Unique gifts and experiences for the pickiest people on your list

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

It’s December and the deadline looms for Christmas shopping. That one person remains without a gift. That person who has everything. What to do?

Get crafty with it…

On Dec. 6, stop by the Sauced Night Market from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 12 S. Michigan Ave. for a variety of arts and crafts. Pick up a hand carved cooking utensil, tray, cutting board or serving platter from Wild Cherry. All of their products are created “from urban domestic lumber,” said Tim McGuire, owner and artisan. Check out their Facebook page here.

At Prism Homegrown, owner Katie Widmar designs “modern bohemian jewelry using raw gemstones and gemstone beads” to create one-of-a-kind pieces, while the folks at The Bitter Ex Bitters Company create one-of-a-kind drinks. Ryan Rezvani, owner and co-founder, produces original bitters, which can be used to liven up desserts, coffees and cocktails. Check out their website here.

Finally, stop by Slapass creations for art to brighten up any space or closet. Matt Sczech, creates vibrant art sold on pins, prints and clothing.

Although the Made in Chicago Market has passed, it’s never too late to visit the businesses featured in the market.

Louisa Mahoney at Bettyplum Homemade Confections aims to carry on her family’s legacy of homemade holiday candies with toffee, caramels, toffee cookies and bourbon toffee truffles. Check out their website here.

Or check out Lauren Bautista’s Pi Design Prints which feature handmade drink coasters decorated with typography and patterns are a great addition to any table.

If you want to support young people, swing by Shop, Jingle and Mingle, a crafts fair featuring pieces made by teen artists in after-school and summer programs. The items include soaps and candles, canvas paintings, glass mosaics, jewelry and other fashion accessories. The fair is two evenings, Dec. 5 and Dec. 10 and runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the After School Matters Gift Shop at 66 E. Randolph St.

Or set a course for crafting…

The Chopping Block at Merchandise Mart offers a variety of cooking, baking and wine-pairing classes sure to improve anyone’s skills in the kitchen.

Choose from classes like “War and Wine,” which gives a lesson on the history of WWII and battles over European wine cellars. Learn how to master a pasta roller and serve up the perfect plate of pasta with “Pasta Boot Camp,” or discover the art of bread with “Artisanal Breads.”

The Chopping Block website is here.

 

Get gifts close to home: Shop the New Eastside

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Eastside is home to museums, restaurants and retail merchandisers. With so much to choose from, it’s not hard to fill that Christmas list while shopping close to home. Here’s a glimpse at what’s available:

 

Graham Crackers Comic Books

This Chicago staple is home to all manner of comics and graphic novels. This holiday shopping season, the 77 E. Madison location is the place to get both familiar and newer titles.

The store is offering the first volume of Deadly Class for $9.99, which comes out in late November. The first volume of Saga is also out this fall for the same price.

Batman fans won’t want to miss Batman White Knight, a popular title wherein Batman reverses his role with the Joker and the villain becomes the hero, for $19.99.

Of local interest, fans of graphic novels can get Ironheart, a comic featuring Riri Williams, a hero straight from the streets of Chicago who develops her own Iron Man armor to combat villainy and save the city.

Also out this year is Skyward, a science-fiction title that begins in a Chicago of the future, when the earth is losing gravity and only the wealthy can afford to remain on the ground.

The store is also offering a variety of popular Japanese titles, including My Hero Academia.

The New Eastside Graham Crackers will have special offers and discounts for Black Friday, though specifics had not been announced by press time. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days. For more information, call 312-629-1810

 

Fannie May

Fannie May is the place to go for holiday sweets, and New Eastside shoppers don’t have to go far to get the good stuff, with a store at 343 N. Michigan Ave.

The go-to treat is the Pixie, the store’s No. 1 seller since 1946. The treat combines caramel and pecans with milk chocolate and retails for $24.99 per pound. Of course the store also offers dark chocolate options, sweet and salty combinations, specialty items and unique assortments.

If Santa needs something a little different, Fannie May offers a variety of sweet stocking stuffers ranging from $5 to $20. The store is open most days from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 312-453-0010.

 

Blackhawks Store

Just as hockey season begins to heat up, the city’s favorite hockey team is offering a selection of merchandise for your favorite hockey fan this season. For men, try a fanatics rinkside adjustable for $30 or a 47B knit break cuff for $20. Or how about a jacket for $55? For women, there’s an Antigua cowl neck for $60, a drink bottle for $49 and a New Era knit cap for $26. Finally, for the little fans, check out the holiday plush bear for $25 or the NHL cap for $28 or a

NHL raglan shirt for $30. The store is open most days from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is located at 333 N. Michigan Avenue. For more information, call 312-759-0079.

 

Transit Tees launches LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, an urban adventure game

Staff reports

 

Chicago-based Transit Tees, an official manufacturer of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) products announces the debut of LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, an adventure game based on the elevated commuter train.

 

The game is designed to capture the commuter experience on Chicago’s train system in an engaging way for two to seven plays, any age from 9 and up. The object of the game is for the player to discard all the cards in hand while navigating the L train system.

 

Along the way players—as riders—must negotiate buskers, train preachers, manspreading commuters, rush hour crowds and other everyday train hassles like forgotten fare cards, falling asleep on the train, sitting in a weird puddle or going to the wrong airport.

 

“Chicago transit riders are true urban warriors,” said Transit Tees owner and founder, Tim Gillengerten. “They encounter and deal with many obstacles in their daily commute and, in our opinion, have an ‘elevated’ ability to navigate our train system. We would joke around the studio about all the hilarious, and not so hilarious, things that happened to us on the ‘L’ and came up with the brilliant idea to merge art, design and all that’s irreverent about living in and getting around a big city in creating Loop: The Elevated Card Game.”

 

Just in time for the holidays, Loop: The Elevated Card Game will be available Nov. 15 online and at both Transit Tees locations in Wicker Park, 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave. or in Andersonville at 5226 N. Clark St. The game will sell for $20.

 

A free public launch event will be held Nov. 15 from 6-9 p.m. in conjunction with the sixth Anniversary of Transit Tees’ Wicker Park location. Guests will be the first to play the new LOOP card game, preview other holiday gift ideas, and enjoy light bites and refreshments from Antique Taco and Revolution Brewery. No RSVP is required.

Conceived and designed at the Transit Tees design studio in Wicker Park, LOOP: The Elevated Card Game is the first game created by the locally owned and operated company that designs and produces more than 100 original local and transit-themed apparel, housewares and accessory products each year. In fact, the LOOP game and ‘L’ Stop Cards are based on the design of Transit Tees’ popular Transit Magnets, which now include all 185 unique ‘L’ stops in the transit system represented in square magnet form.

“The transit system’s signage, maps, and colors are the epitome of contemporary artwork and remind us of game play action.” said artist Tom LaPlante, who spearheaded this project at Transit Tees’ in-house design studio. “The graphic look of the LOOP game is inspired by the look, shape, colors, and icons of the Chicago’s ‘L’ system.”

Transit geeks will especially appreciate LOOP’s technical authenticity: all the Transfers are accurate, and all Stops include the precise coordinates on Chicago’s grid. Each deck also includes an iconic ‘L’ Map Card with interesting facts about the train system and its history. Now, daily commuters, tourists and Chicago buffs alike can learn how to navigate and ride the CTA through playing the LOOP game.

For more information, visit www.transittees.com or call 773-227-1810.