The Forum’s Guide to Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas from Vacation Homes and Small Businesses


Bigger is not always better.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, there is pressure to find something special and unique. Red roses and mass-produced chocolates are great, but a carefully selected, one-of-a-kind gift shows that you have thought a lot about it – and about the recipient of the gift.

The best sources for these types of gifts are usually small business, home industry, and home improvement. With that in mind, we’ve put together a far from definitive list of gift ideas from local small businesses.

Fragile chocolate hearts

Supported by TikTok videos and social media influencers like Kim Kardashian, the fragile chocolate heart has become a must-have for 2021.

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Elizabeth Denning, daytime marketing specialist, has been spending many evenings fulfilling assignments to create those cake-sized geometric hearts out of high-quality milk, dark or white chocolate. It contains mallets so that lovers can break open the tempered chocolate shell to enjoy an abundance of goodies.

The romantic sweets are customizable: customers can choose any message to decorate the hearts and fill them with anything from starbursts and truffles to Ferrero Roche chocolates and chocolate chip cookies.

Denning wraps the hearts beautifully in a cake box and can include add-ons like chocolate-coated strawberries and chocolate-coated oreos.

She says she was “just obsessed with chocolate work” after taking a class on hot chocolate bombs.

She points out that her tempered chocolate creations stand out from similar, mass-produced hearts by never using cheaper ingredients like almond bark.

Denning also dreams of opening a storefront one day. “I think there is an untapped market for it here,” she says.

Vegan Chocolate Bakery Propler

What better way to express your love for the vegan in your life than through a decadent assortment of dairy and egg-free chocolate baked goods?

    Some of the goodies from Christine Hamres Gingersnap Vegan Bakery in Moorhead.  David Samson / The Forum

Some of the goodies from Christine Hamres Gingersnap Vegan Bakery in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

Gingersnap founder Christine Hamre says she started vegan baking after discovering how many of her own long-term health problems disappeared when she cut dairy and eggs from her diet.

She modifies her delicacies with flax eggs, oat milk and plant butter and produces cakes and biscuits that taste just like those made with animal products. “When my recipes get a thumbs up from my non-vegan, overly picky husband, I know they are winners,” she jokes.

Founded in October, Gingersnap is a registered Minnesota cottage food manufacturer. The name pays homage to her grandmother, who always filled her family members with her ginger cookies.

Hamre also makes a variety of bars, ice-cream cookies, and candy. For a small fee, she can make products gluten-free – with the exception of her cinnamon rolls. The bakery allows her to work from home along with another sideline, making weighted blankets, so she can look after her 12 year old daughter who has special needs.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing business things,” she says.

Cheeky, not salty sauces

Perhaps the best way to give your heart to someone is to help them protect their heart.

For this reason, a basket of locally made, non-salty condiments could be the perfect cupid gift for the person who loves barbecuing but needs to be careful about their diet.

The sauces were put together by Mary Wojtalewicz, who developed this side appearance after learning that she had high blood pressure.

After reading many grocery store labels, she discovered how high in sodium most American foods are.

She wasn’t happy with the low-sodium alternatives, but still craved foods like pizza and burgers. So she started canning her own barbecue sauce, pizza sauce, and ketchup.

Soon everyone who tried their sauces was pushing them to sell them. Wojtalewicz had found a way to wrap the spices with spices so that they were aromatic without being salty.

That is why 2 tablespoons of Saucy, Not Salty Barbecue Sauce contain 80 milligrams of sodium, while 2 tablespoons of a popular barbecue sauce contain 290 milligrams of sodium.

She now sells her sauces as a registered cottage food producer in Moorhead and plans to launch two new barbecue sauces and a taco sauce soon.

As she says, “Keep the taste, lose the salt and love your heart.”

Funny singing telegrams

There is perhaps no greater tribute to love than the sight of a Russian, disco-dancing DJ wearing a towering fur hat while playing that ethereal instrument of angels: the accordion.

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Aimee Klein, who has a background in improvisation, music, and sketch comedy, has been delivering hilarious vocal telegrams for 10 years, and her ability to make people laugh may be more needed than ever after the worst year in American history.

Klein will unveil a number of cartoon characters to present a musical message from Sweet Amore, including Hildegaard Von Bangen, German Doctor of Love and Polka Music; Natasha Vodkavitch, crazy Russian host for KGBTV and a lover of disco music, and Francine, a former silent film star who often plays scenes from films she should have been in.

Klein’s improvisational background comes in handy with performances where she pulls out a desired song, but also improvises texts based on specific information previously provided by the “victim, um, recipient”.

Klein says her performances are ideal for “children, grandparents or the guardian of your heart” as well as for everyone who deeply values ​​David Hasselhoff.

Bath bombs, hot cocoa bombs

  • From $ 4 to $ 6 each
  • Sweet coincidence, Fargo
  • Order at
  • Order by: Friday, February 12th (must be ordered as soon as possible for shipping)
  • Delivered for a small fee.

Cindy Kungel jokes that whenever she writes about bombs on social media, she is “probably on the FBI’s watch list.”

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Especially for the forum

But Kungel builds bombs of a much gentler kind, from carbonated bath bombs of various shapes, scents, and colors to the popular hot chocolate bombs – those little balls of tempered chocolate that melt when sprinkled with hot milk or another hot chocolate mixture To reveal marshmallows and other sweet surprises inside.

No one seems more surprised than Kungel with the success of her Sweet Serendipity sideline. Since her job enforcing child support can be stressful, she started making bath products six years ago to show her creative side. They were so popular that she sold them on vendor shows.

The cocoa bombs were a recent venture. She tried a few before Christmas and posted them on social media just for fun. “I had so many orders that I didn’t have to take them about a week before Christmas,” she says. “I didn’t have time to shop or anything.”

She has made beverage bombs that look like chocolate donuts, honeybee cocoa bombs, and hot tea bombs, tea bags enclosed in translucent sugar bubbles. They can be difficult to make, but she says she still enjoys making them.

Check out examples of their work on Instagram: @indulge_bath_bombs

Also cool and hut-like:

  • Cheryl Lynn jewelry is the intricate work of Cheryl Lynn Ingberg, a longtime resident of Loon Lake, Vergas, Minnesota and a jewelry artist who specializes in sterling silver and other metals. At a young age she learned from professional gold and silversmiths and has been designing her jewelry with real stones, pearls and other natural materials for over 40 years. Ingberg has also designed a line of animal jewelry that is ideal for the animal lover in your life. In addition to two branches in Vergas, you can find her work at and Contact them at or (218) 342-3885.

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  • Dakota Vines is a mom and pop winery in Colfax, ND that specializes in cold-climate grapes and fruit wines. It is run by educators Bob and Deb Grosz, who say their best-selling reds are Mighty Bison (Marquette grape wine) and Roughrider (Frontenac grapevine), and their top whites are Flickertail (Brianna grape wine, available in semi-sweet and dry) . and Prairie Sky (La Crescent grape wine). Grape wines are $ 18.99 / bottle and can be ordered online for winery pickup or delivery (you must be home to receive the package): html # or www / delivered to your door.

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Especially for the forum

  • Lori Stahl of Dakota Rustics / Crafted with Care makes and sells wreaths and floral arrangements for all holidays in the $ 35 to $ 80 price range. Each wreath is unique. Stahl also makes cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and candy bouquets for every occasion. She delivers when customers are in or around Carrington / Glenfield. For customers living further away, it will ship nationwide within the continental US for a minimal shipping fee. Check out her Etsy site at

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Especially for the forum

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