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Chicagoist Gift Guide '07

By Margaret Lyons in Miscellaneous on Dec 10, 2007 4:27PM


It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time to buy presents! Which means it's time for Chicagoist's annual gift guide. For 2007, we're looking at lots of Chicago-centric gifts (plus a few random goodies thrown in for fun). Tickets, memberships, art, decoration, kits, classes, clothes — we've got you covered.

2007_12_10.ggbenjy.jpgWinter means snow, and snow means “dibs” on street parking. Ditch the broken lawn chairs and saw horses, and show some team spirit while demarcating your spot. These heavy-duty yellow stands are available in any of your favorite Chicago winter sports teams and include a blinking light to make sure your neighbor can’t claim he didn’t see that you were holding that spot — even after dark. Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks.

Half the fun of going to a Bears game is the tailgating. If your favorite Bears fan decks himself out from head to toe in blue and orange, so shouldn’t his tailgating gear? That’s why there’s the Keg- A-Que grill and 4-piece barbeque tool set. The propane-powered grill gets nice and hot for grilling brats and polish sausages, then can be turned off as game time approaches. The grill tools provide the right equipment to flip whatever kind of meat graces your grill. — Benjy Lipsman

2007_12_Fruitbat.jpgWe visited the Lincoln Park zoo frequently … even before we had our kid as an excuse. Give a little back to this free Chicago institution this holiday by adopting an animal. For $35, you’ll get a packet with information about your adoptee, a snazzy certificate, plus invitations to zookeeper lectures and a quarterly update. If you’re leaning towards the polar bear, giraffe or fruit bat, there are special adoption packages for $40 that also includes its likeness in plushie form. Perfect for that kid who loves horses but that Chicago apartment that can’t fit one. — Elizabeth Shapiro

2007_12_10.giftguidecutyou.jpgIf you're buying a gift for someone who moved recently, combine a housewarming gift with a holiday one and tada! Your present problem is solved. We love this cheeky DIY cross stitch kit available at Sprout for $20. Cross stitch is easy, even for the non-crafty, and "don't make me cut you" is a sentiment anyone can embrace.

2007_12_10.giftguidestache.jpgWho doesn't love anthropomorphic mustaches? Christ, that's a stupid question — everyone does. Mamas, papas, ladies, gents, kiddies, you name it. Which makes Shawnimals' pocket stache about the cutest, more versatile gift of the season. And he only sets you back $6.95, plus you can grab him at the always fun Rotofugi? God, it's like the stache is paying you. — Margaret Lyons

2007_12_4_hubwear.jpgWith weather like we have had the past week or two, we know many readers are thinking about catching the next flight to somewhere warm. Even if you can't jet out of town now, wear a T-shirt that makes you think of your favorite destination. Visit and customize your T-shirt with one of our local airports codes — Midway (MDW) or O'Hare (ORD) — and your favorite destination's. Chicagoist has been thinking of Buenos Aires (EZE) this week. The custom T-shirts are $35 and available in a variety of colors. — Todd McClamroch

Looking for the perfect gift for that rebellious architecture lover on your list? Chicagoist stumbled upon Michal Bryant’s photos at the Gold Coast Art Fair last year and bought two of them, including this one depicting Marina City. But according to new rules passed by Marina City’s whack job condo board, the photo could be considered contraband. That ... might make us like it even more. — Benjy Lipsman

2007_12wholphin.jpgWHOLPHIN is a DVD magazine put out four times a year by the McSweeney's folks, and it's always chock full of awesome obscurities. Past issues have included sundry items such as foreign-language sitcom remakes (Turkey's The Jeffersons was a riot); a documentary about a Scottish heavy metal band made up of prepubescents; and rare shorts by Spike Jones, Steven Soderbergh and Miranda July. Some of the material is even in anamorphic widescreen! It would also be worth just buying the previous three issues, as they feature Adam Curtis' mind-expanding, absoutely essential BBC series The Power of Nightmares; once seen, you will never look at politics the same way again. — Rob Christopher

We adore Winsor McCay. His beautifully clean line drawing from the early part of last century entranced us at a young age, and his early animations — especially Gertie the dinosaur — are far ahead of their time. His work on the Dream Of The Rarebit Fiend strip is by turns whimsical, surreal, nightmarish, and wholly unforgettable. However it's been frustrating to view McCay's work for decades since it only seems to get re-issued in dribs and drabs, and never really gets the treatment it deserves.

