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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gift Guide
Week Two of Two
2016-12-07

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Batter up

In case you lived under a rock this year, The Chicago Cubs finally snapped its 108-year streak without a World Series title. Relive the victorious season with the official Major League Baseball film The 2016 World Series as well as the eight-disc 2016 World Series Collector's Edition ( ShoutFactory.com ). Getting all up and close, you'll practically be able to smell the ballpark hot dogs.

Meter reader

Perfect for frigid temperatures ( and Chicagoans know of what I speak, er, write ), Alps & Meters ( AlpsAndMeters.com ) offers really cool knitwear, outerwear and accessories. And no leather item is complete without leather milk. ( Trust me—it's a real thing. )

Head games

For years, Audio-Technica ( Audio-Technica.com ) has offered top-quality turntables and headphones—and this year is no different. Honestly, the QuietPoint® ATH-ANC40BT noise-cancelling and Sonic Fuel® ATH-S700BT wireless headphones are among the best I've tried. If they can totally block out rush-hour subway noise, they must be pretty good.

Sleep impact

You've seen the infomercials for various pillow companies saying their products are the best. I haven't tried those, but let me tout one that has impressed me: the bamboo line of pillows by Relax Home Life ( RelaxHomeLife.com ). The pillows even come with a five-year never-goes-flat warranty. ( I just wish our bodies came with the same guarantee. )

I'll drink to that

A unique site for the LGBT community, Equality Wines ( EqualityWines.com ) offers items such as the Biscuits and Bubbles gift set, which Oprah Winfrey has chosen as one of her favorite things. The set pairs the Love Wins cuvee with the Big Bottom Biscuit Mix and Honey Gift Set, making for a delicious way to support us.

Stage presence

Broadway's Carols for a Cure ( broadwaycares.stores.yahoo.net/caforcu20vo16.html ), the new holiday album from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, is the perfect gift for fans of the musicals. Some of the musicals featured on the album include The Lion King, On Your Feet, Chicago, Matilda and a little-known production called Hamilton.

Drag doll

You better work ( or read, at least )! The Essential RuPaul: HERstory, Philosophy & Her Fiercest Queens, by John Davis, celebrates Ru's history ( or herstory, as she frames it ) and philosophy ( "If you can't love yourself—how in the hell you gonna love someone else?" ) as well as profiles the most loved and reviled queens from RuPaul's Drag Race.

Life saber

Wookie here! With that new Star Wars film in theaters shortly, it might be the perfect time to purchase Firefly's Star Wars Lightsaber toothbrush ( FireflyToothbrush.com ). The toothbrush has a method to its madness: Sound effects encourage kids ( and kids at heart ) to brush for the recommended two minutes. On a related note, adults can take part in sci-fi games with the Gillette + Star Wars Holiday Gift Pack ( Gillette.com ).

Mat's life

A mat may not be the first idea for a holiday gift—but GelPro's items ( GelPro.com ) may just change your mind. I've never thoughts of these kitchen items as being luxurious, but your feet will thank you as you cook for hours ( or microwave for minutes ).

All hands on tech

Combining functionality and minimalist designs, Hedgren Luggage ( HedgrenConnect.com ) specializes in tech-friendly bags, backpacks, carry-ons and laptop bags. One of the really cool things about the collection is that items support external batteries for charging mobile devices, with retractable USB cords for added convenience.

This is mitt

AlwaysFits.com is putting a different spin on cooking, thanks to the Hotties with Bodies mitts. Each buff, hard-bodied oven mitt is fully lined with Insul-Bright, includes a hanging loop and is machine-washable. The mitts may actually get you into the kitchen.

Light year

Recognizing that many suffer from what are called the "winter blues," the HumanCharger ( HumanCharger.com ) is a light-therapy device that can be used to help fight depression, increase mental alertness and even reduce jet lag. Moreover, you just need to use it for an average of 12 minutes daily to get the ideal amount of light therapy—and get back into your routine of partying ( or just sitting upright, if that was your pre-blues routine ).

