the outdoors.


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Winter and flannel love! Super cozy and gorgeous throws for toddlers to adults, as well as, crib sheets, burp cloths, and hair bows! Flannel and faux fur in colorful designs. While cute for kids, what adult doesn’t love a blanket to snuggle in too?! (You can never have too many!)

Shop here for adults and kids!


polished at home colorado springs

  1. Polished At Home is the only non-product suggestion on my list, but it is definitely something I want in my stocking this year (hint, hint)! Many ladies would love to have manicures more often than they do, but are usually so busy that when they get home, that the thought of getting childcare or jumping in the car to get a manicure just isn’t always a priority. As a result, Amber Turner founded a mobile beauty service, making beauty convenient and easy for everyone. Polished At Home serves northern Colorado Springs and Monument. (I think it’s a great idea!) Find out more about her beauty service and their safety and quality assurances here.


And certainly not to forget host/hostess gift ideas, the largest and most well-known of the companies featured on my list this year is Vapor Distillery. Craft distilling at its finest. They’ve won many awards and have several popular products that make great gifts, including their Rhok 114 Gin, and Pumpkin King. Based in Boulder, however, you can order your bottles online and have them in time for all your holiday parties.

We hope you enjoyed this year’s list and take the time to familiarize yourself with these wonderful Colorado small businesses. Let’s support our neighbors and community!


Holiday Activities Near Colorado Springs, 2017

As soon as we turn our calendars to November, we know it’s time to kick it up a notch. Special events are being planned and promoted and now is the time to figure out what we will fill our calendars with. Most of us probably stick to the same routine year after year. Instead, this year let me challenge the same-ole, same-ole and suggest several holiday activities to expand your horizons!


holiday activities for kids colorado springs
Photo by Mike Arney on Unsplash

We’ve selected a few kid-friendly options that will excite and get everyone in the mood for Christmas! Also, with kids out of school, what better way to make the days ease by quicker than by filling their vacation with special events. Whether it is ice-skating, watching a Christmas parade, or a special Daddy-daughter dance, mark up your calendar with special holiday activities sure to bring a smile to all.

ACACIA PARK TREE LIGHTING AND ICE-SKATING (Sat., November 18): Located at the park in downtown Colorado Springs. Watch the lighting of the city Christmas tree, ice skate, watch short holiday movies, visit Santa, and create crafts. Activities start at 4:30 p.m.

FALL FAMILY FUN DAYS, PIONEER MUSEUM (Nov. 21, 22, & 25): The Pioneers Museum is opening a new children’s interactive exhibit. During the Fall Break, bring your kids to this family celebration for crafts, movies, popcorn, and a tour.

ROYAL GORGE SANTA EXPRESS TRAIN (Nov 16 – Dec. 24): Do you or your kids love the movie, Polar Express? Then you’ll be giddy over this experience on a real train. Wear your PJs and get ready to drink your fill of hot chocolate. It’s a popular attraction so book early!

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO ELECTRIC SAFARI (Starts Dec. 8. Multiple nights): You can not celebrate this season without a visit to the Electric Safari! Beautiful lights, hot cocoa, fire pits throughout the zoo – a fun night that is a special tradition for our city. Bundle the whole family up and enjoy a memorable evening!

ENCHANTED PRINCESS BALL (Dec. 17, Glen Eryie): If you are a daddy to a little girl, stop now and get your tickets to this ball! You will forever capture the heart of your daughter! (Ages 10 and under)

DATE NIGHTholiday activities for couples

So now that the kids are taken care of, don’t think that the fun stops there. It’s only beginning! There are loads of options for a special date night to celebrate sans little ones.

CRAFT CIDER AND COCKTAIL NIGHT AT THE GOLDEN BEE (Mon., Nov. 20, 5:30 – 8:30 pm): A local favorite gathering spot, they are hosting Colorado Common Hard Cider and Lee Spirits Co. for an evening of pairings and good conversations. Make sure to put in a reservation and enjoy the night!

ADULTS-ONLY ELECTRIC MOONLIGHT (Dec. 7, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo): This time leave the kids at home and have an adult-only night!

