DOWNTOWN — Whether you're doing all your holiday shopping between meetings, or shopping some of Chicago's central business district with intent, downtown stores, boutiques and restaurants have got your holiday to-buy list covered.
FOR THE WANNABE FOODIE
Learning how to cook like a pro can be a stressful process wrought with screw-ups. But at Mercadito's (108 W. Kinzie St.) bi-monthly cooking demonstration courses, Chef Patricio Sandoval guides students through a five-course meal with drink pairings so they can sample and sip while assembling traditional Mexican dishes with a twist. The Jan. 20 and 21 lessons spotlight reimagined Super Bowl favorites. Book a class in advance by calling 312-329-9555. $65 per student
FOR THE SPOILED PUP'S PARENTS
When they're spending half their paycheck on Fido, you know a gift for their pet will make them smile, too. Win over your four-legged friends (and their owners) with Tails in the City's (1 E. Delaware Pl.) gourmet dog treats, all made with "the finest human-grade ingredients," owner Bruce Haas said. Ingredients include peanut butter, applesauce and yogurt. $2 - $5 for individual cookies.
FOR THE GENTLEMAN IN YOUR LIFE
Stumped shopping for the man who has — and wears — everything? Chances are he hasn't yet splurged on a dapper topper from Optimo Hats, the South Loop millinery (320 S. Dearborn St.) whose products adorn the most discriminating heads. (Optimo is reportedly Johnny Depp's go-to for period pieces like "The Rum Diary" and "Public Enemy.") For a custom piece, you'll have to size your intended's skull. Maintenance services, like cleaning and blocking a family heirloom or vintage find, offer a more budget-friendly alternative. Hat care $30 and up, custom hats $400 and up
FOR THE INKED UP
Whether they've got a song lyric they outgrew or just a shortage of space for new work, even the biggest tattoo-lovers might have some tweaks in mind for their canvas. River North's newly-opened Sempurna Restoration Clinic (220 W. Huron St., Suite 2003) sells tattoo-removal gift cards that can cover some or all of the laser removal process. Is this gift a passive-aggressive nudge? Identify the offending ink you had in mind right right on your gift card. $25 gift card minimum, $3,000 maximum
FOR THE GADGET-LOVING TECHIE
She pre-orders all the newest iPhones and switched to tablets before they were mainstream. Make sure your tech expert stays ahead of the curve with a class or printing pass at the 3D Printer Experience (316 N. Clark St.). For $15, users can design and print a custom pendant (great for kids!). Higher-skilled producers can get a one-on-one printing lesson or training in 3D modeling and design via the storefront's daily classes. 3D printing lessons $79 per session, including materials
FOR THE KID WHOSE PARENTS THINK GREEN
Mom and Dad care about carbon emissions, but little Timmy just wants a toy train with wheels that move. Please the whole gang with Maple Landmark's line of sustainable wooden toys handmade in their Middlebury, Vt., shop since 1979. The South Loop's eco-friendly play place the Sod Room is stocked with the stuff — they're also the only local vendor of the line, which sells toys online at MapleLandmark.com. Prices vary