Updated Dec 18, 2022 - Things to Do

Axios Des Moines' favorite things of 2022

Illustration of a heart wrapping paper with a bow and a tag with the Axios A on it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Welcome to our end-of-the-year feature showcasing our favorite things of the year.

  • Check back. We'll be posting more in the coming days.
Home pet sitters
A photo of Jason and his cat.
Jason gets a kitty kiss for hiring a good pet sitter. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Jason: I hate leaving my kitty home alone for extended periods.

  • And I don't like to inconvenience neighbors with daily poop scooping duties.

Solution: I started hiring professionals this year.

  • They come to my home and tend to the specific needs of lil' Harriet.

Zoom in: I'm partial to Southside Sitter, a DSM business owned by my friends Rachel and John Bradley.

  • Costs are based on your pet needs. (I pay $22 for each 20-minute visit.)

Be smart: There are other businesses and individuals who offer home pet services across the metro that can be easily found on sites like Rover.

Truffle oil
A photo of Linh Ta.
A 2 oz. bottle of white truffle olive oil from AllSpice ($11.50). Photo: Jude Neumann

Linh: I'm a big fan of AllSpice's white truffle oil.

Driving the news: If you're like me, you like to give the illusion of being fancy without breaking the bank. Enter the truffle oil.

State of play: The local spice shop's oil is made using a tea steeping method.

  • The result is a strong, earthy taste that has more garlic notes than black truffle.

How to use it: I just dab a tiny bit on whatever food I'm eating and tell my guests that it's a truffle-flavored dish. The 2 oz. bottle ($11.50) is small, but mighty.

  • I'll serve it on mashed potatoes or fettuccine alfredo. If I'm feeling bold, I'll add it to a DiGiorno pizza. Bon appétit.

Of note: They also have black truffle oil ($9.50). If you go to the store, you can sample both before buying one.

Where to get it: Find it online here or go to the East Village store at 400 E. Locust St., Des Moines.

The Cheese Shop
A photo of cheese.
This is one of the gifts Jason is giving to family this year. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Jason: The Cheese Shop is my favorite DSM business.

Why I like it: They sell more than 100 artisan and farmhouse cheeses.

  • Their employees offer samples and tell the story behind each product.

Plus: Cheese is a great gift and helps me resolve many last-minute shopping headaches.

🧀 Grab a hunk: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm

  • 833 42nd St.
Custom local art
A photo of Linh Ta and her dad.
A drawing of Linh and her dad from Sketchmesarah

Linh: My biggest questions every holiday season: What do you get the person who already has everything?

  • I usually end up commissioning a portrait for them.

Zoom in: I've gone to local artist Sketchmesarah several times.

  • Ordering custom art is intimidating to me, especially price-wise and what the heck do you ask for.
  • Sarah's been easy to work with and is transparent about costs.

The bottom line: Support local artists! If you're looking for other ideas, support young people at ArtForce Iowa through the nonprofit's online shop.

Bypassing concert ticket fees
A photo of concert tickets.
Jason avoided $16.45 per-seat fees charged by Tickemaster to Dionne Warwick's upcoming DSM show by going in person to Hoyt Sherman Place's ticket window. (A $3 facility restoration fee was still applied.) Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Jason: I was irritated when I ordered Justin Bieber tickets in April and got slapped with a $35 per-ticket fee.

  • But after a few calls to some of Des Moines’ most popular venues, I discovered concertgoers can bypass lots of ticket fees by ordering in person at the venue's ticket windows.

Pro tip: I also discovered Bandsintown.

  • It's an app that is synced with my online music library that sends alerts when artists I like schedules a DSM metro performance.
Cold hard cash
Illustration of wrapping paper.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Jason: Don't give gift cards this holiday season.

Why it matters: Gift cards waste money.

  • People misplace or forget about them, frequently surrendering balances to retailers or through inactivity fees.

By the numbers: As much as 3% of gift cards are never redeemed, which amounts to billions of dollars in consumer losses each year, CBS News reports.

  • Up to 90% of recipients are willing to spend more than the amount, according to a report this year from the Blackhawk Network, a California-based business that assists retailers with gift card services.

Be smart: Use gift cards promptly to reduce the likelihood of loss, Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald advises.

  • Complaints about unfair practices can be filed with the Iowa Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

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