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WINDY CITY TIMES 2019 Holiday Gift Guide Part One of Two
2019-11-27

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Feel the heat

We all know the polar vortex may be revisiting sooner rather than letter, so be ready with Heat Holders socks and gloves ( various prices; HeatHolders.com ). The socks, specially developed with cashmere-like acrylic yarn, are said to be seven times warmer than their cotton counterparts—and they certainly feel that way.

Name that tune

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is out with the annual holiday CD Broadway's Carols for a Cure, featuring the casts from the top Broadway musicals singing seasonal songs, both classic and new. This year's compilation, Broadway's Carols for a Cure Volume 21 ( $25; broadwaycares.stores.yahoo.net/caforcucds.html ), features 18 tracks from the companies of Hadestown, Beetlejuice, Dear Evan Hansen, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and more.

Beauty mark

"As if" is a phrase from the movie Clueless; however, as|if ( AsIfByNassif.com ) is a line from renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif that aims to work wonders on skin. The line includes the #GetWoke exfoliating cleanser and mask; #AreWeClear? Skin refining essence; and the #YouFeelMe? hydrocream moisturizer. It may be rare time hashtags are connected with glowing skin.

It's a mystery to me

Favorites Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, A Place to Call Home, A Discovery of Witches and Midsomer Mysteries are just some of the offerings from Acorn TV—and now you can get DVD/Blu-ray sets ( various prices; Acorn.tv ). Another option is getting a gift subscription if your gift recipient may not know what a DVD is.

Coasting along

The marble puzzle coaster set ( $205; IndustryWest.com ) is a functional conversation starter. The coasters look stylish when put together, and offer an upscale way to keep those rings off your table.

Snack attack

Chicago's Garrett Popcorn Shops (GarrettPopcorn.com) have pretty much been a holiday tradition for seven decades. This year, there are Garrett Mix (the original Chicago-style popcorn), the return of Hot Cocoa CaramelCrisp®, and new Blue Holiday Spruce Tin Design and Gift Sets. The only drawback is that you might be wracked with indecision trying to decide what to purchase.

Dark energy

In Dark Tears: LGBTQ Resilience in Latin America ( $21.99; amazon.com ), Argentinian photographer/performance artist Claudia Jares exploring the reality of queer experience in Latin America, and beyond, marrying questions of sexuality, religion and identity with her trademark raw eroticism. The result is a powerful book that details the determination of a beleaguered demographic and beauty of queer sexuality.

Boxed in

I instantly felt better after experiencing what's in TheraBox ( MyTheraBox.com ), a self-care subscription box. Every box includes a happiness activity meant to be practiced throughout the month ( or longer! ) in addition to six to eight full sized, high-quality wellness items for the mind, body and soul worth more than $100 in total value. Plans range from a month to a year, and start at $30.99/box.

Amber alert

Amber ( $46/month, or $549 total; MyAmberLife.com ) is the world's first AI-powered tech storage device designed specifically for modern families. The device stores photos and videos on a secure private home cloud network that is completely safe from today's increasingly invasive hackers. It is comparable to the size of a small speaker and provides up to 4TB of storage space.

The Shane event

Shane Co. ( ShaneCo.com ), the nation's largest family-owned jeweler, offers some intriguing items. Among them are the stunning blue topaz and diamond pendant ( $190 ) and the fetching 14-karat yellow gold ball necklace ( $145 )—but Shane has a lot more than that going on, for sure.

Second to none

The newly revised and expanded version of The Second City: The Essentially Accurate History ( $40; AgatePublishing.com or Amazon.com ) collects rare photos and profiles to take you behind the scenes of Chicago's Second City—possibly the most influential comedy theater in the world. With a foreword from Emmy-nominated actress Catherine O'Hara, this book is perfect for any fan of theater, comedy and/or celebrity—which is pretty much everyone.

Book it

St. Martin's Press ( us. macmillan.com/smp ) has books for practically everyone on your list. Among them are Ian McKellen: A Biography ( $29.99 ), Downton Abbey: The Official Film Companion ( $29.99 ), Extraordinary Dogs ( $27.99 ) and The New York Times Peace and Joy Crossword Puzzles ( $18.99 ). Calling all bibliophiles!

