The gift basket — that venerable option that’s neither too intimate nor overly formal. Fill it with fine soap, scrumptious sweets or even precious little items for the precious little newborn and you’ll be remembered as creative and kind. Take a peek at last year’s ideas here.
1162 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Everyone (one would hope) uses it, needs it and, believe it or not, covets a fine smelling, non-drying brick of good soap. Abbey Brown’s olive oil-based soaps are natural wonders – 58 percent cold-pressed olive oil, without added gunk like chemicals, preservatives, paraffins or petroleum. Locally grown herbs and botanicals are added to make the loveliest of products suitable for men and women. Have a basket made up with products from the signature line, the Earth Series, pulp soap made with perky citrus oils, herb and tea-based soaps and even a Chicago line of olive oil soap with package design by a local artist.
2038 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
The baskets at Monica+Andy are actually “cuddle boxes” – ideal for new moms, babies and children. The boxes are packed with organic cuddly Muslin blankets (47 x 47 double-layer cotton muslin blanket, 100 percent pre-washed cotton) and bibs made from fabrics that are phthalates-free, lead-free and choke-hazard free. There’s a “milk and cookie” bar in the shop, offering rice and almond milks, healthy snacks and plant-based cookies, and an onsite gift concierge to assist in choosing gifts that today’s new mothers and children covet – or at least need. Choose among three girls’ and three boys’ options. The boxes can even be sent directly to the hospital in case baby decides to make a holiday appearance. Boxes range from $29.95 to $95.90.
439 Des Plaines Ave.
Forest Park, IL 60130
Silverland Bakery creates gift baskets that include a variety of the bakery’s products, but this season’s piece de resistance is the Wine-Infused Bakery Box, a limited-edition gift box which is a collaboration with Estancia Winery of Monterey County. The Estancia Wine-Infused Bakery Box can be accented with coordinating bottles of wine, too. Two unique bakery bars are infused with wine: Estancia Chardonnay White Chocolate Caramel Bar and the Estancia Pinot Noir Bakery Bar. Expect notes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the delicious small-batch, locally sourced bakery bars for which Silverland Bakery is widely known. The box contains one dozen bars – six Estancia Chardonnay White Chocolate Caramel Bars and six Estancia Pinot Noir Bakery Bars – great for a hostess or holiday gift.
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Mrs. Prindable’s Handmade Confections
Affy Tapple Factory Store
7425 N. Croname Road
Niles, IL 60714
You have your caramel and your apple and it’s a slam dunk holiday. Mrs. Prindable’s, known for inventing the gourmet caramel apple, is a Chicago tradition. How does a “gourmet” caramel apple differ from the orb you can get ensconced in plastic at your local grocer? Mrs. Prindable’s hand picks colossal, crisp apples, dips them in fresh caramel and coats them with the naughtiest ingredients – triple chocolate, walnuts or toffee, for example. A complete selection of gift baskets is available or create your own with Mrs. Prindable’s Gourmet Apples, Natural Caramels and Chocolate Covered Pretzels. You might not want to choose this for the denture wearer in the family, but it’s a go for everyone else.
2945 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
There are the sugar addicts and those sophisticated folks who would rather finish a meal with a nice cheese plate and a glass of Port. For them, get to Pastoral in Lakeview, the Loop or in the Chicago French Market for Pastoral Gift Collections nestled within signature wooden cheese boxes, handcrafted in Denmark and Wisconsin. Pastoral Collections and Medleys include an in-depth description of the artisan product, the people behind them and how best to enjoy them. The Lincoln Square collection, for example, is inspired by the Northside neighborhood’s German history and independent nature. Other options include collections that riff on Hyde Park, Wicker Park, Magnificient Mile, Fulton Market, Back of the Yards and others. Some of the inclusions are roasted sea salt caramels, gourmet crackers, charcuterie, various mustards and other condiments and, of course, the artisan cheese for which Pastoral has been known for over a decade.
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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.