Shane Tolentino

For the Future Hoofer

M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy

For the person in your life who “taps” across any available surface in their tennis shoes, a gift of classes at M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy might be the perfect way to spend the cold winter months. Founder and instructor Bril Barrett can not only turn novices into regular hoofers, but also incorporates history lessons into his classes, using tap dancing as a lens through which students can better understand the culture and history of Chicago. Classes for the winter session starts January 8, available by the class ($15) or in a ten-class bundle ($125). (Tammy Xu)

M.A.D.D Rhythms, 4701 S. King Dr. (773) 604-1899.

For the Craft Brew Connoisseur

Argus Brewery Tour

Making the Weekly’s Best of the South Side list in the Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods, the $15 (per person) tour is a gift for anyone interested in craft beer. The guided tour takes place on select Saturday evenings, runs about ninety minutes, and includes beer samples, popcorn, and a pint glass to keep. Reservations must be made in advance and only one date remains for 2019 (December 14), but more will be available soon. (Michelle Anderson)

Argus Brewery, 11314 S. Front Ave. (773) 941-4050.

For the Film Buff

Video Strip Gift Certificate

Shane Tolentino

Do you have a movie or video game lover in your life? The Video Strip will be like a candy shop for them, and you can indulge their sweet tooth with a gift certificate. Previously featured in our 2018 Best of the South Side, the Video Strip is still going strong, with a massive collection of films and games to rent. Your friend or loved one can use the gift certificate for individual rentals starting at $3.99, an unlimited membership starting at $12.99 per month, or even one of the specialty microwave popcorn flavors offered by the shop. In a world of intangible, impersonal streaming, give a gift that offers human connection to go with the movies they love. (Joshua Falk)

The Video Strip, 3307 S. Archer Ave. Sunday–Friday, 1pm–midnight; Saturday noon–midnight. (773) 927-4307.

For the Lover of the Arts

African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and Black Ensemble Theater

The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago embraced and expanded the mission of the African American Black Theatre Alliance in 1997. The goal was nothing less than formally recognizing the work of African American artists in Chicago in all its mediums: film, music, literature, and more. If you are a Black creative, or looking to treat yourself to a holiday gift, you might consider a membership purchase to the African American Arts Alliance. The membership system is tiered, ranging from $25 for students and older adults, to $35 for individual artists or patrons, and $150 for an organizational membership. And for those theater lovers in your life, consider a gift of theater at the co-located Black Ensemble Theater. The gift could take the form of a punch card ($225) offering admission to any five productions, or a general gift certificate in any denomination. (Michelle Anderson)

African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and Black Ensemble Theater Company,  4450 N. Clark St. (773) 754-3922 (box office for theater purchases).

For the Fashionable and Charitable

Brown Elephant Resale Shops

Run by Howard Brown Health, an organization dedicated to providing LGBTQ-affirming primary care to individuals across Chicago, Brown Elephant Resale Shops raise money through the resale of donated items. The resale shops stock everything from home decor to vintage clothes, as well as books and electronics. Perfect for finding a one of a kind gift for the person in your life with a unique style, while also giving to a great cause. (Ashvini Kartik-Narayan)

Brown Elephant Resale Shops, three locations across Chicago: 3020 N. Lincoln Ave.; 5404 N. Clark St.; 217 Harrison St. Monday–Sunday, 11am–7pm.

For the Secret Santa

EK Houseware & Gifts

Shane Tolentino

A gem among the gift shops in Chinatown, EK Houseware & Gifts is perfect for anyone looking to spice up their home decor. With everything from glassware to tea sets to souvenirs, find a gift for a friend who just moved, a fun trinket to spruce up someone’s desk at work, or a gift to bring to a holiday potluck along with a pot of soup. Gifts range from small trinkets to decorations and furniture, and you’ll be able to find something for all ages. (Ashvini Kartik-Narayan)

EK Houseware & Gifts, 2258 S. Wentworth Ave. Monday–Sunday, 10am–7pm. (312) 842-8818.

For the Antique Enthusiast

Beverly Hills Marketplace

Have a friend that just moved into a new place? Beverly Hills Marketplace’s stock ranges from designer, classic items to midcentury pieces to more trendy items, so you’re sure to find something they’ll love. The marketplace offers vintage antiques, home furniture and decor, and clothing. Co-owner Bonita Jefferson wanted to revive the old antique store, which used to be housed on the 95th Street corridor, and has been collecting unique antiques there for the past six years. Beverly Hills Marketplace is a great way to shop local and secondhand this holiday season for the people in your life who are entering new chapters. (Ashvini Kartik-Narayan)

Beverly Hills Marketplace, 1809 W. 95th St. Wednesday–Saturday, noon–7pm; other days by appointment. (773) 701-6674.

