Ask A Chicago Expert: Ideas For Hostess Gifts

Ask A Chicago Expert: Ideas For Hostess Gifts
Style expert Lance Lawson serves on the Board of About Face Theatre, the Southport Neighborhood Association, The Chicago Fashion Incubator and The Fashion Institute at Columbia College. His partner, Jim Wetzel, boasts a nearly 20-year career in retail that ranged from Gap (opening over 50 midwestern locations) to Gucci (store director). He launched his professional career at age 19 as an official at Bloomingdale’s initial Michigan Avenue Fashion Office (he was the youngest person to hold that position) and went on to work his magic at J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Henri Bendel and Neiman Marcus. Hence, they’re the perfect pair for hostess gift advice.

Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel
900 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 751-9519

The Michigan Avenue shop, space519, has been lauded on “Best” lists in The New York Times, Allure, Lucky Magazine, Chicago Magazine and other publications for being “a general store that is anything but general.” The owners entertain all the time and Lance has a blog if you want more info on how to best express your own personal style. The guys, having just returned from France, have a wonderful assortment of these fabulous items at the store. In addition, the Mag Mile store recently launched ecommerce at

For The Chef 

Instead of bringing pastries, cakes or the ubiquitous holiday cookies, bring a cookbook from a cool restaurant or bakery like Frenchie in Paris paired with a stack of Striped Linen Dinner Napkins – also with a French theme.

For The Whisky And Wine Enthusiast

Rather than a bar of booze, Lawson and Wetzel suggest you deliver The Schillers Liquor Bar classic cocktail bar reference set and pair the gift with an Ebony Wine Key/Cork Screw. “It’s a beautiful and useful bar tool,” they add.

For The Traditional Hostess

Don’t allow her to be relegated to paper goods from Party City. Instead of generic cocktail napkin, s/he can impress with adorable August Morgan hand-embroidered, hem-stitched linen cocktail napkins with cheeky characters and sayings on them like “easy on the ice” and “make mine a double.” Pair the hand-stitched items with a classic crystal ice bucket. Voila!

Related: Best Shopping In Chicago’s West Town

For The Lover Of High Design

Sure, Yankees can make candles but so can your aunt in a crafts class. Rather than the typical candle, try the Eclectic Candle Series from Tom Dixon, the noted London designer. “They come in mixed metal vessels which can be used again later to store desk accessories or catch change,” the pair explains. “Or try a whimsical piece of small pottery from Waylande Gregory with mid-century motifs.”

For Someone Who Has Everything

Walk in with a bottle of wine? You and every other guest. “Rather than a bottle of wine, bring a bottle of Aesop Aromatique Handwash or Gentleman’s Brand Body Wash,” Lawson and Wetzel advise. “Any host would love these little luxuries for them to use everyday.”

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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