Get Merry at These 6 Local Holiday Events

From Christmas lights to photos with Santa to classic holiday movies, there are many festive events around West Michigan that will help you get in the holiday spirit! We’ve rounded up a number of gatherings hosted by Local First members that will make the holiday season merry and bright this year. Keep your eyes on our Facebook Page for more!

Night at the North Pole
nKick off the holiday season with the Wheelhouse! Come out for an evening filled with holiday appetizers, drink specials, live entertainment by Great Scott and other holiday activities.

When: Thursday, Nov. 29 at 6-11 p.m.
nWhere: Wheelhouse, 67 Ottawa Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley – Grand Rapids
nSit back, relax and take in the holiday season on the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley. Take a tour through Grand Rapid's seasonal attractions, lighting displays, and holiday landmarks while enjoying beverages on a vintage trolley.

When: Various dates and times.
nWhere: The Knickerbocker, 417 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids

Winter Wonderland
nExperience the magic of the season at the Downtown Market! Enjoy special offers from the Downtown Market’s Market Hall Merchants and shop the Holiday Artisan Market. You can also share your wish list with Santa in the Greenhouse.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4-8 p.m.
nWhere: Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Sparkle Celebration
nJoin Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) for a night of shopping and a silent auction. All event proceeds go directly to GROW programming that empowers women in West Michigan.

When: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 5-7:30 p.m.
nWhere: Cascade Hills Country Club, 3725 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids

Elf (Meanwhile Film Series)
n”The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” Make Elf at the Wealthy Theatre a part of your holiday tradition this year. It’s part of the Meanwhile Film Series and tickets are available in advance or at the door

When: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 8-10 p.m.
nWhere: Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

New Year’s Eve at The Knick
nRing in the New Year at New Holland’s biggest party of the year! Dance the night away with DiscoBrunch and stay for the countdown to midnight.

When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.
nWhere: The Knickerbocker, 417 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids

10 Local Holiday Markets You Must Shop This Year

Round up your recycled shopping bags, grab your Santa hat, and put on your best ugly sweater because the holiday season has arrived!

Holiday markets are a wonderful way to find unique gifts while supporting local artists and businesses. Grand Rapids and surrounding communities are filled with talented artists and businesses that offer one-of-a-kind gifts, making holiday markets a perfect destination for shopping.

If you’re looking to make holiday shopping plans, make sure you check out one (or two or three) of these holiday markets around Grand Rapids and the Lakeshore.

Golden Age Artist Market
nStop by Golden Age above Creston Brewery for unique gifts created by local artists and enjoy local entertainment while you shop.

When: Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 at 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
nWhere: Golden Age, 1504 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids

Indie Flea Market
nExplore more than 40 local vendors making a positive impact in our community at Wealthy Street Theatre. You can also enjoy refreshments, live entertainment and product demonstrations, and there will be activities for kids.  

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
nWhere: Wealthy Street Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

30th Annual Holiday Artists Market
nShop for beautifully crafted art and goods from dozens of regional artists, including jewelry, home goods, fine art, holiday cards, accessories and toys. Enjoy music and local food and beverage vendors while you shop for handmade gifts for your friends and family.

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 10 a.m.  – 5 p.m.
nWhere: Steelcase Town Hall, 901 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids

342 Artists' Holiday Market on Market
nSupport local artists by shopping from a dozen local artists, from painters to photographers to potters and more.

When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1-4 p.m.
nWhere: 342 Market Ave. SW, Floor 2, Grand Rapids

Lights On Creston
nExplore the Monroe North, Creston and Cheshire business districts during Lights On Creston. There will be a scavenger hunt, food, beverages, music, giveaways and more festive activities.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4-9 p.m.
nWhere: Creston, Grand Rapids

Uptown Holiday Shop Hop
nThis is a holiday tradition you don’t want to miss. Take shuttles between four Uptown business districts – East Fulton, East Hills, Eastown and Wealthy Street – to shop at local boutiques, clothing stores and more!

