2020 Holiday Gift Guide - Metropolitan Planning Council

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2020 Holiday Gift Guide

MPC Staff and Research Assistants have come together to create a thoughtful, locally sourced, small-business focused gift guide to help you spread the much-needed holiday cheer for 2020

We are in the final stretch of 2020, and the holiday season is finally upon us! This year there has been a strong emphasis on supporting locally-owned, Black-owned, and small businesses, and the MPC Holiday Gift Guide provides a variety of gift options that support our local neighbors and friends. From stocking stuffers to the big gift, below are some ideas on how to spread some necessary holiday cheer:


Image courtesy Friistyle

"Feeling hungry? While we're stuck at home and worrying about an equitable recovery, one practical action is to support local restaurants with a take-out order. One of my recommendations is to check out Friistyle, a Bronzeville favorite at 51st and Prairie in Chicago that specializes in Belgian-Style Pomme Frites. I can vouch for the Jerk Salmon Frite as delicious and decadent!" —MarySue Barrett, President


Image courtesy Pride Masks.Com

"This year I am going to recommend The Original Chicago Flag Mask by PrideMasks. Now you can show off your Chicago pride (yes, even if you are from the suburbs). As a public health professional by training, mask wearing helps protect others and yourself. Plus, this is great to match for the whole family! You can don this printed poplin and organic cotton-lined mask featuring the Chicago flag as an additional article of clothing in the winter to help with the brutal wind and cold weather." —Debbie Liu, Community Engagement Associate


Image courtesy Virtual Dining Room

“I am a major supporter of local restaurants. Apologue Liquors is partnering with a local restaurant/bar every month and creating a cocktail kit that comes with a virtual cocktail class.” Emily Maynard, Marketing Associate


Image courtesy Chicago Park District

“This has been the year of renewed appreciation for Chicago’s amazing parks. I have been logging 3-4 miles daily as my COVID coping strategy and really appreciating all the plants, paths, views and wildlife right in the city. If you want to bring a hot or cold beverage on your outing and support the parks at the same time, grab this travel mug.” Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation 


 “At a time when so many require support with basic needs, I am doubling down on my commitment to fighting food insecurity with a monthly donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. You can make an anonymous donation or give in honor of a loved one. An inexpensive gift on my shopping list is The Other Side of the DC Universe. Perfect for comic book afficionados like my husband, this series is penned by John Ridley, Academy Award winning screen writer of 12 Years a Slave. The stories revisit key moments in DC history from the perspective of black and brown superheroes.” Kendra Freeman, Director of Community Development and Engagement


Image courtesy 16 On Center Chicago

"One of the many perks of being a Chicago resident is the incredible music scene; there are plenty of unique venues that bring in up and coming, as well as big-name talent. While we may not be able to attend concerts right now, there are still opportunities to help support these venues stay afloat throughout the pandemic. Check out Do312’s page to find your favorite venue and consider purchasing some merchandise or contributing to their GoFundMe pages. My go to stocking stuffer this year are these Thalia Hall socks!” Kelsey Peters, Content Strategist Consultant


"Make your online book purchases through a local bookstore. My three favorites are Semicolon (a Black Woman-Owned Bookstore), Volumes, and Women and Children First. My favorite books I read this year included: How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship and Community (Mia Birdsong); The Undocumented Americans (Karla Cornejo Villavicencio), and The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart (Alicia Garza)." — Skyler Larrimore, Director of Operations and Strategy


Image courtesy Volumes Bookcafe

"In a year where being outside, alone or in small family groups, wearing a mask, is one of the few relatively safe things to do, I’ve been spending even more time in city parks, forest preserves, state parks, and (before Indiana was added to Chicago’s COVID caution list) Indiana Dunes National Park. It’s been a great respite, and we’re fortunate to have so many protected and preserved areas not just close to, but embedded in, our urban and suburban landscape. While I’ve seen more people than in past years, I honestly haven’t seen that many more people than in past years. So, while it’s a repeat idea from 2016, a copy 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Chicago is a great idea for someone else, but for you too, whoever you are. With winter on the horizon (or already here), getting out for sun and fresh air will be more important than ever. A couple of my favorite walks around the region – Hegewisch Marsh at 130th and Torrence in Chicago, the Paul Douglas Environmental Center in Gary, Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Park Forest and Cranberry Slough in Willow Springs (I’m sure there are nice places up north too)." — Josh Ellis, Vice President


"What's my 'go to' at the end of a stressful day?  Inspirational music and a relaxing Lilly Grant Candle Studio handcrafted candle.  Lilly Grant Candle Studio is a boutique business based in Chicago and launched by an African-American woman entrepreneur.  The candles are made with environmentally responsible, American sourced ingredients.  My new favorite candle is Winter Plum.  Winter plum is like sugar plum fairies dancing through evergreen fields with spice and fruit.  It's one of many candle fragrances that give me a wonderfully festive retreat." — Amber Webb, Vice President of Philanthropy


Didn't find the perfect gift? Try these additional gift guides:

Black Shop Friday: Connect with over 500 Black-owned shops in Chicago

Block Club Chicago: The Ultimate Guide to Shopping Local in Chicago This Holiday Season

Enjoy Illinois: The 2020 Illinois Made Holiday Gift Guide

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