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The Ultimate Gift Guide for Chicagoans

Shop local this holiday season

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Chicago gift guide UNI
Digital Art by McKenzie Cordell

'Tis the season for gift giving but picking out the perfect present for the Chicagoan in your life is no small task. That's why we did the hard work for you and rounded up the coolest gifts for this discerning crowd, from condiments made with fresh ingredients sourced locally from community gardens and handmade jewelry to city merch and deep dish, there’s something for every Chicagoan on our list. Here’s to keeping it local this holiday season.

The Best Gift Ideas for 2023


1. A Blowout or Glow Up from goldplaited

Your BFF has a big event coming up and you know exactly what to get her—a gift certificate from goldplated, the blow dry + makeup bar with locations in Lakeview and River North (they can also do on-site services if she's not in the area). Or maybe your niece is starting to get into makeup and you want to win coolest aunt of the year award—you can also purchase lessons in blow drying and makeup (eye or full face). Or heck, maybe you just want to gift a service to yourself because you freakin' deserve it. Choose from a myriad of options (braids! Hair tinsel! Camera-ready makeup!) and price points.

2. Permanent Jewelry with Vo Jewelry

We’re big fans of Chicago-based designer Amy Vorel and her gold-filled custom necklaces and bracelets. Her designs are inspired by “Chicago's unique culture, architecture and style” and are the epitome of effortlessly chic. And now you can get one of these elegant bracelets, necklaces, rings or anklets welded together for long-term wear. Check out her site for more details on pricing and longevity. (Psst: She does private parties too.)

3. A Creative Photo Shoot

Your partner’s business is starting to take off. The one thing he needs to scale it? Killer pics of his art/event/product. Check out Chicago-based Dennis Elliott who works as a creative director and content director and whose previous clients have included Incredibles, Adobe, RCA, Red Bull, Xbox, Nike, Michelob, Sooper Records (and PureWow!). You can also book him for portraits (you know, in case you want to give your LinkedIn profile a serious upgrade).

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Ponno Pozz

Ponnopozz Store in Ravenswood is our happy place (seriously, you can't not feel cheerful when stepping into the colorful storefront). Everything in the shop is from a local, independent maker or a small company, including this adorable tote from Molly Anne Bishop, a Chicago-based artist and illustrator. Consider this the perfect vessel for totting around a wallet, phone, foldable umbrella and CTA card (aka all your city essentials).

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N. Vivienne Shen Photography/Getty Images

5. Membership to Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden

Your co-worker, your mother-in-law, your bestie, your dog walker... they could all use a little more peace and serenity in their lives. Gift them a membership card to the Chicago Botanic Garden, a 385-acre living plant museum that's beautiful and tranquil no matter the season, thanks to an array of trees, shrubs, vines and tropical plants. (We're also fans of the Model Railroard Garden for a fun-filled day out with the kiddos.)

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Here Here Market

6. Vargo Brother Chili Crisp

Vargo Brothers

Chili crisp is all the rage these days and can be found in just about every supermarket or grocer. But Chicago-based Vargo Brothers Ferments stands out for its seasonal ferments that use fresh ingredients sourced locally from community gardens and out of chef and creator Sebastian Vargo's own backyard garden. Yeah, your foodie pal is going to love it.

chicago gift guide matching family pjs
Monica + Andy

This Chicago-based clothing company makes the softest, most comfy pajama sets and they have an entire collection of matching family PJs for the holiday season that is practically begging to be Instagrammed. Choose from festive prints like tree haul, happy Hanukkah and festive ornaments. They even have matching PJs for the family pooch, whether you have a Chihuahua, Corgi, Golden Retriever or Great Dane.

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Permanent jewelry feel a little too...permanent? Check out his sweet pendant necklace from Milk Handmade, owned and operated by Chicago-native Hallie Borden who features independent designers and makers who produce locally, ethically, and using environmentally friendly practices. There's plenty to love on site (like these teardrop pearl drop earrings and this wave ring), so you're sure to find something for everyone on your list—yep, even your too-cool-for-school teenage cousin.

chicago-gift-guide-mannys

Your brother moved out west and swears there are no decent Jewish delis north of Los Angeles. Send him a care package from this Chicago institution that has everything you need to create Manny's classic corned beef sandwiches at home (two pounds of thinly sliced, pre-cooked meat; a loaf of rye bread and horseradish mustard) and eight hand-made potato pancakes, plus two Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizzas. Yum.

alice and wonder chicago sweater
Alice and Wonder

This chic sweater from Chicago-based Alice & Wonder (they have stores in Lincoln Park and Southport) can be styled casually with denims and sneaks or dressed up with a blazer for a night out. And the green color is so festive, no?

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The Second City

11. The Second City Gift Cards

The Second City

We all know someone who could use a laugh, and there’s really no better place on earth for it than The Second City. The comedy club has a list of famous alumni longer than a Chicago winter and you just may see one of them stop by to work on their new routine, and you'll definitely catch some up-and-coming talent. The buzzy spot offers live shows, improv classes and more, and gift cards start from just $10.

chicago gift guide homesick candle
Homesick

For the friend who’s left Chicago but misses home, this soy wax candle is meant to capture the scent of The Windy City. With notes of jasmine, chocolate and sandalwood, we’re not entirely sure it smells like the city but hey, we’re not complaining. The 60 to 80 hours burn time ain't bad, either.


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Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.