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Lincoln Square Gift Guide: From Art to Booze, All Chicago-Made

By Patty Wetli | November 25, 2014 5:38am
 Take the "shop local" theme to the next level and look for Chicago-made goods in indie stores.
Take the "shop local" theme to the next level and look for Chicago-made goods in indie stores.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — This holiday season, we're taking the "shop local" theme to the next level.

We scoured the neighborhood's independent merchants for gifts with a made-in-Chicago or made-by-a-Chicagoan label, which is practically like giving your mom something you made yourself only way better than the macaroni necklace she pretended to like when you were 7.

Patty Wetli highlights the best in holiday shopping:

Because the only downside to eschewing mega-malls is missing out on all that delightful piped-in Christmas music, we've also provided a soundtrack of earworms you can hum to yourself — or aloud if that's how you roll — as you shop uber-local til you drop.


Nothing says "I love you" like the gift of outerwear, especially if it's remotely stylish. Lincoln Square's very own fashion designer, Erika Neumayer of Rare Dirndl, has put an interesting spin on the fingerless glove, adding edelweiss trim for an Oktoberfest-in-December look as an homage to the neighborhood's German roots. Pick up a pair in-store, 5051 N. Lincoln Ave., or online for $19.

Treat Yo' Self: North Center's Union Handmade, a collective for local designers, has a slew of handmade scarves, headbands and hats for sale. We love their jaunty hand-knit caps, $49, 3860 N. Lincoln Ave.

Shopping local means you're gonna be exposed to the elements while schlepping from store to store. As long as you're at Union Handmade, might as well buy yourself an artisan lip balm (yes, there is such a thing) from Real Soaps, $4.


Know what'll put everyone in the holiday spirit? The gift of holiday spirits. Head to Bottles & Cans, 4109 N. Lincoln Ave., and cross off pretty much every dude on your shopping list. Impress him with four-packs, six-packs or mix-and-match packs of brews from Spiteful, Begyle and Half Acre — all based in the neighborhood.

For extra flair, toss in this hefty bottle opener we found at Neighborly, 2003 W. Montrose Ave., for $25. It's crafted by the folks at the Rebuilding Exchange and is made of reclaimed steel and urban ash. Emerald Ash Borer beetle presumably sold separately.

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.


Christmas tree ornaments are a great gift for newlyweds or first-time homeowners. Heck, refresh your own collection while you're at it. Union Handmade is adding new baubles to its selection daily, ranging in price from $3 to $40. We're partial to their simple metal decorations, $10-$16.

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.

Treat Yo' Self: Blow off some steam at Everlasting Fire Studio's ornament-making workshop. Every student will walk away with six hand-blown glass ornaments to keep or give away. Cost of the class, including materials, is $50, with several dates and times available, 5036 N. Lincoln Ave.


Once upon a time, there was this thing called mail, and people sent it to each other. If ever there were a time of year to get all nostalgic for days of yore — ie, physical cards, envelopes and yes, even stamps — the Yuletide would be it. Jennifer Farrell at Ravenswood's Starshaped Press does magical things with antique letterpress type, turning out gorgeous handprinted cards that aren't just season's greetings, they're miniature works of art. Visit her Etsy site; cards range from $4.50 each to $18 for packs of six.

Where did people post their stupid personal thoughts before the Internet? Journals. Bari Zaki hand-binds and stitches beautiful blank books, sold online and at Union Handmade ($85-$115). Pair that with Zaki's pencils, wrapped in Japanese yuzen paper ($24 for a boxed set). Give 'em to all your oversharing-prone pals. The world will thank you.

Treat Yo' Self: The holiday season is both awesome and awesomely exhausting. After a long day of shopping, why not curl up with a good book written by a Chicago author. The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., has an entire section devoted to Windy City writers. We're particularly intrigued by Chris Ware's "Building Stories," a graphic novel made up of 14 printed works contained in a box set, meant to be read in no particular order, $50.


Wanna really step up your hyper-local gift giving game? How about this set of nesting bowls for $65: It's sold at Neighborly, designed and manufactured by Ravenswood-based Circa Ceramics (made local) and features the Chicago flag. Boom, you hit the trifecta!

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'.

Treat Yo' Self: Fly your freak flag with this Chicago pennant, $15, because it's a better bet to be a fan of the city than the Cubs or Bears. We confess, we cheated a bit here — the pennant is made in Buffalo. But let's face it, Buffalo could use the pick-me-up. Get it at Neighborly's web shop.


You know what Chicagoans are really good at making? Food. Big Fork produces its artisan bacon sausages out of a kitchen at 2707 W. Lawrence Ave. and can ship an assortment of the encased meats to your favorite carnivore. Also sold at local shops like Harvestime Foods, Provenance Food & Wine and Lincoln Quality Meat. Prices vary but suggested retail for a four-pack is $7.99.

Perhaps anticipating the theme of this gift guide, Provenance, 2312 W. Leland Ave., offers a "Taste of Chicago" gift basket, starting at $45. It's the equivalent of one-stop shopping, packed with locally-made barbecue sauces, sweets, popcorn and preserves.

Treat Yo' Self: Goosefoot's exquisite handmade, hand-painted chocolates come in flavors like banana/hazelnut/caramel, pumpkin spice and raspberry tea; $14 for a box of 4 or $20 for 6. And yeah, they'd make the perfect stocking stuffer or hostess gift but seriously, you're gonna want these for yourself. Goosefoot Food & Wine, 2656 W. Lawrence Ave.


Said no one ever. But a customized messenger bag stitched to fit their body? Yes please. Isaac Grigsby has been making the totes and backpacks — beloved by cyclists, photographers and anyone with gear to haul — out of his Albany Park home since 2002 under the brand WIG Bags. A typical bag costs $260 but Grigsby is making smaller carryalls for $150 in advance of Christmas. To order, contact him through the WIGS website.

Listen to all the great gift ideas in the neighborhoods here: