Newcity’s “Chicago Looks” photographer-columnist Isa Giallorenzo went shopping for a wide range of possible gift recipients, and did so by sticking to a local focus.
Gifts for brainiacs and cool people in general
MCA Store (mcachicagostore.org)
Wanna show how smart you are? Bring something from this creative shop. Handmade accessories—from here and beyond—will surely please any design freak. Great place to find cool non-vintage T-shirts (they exist). 220 East Chicago.
Gifts for the annoying 1%
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (vosgeschocolate.com)
You gotta respect a chocolate with this name. Just like your boss, who’s your Secret Santa this year (yay!). Also they do offer options for the rest of humanity, like the $4 Gnome Chocolate Pops.
Luisa Casati Truffle Collection: Ask for a raise right after you gift these.
Gifts for hyperactive children
This Logan Square toy-ridden, awe-inducing space will leave your favorite chatterbox speechless. Look for super cute (and local) Shawnimals (shawnimals.com) and the top-seller $11 CTA miniature trains. 3109 West Logan.
Gifts for food snobs
Old Town Oil (oldtownoil.com) and The Spice House (thespicehouse.com)
You know that smug friend who always knows the best place to eat? Shut them up with Old Town Oil’s scrumptious selection of about thirty specialty olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars, all perfectly gift wrapped to go. Not enough deliciousness? Walk a few stores down to The Spice House, where you’ll find kits like the Specialty Salts Box and the Ethnic Chicago Seasonings, among many, many other flavorful choices. 1520 North Wells and 1512 North Wells
Old Town Oil
Gifts for geeks of all kinds
Quimby’s Bookstore (quimbys.com)
Music geek? Check. Fashion geek? Check. Street art Geek? Check? Radical Parenting Geek? What? Well, yes, check. Whatever type of freak you are buying a present for, there will be a book for them at Quimby’s. Including the freaks who just buy local stuff. 1854 West North.
Gifts for someone who just moved to a new place
Asrai Garden (asraigarden.com) and FoundRe (foundrefurnishings.com)
Is there a more appropriate housewarming gift than Lafco’s champagne-scented candle? Maybe the champagne itself? Who will ever know? The truth is Asrai Garden has the most incredible aromas and beautifully crafted decor items, like the hand-felted wool taxidermy (starting from $60). 1935 West North.
Gifts for people you wanna buy a little something for
Twosided (foursided.com) and Rudy’s Roundup (rudysroundup.com)
This demographic comprises the largest percentage of most people’s lists, so just head to these shops and get whatever tchotchkes you need. Twosided currently has a huge Christmas-themed pop-up store attached to it. If you wanna go all local get the Chicago-transit-themed soap bars. At Rudy’s Roundup you will find all kinds of adorable little trinkets, many of them locally thrifted and/or locally made—like the stuffed hotdog-eating gnome by Nerfect (nerfect.com). 2958 North Clark and 1410 North Milwaukee.
Gifts for music/sound creators
Andy’s Music Store (andysmusicchicago.com)
Andy’s wide array of musical instruments will impress even the most blasé of musicians. You’re sure to find a novelty your jamming dude had never heard of and will love to tinker with. 2300 West Belmont.
Gifts for that friend who’s much cooler than you
Sasha Hodges and Ross Kelly went all out with their renovated eighties-and-nineties-themed vintage shop, filled with items that will make hipster hearts burn with desire—without burning your wallet. 1323 North Milwaukee.
Gifts for the style-challenged guy
Una Mae’s (unamaeschicago.com)
Una Mae’s houses a well-picked selection of vintage T-shirts, locally produced apparel and cosmetics that will make your thug stand out for the right reasons—who could resist a lavender mustache wax? And their casual vibe won’t scare your style virgin away. 1528 North Milwaukee.
Gifts for DIY enthusiasts
Some people prefer to make their own gifts, and who are you to disagree? Help calm their craft-making urges by providing the materials for a knitting craze. At Nina’s you’ll find a refined collection of yarn along with exotic wool needles and specialized magazines. They host courses as well. 1655 West Division.