Give The Gift Of Chicago: A Holiday Gift Guide For The Chi-Obsessed | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Give The Gift Of Chicago: A Holiday Gift Guide For The Chi-Obsessed

It’s gift-buying season, and the city of Chicago has inspired many unique possibilities for shoppers who know where to look. 

WBEZ’s Monica Eng joined Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia to provide a list of Chicago-inspired gift ideas. We also opened up the phone lines and got a few ideas from Morning Shift listeners. Below are highlights.

Vienna Beef apparel 

(Courtesy Vienna Beef)

Rubert, Hyde Park: My idea is the Vienna Beef Factory store. Vienna Beef hot dogs can be found in freezers across the country, but they are made right here in Chicago at Damen and Elston. They have a factory store in there where you can get all sorts of Vienna Beef paraphernalia, from aprons to cooking gear to giant replicas of hot dogs.

Art Institute adult coloring books 

(Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago/Sourcebooks)

Monica Eng: The adult coloring book phase is really big. 

You can look at Georges Seurat’s “Sunday in the Park,” you can color it in, or maybe even do a little pointillism yourself.

Chicago sports toasters


Eng: You can pretty much burn your toast with the logo of every team in Chicago.

Spice House spices


Eng: The Spice House has two locations — Old Town and Evanston. It’s wonderful just to go in there and kind of smell everything. And those fresh spices make nice gifts.

CTA maps, posters, and apparel


Eng: If you go to the CTA’s gift shop you can find some super cool stuff. Cuff links, bags, socks with the CTA map. My favorite — if someone wants to buy it for me for Christmas — these Wonder Woman bracelets with the CTA map on them. 

Chicago liquors

(Courtesy and

Eng: There’s Malört. If you really want to offend your friends you can get them that.

Also, Reuse First makes Malort candles. They don’t smell like Malort, but they use old Malort bottles. 

And Koval distillery in Ravenswood, the first distillery after Prohibition, they’ve got a wonderful selection. 

Composting subscriptions 


Eng: You can pay for a year of compost pickups for people. There's Collective Resource out of Evanston; Healthy Soil Compost, who pick up our coffee grounds here at WBEZ; Urban Canopy has subscriptions where you can say, “For this amount of time I’d like you to come pick up my food scraps.” And then some of them will even bring you beautiful compost for your spring gardens.

That keeps these resources in Chicago and then gives these resources back to you to grow delicious food later.

Give the gift of Chicago theater

Museum memberships 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. It was adapted for the web by digital producer Justin Bull. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.

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