That's the spirit!

The Chicago Fire Department charity organization Ignite the Spirit ( IgniteTheSpirit.org ) has released its 2017 calendar—and the men ( and woman ) are enough to set anyone's heart on fire. And speaking of heat, check out July!

Kiehl or be Kiehl'd

Kiehl's Since 1851 ( Kiehls.com ) is continuing its philanthropic tradition this upcoming season with its 8th Annual Limited Edition Creme de Corps Holiday Collection. ( All of the sales of this collection will benefit Feeding America, providing 1,100,000 meals to families this holiday season. ) And not only will you do a very good thing, but you'll enjoy products such as Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter.

Shoe-in

Gay-owned menswear brand King & Stone ( KingAndStone.com ) offers a subscription shoe service. King & Stone presents subscribers with a selection of on-trend designs to choose from, delivering four pairs of shoes per year ( one per season ) for a monthly subscription rate of $25. When the new season drops, subscribers pick the style they want and their new shoes will be manufactured and shipped.

I saw the sign

You have

Bottle service

Pining for a unique gift? Look no further than the Medea Vodka programmable Bluetooth bottle ( MedeaVodka.com ). And there are two ways you can go: manually with pre-programmed greetings like "Congratulations," or technologically through an app that lets you input your own statements ( like "Happy Walk of Shame" ).

Strap session

Mission belts ( MissionBelt.com ) have no holes—making them the perfect fit for whatever your size is. Moreover, a dollar from every belt goes to fight hunger and poverty worldwide through microlending.

Smart choices

Being a nerd has never been cooler. Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry ( MSIChicago.org ) was intriguing, innovative items like the MSI Water Globe, the Chemis-tree T-shirt, exhibit offerings and even The LEGO Christmas Ornaments book.

Wood you rather?

As a kid, I always wanted a treehouse ( although maybe not so much now ). Give your favorite nature nut something from Nelson Treehouse and Supply ( store.BeInATree.com ). The company specializes in luxury backyard treehouses, but the store has a variety of related items, including books and apparel. And, no, you wouldn't look out of your tree getting something from this site.

A sporting chance

You may not be one, but chances are you know someone who is a big NFL fan. To that end, the 2016 NFL Homegating Collection ( NFLShop.com/Homegating ) has everything for the chef, entertainer, foodie or fashionista—and, of course, it comes in every team design.

Near and bar

R.M. Palmer Company ( RMPalmer.com ) has been making candy for decades—and it now has offerings specifically for the holidays. Who wouldn't want to indulge in a Belgian milk chocolate one-pound Bullion Bar Gift Box ( although maybe not all at once ) or even a YooHoo one-pound Milk Holiday Gift Box ( again, not in one sitting )?

Basket case

Pastoral ( PastoralArtisan.com )—the local chain owned by same-sex couple Ken Miller and Greg O'Neill—is the perfect place to get gift baskets like the Snack Attack ( which has pretzels and horseradish mustard, among other items ) and Best of the Midwest ( with Potter's Crisps and honey ). Good snacks make good friends.

Hungry like the 'Wolf

Theater experiences don't get much better than productions at Steppenwolf. The Steppenwolf Black Card ( Steppenwolf.org ) is six flexible tickets to use any way you want—bring a date, a friend or two, or the entire group. Also, purchase a Black Card before Jan. 1 and receive a $25 gift card to one of the theater's local restaurant partners.

Kid power

UNICEF, the largest children's charity, has continued to further its mission, including in Chicago. ( As an example, 6,000 local students participated in the UNICEF Kid Power school program. ) Help this organization by purchasing items from Alex & Ani bracelets ( AlexAndAni.com ), UNICEF Inspired gifts ( InspiredGifts.org ) or UNICEF Market ( a partnership between the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Novica, which offers handcrafted goods such as wallets; Market.UNICEFUSA.org ).


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