Quick list of holiday gifts for culturally aware, creative, and caring Chicagoans

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Installation view, Christina Quarles, MCA Chicago; Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Yes, Virginia, there is a way to create a culturally rich and ethnically diverse vacation shopping experience in various Chicago neighborhoods with purchases that support local businesses, community, the arts, women and animals.

The art of shopping
The Streeterville Museum of Contemporary Art invites aesthetes from the region to see “Christina Quarles” (extended until January 16). The Los Angeles-based artist’s ambiguous figures explore the ways in which race and sexuality shape identity. After browsing the exhibit, attendees can visit the MCA store where Quarles paintings have been reproduced on 100 percent silk scarves available for purchase. The boutique also carries exclusive and unique items, such as acrylic floral sculptures by Amsterdam artist Barbara Frankie Ryan and custom necklaces from New York-based jewelry designer Lorraine West, whose clients include Beyoncé, Zendaya, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Erykah Badu.

In the West Loop, an immersive art and technology experience awaits guests according to the WNDR Museum’s “Winter WNDRland” (through January 2) featuring the world’s first interactive LED Saint Nick (through December 21). Guests can create their own holiday gifts at the site’s wreath-making workshop (December 8) or treat themselves to a WNDRland of the Sweets (December 17).

Deck the Hoods
Greektown Chicago is decked out in blue and white lights to set a festive tone for its Holiday Shopper Rewards Program (through December 31) and the Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 12) which includes Christmas carols at Elysian Field. In addition, the Greektown Arts Committee hosted a “Karavákia Greek Holiday Exhibition” (December 1 – January 15) in which neighborhood businesses showcase miniature boats decorated by more than 30 local artists.

Through the Rogers Park Business Alliance’s annual program, Live Love Shop Rogers Park (through December 31), visitors can take advantage of independent business discounts as well as the self-guided Walk Chalk Howard Street tour featuring works by interactive art.

The Swedish American Museum in Andersonville is hosting its Julmarknad Holiday Market (December 4-5). The annual Christmas Bazaar features traditional Scandinavian and contemporary crafts, as well as entertainment such as games, a visit from Santa Claus and more. The museum will also celebrate the Saint Lucia Festival of Lights (December 13) with a candlelight procession on Clark Street.

Spirits of the season
To further enjoy the Chicago experience, holiday shoppers of age can purchase Windy City-themed gift sets that include local Jeppson’s Malört alcohol and beer, shot glasses, and coasters. , Prohibition Era Facts, Free Gift Wrap, and Free Shipping. Items are available online or can be picked up at Transit Tees stores in Andersonville and Wicker Park.

Across the pond comes Blended Irish Whiskey Grace O’Malley, the first Irish whiskey named after a woman. Also known as Grainne Ní Mháille and Granuaile, the 14th-century pirate queen depicts rebellious women who break the conventions of their time.

Today, women are responsible for up to 70 percent of alcohol purchasing decisions. Yet, according to The Spirits Business, Instagram posts from major whiskey brands featured males over females by 228% in 2020 – even though 37% of whiskey in the United States is consumed by female drinkers. Grace O’Malley Spirits offers a way to make a purchase declaration that promotes the empowerment of women in marketing.

Cruelty Free Vacation
Since money speaks, compassionate fashions promote peace, not pieces of animals. Each year, around 100 million helpless creatures are killed for their fur; nearly 85 percent of the fur factory farms and the rest trapped in the wild. The purchase of cruelty-free alternatives supports the fur-free policies adopted by companies such as Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Coach, Burberry, Versace, Michael Kors and Armani.

Consumers can also speak out against the torture of more than 500,000 animals that undergo cosmetic testing each year around the world by switching to the cruelty-free brands cited in the Human Buying Guide.

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