MPC's staff highlight local, socially-conscious, community-minded gifts for the urbanists and everyone else on your list.
Still shopping? We polled the office for stand-out, quality gift ideas. Here are our top picks this December:
The After School Matters Gift Shop at 66 East Randolph Street.
"This holiday season, purchase a gift for someone from the After School Matters Gift Shop. Everything in the store—artwork, jewelry, ceramics, carvings—is created by Chicago teens, and money goes to support the After School Matters program. While you're there, you can also stop by next door at the River Edge Ideas Lab exhibit." —Chloe Gurin-Sands, Associate
"For the train lover, craft beer lover and urban adventure lover, I heartily recommend an $8 Metra weekend pass and then a quick glance at the Metra Electric Line schedule. With some planning, you could spend a great car-free Saturday at Flossmoor Station (Flossmoor), Blue Island Beer Company (Vermont Street), Argus Brewery(115th/Kensington), Motor Row Brewery (McCormick Place), and Vice District Brewing (11th/Museum Campus, and soon enough you can actually stop at two Vice District locations, since they’re close to opening a facility two blocks from the Homewood station). The south suburbs of Cook County and Chicago’s South Loop offer some great brews and pub grub, so check them out!" —Josh Ellis, Vice President
Transit Tees sells a pocket-sized notebook designed to look like the CTA’s retired transit fare cards.
"Transit Tees provides the best locally-produced, Chicago-inspired products! For the writer or sketch artist who takes the train for inspiration, grab this pocket-sized notebook designed to look like the CTA’s retired transit fare cards. For the map aficionado, grab this poster of Chicago’s most iconic map—the CTA rail system map. And for those who love magnets as much as I do, grab one or more of these transit magnets! There’s one for each stop of the Red Line, Blue Line, Orange Line, Pink Line, Brown Line, Green Line,Yellow Line and Purple Line, so everyone can get some love.
And what’s even better is that they’re now an official manufacturer for the CTA, so you know what you’re buying is as close to the real thing as possible. You can buy their stuff online at transittees.com or visit one of their two storefronts in Wicker Park and Andersonville." —Gabriel Charles Tyler, Marketing Associate
"When in doubt, food is the answer. Gift cards to your favorite local Chicago restaurants, like Phoenix dim sum in Chinatown, Buena Vista in Lakeview, Reza’s in Andersonville, or of course Lou Malnati’s are great options. Better yet, bring fresh cinnamon rolls from Ann Sather’s to your holiday party. They’re especially delicious when it’s cold and blustery outside and you just want to get cozy." —Abaki Beck, Executive Assistant
"When life gets stressful, I always find comfort coming back to the book that first sparked my interest in planning and design: Christopher Alexander’s 1977 A Pattern Language. Infinitely re-readable like a classic cookbook, Alexander’s meticulous taxonomy of urban space illuminates patterns in our built environment in clever and insightful ways and is sure to please novice and experienced urbanists alike." —Sawyer Middeleer, Research Assistant
The Chicago Architecture Foundation's CTA-map umbrella
"I've been showing off my CTA-map umbrella, a wonderful gift for any public transit lover. Produced by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, proceeds go toward CAF programming. This umbrella is a conversation starter, and it's very sturdy, perfect for our city's famed winds." —MarySue Barrett, President
"I recommend transit system water bottles from Planetizen or transit cuff bracelets from the Chicago Architecture Foundation….I have both!" —Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation
"Tickets to the Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker. If there is someone on your shopping list who has everything and needs nothing… and loves classics with a twist… this is the perfect gift. Acclaimed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has reimagined the classic tale and set it during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. Make a day of it, and grab a drink and a few tapas at Mercat a la Planxa just a few blocks away." —Emily Blum, Director of Marketing and Communications
"Know someone who wants to solve our region’s most pressing planning and development challenges? Donate $100 in their name so that they can become an Urban Advocate. The gift will bolster MPC's efforts to create a better—more equitable, vibrant, and prosperous—Chicagoland and allow your friend or family member reduced-price admission to MPC's signature events with luminaries such as Dan Egan and Richard Rothstein!" —Janet Myers, Vice President of Philanthropy
Chicago Shares vouchers can be redeemed for food at participating retailers.
"City Bureau, Chicago's South Side nonprofit journalism lab, just launched The Press Club, a monthly subscription with exclusive content for those who support reimaginging our region's journalism in an independent, sustainable, inclusive and cool way. And to spread cheer among the hungry, I just purchased a batch of the Chicago Shares vouchers I saw advertised in Streetwise. Recipients can redeem the vouchers for food at participating stores across Chicago." —Liz Granger, Content Strategist
"Whatever you buy, shop local. I attended a Know Your Chicago Symposium with Eric T. Anderson, a professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, who said that even buying 1 of 3 goods at an online retailer hurts local businesses." —Kara Riggio, Manager
“Have someone on your list who appreciates the performing arts? Give the gift of a theater subscription to The Gift Theatre Company. For over ten years, The Gift has been telling incredible stories onstage. This ensemble is at the forefront of honoring racial diversity and representation in the arts; of addressing tough, timely topics with grace and dignity; and believing that art is, at its best, a sacred conversation that helps reveal and share the joy and pain of being human. After attending a show there, I always leave a more conscientious and inspired person than when I arrived.” —Danielle Gallet, Manager
Whether you decide on Nutcracker tickets, a day of suburban exploration, a fabulous meal or a CTA-themed accessory, happy giving, from the staff of MPC!