When: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 4-10 p.m.  
nWhere: Uptown, Grand Rapids

Christmas Shopping Boutique at Great Legs Winery
nHead over to the Lakeshore for a day of holiday shopping in Holland where you can find gifts from local artists and businesses. Stay energized with a coffee bar and free chair massages during the event!

When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at 9 a.m. – 3 p.m
nWhere: Great Legs Winery, 332 East Lakewood Boulevard, Holland, Michigan 49424 

Artist Demo & Boutique Pop Up Shop
nStop by LaFontsee Galleries in Grand Rapids to see artists create artwork before your eyes and purchase unique artwork that normally isn’t in the gallery throughout the year.  

When:  Saturday, Dec. 8 at noon – 4 p.m.
nWhere: LaFontsee Galleries, 833 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids

Last Chance Holiday Art Market
nCalling all last-minute holiday shoppers! Swing by the Pyramid Scheme to shop from over 35 local vendors and artists the day before Christmas Eve.

When: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 at 4-8 p.m.
nWhere: The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

And while you’re out and about, don’t forget to stop by these shops that are offering specials!

Black Friday at Le Fleur!
nJoin Le Fleur for its second annual Black Friday event! Doors open early for access to markdowns and sales throughout the store.
nWhere: Le Fleur, 746 Wealthy St. SE
nWhen: Friday, Nov. 23 at 6-9 p.m.

Byron Center Meats
nGive the meat lovers in your life a personalized gift box filled with steaks, fish and other proteins from Byron Center Meats. Check out their holiday offerings.

This holiday season we encourage you to shop locally for gifts. Remember, when you make a purchase at a local business, those dollars stay in our community.  For additional shopping ideas, be sure to check out our business directory.

Connecting people through food and a shared mission

If you haven’t attended Fork Fest before, you’re missing out on a great fall kickoff event! This year’s event, presented by Brewery Vivant, showcased over 30 local food and beverage vendors – all highlighting staple and seasonal treats. In addition to the food and beverages, local artists showcased their wares and unique pieces throughout the event. Live music also helped create a fun and festive ambiance. This family-friendly event offered something for everyone.

Reds at Thousand Oaks and Gravity Taphouse Grill, both part of the RedWater Restaurant Group, were in attendance this year. Now in their third year of participation, this continues to be an enjoyable and engaging event for them. Fork Fest “is a creative way to involve the community, to promote sustainability in Grand Rapids, and to encourage people to eat at local restaurants and to experience restaurants, breweries, etc. that they may not have been to before or may have forgotten about. It is also a great way for restaurants around the area to work together and to talk about their common goals,” says Marketing & Communications Director, Leanne Stoll.

Connie Flauchs, Community Relations Director of Slow Food West Michigan, echos these sentiments. Having served as a vendor for five years now, Flauches enjoys the intimate setting, which allows people to connect with fellow business entrepreneurs and community leaders. “This event is appealing because it is an easy way to access a large group of people that care about local food – which is a big part of our mission! The tasty samples and personal relationship that can be made at each booth are [also] big pluses,” she shares.

In addition to the personal connections being made and great food being enjoyed, this year’s event also incorporated the assistance of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF) to aid with waste management. Stationed throughout the event were tables and assistants to help make it easier for attendees to properly dispose of their utensils and waste. According to their reports, the WMSBF helped make this a zero-waste event and diverted an estimated 60 pounds of recyclables and 1200 pounds of food waste and compostables from the landfill – compared to 20 pounds that were sent to the landfill.

Whether you were looking to have an enjoyable night out, connect with fellow Local First members or discover new-to-you local dining options, Fork Fest had you covered. If you missed it this year, be sure to pencil it in for your unofficial fall kickoff next year. You will not be disappointed.

About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: 
nStingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. By creating dynamic customized solutions for business growth, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development. To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit Follow us today on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful tips!