GREAT GATSBY WHITE ROSE GALA (Ellie Caulkins Opera House, New Years Eve). So I’m sending you to Denver, but honestly, this looks like a blast! Who wouldn’t want to don a flapper dress, gloves, red lipstick (or a pinstriped tux and fedora) and dance the night away? Call a sitter and stay the night in Denver!

DESSERT WITH DICKENS (Dec. 15, 8 PM, Cherokee Ranch, Sedalia): Love the idea of a fireside storyteller? Dial it down to a more intimate setting. Here’s your chance for a bit of nostalgia. Dessert, the Christmas Carol, and a cozy evening with a loved one. Even better….it’s in a castle!

UGLY SWEATER FEST (Dec. 2, Norris-Penrose Event Center): Did you make the Halloween Brew Fest? Same folks, different costumes! Come out and have a blast in your ugliest sweater.


Photo by Radek Grzybowski on Unsplash

Do you have a favorite tradition for the holidays? I love to attend a Nutcracker performance. Something I have done since a teenager. No matter what your tradition, here are several classic performances sure to have you dreaming of a white (and warm & snuggly) Christmas!

THE NUTCRACKER, (Thanksgiving Weekend, Pikes Peak Center): What is the Christmas season without watching the story of Claire and her nutcracker doll coming to life? A “sweet treat” no matter your age!

HEART OF CHRISTMAS (Dec 8 – 10, Charis Bible College, Woodland Park): Now in its 8th year, a phenomenal musical performed both in Norway and in our backyard, Woodland Park. The story of a young girl in the 40s who escapes the war in Europe and comes to America. She discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS SYMPHONY, (Dec. 17, 2:30 pm, Pikes Peak Center)

IRISH CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA, (Nov. 24, Stargazers Theatre): Looking for something a little different? “The hugely popular show, now in its 13th season, features top Irish music, song, and dance in an engaging performance rich in history, humor and boundless energy.”

REPEAT THE SOUNDING JOY, (Dec 2-3, 6 p.m. Village Seven Presbyterian Church): Looking for a goosebump experience? This is not your grandma’s little village choir. Village Seven produces the most amazing performances. Extremely talented and well put-together, I have never been disappointed. Nothing short of an amazing experience.

ALL ABOUT THAT FOODPhoto by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

Admit it. You LOVE the food during the holidays! Who doesn’t? I found a few holiday activities that are all about yummy-to-your-tummy treats and tantalizing and rich meals.

SALT OF THE EARTH DINNER, (Nov. 30, 6:30 PM, The Till):  4-course, fall-inspired meal. A great evening with a table full of friends!

MURDER MYSTERY DINNER THEATRE, (Dec. 30, Briarhurst Manor): 5-course meal and hours of intrigue! Hurry…the tickets sell out fast!

GLEN EYRIE MADRIGAL BANQUET (Several December dates to choose from): Experience a traditional medieval Christmas banquet, hosted in the Grand Hall of the castle. Wassail, singing, and a traditional meal. Get your tickets early!

FRIENDSGIVING AT THE MELTING POT, (Nov. 21 & 22): Featuring a Pumpkin Spice Martini & White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Fondue. Enough said. Sounds like a GNO to me!

I wish I could have included all the wonderful activities available this year! There are so many to choose from. Whatever you decide, may it be a magical year for you and your family.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Resources for Teens with Special Needs

When families relocate to a new area, it can be stressful learning where everything is, making new friends, and finding all the resources needed for the family. In the case of raising children with social challenges, learning disabilities, or other special needs, finding beneficial resources for them are particularly important, especially for kids entering their teen and young adult years as their interests are growing beyond the walls of their family home. Parents can find themselves scrambling to locate resources for teens suitable for their child’s unique circumstances.

Teens With Out-Of-The-Box Needs

Whether children have autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, Down Syndrome, or even a physical disability, our once little kids, who had everything they needed at home, are starting to want to stretch their wings in their own way. Our kids have the same desires as anyone else, they just see the world differently than the majority.

Sometimes they need a specific type of environment suited to their parameters, or other times, interacting with peers who do not have social, intellectual, or physical barriers is appropriate and healthy.

I’m the parent of a child with Asperger’s and I understand how a high-functioning child can sometimes adapt to certain situations, but at the same time, needs options that fit within his unique interests and idiosyncrasies.

Still, other teens need greater support.