Flying high

The iFLY travel luggage and kit ( various prices; iFLYLuggage.com ) combine great quality, smart functionality and style, at an affordable price. Just one of the items is the Admiral, and you'll appreciate its hard shell when other mangled bags come down the conveyor belt—and your stylish bag luggage, intact.

Looking smart

Ekster ( various prices; Ekster.com ) doesn't make your typical wallet, by any stretch of the imagination—as it now has the first voice-activated smart wallet to date. Owners can now ring their wallet, find it on a map or even make use of the Chipolo® community to help locate their missing belongings. Alas, the wallet can't instantly provide more money when you need it—yet.

Queen, eggs and ham

Drag queen brunches are the rage these days, so it's quite topical that author/TV personality/radio host Poppy Tooker has released the book Drag Queen Brunch ( $29.99; RainbowRoadPress.com ). Centered around New Orleans, this book has everything from profiles to recipes ( of brunch and cocktail items, of course ).

In good spirit

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh is known for great movies such as Traffic—but now he's In the spirit market with the Bolivian liquor Singani 63 ( $29.99; singani63.com ). While filming the movie Che, Soderbergh discovered the 500-year old national spirit of Bolivia, and now the drink is available in this country. Bottoms up!

Ready to wear

Stephen David Leonard has unveiled a menswear line ( various prices; StephenDavidLeonard.com )—and there are some beauties there. ( I'm talking about Stephen's items, not the models. ) The quality metal and/or leather goods include messenger bags, wallets, belts, and even bracelets and rings. It's practically impossible to go wrong with any of them. ( And Lisa Leonard offers women's jewelry on the affiliated website LisaLeonard.com . )

Tom, thanks

Tom of Finland has a variety of enticing items, ranging from the well-known organic vodka ( TomOfFinlandVodka.com ) to the even more popular calendar, artwork and jewelry—and more decadent offerings ( various prices; TomOfFinlandStore.com ).

Skin tight

Local business Scratch Goods ( 847 W. Randolph St.; ScratchGoods.com ) is a one-stop shop for feeling good. Not only did the skin-care products help me look better, but the food-grade ingredients are safe enough to eat. However, while you're there, try the mask bar ( or you can reserve a spot ).

Sweet relief

New York-based mochi ice cream company Mochidoki ( Mochidoki.com ) is known for some innovative versions of the Japanese-inspired treats. Flavors such as espresso and peanut butter and chocolate complement and offer tasty alternatives to the cool original varieties. Be sure to get the 24-piece Signature Collection; you and/or someone else will want to indulge.

Glass action

Lushy Wino ( various prices; LushyWino.com ), as you might guess, offers wine-themed apparel and glassware—some pretty whimsical. From the "Be Kind, Re-Wine" glasses to "Official Wine Taster" T-shirt, this company has something that may make your favorite oenophile laugh.

Twist and shout

Offering a cool approach regarding the typical flashlight, the Nanotorch Twist ( $59.99; GetKeySmart.com ) has a rotating swivel head that can go in any direction. In addition, it has five light modes, a rechargeable battery and hands-free use. You'll wonder why you didn't get one sooner—for someone else and yourself.

Topping it off

Odds are you know someone who's into football—believe it or not. To that end (and with cold weather already here), why not consider getting that sports nut a knit top from New Era Cap ($29.99; NewEraCap.com). It might be the only silver lining to enduring this season with the Bears.

Brew-ha-ha

Steeped Coffee (Steeped.com) is a different breed than your standard java—and the raves I personally heard about it are enough to recommend it. What sets it apart is its proprietary brewing method that does not require machines or brewing equipment, so it's made much like tea. The coffee comes in single-serve bags that are nitro-sealed to ensure absolute freshness—and absolutely happiness from your favorite coffee drinker.

How sweet

More and more items are combining style and functionality—with Exhibit A being the Big Sweety diaper bag ($129.95-$149.95; BigSweety.com). This bag really does look like upscale handbags; as the company says, "Motherhood has never looked so chic."


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