CHICAGO — You like to give unique gifts, right?
The ones people remember because they're thoughtful?
We've scoured Chicago's stores for suggestions for you. Here are some of the highlights. But also click on the neighborhood links for a much deeper list.
ANDERSONVILLE AND UPTOWN
Cozy Up With Neighborhood-Themed Pillows
Graphic designer Julia Thiel's NeighborHauser Collection features sketches of homes from blocks in Andersonville, Lakeview and Wicker Park. Each pillow features five colors of homes arranged in a neighborhood theme. For example, the Andersonville color scheme pays homage to the neighborhood's Swedish heritage. Each pillow is $79 and can be purchased at Transistor, 5224 N. Clark St. in Andersonville.
BEVERLY, MORGAN PARK AND MOUNT GREENWOOD
Beverly author Dennis Foley compiled and contributed to a book of 33 short stories and poems called "We Speak Chicagoese" ($15.95, Side Street Press). All 28 authors are from the Chicago area. The book can be purchased online, though Foley said he'd prefer customers support local bookstores who stock his compilation, including Bookie's Paperbacks & More at 2419 W. 103rd St. in Beverly.
BRIDGEPORT, CHINATOWN, McKINLEY PARK
Chicago Sports Ugly Sweaters, Grandstand Sports
Lego's Chicago Skyline Set
You can now build some of Chicago's most recognizable sights in Lego form. The 444-piece, $34.99 set features Willis and Hancock towers, as well as the Wrigley Building and the Bean in Millennium Park. The set will be sold exclusively at Lego's Water Tower Place store and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave., beginning Sunday before it's sold nationwide Jan. 1.
ENGLEWOOD, AUBURN GRESHAM AND CHATHAM
Scented Candles, Body Oils and More From Annie Bell Fragrances
Create a gift basket full of items made locally featuring tantalizing scents and aromas. Annie Bell Fragrances offers several products, but it might be hard to choose just one. Why not buy a few?
The store carries handmade soy candles with no dyes or additives for $10 each. Choose from over 20 different scents, including lavender, pineapple bliss or coco mango soy candles. If candles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of essential oils, soaps, massage oils and more. Annie Bell Fragrances can be found in the Englewood Whole Foods, 832 W. 63rd St. and three other locations. Visit the website at www.anniebellfragrances.com.
LINCOLN PARK AND OLD TOWN
Now We're Rolling
Five Elements Home, at 2216 N. Clybourn, is a new store bringing unique Chinese handmade housewares to Chicago from small, independent artisans in remote areas of China. The linens and hand-painted plates are exquisite, but the everyday items like hardwood rolling pins (starting at $79 in cherry) and chopsticks ($19 for five pairs) exceed all expectations. The Asian rolling pins are specially intended for the fine rolling of wonton wrappers.
LINCOLN SQUARE, ALBANY PARK AND IRVING PARK
Skin Care Products Good Enough To Eat
Why would you put something on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth? That's the idea behind a pair of local skin care companies: Soap Happy, home of handmade vegan soaps and lip balms, and Scratch Goods, which sells a complete line of food-grade masks, scrubs, soaps, shampoos and more.
LOGAN SQUARE AND HUMBOLDT PARK
Locally Made Booze From Chicago Distilling Company
We love the idea of giving out-of-towners a taste of home. Chicago Distilling Company, 2359 N. Milwaukee Ave., sells gift packs of three 200ml flask-size bottles that allow you try a variety of spirits like Ceres Vodka, Finn's Gin and Dunkel Whiskey. The packs range from $29.99 to $49, depending on the type of spirits included.
PILSEN, WEST LOOP, NEAR WEST SIDE
Want to take a piece of Pilsen's amazing murals home with you? Artists Sam Kirk and Sandra Antongiorgi are selling prints of their new mural "Weaving Cultures," completed this year at 16th and Blue Island in Pilsen. Pre-order a print ($25) through Dec. 9 online.
PORTAGE PARK, NORWOOD PARK, JEFFERSON PARK
The city is full of Chicago-themed souvenir shops, but none quite like Rep Chi, 4427 N. Milwaukee Ave. Its vast selection includes housemade T-shirts, coasters, glasses and scarves chic enough to be modeled by Ald. John Arena (45th).
New this year, the store is trotting out Chicago flag-design dog collars shown next to Bloo the dog (above), Rep Chi's "employee of the month."
Collars sell for $22, and leashes are $24.
SOUTH SHORE, HYDE PARK AND KENWOOD
In-Home Lessons In Indian Cooking From An Expert
Burgeoning cooking enthusiasts often have the tools they need, but not the skills. Cooking lessons with Ranjana Bhargava in South Shore could be just what they need. Bhargava helps novices learn the techniques of Indian cooking next to more advanced cooks seeking to learn 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 website.
ROGERS PARK, WEST RIDGE AND EDGEWATER
Here is your chance to do something truly amazing for someone else: Tell them you can make Bill Murray and John Candy appear in their living room for a cocktail. Portraits of these classic funny guys (and plenty of other classic Chicago things) are on these sweet, heavy-duty ceramic coasters made by Re4mado Photography. You can grab a few at Local Goods Chicago's pop-up shop, 6443 N. Sheridan Road, for $18 each, or $60 for four.
PQM Favorites gift basket
The beloved West Loop butcher shop and restaurant is offering up gift baskets and boxes full of their favorites this year. The Publican Quality Everything package ($75) includes PQM honey, PQM milk and honey granola, Intelligentsia coffee, PQM olive oil and PQM bacon lip balm (yum) in a branded wooden crate. Browse their customizable gift baskets in-shop at 825 W. Fulton Market.
WICKER PARK, BUCKTOWN, WEST TOWN
Skyline From Top Of Northwest Tower T-Shirt
For any Wicker Park booster, a shirt featuring the skyline from the neighborhood snapped from the top of the art deco Northwest Tower by Andrew Miller will be a conversation starter. The shirts are $20 at Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., or $22 on the Wicker Park Committee's website.
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