CHICAGO — After a lovely fall, winter seemed to come out of nowhere this weekend — and so did the realization that the holiday season is upon us. If you want to avoid malls, keep your sanityand give gifts people actually want, this year we suggest you shop local.
Each of our neighborhood reporters rounded up local gift ideas. Here's a sample.
Make Your Own Gin Kit From Logan Square
Give the gift of booze. It is a simple, but effective tool in the gift-giving repertoire. Shop 1021 takes it a step further with its homemade gin kit, which allows a drinker to turn a bottle of vodka into a custom bottle of gin. The kit ($49.95) includes a bottle, strainer, funnel and all the goods needed to turn vodka to gin. Shop 1021 is located at 2650 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Woodfire Candles, Chicago-Style Hat in Lincoln Park
Local boutique Art Effect, 934 W. Armitage Ave., sells gifts galore, so it was hard to choose just one. We think you can't go wrong with a Demi Mercury Glass Woodfire Candle ($17) with a 20-hour burn time, a graphic tray ($17.50) or a Chicago beanie ($32 - $40).
Ravenswood Manor's own Steve Shanabruch has designed a line of gorgeous neighborhood prints inspired by old Works Progress Administration posters. Order online, $35 each.
For your favorite four-legged companion experiencing its first Chicago winter, head to Jameson Loves Danger, at 5208 N. Clark St., for hand-knit sweaters for your fashion-minded pooch retailing from $30-40. The Chilly Dog sweaters are available in sizes to fit tiny dogs to great Danes.
Neighborhood Beanies in Lakeview
Hyperlocal Bow Ties From the Far North Side
These shnazzy bows are made by local artist Jenny Urban from her line of ties called Dapper & Urban. For $18, you can pick one up at Edgewater Workbench, 1130 W. Thorndale Ave. and become the fifth shining star on the flag.
Sporty Ugly Sweaters in Bridgeport
The ugly sweater trend is as popular is ever. If you're sick of the cliche Christmas patterns and crazy cat prints, you might head to Grandstand Sports, 600 W. 35th St., where you'll find ugly Christmas sweaters ($64.99) themed after Chicago's most popular sports franchises: The Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears.
First up, there are hoodies for a cause. My Block, My Hood, My City hoodies will set you back $65, but proceeds help fund the exploration program, which exposes teens from under-resourced communities to new (to them) neighborhoods around the city. The program is run by Chatham resident Jahmal Cole, who recently took South Side teens to Edgewater for the first time.
A Capone Flask Downtown
Kitschy? Yes, but also practical: this 64-ounce flask adorned with hackneyed Chicago icon Al Capone is $24.99 at souvenir shop Bye Bye Chicago, 331 N. Michigan Ave. Your drunk uncle who is obsessed with gangster movies will LOVE it.
Green Line Throw Pillows in the West Loop
Zerobird Studio's Green Line throw pillow ($45) offers a stylish upgrade to any West Looper's couch. As an alternative to shipping, last-minute shoppers can also opt to pick up their gifts in-studio at the Historic Feather Loft building, 355 N. Laflin St.
Get your favorite scaredy-cat a fused glass night light hand-cut by Chicago artist Kimberly Polka for $34 at Local Goods Chicago, 5354 W. Devon Ave.
Louis Sullivan earrings from the Chicago Architecture Foundation
These earrings, drawing from a pattern designed by Louis Sullivan, are a reasonabe $29 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave.
Amazing Totes in Hyde Park
Frontline Books, a stalwart of Hyde Park retail at 5206 S. Harper Ave., has luminous tote bags (pictured) woven in the still-beating heart of American textiles in South Carolina for $25. For those curious about the forbidden, the store also carries “Anatomy of Female Power” for $40. The radical critique of feminism by Nigerian poet Chinweizu Ibekwe is likely to be more interesting to many for its rarity, otherwise only available for nearly $300 imported from London, than its ideas, which argue that the world is ruled by women and feminism is a reaction to a world that only appears to be run by men.
Gold Bells For Bikes in Wicker Park
Drew a Secret Santa gift for a coworker who bikes or have a cousin who bikes often? Water bottles at worker-owned Comrade Cycles start at $10. Some pricier gifts that are also safety-focused include lights, fix-it kits and tire pumps. We like a gold matte bell made in Osaka, Japan that has a clear ring tone, $25.99. Comrade Cycles, 1908 W. Chicago Ave.
Local Art Love in Pilsen
Sending a gift to your far away sibling? Remind them just how much you love them — and Chicago loves them — with a "Chicago Loves You" frame ($50 and up) from Modern Cooperative, 1215 W. 18th St. Chicago-based artist Emmy Star Brown's hand-painted messages on salvaged glass fill an entire wall in the vintage and handmade boutique.
Shiny New Shoes For Your Car in Beverly
Roll up to your holiday party in style with some new rims and tires from Exotic Wheel at 10101 S. Western Ave. in Beverly. Manager Russell Britton of Washington Park said gift certificates are available throughout the gift-buying season.
A special is also a underway for these 20-inch Lorenzo 35 rims. Sold with all-season tires, a set of four costs $1,250, reduced from $1,800.