CHICAGO — Do you really want to get in your car and battle traffic in a jam-packed, sleet-covered parking lot? We didn't think so.
Our neighborhood reporters set out to make your holiday shopping experience as easy (and fun!) as possible. We perused everything from flower shops to gas stations-turned-poker stores to make this shopping season more tolerable — and make your gifts more fun.
Here are our editors' picks from throughout the city, but you should definitely click here to see lots more stuff from in our neighborhood-specific guides.
If there’s a one-stop shop for all your holiday needs, it’s Foursided at 5061 N Clark St. The shop’s custom framing center will help you find the perfect frame for a college degree, wedding photos or an eccentric painting. They say, “you name it, we frame it,” and they aren’t kidding! If you need an offbeat gift that’s not a frame, look around for a mini red sewing machine ($70), a vintage globe ($75) or a cool Midwest-themed atlas print ($23.50). Keep your friends on point in the new year with pet calendars: "A Year of Dogs to Love 2015" ($17.75) or "A Year of Cats to Love 2015" ($17.75). There’s also a "Beer + Food" calendar ($23.50) for your friends that love, well, beer and food.
For that fashionable man in your life, check out the newly opened Notre menswear shop at 5202 N. Clark St. Pick up a plaid Band of Outsiders shirt ($275) or a classic pair of dark wash jeans from 3sixteen ($215). If he’s kind of a sneakerhead, a pair of burgundy suede and patent leather kicks from Common Projects ($428) will surely please. The shop offers a wide variety of accessories: Makr wallets ($60), wings + horns gloves ($78) and Mr. Gray socks ($46).
Check out the full Andersonville and Uptown gift guide here.
You wouldn't guess there's a professional-level poker store tucked inside a 7-Eleven on Diversey Avenue, but that's where Chicago Poker Store finds its home. Get some expert advice from owner Fred at 6440 W. Diversey Ave. in Belmont Cragin, where you can buy everything from card decks ($17 to $30) to a $349 poker table. (Yep, it's all in the store). Put together a custom chip set (around $70) or snatch up some blackjack or craps accessories for your favorite gambler.
Check out the full West Side gift guide here.
The DIY team at Marz Community Brewing, a small-batch Bridgeport brewery, has found a niche using offbeat ingredients — Yuzu fruit, Roobios tea, oak-smoked malt — to create adventurous, delicious craft beers ($8.99 and up). Pick up a 22-once bomber bottle at Maria's Community Bar and Packaged Goods, 960 W. 31st St. and select liquor stores throughout the city.
Check out the full Bridgeport gift guide here.
Previously a home-based business, Life Organics opened its organic and natural beauty products store in Grand Crossing (435 E. 75th St.) in March. The store sells all natural hair oil, shampoo, skin cream, body lotion, shaving cream, shower gel and body wash. Prices range from $6 per item to $30.
Check out the full South Side gift guide here.
Freehling Pot and Pan, 1365 E. 53rd St., is one of the oldest retailers in the neighborhood. We love its collection of four mugs with sketches of famous Hyde Park landmarks. At $8.50 each, you can choose from the Robie House, University of Chicago professors’ row houses, Promontory Point or the Museum of Science and Industry. Or just get one of each.
On the more exotic end, the store stocks hand-painted candles from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Meadowlark is another newcomer to 53rd Street. There you'll find jewelry fashioned from old bicycle tires ($13-$30) by Humboldt Park artist Alexis Ellers. The pop-up shop, open at 1457 E. 53rd St. through Jan. 9, also has a selection of seasonal soaps like vanilla hazelnut, cranberry fig and peppermint patty from Neptune Soaps of Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
Check out the full Hyde Park gift guide here.
Twosided, 2958 N. Clark St., helps you spread the Chicago cheer with dozens of city-centric holiday cards and ornaments. We’re digging the “Season’s Greetings from Lakeview” cards by La Familia Green ($16 for 8). Chicago-dog ornaments ($9) will light up any tree with glitter relish. Wrap it all up with rolls of whimsical paper (reindeer, eyeglasses).
Wigglyville, 3337 N. Broadway, has everything you’ll need to keep your pup warm this winter. Jackets and hoodies from Canada Pooch are lined in super-soft Sherpa (prices vary). And adjustable wool scarves ($15) by Chilly Dog Sweaters fit every breed from Chihuahuas to Great Danes.
Check out the full Lakeview gift guide here.
Art Effect, 934 W. Armitage Ave., has something for everybody — even if that certain somebody has everything. This independent shop is packed with unique gift items as well as jewelry and clothing. Some favorites include Chicago-centric gifts like a Chicago Whales T-shirt ($28), a Lincoln Park mug ($15) and Chicago flag candle ($28).
Check out the full Lincoln Park gift guide here.
If you need to hit the hard stuff to make it through yet another dysfunctional family gathering, at least keep it classy. Keelan Rogue makes a line of elegant flasks ($35) — wrapped in recycled neckties, men's suits and even kilts — that Don Draper himself would covet. Buy online or look for them at Sacred Art, 4619 N. Lincoln Ave. Fill with Koval whiskey or Letherbee gin.
Buddy the Elf isn't the only human who knows his way around an Etch-A-Sketch. Jane Labowitch has been making Etch-A-Sketch art since she was old enough to turn a knob. This Christmas, she's added made-to-order ornaments to her repertoire. Send her an image of a person, place or thing and she'll create a one-of-a-kind, permanent piece of art. Available on Etsy for $40; orders placed by Dec. 10 are guaranteed to arrive by Christmas.
Sacred Art has a massive selection of pretty much every Chicago-themed poster on the market: "L" stations, sports teams, neighborhoods and more. Yo Santa, Phil Thompson's rendering of Giddings Plaza, $120 framed, totally caught our eye. Just sayin'.