For the Jewelry Lover

Midway Jewelry

Shane Tolentino

With vintage jewelry, wedding sets, watches, and more, Midway Jewelry is sure to provide a glamorous gift for your friends and loved ones. The local shop has been open in Clearing for over forty years. The vintage items can be sized to fit, and are also professionally cleaned and detailed. The store even has children’s jewelry and pieces specific to each birthstone, so you’re sure to find a gift for all ages. Midway also provides jewelry repairs, so if a friend is distraught over a broken bracelet, the holidays are a perfect time to fix it! Make the holidays a little more sparkly by shopping at Midway Jewelry this year. (Ashvini Kartik-Narayan)

Midway Jewelry, 5635 W. 63rd St. Monday–Tuesday and Thursday–Friday, 9:30am–6pm; Saturday, 9:30am–2pm. (773) 767-1633.

For the Enemy of Cold Feet

Thalia Hall Socks

If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to wear socks that have their own Instagram account—well, now you can find out. Thalia Hall’s socks (@thaliahallsocks) are available in black, white, and baby blue, any of which would be the perfect stockings to round out your stocking stuffers. Thalia Hall, the lovely and historic venue in Pilsen, is also donating one pair to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for every pair purchased during the month of December. So if they keep your feet warm, someone else’s might be too. (Tammy Xu)

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. (312) 526-3851.

For the Lit Critic or History Buff

Vivian G. Harsh Society Membership

The Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection, housed at the Woodson Regional Library and named for the Chicago Public Library’s first African American librarian, is the largest collection of African American history and literature in the Midwest. The materials have an emphasis on the Black experience in Chicago, with manuscripts, photographs, film, and other documents available for use by researchers. The Vivian G. Harsh Society cultivates community and raises money for the physical resources needed to maintain such an extensive collection. What better gift for your lover of all things Chicago than a Vivian G. Harsh Society membership, which funds these efforts and includes a quarterly newsletter and priority access to programs and events? The tiered membership starts at fifty dollars a year, with discounted rates for students ($20) and older adults ($25). The highest level (Contributor’s Circle, $2,500) gives you two dinner tickets to the Society’s Timuel D. Black, Jr. fundraiser. (Michelle Anderson)

Vivian G. Harsh Society, P.O. Box 438157. (312) 544-9188.

For the Aspiring Winemaker

Bev Art Brewer & Wild Blossom Meadery classes

For the eco-conscious couple that eschews the live Christmas tree and pins up stockings instead, here’s a gift that can fit in an envelope (or email, if you avoid wasting paper). Bev-Art Brewer & Wild Blossom Meadery offers an experience: its gift is ensuring that you and your partner acquire homebrew know-how, a memory to treasure, and six gallons of wine. The class is for winemaking, of course, and costs $125 for a couple—not including the supplies, which allows you to customize your experience and choose what type of wine you want to produce. At Bev-Art, you have the option to make six gallons of a fruitier variety (for roughly an additional $90) or, if you want something more refined, you can choose grapes from the wine-producing region of Sonoma, including varietals such as Pinot Noir ($190-$200). The first class, held at the Wild Blossom Meadery overlooking the Dan Ryan Woods, is about two hours long and introduces participants to the initial steps of winemaking. Two weeks later, Bev-Art holds an optional second class, which covers the process of racking your wine (removing the dead yeast from your newly batched vat). Four to six weeks later, the wine is prepared for bottling, and folks will be invited in for a ninety-minute class on bottling the twenty-five to thirty bottles this class yields. A class from Bev-Art is latent with the possibility of starting a new tradition, one you can create with one of your partners, a family member, or a friend. We recommend scheduling your first class sometime in January (and trying your best to anticipate a snowy day). After class, you can head to the tap-room and sample a flight of six Wild Blossom beverages, which runs about $15. Together, you have the opportunity to learn about a microcosm—and the microcosmos—of wine culture. (Label wine accordingly.) (Leo Williams)

Wild Blossom Meadery, 9030 S. Hermitage Ave. Tuesday–Friday, 9:30am–7pm; Saturday, 9am–6pm; open Sunday and Monday by appointment only. (773) 233-7579. 

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