Chicago-Made Gift Guide


Still crossing off a few names on your holiday shopping list? Look no further than local, Chicagoans! I collaborated with other staffers on a Chicagoist gift guide this week, and I wanted to expand on my picks. Here are fifteen gifts made in the Midwest, that are sure to delight your loved ones wherever they live.


1. 2016 Above Chicago Desktop Calendar
Those of us who spend our days at desks appreciate any window dressing. Why not organize your time with images by Choose Chicago’s Artist of the Year? Photographer Nick Ulivieri (who I interviewed this year) has created a desktop calendar featuring a unique aerial or rooftop view of Chicago for each month.

2. Michelle Starbuck Necklace
The Mini Leda necklace from one of my favorite Chicago designers features delicate, geometric pendants cast in bronze.

3. Loop Stripe Coffee Mug
This 15 oz. mug by Transit Tees depicts the convergence of Chicago’s ‘L’ system in the Loop. It’s one of my favorites for gifting friends who live elsewhere as a reminder to visit.

4. Old Dank Nik Holidank Blend
Coffee lovers will cheer for Dark Matter’s annual holiday blend. The medium-bodied blend offers notes of cocoa, cranberry spice, and toasted nuts.

5. Lump of Coal Soaps
Real Soaps became a favorite of mine this year after discovering them at Sauced. They’re 100% natural and handmade. These activated charcoal facial soaps are great whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

6. AIR BY Vincent Laforet
What happens when you dangle a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer out of a helicopter above the world’s greatest cities? Vincent Laforet demonstrates the spectacular results of his pioneering aerial photography in this hardcover collection, titled AIR, published in Chicago. The gorgeous HD images of Chicago, London, New York, Sydney, and more are mesmerizing not only for their beauty but for what they reveal about urban planning

7. Friend of the Bottle Pass
Give the gift of music throughout 2016 with Empty Bottle’s FOB Pass. The pass allows free entry to any shows $10 and under, a paid reserve list spot for shows over $10, and neighborhood discounts.

8. Giordano’s 2-Pizza Pack
Imagine your out-of-town friends’ faces when they find the taste of Chicago on their doorstep. I love shipping deep dish as a thank-you gift, and just imagine eating it around the Christmas tree!

9. 826CHI Compendium Volume IV
Support young authors with 826’s anthology of student creative writing. The nonprofit creative writing center features work from young authors across the city of Chicago. Full disclosure – I’m involved with their Associate Board.

10. Lillie’s Q Barbecue Sauce Gift Set

Barbecue is always fun, but I enjoy it most when accompanied by the spectrum of sauces at Lillie’s Q. Gift your favorite grillmaster by the bottle or in gift sets of three or six. My dad is always excited when I bring home a bottle of Hot Smoky!

11. Lion Wreath Ornament
Enjoy a Chicago holiday icon in your own home. The Art Institute Lion will look as festive on your tree as it does on Michigan Avenue.

12. Neche Collection Prints 
Local artist Veronica Corzo-Duchardt tells the story of her grandfather, a Cuban exile, through his posessions in the Neche Collection. The hand screen printed works are a stunning interpretation of family.

13. Peppermint Chip Marshmallows 
Flavored artisan marshmallows by Katherine Anne Confections will certainly sweeten up your holiday. I’m craving peppermint chip or cranberry orange in my hot cocoa this winter.

14. Divvy Bike Merchandise
Show your love for Divvy, Chicago’s bike share system, on and off the road with their new line of merchandise. Choose from Divvy gear including hoodies, t-shirts, plastic bottles or stainless steel thermal water bottles and, keychains. The products were designed by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in the shared spirit of experiencing Chicago.

15. Into LP
Considering Chicago’s wealth of music, I considered an entire gift guide of local artists. If you only gift one album this season, make it Into by my pals in Bow & Spear. They make loud, shoegazy punk sounds, and this season they’re donating all album proceeds. La Casa Norte provides food and housing to Humboldt Park’s homeless. Help Bow & Spear help needy Chicagoans this holiday.

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