LINCOLN SQUARE — Whether you're in the market for affordable holiday bling for your significant other or are stumped, again, for what to get your step-sister-in-law for Christmas, neighborhood small businesses have you covered.
We rounded up an array of gift ideas at various price points, from showstoppers to shaving cream, all of them sourced at independent shops in and around Lincoln Square.
You know to-go coffee cups aren't recyclable, right? Spoken Cafe's house-branded mug is not only reusable — bring it in for a 21 percent discount — but all of its components, including the leather coozy, are made in the USA. Cost is $30. While you're at it, pick up a Liberty water bottle for $26. It's made from recycled aluminum, is BPA-free and U.S.-based manufacturer makes it a point to employ veterans. Check out Spoken at 1812 W. Montrose Ave.
District, 4835 N. Damen Ave., specializes in vintage furnishings but the Bam Jam is a thoroughly contemporary solution to one of the biggest problems of the modern age: too many cords. This nifty speaker, made from bamboo, amplifies sound naturally — no wires. Just drop your iPhone inside and, bam, your jams get pumped. We tested it — it's the real deal. Cost is $25.
Know what else they're selling at District this holiday season? Bubble lights. You know you want a string. Cost is $40 — the lights are retro, the price is pure 2015.
Give the Gift of Zen
Adult coloring books are a great way to unplug, tune out, relieve stress and flex creative muscles. The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., carries a wide selection of coloring books, priced between $10 and $20. Then head to Bari Zaki Studio, 3858 N. Lincoln Ave., and pick up an array of colorful pencils to complete your gift (typically $1-$2 each).
Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but they're not always practical for folks shopping on a budget. Jewelry designer Teresa Cowan uses more affordable stones and metals to create one-of-a-kind bling, sold online or at her Mineralogy storefront, 1944 W. Montrose Ave. We love these sparklers, $108. Other options include earrings made from actual gold nuggets, $182.
Give the man in your life the gift of an amazing shave. Or not. Whether your guy is smooth-shaven or heavily bearded, Q Brothers, 4718 N. Lincoln Ave., will help you put together the perfect package of products.
Recommendations for the smooth-shaven: Q Brothers private-label safety razor, made in Germany ($32); Tabula Rasa shaving cream ($31.50, will last for months); Shark blades ($1.50); Semogue boar brush, ($19); Triton brush and razor stand ($30, made in Chicago); and Captain's Choice Bay Rum aftershave ($18, made in Wheaton). Straight razors, ranging from $130 to $400, are an option for the advanced shaver.
For beards: Windy City Beard Elixir, softens hair and moisturizes skin underneath ($20, made in Chicago); beard brush or comb, trains hair to grow down, instead of bushing out (prices of items shown range from $10 to $35); Proraso beard balm, similar to a leave-in conditioner ($18); and Hey Joe beard shampoo, milder than hair shampoo, won't strip coarser beard hair of oils ($17).
Here's a gift that won't be forgotten by Dec. 26: a subscription to Windy City Playhouse. The theater has a downtown vibe but is conveniently located in Irving Park, with a full bar and small plate menu for an all-in-one date night. Subscriptions for the 2016 season range from $60 to $135.
You can't go wrong with Scandinavian-designed gifts, but you don't need to schlep to IKEA to pick up something spelled with an umlaut. The Sweden Shop, 3304 W. Foster Ave., has all manner of items imported from Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway at a range of price points. Check out bars of coffee soap ($9.95), cleverly designed Swedish dish cloths (at $6.95 a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer), cozy throw blankets ($142) and more.
The hottest sellers: anything to do with "fika," according to staff. Fika is kind of like Sweden's version of England's tea time, only with coffee. Wrap up the complete fika experience and put a bow on it: Pick up mugs ($17.95), coffee ($15.50) and gingersnaps ($5.95).