No matter the depth of the need or barrier, most of these kids do not see themselves as a person with “special needs”. They all have the perception that they are the same as everyone else – regular kids looking for opportunities to explore their gifts, talents, and interests. And they are right!

Finding Resources for Teens

As a result, finding programs or resources for teens that are engaging, social, and even helpful in their road to independence can be frustrating. Maybe you or someone you know has a teen or young adult with special needs but are not sure where to look for suitable options.

Listed below are several ideas and contacts to at least get you started finding the right fit for your teen. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but no matter where you start, each one can be a stepping stone to discovering a good solution for your family.


Many families with special needs children choose to homeschool. As a result, I’ve included a local resource if that is your situation. Colorado Springs has a very large, active homeschool community. The school districts are very homeschool-friendly as well. It makes for a win-win situation if you are thinking of moving here and wondering what there is for you as a homeschooler.

HIGH COUNTRY EDUCATORS: A benefit of the homeschool program is that the families are friendly and adaptive for children and teens with special needs. A good place to start is to get in contact with High Country Educators. They are the largest co-op of homeschool families – meaning their resources and connections are vast. They offer a support group and have classes on just about any subject or hobby you can think of.

While not specifically designed for special-needs individuals, this may be a non-threatening, smaller environment to explore an interest or take a class.


As a parent, this became one of my favorite resources for my son. Again, there was not anything specifically for a special needs child, but they have a variety of classes or activities for teens that may be of interest. For example, they have a writing club that meets every couple of weeks. It’s a small group and the kids get to exercise their imaginations without fear of criticism or grades. It is writing for fun and enjoyment in a non-threatening environment (they even have pizza days!). The library also had computer classes, coding groups, a 3-D printer…so many options!

Hands down, my favorite resource is the Pikes Peak Library District. Obviously, this is more for high-functioning teens, but it’s worth taking a look. You never know. You might find a perfect fit for your child.

Sports-Related Activities

If your special-needs teen enjoys being active, then check out our local Special Olympics teams! They are amazing. Tennis, snowboarding, skiing, and more. All types of kids from physical limitations to social, mental, or emotional barriers. No matter their ability or expertise, it is a fun, encouraging atmosphere for teens and parents alike.

Work Training & Development

There are two organizations I learned about recently: Goodwill Possibilities and the School To Work Alliance Program (aka SWAP). I am so grateful they are available to us and our kids here in Colorado Springs!

GOODWILL POSSIBILITIES: One of the only programs of its kind in the nation. Discover Goodwill of Southern Colorado offers a multitude of resources for job placement, life-enhancing skills, and day activities. They focus more on individuals ready to be on their own, or need a place to go during the day. A town square built within their facility gives participants the opportunity to “practice” life skills and build their confidence. There are so many options available. You must check it out and even schedule a tour!

SCHOOL-TO-WORK ALLIANCE: A national program through the Department of Labor, the School-To-Work Alliance (otherwise known as SWAP),  operates through the school districts, specifically, for teens that may have barriers to employment. If your teen or young adult has a mild to moderate disability, SWAP is dedicated to coming alongside your child to discover and develop their passions, and even partner with local businesses. This gives them experience, confidence, skill sets, and opportunities many of us would never have. They understand the unique needs of each individual child. It’s an amazing program that I highly recommend for your young teen!

Other Resources

Depending on the level of need in your family, MOSAIC and The Resource Exchange (TRE) may be a great option for your child as well. Both programs offer a variety of care, support, and services.

TRE offers the widest options from Family Respite resources to child activities, autism resources, financial assistance and more.

Specifically, for those persons with Autism, the Alpine Autism Center provides training, rehabilitation, and day programs.

I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you all the best for your family!


Modern Architectural Styles In Colorado Homes

modern architectural styles colorado homes

Most of us are well aware of the housing boom that Colorado Springs is experiencing right now. Large master-planned communities and neighborhoods are springing up so fast, that if you avoid a certain area for more than a month, you may not recognize it the next time you drive by!

However, what is most exciting, not only in the new construction but also as part of the urban renewal projects, are the “new” modern and contemporary architectural styles being birthed out of a thriving economy and the passionate, creative influences of a new generation.

Continue reading “Modern Architectural Styles In Colorado Homes”