Should you send business holiday cards?

The holiday season is just around the corner – and, if you’re a business owner, you may be considering whether to send holiday cards. Many businesses have given up the tradition. Some regard it as a waste of time and money. Others believe it is an essential component of building and strengthening important relationships – and a great way to promote their business.

Before you decide whether to send holiday cards or pass on posting cards, consider the benefits of sending holiday cards:

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    Shows your customers and clients you care AND also reminds them of your business and its services. Keeps your customers coming back and retains client relationships.


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    Excellent way to reach out to business investors and partners to extend appreciation and foster deeper relationships. It lets them know you value their partnership.


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    Distributing holiday cards to employees signals appreciation – and a handwritten note from the manager or business owner adds a personal touch. A small gesture goes a long way in boosting morale and creating a positive work environment.


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A few tips on sending holiday cards:

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    If you’re concerned about the cost of cards, buy early and/or buy in bulk and take advantage of discounts.


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    To ensure your cards arrive in time, send them immediately after the Thanksgiving weekend.


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    Check your spelling! Doublecheck all client, customer, and business names to ensure they are spelled correctly.


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    Avoid being too “sales-y”. Including a business card could be interpreted as impersonal. However, you want to be sure your name and business name are apparent.


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    Handwriting at least some of the card’s sentiment or your signature lends a personal touch.


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    If you want your business to stand out, be sure to select a card designed to distinguish itself from others. Or, choose to send holiday cards at Thanksgiving or New Years’ when it is less busy.


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Localize your Thanksgiving

Whether you're planning a big meal for family and friends or a small gathering for one or two, here are some great ways to shift your Thanksgiving dollars to local and small businesses. Don't see your favorites here – check out the online member directory for a full list of locally-owned businesses.

Farms & Producers

Bowerman Blueberries
nFulton Street Farmers Market
nFruit Ridge Farm Markets
nHolland Farmers Market
nSaunders Family Bakery
nVisser Farms
nWest Michigan Farm Markets


Byron Center Meats
nDowntown Market
nGordon Food Service
nHeffron Farms
nKingma's Market
nLouise Earl Butcher
nNature's Market
nSupermercado Mexico

Specialty Retail

Art of the Table
nSitting Pretty

Flowers and Decor

Ball Park Floral & Gifts
nEastern Floral
nPosh Petals


The Crushed Grape
nMartha's Vineyard
nRusso's International Market
nSmitty's Specialty Beverage

If you book it, they will come

Tired of the same meeting locations around Grand Rapids? Are you thinking there has to be a different space? This is venue fatigue and if you have it, we’re here to help.

Event planning can be stressful. The unanswered emails, the confusing industry jargon and the pressure to do something different for your meeting. With all of the potential headaches of looking for something different, it may seem easier to pick up the phone and book the same hotel conference room or banquet hall. But how about this year, come to the field of dreams itself – Fifth Third Ballpark.

Yes, the baseball season is over, but the ballpark season is just starting. As the temps get colder, the year-round Pepsi Stadium Club is an ideal room for holiday parties, staff retreats, and more. The full-service kitchen and bar offer specialized catering experiences ranging from ballpark fare to carving stations. Want to spice up your event with a signature drink? Our food and beverage team can craft special cocktails suited to your group.

We have personalized turnkey services. From linen rentals to A/V, entertainment and more, we’ve got you covered. Want to have a photo booth station for your guests? Clowns and face painting for the kids? With us, there’s no need to waste your time finding a local vendor or friend with a camera –  we have established relationships with quality vendors to suit your needs.

Whether you’re planning a holiday party or the yearly staff retreat, maybe your organization needs a new place to hold the monthly board meeting or you’re trying to find a unique, yet affordable venue for a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception, the ballpark has just the right space for you.

Knock your next event out of the park and book with Fifth Third Ballpark. Contact our experienced planners at  We’re here to make your planning easy.