As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to search for the perfect gift. Is someone on your list a bike enthusiast? Know an architecture-loving bookworm or a beginner ceramist? We’ve got you covered.
From creative workshops at local studios to cozy artistic throw blankets and design-forward kitchenware for kids, there’s truly something for everyone on your list.
Winter Warmth bar soap
$8 | Neighborly
Here’s a cozy chai-scented bar soap that’s handmade in small batches by the folks at Neighborly, a local homegoods shop that sources from Midwest artists, makers, and designers. The best part? One dollar from every purchase benefits a nonprofit that helps protect the homes of elderly Chicagoans from the harsh cold.
Gift a workshop at Rebuild Exchange
$10-100 | Rebuild Exchange
This one’s for our crafters and DIYers: Rebuilding Exchange is a nonprofit that encourages people to improve their homes and live more sustainably. Nearly all the wood at the warehouse is reclaimed or salvaged from Chicago neighborhoods, which means less trash for the landfill and more handmade hook racks. In these workshops, instructors will teach you to build a floating shelf, make a desk lamp, and craft a bench in just a few hours.
Abstract art print on recycled paper
$45 | Allie Kushnir
Chicago-based artist and designer Allie Kushnir creates colorful, abstract paintings. From postcard- to poster-size, the happy shapes and lines are an especially exciting option for any ethical shoppers.
The Shapes Throw
$190 | Studio Herron
Over in the West Loop, Dee Clements continues to weave throw blankets so beautiful you’ll be tempted to hang them on the wall. The artist crafts pillows, table linens, and one-of-a-kind rugs, too. The double-sided throws are versatile—in fact, the studio shows them dressing up a dining room table. A few other popular designs from her most recent collection include the trippy Optical throw and midcentury weaving-inspired Dorothy throw.
Brooks Multi Tool
$65 | Heritage Bicycles
Head to Heritage Bicycles to get your coffee fix, bike tune-up, and gift for the gearhead in your life. The specialized shop focuses on building custom bicycles, and its proprietors say they are are the makers of the first Chicago-made bikes since Schwinn left the city in the ’70s. There are six locations across Chicago that offer up tools, saddles, and other accessories from coveted bicycle brands like Brooks, Lezyne, and Velo-Orange. The portable tool set with a leather sleeve from Brooks has everything a cyclist needs—even a bottle opener.
Midwest Architecture Journeys
$39 | Belt Publishing
Chicagoans familiar with some of the region’s most famous architects might be pleasantly surprised to learn what other architectural wonders the Midwest holds. Edited by design journalist Zach Mortice and with an introduction from Curbed’s architecture critic, Alexandra Lange, the essays and photographs take the reader through buildings by Bertrand Goldberg and Bruce Goff but also unearth interesting stories of grain silos, indigenous mounds, and parking lots.
Pride rainbow wooden window charm
Great Lakes Goods creates sweet totems and laser-cut wooden decor for the home, such as artful flowers, lucky wall charms, and marbled beaded garlands. This particular hand-painted window charm, a collaboration with Humboldt Park’s Peach Fuzz shop, is inspired by the flag designed by trans rights activist Monica Helms. Think of it as an ornament for the home, to be hung in a window or leaned against a ledge as a symbol of pride or solidarity. And our favorite part: 30 percent of each sale will be donated to Trans Lifeline, an organization that supports trans folks in crisis.
Penguin Foot Pottery BYOB workshop
Know anyone who loves ceramics? Rather than finding them the perfect piece, give them a chance to throw their own on the potter’s wheel. In Logan Square, Penguin Foot Pottery offers a wheel-throwing happy hour where you’ll learn the basics. The three hours go by quickly, and at the end of the night you’ll get to keep (and come back to glaze!) something you create. No need to be perfect here—there’s an unlimited amount of clay, and mess-ups head to the rainbow garden. (Not sure about selecting a workshop date? The studio also offers gift cards.)
Black-and-white flat-weave dinner napkins
$60 set of four | The Weaving Mill
The Weaving Mill is a textile studio in Chicago that takes fabric scraps and deadstock materials and crafts them into limited-edition dinner napkins, kitchen towels, and blankets. A perfectly thoughtful replacement for disposable holiday napkins, these are also available in a lovely multi-toned option if the black-and-white-checkered pattern doesn’t do it for you. The sales from the studio’s shop supports workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, artist residencies, and collaborations at the collective.
$12 per plate | Xenia Taler at Peach Fuzz
The sorbet pinks and oranges of Peach Fuzz’s exterior on California Avenue are hard to miss. The neighborhood shop is filled with items equally playful and bright—design-forward, kid-friendly items include Areaware Blockitecture, Danish-designed pacifiers, and a diverse selection of illustrated books. One of our favorites are these biodegradable Xenia Taler dinner plates made from bamboo fiber and rice husks (they’re dishwasher safe!). They come in a variety of offbeat colors and patterns ideal for making any tablescape a little more fun.