Well, we're still waiting for a comprehensive retrospective, but we'll take this limited edition boutique printing of the complete Dream Of The Rarebit Fiend strips. It's beautifully packaged, and reasonably affordable at $114 considering the limited print run, and the fact that it can't really be found in stores. And it has us salivating uncontrollably and counting up our pennies to buy it for ourselves ... assuming, of course, we don't get it as a holiday gift before then. — Tankboy

We love that our family in various corners of the country just can’t get enough of Chicago. So every year, we send them a little Tastes of Chicago. Lou Malnati’s has figured out not only how to ship Chicago-style deep
dish pizza across the country, but Carson’s Ribs, Vienna Beef, Eli’s Cheesecakes, Portillo’s hot dogs, Garrett Popcorn, Manny’s, and Hackney’s as well. They also offer combination packages, so you can send an entire picnic or a movie night. Nothing says love — Chicago-style love — quite like a Chicago food spread. — Tim State


I see your "Taste of Chicago" kit, Tim, and I bring you Intelligentsia's elaborate holiday set, complete with coffees, tea, snacks, mugs and cocoa. $85 is a lot of dough, but you get a ton of stuff. Unless Vienna Beef hotdog fixins are more your thing.— Margaret Lyons

Once winter rolls around, the promise of dancing is one of the few activities that can motivate us to turn off the Project Runway reruns and get our heart rate up. If you have similar-minded friends, consider buying a gift certificate or multi-class card to one of the city's dance studios. The Lou Conte Dance Studio approaches classes more seriously, and offers styles ranging from ballet to jazz, tap to hip hop. A 10-class card will set you back $120. If your giftee is a little more adventurous, a northwest side studio, Arabesque, offers belly dancing, as well as burlesque classes taught by renowned star, Michelle "Toots" L'amour. $70 will buy a five-class card, so your recipient can learn to skillfully shake those hips or make their ass go pow. — Olivia Leigh

2007_giftguideltlym_cover.jpgNo. 9: Draw a constellation from someone's freckles. No. 25: Make a video of someone dancing. No. 45: Reread your favorite book from fifth grade. Yes, these are assignments, created by none other than the fabulous Miranda July and her compadre Harrell Fletcher, and they've combined some of the best into Learning to Love You More, a fancy photo book that is appropriate for basically everyone on your shopping list who appreciates love and happiness and feeling all fuzzy inside. Buy it at Quimby's (1854 W. North Ave.) or online at — Sarah Dahnke

This year, instead of wanting more "stuff" to shove into our already too-small apartment where we have everything we need, we decided to ask for, and try to give, experiences rather than traditional gifts. So what we really want are tickets to something Chicago and fancy we've never been to. In particular, we'd like to see Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The Woman Without a Shadow) at the Lyric Opera. It's about a mystical empress searching for a shadow to save her husband from turning to stone. The Lyric Opera house is gorgeous, and satisfies our need to get gussied up every now and again. Also, we've been dying to have a place to wear our new holiday dress. What? It's OK to focus a little bit on stuff. — Jess D'Amico

2007_12_10.giftguideclick.jpgKnow a special someone you just "click" with? Ho, ho, I know that's extremely hilarious, but this rad cursor necklace is techy, irreverent and lovely. And at $25, a complete steal. — Margaret Lyons

Chicago Printmakers Collaborative postcards of original artwork by CPC members and guests are some of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to decorate your walls. And no one will mind if you regift them. The set of 35 prints, ranging from city landscapes to elegant portraits to an irreverent jab at President Bush, sells for $20 at CPC’s Lincoln Square headquarters, the Cultural Center, and other local shops, or for $25 on the CPC’s site. — Justin Sondak

Louis%20Sullivan%20Frame.jpgWe love this Louis Sullivan picture frame. It's not too expensive, it's very Chicago-y, and we think we're just going to keep that couple in the picture frame because they look so happy with their dog.

The frame is a zinc alloy, its 7.25 inches wide x 9.25 inches tall; and it's an adaptation of a design on the cast-iron staircase in the now demolished Chicago Stock Exchange Building.

The frame costs $39.00 and is available at the Chicago Architecture Foundation located at 225 S. Michigan. — Margaret Hicks


It's tough to find a T-shirt these days that you haven't seen a million times already. Think outside the Threadless tradition and go for a state shirt, a where ya from shirt, or a city series tee. God, we love these, and $20 for a shirt is completely reasonable. — Margaret Lyons

2007_12_10.giftguidebunny.jpgEveryone I know had a Monty Python phase at some point, and a lot of us will never outgrow it. But you can only buy so many DVDs and T-shirts, you know? That's why a killer rabbit (toy) is the way to go for anyone whose favorite color is blue. No! Yelloooooow! Bah, that still gets us.

2007_12_10.giftguidelog.jpg"My log saw something that night." If you recognize the Twin Peaks quote, you probably already bought the recently released DVD set. But a log that actually holds things? For a mere $30-$48? Well, it's not quite damn fine pie, but it's pretty cool anyway. — Margaret Lyons