Yes, it's that time of the yearwhen it's especially emphasized that it's better to give than to receive. With that in mind, here are some items you may want to consider getting that relative, friend or significant other.
BOOK IT: Agate Publishing (www.agatepublishing.com ) has a wide variety of books to satisfy just about everyone on your list (including people who thought it was no longer cool to actually read). Just two are Michelle Obama: In Her Own Words, a collection of more than 300 quotes from the author/lawyer/author/first Black first lady; and The Second City, a comprehensive look at the legendary Chicago institution.
HOW SWEET IT IS: Bake Me a Wish (www.bakemeawish.com ) offers the ultimate in decadence. Practically anyone can't say no to the delightful cookies and cakes; rich chocolate brownies; exquisite cupcakes; flavorful pies; and luxurious baskets and towers with fruits, snacks and gourmet treats.
HAIR IT IS: Shunning the clean-shaven man is what it's aboutat least according to Calendar.com's Bearded Man 2022 wall calendar. Yes, the calendar is printed on high-quality paper and you can easily keep track of important appointments, etc.but the central draw has to be the photos of guys sporting beards. The next year may have you looking forward to each month more than you thought was possible.
BREW AND VIEW: Award-winning historian of LGBTQ+ politics Dr. Eric Cervini has teamed with Miller Lite to share Beers and Queer History, an upcoming historical guidebook on 10 pivotal moments in queer history where bars and bar culture have been the backdrop. Although it won't be available until early 2022, it's available to pre-order at shop.millerlite.com .
PRETTY AS A PICTURE: The book Belonging: Portraits of LGBTQ Thailand is a stunning pictorial study. Discrimination and exclusion targeting LGBTQ people continue despite a nominally progressive stance on inclusion, and same-sex marriage remains illegal. Against this backdrop, Steve McCurry's lushly colored photographs made in February 2020 just before the shutdown take us into the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ community in Bangkok.
SKY HIGH: On the heels of capturing the WNBA championship, Chicago Sky bobbleheads have been unveiled. FOCO has released bobbleheads of superstar Candace Parker and WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper. Check out www.foco.com .
ART-FELT: You can bring the best art into your homefor less than $50. BillionDollarArtGallery is a sleek and portable device that neatly plugs into any television with a USB port, transforming it into a thing of beauty instantly. See billiondollarartgallery.com .
CITY LIFE: Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Chicago design studio Transit Tees offers hundreds of Chicago-inspired gifts designed by local artists for under $40, as well as dozens of $10 and $20 stocking stuffers. From apparel to jewelry to games (and everything in between), this place has the perfect gift for someone who can't get enough of the Windy City.
MODERNE LOVE: "This is definitely one of the better chocolates I've had." This was the reaction a friend of had after sampling Chocolat Moderne, a company that offers more than 100 varieties of bonbons, bars, drinking chocolates and caramel sauces. 'Tis the season to indulge; visit chocolatmoderne.com .
CONTAINMENT: People into neatnessor just keeping their food freshwill appreciate the ECOlunchbox. The stainless-steel bento container comes with three separate parts to help keep your food fresh: an upstairs (top compartment), a downstairs (lower compartment) and what the company calls a pool house (side container that is ideal for dressings and sauces). See ecolunchboxes.com/collections/stainless-steel-bentos/products/ecolunchbox-three-in-one.
LOVE AND SKATE: froSkate is an organization that exists to provide inclusive experiences, resources and equity for the BIPOC, non-traditional skateboarding communityand there's a shop with cool items. Offerings include T-shirts and holographic stickers; visit www.froskate.com/shop.
GIVING SOMEONE A HAAND: Haand, at haand.us/, is known for its modern, handmade craftincluding its line of Cloudware items. Not only are items like the Cloudware mugs very beautiful, but the freeform nature of this mixture means no two pieces are alike.
BITE DELIGHTS: The new Chicago-based company Now Boarding specializes in snacksbut it's also about appearance, as the foods come in quite lovely holiday boxes. And the items in those boxes! For example, the Mt. Tam Perfect Bite Box comes with Cow Girl Creameries MT. TAM cheese, Quince & Apple Fig + Black Tea Preserves, Treat Handmade Candied Walnuts and the Rustic Bakery Olive Oil + Sel Gris Flatbread Bites. See www.nowboardingfoods.com .
SKIN GAME: I actually first discovered the skin-care brand L'Occitane en Provence (www.loccitane.com/en-us/&; a few years ago when sometime gifted me with a tubeand it seemed like the skies opened. This brand of luxury products (from the south of France) has lotions, bath oils, shaving items, fragrances and much more. Doesn't your skin (or someone else's) deserve the best?
