HYDE PARK — Hyde Park’s full of good gift ideas at every turn — you just have to know where to look, which little tag to read and what unexpected spots have something really unique to offer.
Here are some ideas for unique items that fit under a Christmas tree, plus some things that are a lot less tangible.
For the Movie Lover: A Season Pass to Cinema
[Courtesy of Doc Films]
If you have a film buff in the family, consider a season pass to Doc Films at the University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th St. For the family member you like, it's something good to do together, and for the ones you don’t, it's a good excuse to get them out of the house. And it’s a bargain at $30 a year. Doc's student curators do a good job of finding interesting films that are well beyond the usual Netflix streaming catalog, and is sure to satisfy snobs.
Passes are available online at the University of Chicago’s box office web site.
For the Home Cook: A Crash Course
For burgeoning cooking enthusiasts, there comes a point where they have the tools they need, but not the skills. So try cooking lessons with Ranjana Bhargava in South Shore. Bhargava helps people who are just starting to learn the techniques of Indian cooking alongside more advanced cooks seeking to learn more about the differences between regional styles of Indian cuisine. The courses are offered in Bhargava’s home and individual classes start at $80.
For more information, visit Ranjana’s Indian Cooking Classes web site.
For the Anti-Government Hot Head: An Ideological Reading List
Every family’s got at least someone who despises politicians, so enter the holiday season prepared with a trip to the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. South Shore resident R.J. Nelson has a new book, “Dirty Waters,” that is an entertaining look at what it takes day-to-day to clean up a corrupt city department. It’s worth it just for the litany of creative ways people tried to bribe Nelson while he was “harbor boss” under Mayor Harold Washington’s administration.
Supplement that with former University of Illinois at Chicago professor Stanley Fish’s “Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn't Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroom” and you might be able to get through the holidays with some lively debate that doesn’t involve drinks getting thrown.
For the Wacky Aunt: Avant Garde Baubles
Hyde Parker jeweler Linda Greenberg has a real knack for creating tasteful jewelry for that aunt that typically steps out with a mess of wires wrapped around her neck. Greenberg’s Via Mia Design brings interesting materials like freshwater pearl into designs informed by her University of Chicago doctorate in cultural anthropology. Pieces range from $25 to $195 and are available at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
While you’re there, consider picking up for the photography enthusiast in the family the catalog for the “There Was a Whole Collection Made” exhibit, curated from the large privately-held collection of photography by a Hyde Park couple.
For History Buffs: The Ultimate #TBT
[Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry]
If you have a history buff in the family, you’re in for a long conversation about the 1893 Columbian World’s Exposition when you even mention Hyde Park. So be ready for it with some replica exposition memorabilia from the Museum of Science and Industry. A good place to start is by considering a reproduction poster for the Columbian Pickwick Club's White Horse Inn, a mock English pub from the fair with the quixotic tag line to “Bathe Early and Often.” Prints range in price from $19-$192 and there are many historic photos from the fair to choose from.
For the less enthusiastic history fan, a Museum of Science and Industry Christmas ornament for $25 might be a good alternative.
For the Snowflake: Something One-Of-A-Kind
[Courtesy of Aromatic Synsation]
If someone in your family likes everything custom, bespoke, Aromatic Synsation, 6540 S. Cottage Grove Ave., can help take it to the next level. The store will brew up a specialized aroma for a body oil, aromatherapy and other items that is specifically designed for what the customer that wants to smell crisp and fresh or wear more of a spicy musk.
The store also offers a range of clothing and accessories.
For the Microbrew Lover
[Courtesy of the Smart Museum of Art]
It’s still possible to track down a few bottles of they special Arcade Brewery beer Concrete Traffic, inspired by the Hyde Park statue of the same name, and it’s sure to impress family members that tend to rattle off very cryptic and Austrian-sounding beer styles at holiday parties. The beer is a Roggenbier, a German rye beer that is almost never made in the United States, so there’s a shot at perplexing even a die-hard beer fan.
Limited supply is still available at some Binny’s Beverage Depot locations.
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