Time is running out to find good gifts in time for the holidays. The eight days of Chanukah start the night of December 16 and Christmas Eve is about a week later. What is a person to do when there are so many presents to get and so little time left? A choice that beats the usual last-minute mall crowds is to go to specialty markets and shops. Here are five good places to find out-of-the-ordinary gifts.
Ecology Center Winter Market
2024 N. McCormick Blvd.
Evanston, IL 60201
Date: Saturdays from Dec. 6, 2014 through April 25, 2015
Be creative. Put together a gift basket of fruits and gourmet goodies such as the honey, baked treats and preserves found at the Ecology Center Winter Market. In Evanston, the coming of winter does not mean an end to the city’s farmers’ markets. Instead, the producers move into the town’s Ecology Center at the Ladd Arboretum. The Winter Market operates Saturdays from December 6, 2014 through April 25, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Email market questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
2033 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Date: Now through Dec. 21, 2014
Check out Prime Market in the First Ward’s event space at the Chop Shop, a Wicker Park restaurant, bar and deli/butcher store. A former location of the Dose Market (think food and clothing), Prime Market combines gourmet gift foods, fashions and jewelry with works by local artists and family events. Prime Market runs Sundays now through December 21, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. By the way, the Bears games are on TV there so don’t worry about missing one.
Oakbrook Center Village Green
100 Oakbrook Center
Oakbrook, IL 6523
Date: Now through Dec. 24, 2014
As of November 28, 2014, shoppers in Chicago’s western suburbs have been sifting through gifts with a European look at Christkindlmarket Oakbrook. Similar to the popular outdoor German market that has filled Daley Plaza each holiday season since 1997, it’s the place to go for Austrian holiday ornaments, Slavic nesting dolls, beer steins, hand-painted blown glass and German foods and beverages. Organized by German American Services, Inc., it replicates the Christkindlmarket started in sixteenth century Nuremburg that continues today throughout Germany. When opened in November, the Oakbrook version started with just Thursday through Sunday hours but the market will be open daily from December 18 through December 24, 2014. Look for the market in Oakbrook Center near Macy’s and Crate & Barrel. Click here for the Oakbrook market’s hours.
Related: A Guide To Chicago’s Holiday Markets
Let There Be Light
4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Date: Now through Dec. 31, 2014
No problem if Lill Street’s November Holiday Art Fair didn’t make it to the family shopping calendar. The folks at Lill Street, a Ravenswood art center, replenish their holiday gift stock during Let there Be Light, now through December 31, 2014. This is a place to find artists’ ceramics and jewelry and also look for books, candles, bath items and toys. Sale hours are the same as Lill Street’s office hours listed on its website.
308 Old McHenry Road
Long Grove, IL 60047
Sometimes a whole downtown becomes a holiday marketplace. That is true of historic Long Grove, a mid-1800s village northwest of Chicago. Known for its apple and chocolate fests, the village turns picture-postcard perfect during the winter holidays with decorated brick pathways that wind along vintage shops and converted barns. Check here periodically for updated December event dates and times. However, anytime is good to look for gifts at the Olive Tap, Long Grove Confectionery and interesting boutiques. But it’s even better when shopping to the sound of holiday carols while sipping warm apple cider from the Visitors’ Center. A bonus is a free gift upon presentation at the Visitors’ Center of $150 in Long Grove receipts (excluding tax and gratuities) between November 28 and December 24, 2014.
Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.