CLOTHES CALL: Founded by two ski instructors, Smartwool has functional and stylish clothes that'll keep you warm in the coldest climes. Whether you choose gloves, hoodies, socks or even base layers, these items are the perfect gifts for those in cities such as, ahem, Chicagoespecially for those who are visitors or new residents. www.smartwool.com/
COMING FULL CIRCLE: Full Circle, a sustainable home-care brand, offers a range of thoughtfully designed and affordable products for everyday families that are just plain cool. For example, the sustainable countertop kit includes a crumb runner, vertical paper-towel holder, bottle and a roll of Good Sheets (seven times more absorbent than a standard paper towel). See fullcirclehome.com .
TIME OF YOUR LIFE: This holiday season, give family and friends the gift of landmark TV, with some of Time Life's best-selling DVD sets. For instance, there are Dolly: The Ultimate Collection (www.amazon.com/dp/B095GLNK2S/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_RQJSMGEP4NMDA2H07SR6; The Best of Cher Collection (www.amazon.com/dp/B08R69ZDT6/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_MSYWNPW2C07JCASF5GBZ; and Soul of the Midnight Special, (www.amazon.com/The-Soul-of-Midnight-Special/dp/B07YQ4T6CV/ref=sr_1_2, about the groundbreaking TV show.
TOWEL OFF: MP Magic has taken the toweling experienceand, yes, there's such a thingto the next level. The MP Magic Bath Towel is made of 100% Giza 86 Egyptian cottonwhich means it's incredibly soft and absorbent. See www.mpmagic.com/pages/egyptian-cotton-giza86-long-staple-cotton-satin-edge-satin-bath-towel.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE: Pride Candle Company is a Chicago-based queer-owned small business that supports the LGBTQ+ community through handcrafted candles. Each candle (retail price: $29) represents a stripe of the Pride Flag, and each name signifies its meaning. Multi-candle Pride Flag Bundles (starting at $79) represent the many identities within the LGBTQ+ community. Check out www.pridecandle.com .
LIVE AND LET DINE: Foodies (and even restaurant critics) will appreciate gift certificates to Chicago's LGBTQ-owned restaurants. Just a few include the Edgewater spot Rewired Pizza Cafe & Bar (rewiredcafe.com ); Lake View restaurants such as D.S. Tequila (dstequila.com ) and Lark (larkchicago.com ); and the Loop favorite The Dearborn (www.thedearborntavern.com ).
LOFTY ASPIRATIONS: Just when you think LEGO has done everything, there's the Queer Eye: The Fab 5 Loft (www.lego.com/en-us/product/queer-eye-the-fab-5-loft-10291&; that the company now offers. The loft (from the first two seasons of the series) is expertly replicated and, of course, the cast members (and Bruley) are included.
BRING THE NOISE: The ZVOX AV50 AccuVoice Noise Cancelling Headphones are among the best I've honestly ever tried and even though it's targeted toward a particular demographic (baby boomers), all age groups could benefit from them. The AV50s have been praised for enhancing the audio on video conference calls, making it easy to understand what everyone is saying. Dialogue comes through clearer than ever without having to increase volume, and it includes aptX Bluetooth compatibility for a cordless listening experience. See zvox.com/products/accuvoice-av50-noice-cancelling-headphones.
I'LL DRINK TO THAT: A new product, each bottle of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's ultra-premium Teremana anejo tequila is dipped individually by hand in a deep black wax for the seal. The anejo is definitely unique (in a very good way), thanks to notes of rich warm oak, vanilla and roasted agave with a lightly sweet and complex finish. See teremana.com .
UNDERNEATH IT ALL: Uwila Warrior specializes in colorful, beautiful and comfortable underwear for women, and it comes in most sizes. Uwila Warrior undies, bras and camis are available in a variety of colors and sizes and can be purchased at www.uwilawarrior.com as well as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and other offline retailers. Conversely, Chicago-based designer Richard Dayhoff is offering his luxury contour boxers and briefs for men; see www.richarddayhoff.com .
VISIT THE SPA: What if I told you about a first-of-its-kind, dual-action device delivering dramatic skin renewal and deep-cleansing in a single treatment? With its soft silicone treatment head, ageLOC LumiSpa moves at the precise frequency to promote skin renewal at the cellular levelrevealing smoother, softer skin after just one use. Your skin will thank you. See www.nuskin.com/content/nuskin/en_US/products/product.01010617.html .
A PUZZLING CONCLUSION: Le Puzz (lepuzz.com ) describes itself on its website as "the Wonderfully Whimsical Weirdo Wigsaw Wuzzle Wumpany"and its offerings do embrace the enticingly eclectic. The jigsaw puzzles are inspired by vintage puzzles from the '60s, '70s and '80s. In addition, all of their puzzles are hand-drawn and random cutand come from paper from sustainable forests.