The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ask Chicagoist: Uniquely Chicago Gifts?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Dec 18, 2006 3:00PM

Dear Chicagoist,

I've been living in the north shore for the last year now and as I'm coming up on my first Chicago Christmas shopping season I'm trying to think of things uniquely Chicago for gifts to family back at home in California and Europe. I'm hoping that the Chicagoist staff and readers can help!

Best Regards,


2006_12_askxmas.jpgDear Edward,

If you're anything like us, you've still barely even thought about holiday shopping and find the mere mention of Christmas makes you a little panicky. But since you've posed this thoughtful question to us, we can only assume that you actually aren't quite like us at all — but we hope we can still help out.

The first place we'd like to point you to is our famed Chicagoist Holiday Gift Guide, where Chicagoist staff have already brought up some excellent gift ideas that really can't be beat.

In terms of things that unequivocally scream Chicago, depending on your family members' tastes, you can consider hitting one of the many Chicago-themed souvenir shops scattered around the city (focusing on the downtown area, of course). We also like the idea of seeing what's in museum gift shops for some Chicago-oriented items that are potentially more interesting than a snow globe of the Sears Tower or a generic Chicago T-shirt. Now, a Chicagoist T-shirt is another story altogether, and is a highly recommended gift for everyone on your list.

If your family likes to read, perhaps some books on Chicago history would be a good idea? Maybe it's run its course by now, but we've given Erik Larson's Devil in the White City to quite a few non-Chicago residents to give them a tiny taste of Chicago history. For a huge taste of Chicago history, try Ask Chicagoist's favorite reference book, the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Architecture buffs might appreciate some books on our city's fantastic architecture — make sure there are lots of pictures! Actually, we always enjoy shopping at the Chicago Architecture Foundation's gift shop at 224 S. Michigan Ave. for interesting Chicago schwag and architecture goodies all in one. We really like the famous Chicago building ornaments.

As for bringing a taste of Chicago to your family, there are a variety of Chicago gift baskets offered by MyFavoriteCity. You can send along all the tacky stuff you find at souvenir shops, all wrapped up in one basket, including items such as a (insert your favorite Chicago sports team here) Sports Bottle, a Chicago mug, and a variety of food items with a Chicago flair (coffee, candy, nuts). Designer Baskets Ltd. has a good selection of Chicago gift baskets too.

How about that Chicago deep dish pizza? You can send your family assembled pizzas from Gino's East that just need to be popped in the oven for a real taste of Chicago.

FindGift has even more ideas for Chicago-themed presents on their Chicago site.

Of course, really, what better way to experience Chicago than to actually come here? Invite your family to see the real deal, and visit you all in one! What's that? Not really what you had in mind ...?

Help out Edward, everyone. What are some other Chicago-centric gifts that he could get for his family members?

Image via bluetypewriter.

Last-minute shopping? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.