Chicago's Ultimate Gift Guide: Where To Shop, What To Buy

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Holiday shopping season is scarier than Halloween. The lines. The decisions. The gift envy. But don't worry, we're here to help! We're giving you the strength to focus your ace shopping skills on others, rather than yourself. Yes, as trying as it may be to imagine how a super-cute sweater would look on your big sis (rather than hanging in your closet), we think we've found a way to cushion the blow. This year, knock out all of your holiday shopping in...wait for day. Sound too good to be true? We've got six gift-grabbing locations (and plenty of refueling stops) that prove it's totally possible. Come play with us in two of Chicago's hottest shopping neighborhoods, Bucktown and the Gold Coast—we guarantee you'll find something way unique for everyone on your list. And if you happen to find something totally necessary for yourself, too, we won't say a word.
Robin Richman: Our first stop finds us at Robin Richman. We're kicking things off on North Damen Avenue, and working our way south to save time (and those stupid parking stickers!). Here we spotted an absolutely adorable chalkboard piggy bank that totally owns those pink cartoon-y versions. We were also seriously swooning over a distressed leather clutch that would work well for almost any lady on your list. Robin Richman, 2108 North Damen Avenue (at Charleston Street); 773-278-6150.
Virtu: A few doors down, pop into Virtu for a mind-blowing selection of stationery and gifts. It is almost too tough to narrow down, but we think you'll fall for a recipe book that lets kids (and grownups!) document every step of a recipe. Add to that some way-cute notecards, and everyone in the fam will want this one. Virtu, 2034 North Damen Avenue, (between Dickens and McLean avenues), 773-235-3790.
Melt: To prevent shopping-slump, we stopped into Melt, a brand-new sandwich shop on Damen Avenue. This friendly atmosphere and endless menu of yummy sandwiches is the perfect pick-me-up on a monster shopping day. Service is friendly (and quick), and you'll return to shopping mode fueled-up and ready to rock. Melt, 1840 North Damen Avenue (at Churchill Street); 773-292-6358.
The Edit: Don't miss The Edit, a new boutique boasting women's clothing curated with a seriously discerning eye. We can't get over the Cold Desert Knit Coat by oneteaspoon, and we're thinking any gal on your list will live in it long after the holidays are over. The Edit also has a great selection of fashion-focused books, and $25 for Chanel or Lanvin sounds about right to us. The Edit, 1917 North Damen Avenue (at Cortland Street); 773-252-3350.
Goddess & Grocer: Before the Bucktown chapter of your shopping story ends, hit up Goddess & Grocer for to-go snacking and sipping options to take along on the El ride over to the Gold Coast, the next shopping epicenter on our list. Once you see how many yummy options Goddess & Grocer has to keep you energized (and a rice krispie treat the size of a softball) you'll be ready to knock out the rest of your list. Goddess & Grocer, 1646 North Damen Avenue (at Wabansia Avenue); 773-342-3200.
Shrine Haberdashery: Anyone in need of a guy gift (or five) cannot miss Shrine Haberdashery. This is the perfect spot to shop for the dude who has everything (or buys everything for himself). We're guessing he won't think to score a leather-bound flask or cashmere tie any time soon, so you're safe here. We're also loving Shrine's bow-ties, suspenders, and socks. All three add unexpected color and style to your man's look. Shrine Haberdashery, 47 East Oak Street (just east of Rush Street); 312-675-2105.
Sofia: Next up on Oak Street is Sofia, where things get seriously chic. We spotted delicate, gorgeous earrings, rings, and hand-pieces from Blair Weiner, a local jewelry designer you need to check out ASAP. You'll also spy a heart-stopping purple leather jacket by Simone that belongs in the hands of the person on your list who has been very good this year (even if it's you!). Sofia, 72 East Oak Street (just west of Lake Shore Drive); 312-0640-0878.
TR Napa Valley: You've worked hard today, and with the end in sight, a good glass of vino is totally called for. TR Napa Valley is the just-opened Oak Street spot that beckons you in with a warm, comfy atmosphere and 30 (yes 30) amazing wines by the glass. Bonus? This break spot also doubles as a shopping destination. Buy any bottle you like and wrap it up as a great hostess gift! T.R. Napa Valley, 61 East Oak Street (just east of Rush Street); 312-929-2299.
Branca: Last on the list is Branca, the interiors store we wish we could move into. (Seriously, we've asked.) Here you'll spy posh notebooks in various sizes (with slick gilded edges!), to give to any pal who has way too many random slips of paper in her purse. We think you'll also need to snag Branca's Industrial Light on Walnut Base, which would look great as a desktop accessory or in groups of two or three on a dining table. Branca,17 East Pearson Street; 312-202-1019.

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