Check out the full Lincoln Square gift guide here.
Shopping for someone on their game, gearwise? Check out the city's latest streetwear at Marco DiPaolo's Mint Clothing, 1058 W. Taylor St. At the lively shop, the 20-year-old shop owner stocks limited-edition T-shirts ($15-45) from Chicago designers, in addition to his own Mint brand.
A standout: an original T that showcases a Little Italy scene special to DiPaolo — a vintage 1967 photo of Mario's Italian Lemonade, the Little Italy institution his father opened (r.).
Check out the full Near West Side gift guide here.
Celebrate the heart-warming annual Chicago tradition of protecting your hard-shoveled parking spot with folding chairs with this handmade Dibs ornament ($12) from Replica Chicago, which opened its Jefferson Park store, 4425 N. Milwaukee Ave., in 2012, and has been the go-to source for Chicagophiles for all over the city ever since.
Check out the full Northwest Side gift guide here.
Walking into Humboldt House, 1045 N. California Ave., can be a bit overwhelming. You'll find yourself wanting to move in, or at least spend your life savings on all of the cool vintage furniture. Buy a beautiful Kilim rug for yourself, and pick up a Logan Square-made candle by Hidden Folk for a pal. We dig the Patchouli Black Pepper Peru Balsam scent ($38). The shop also sells gorgeous wall hangings made by Humboldt Park artist Attalie Dexter ($47) that will please mom or your hipster bestie.
Check out the full Humboldt Park gift guide here.
Logan Square’s longtime flower flower shop, Fleur, recently moved to a new, larger location, 3149 W. Logan Blvd., making this the perfect time to stop in for some gorgeous gifts. Fleur’s knowledgeable staff recommends Fairbault Woolen Mill Cabin Wool Blankets ($100.95), Linnea's Lights candles ($16.95 to $31.95), Amelia Mancini Tea Towels ($28.95) and Sparrow For Everyone essential oil by the owners of Logan Square salon, Sparrow.
Check out the full Logan Square gift guide here.
Know someone tight on space and sparse on garden experience? Pick up one of Modern Sprout's self-watering, self-feeding mason jar herb kits ($20) at the recently expanded vintage and handmade boutique Modern Cooperative, 1215 W. 18th St. The recipient of your Secret Santa generosity will thank you when he's growing organic oregano, cilantro and parsley in no time.
Show your siblings just how valuable you believe their thoughts are, or how much you wish they'd write you a letter, with personalized letterpress stationery (25 sets for $55 or 50 for $90) from Steel Petal Press in Pilsen, 2150 S. Canalport Ave. Created using old-school hand-set type, the sets can be customized dozens of ways — just remember to order well ahead of your holiday exchange.
Check out the full Pilsen gift guide here.
Got a craft beer fan in your family with a deep loyalty to the South Side? How about making them a member of the Argus Private Reserve, a club created by the Pullman-based Argus Brewery. For $35, you get an Argus polo short, an Argus glass, exclusive invites to tastings around the city and 20 percent discounts off store purchases.
Check out the full Pullman gift guide here.
For the audiophile on the list, Audio Archaeology, 1324 W. Devon Ave., has you covered. Owner John Arnsdorff collects vintage audio electronics, records and more. He even put together a list of gift ideas. Some of the highlights include $4 used records, an $85 portable turntable and — for the right person — a $675 Zenith record player console from the 1960s. They don't make 'em like this anymore, man.
Check out the full Rogers Park gift guide here.
WICKER PARK & WEST TOWN
Dovetail, 1452 W. Chicago Ave., is a great place to find vintage glassware and an awesome 1950s cardigan, but the shop is also packed with goods from independent artisans. We are obsessed with candles by Chicago-based (and super green) Nicolet Candle Company. The Red Cedar and Twigs and Berries ($22) scents are perfect for winter. We also swooned over room sprays and trail soaps by Juniper Ridge ($30-$40). This California-based company makes its products while camping. Seriously. Its fragrances are distilled with "real plants, bark, moss, mushrooms, and tree trimmings found hiking the backcountry." If you've ever inhaled the Big Sur air or hiked through the Redwood Forest, you'll understand how good this stuff smells.
Vividbraille, 2064 N. Damen Ave., makes a custom line of winter hats for men, such as a wool woven beanies available in black and blue ($30), which will keep your favorite guy's head warm and toasty. We also love the Bucktown shop's selection of Cordovan leather wallets by Chicago-based Ashland Leather. Their bifold wallets ($95) are available in several colors, or if you are on a tighter budget, spring for a business card holder wallet, which is available in several styles, by two craftsman who hold day jobs at the Horween Leather factory.
Check out the full Wicker Park gift guide here.
Shrader's Goods Inc. literally began out of the back of Steve Shrader's trunk, as he'd travel from firehouse to firehouse selling T-shirts, hats and other Chicago Fire Department clothing. He opened a store, 3145 W. 111th St., in 2009 and died one year later. His brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Dina Shrader now run the business. Among the many Fire Department items in stock are hoodies ($25) for toddlers in sizes ranging from 6-18 months.
Belle Up, 1915 W. 103rd St., stocks mostly maternity and women's clothing at its new location in Beverly. However, the boutique still carries a few baby items, including Chicago-born onesies ($20) from Four Eyes Handmade. Popular designs include infusing the Chicago flag with the city skyline and a snow globe featuring the same gorgeous skyline. The onesies are available as long-sleeve rompers in sizes 0-24 months. Short-sleeve tees are also available in sizes 2T-6.
Check out the full Southwest Side gift guide here.
Listen to all the great gift ideas in the neighborhoods here: