Ellen Hao


Augustine’s Apothecary for the Soul

Augustine’s sells whatever you need to get your mojo right this holiday season. From custom-made oils and lotions to stones and amulets, Augustine’s truly is an apothecary for the soul. The staff at Augustine’s can walk you through how to perform candle rituals or help you pick out a crystal. You can also shop for items by intention. Whatever you or your loved ones need in their life—success, healing, love and attraction, or just a little peace—Augustine’s has you covered. (Ian Hodgson)

Augustine’s Apothecary for the Soul, 3327 S. Halsted St. Open Monday–Thursday 11am–7pm; Friday–Saturday 11am–6pm; Sunday noon–4pm. (773) 843-1933. augustines.biz

OK Corral VIP Western Wear

Red Dead II may be at the top of a lot of wish lists this year, but if you want a taste of the real thing, head over to OK Corral VIP Western Wear in Little Village. Whether you’re a white hat or a black hat, OK Corral has a style to fit you. Boots, saddles, belt buckles the size of dinner platesOK Corral has everything you need, whether you’re saddling up to ride west or you just want to look the part from your living room couch. (Ian Hodgson)

OK Corral VIP Western Wear, 3300 W. 26th St. Monday–Friday, 11am–8pm; Saturday–Sunday, 10am–8pm. (773) 823-7572. bit.ly/OKcorralVIP

Pottery Classes at Chicago Ceramic Center

Housed in the top floor of the Bridgeport Art Center, the Chicago Ceramic Center offers a quiet respite from the hectic holiday season. With the smell of incense mingling with that of wet clay, and the gentle whirring pottery wheels, the small ceramics studio has a meditative atmosphere, where you can relax and focus on the hunk of clay in front of you. The center offers eight-week classes on wheel throwing, hand building, and figurative sculpture, all with no experience necessary. One day classes are also held on the third Friday of every month. (Ian Hodgson)

Chicago Ceramic Center, 1200 W. 35th St. $295 for an eight week session; $60 for a one day class. (773) 505-0703. chicagoceramiccenter.com

Bettye O Day Spa

The menu at Bettye O Day Spa is a holiday shopping destination, offering dozens of facial, body, and nail treatments to address most every skincare concern. Customized treatments, add-ons, and spa packages are also available—and its gift certificate is the gift that keeps on giving (until it expires)! So call or stop in soon to get some shopping done and while you’re there, treat yourself. (Nicole Bond)

Bettye O Day Spa, 1424 E. 53rd St., Suite 304. Tuesday–Friday, 10:30am–6:15pm; Saturday, 10:30am–3:30pm. (773) 752-3600. bettyeodayspa.com

Blossom Boys

1810 W. 103rd St. Tuesday–Friday, 10am–5pm; Saturday, 10am–3pm. Wreath-making courses $60 (pre-registration required). (773) 779-4400. theblossomboys@gmail.com

No holiday table is complete without a floral centerpiece, and the Blossom Boys are happy to provide. Owners Ryan Steinbach and Steve English recently reopened their store in Beverly, just in time for the holiday season. (The shop was previously located at 99th and Walden Parkway, but closed in 2016.) Steinbach and English ran another floral business, the Geranium Guild, out of their home for a time, before deciding to go back to brick-and-mortar this fall. The store sells jewelry and works by local artists, but the mainstay is flower arrangements. They’ve also hosted arts & crafts classes this season; their next wreath-making class is December 6th, 7pm–9pm. (Sam Joyce)


“Give the gift of reading” is a bit of a cliché, a gift card to one of the South Side’s independent bookstores still makes for a fine gift. The choice of bookstore, however, depends on the recipient’s personality. If they’re someone who could spend hours searching through haphazardly arranged stacks for a bargain, Powell’s in Hyde Park or Open Books in Pilsen is probably the way to go. Pilsen Community Books and Bookie’s in Beverly are both somewhat smaller, but they offer a selection of new and used books for maximum variety. If your giftée prefers new titles, 57th Street Books boasts a full selection of general interest books, while the Seminary Co-op is its academic counterpart—and, what a treat, a gift card purchased at either is valid at both locations. (Sam Joyce)

Powell’s, 1501 E. 57th St. Monday–Sunday, 9am–11pm. (773) 955-7780. powellschicago.com

Open Books, 905 W. 19th St. Monday–Sunday, 10am–4pm. (312) 243-9776. open-books.org

Pilsen Community Books, 1102 W. 18th St. Sunday–Monday, 11am–6pm; Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–9pm. hello@pilsenbooks.org. pilsencommunitybooks.org

Bookie’s, 10324 S. Western Ave. Monday–Sunday, 10am–7pm. (773) 239-1110. bookiesbookstores.com

57th Street Books: 1301 E. 57th St. Monday–Sunday, 10am–8pm. (773) 684-1300. 57th.semcoop.com

Seminary Co-op: 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. Monday–Friday, 8:30am–8pm; Saturday–Sunday, 10am–6pm. (773) 752-4381. semcoop.com


You can’t miss the pink storefront of Cakewalk Chicago in Beverly. You may not know it yet, but they are your holiday baking headquarters, with perfect gifts such as edible images and glitter, cookie cutters, and ready-to-use icing. And the baking list goes on.

Young ones can enjoy creating their own baking pieces through one of their Sweet Youth Workshops. Children can make everything from cake pops and candy molding to fashion doll cakes and more. But Cakewalk has something for everyone. In January, the shop will offer sugar art classes for both beginners and advanced decorators.

Is there a talented baker in your family? Purchase a gift certificate for one of their upcoming gingerbread or Kwanzaa candy making classes. As you build your gingerbread manor or candy, enjoy a hot cocoa bar and a holiday movie “theater” to get you in the holiday spirit.

Even if you’re not a baker, or not (yet) a good baker, Cakewalk can provide you with all tools and skills you need to learn. (Maple Joy)

Cakewalk Chicago, 1741 W. 99th St. Open Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:30am–2pm; Friday, 11am–6pm; Saturday, 10am–1pm. Classes $35–$55. (773) 233-7335. cakewalkchicago.com

Calumet Fisheries

Although the 95th Street drawbridge over the Calumet River only soared to national fame after the Blues Brothers jumped it in 1979, Calumet Fisheries has been making legendary smoked fish at the base of the bridge’s western end since 1928. Owned by the Kotlick-Toll family for the past seventy years, the shack also hasn’t changed its formula: no fancy chemicals or elaborate machinery, just fish, salt, spices, and hours over oak logs in the smokehouse. In recent years, the restaurant has won its own share of national recognition: the smoked shrimp has made it onto the Christmas party menu at Michelin-starred Alinea, while Anthony Bourdain described the smoked trout as “extraordinary.” A pound or two of anything—trout, shrimp, or the pepper & garlic-smoked salmon—is a worthy addition to a Christmas feast. (Sam Joyce)

3259 E. 95th St. Sunday–Wednesday, 10am–9:45pm; Thursday, 9am–9:30pm; Friday–Saturday, 9am-9:45pm. Smoked fish $5-30/lb. (773) 933-9855. calumetfisheries.com

DuSable Museum Membership

With the temperature dropping, most people begin spending a good deal more time indoors. But as that cabin fever settles in, finding ways to get out of the house becomes ever more important. When shopping for gifts for friends and loved ones, it’d do you well to consider a membership to the DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. With a membership, one can explore the rotating exhibits (and with exclusive member previews!) such as the current exhibit, “South Side Stories—The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, 1960–1980,” or peruse the permanent collection of murals and exhibits such as “A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story” with free admission. The DuSable, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, can also serve as a warm respite after a snowy walk through the historic park grounds. So when you’re wondering which gift card to get for your loved one, considering going the historic route with a museum membership. (Sarah Thomas)

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sunday noon–5pm. Memberships start at $25 per year. (773) 947-0600. dusablemuseum.org

eta Creative Arts Foundation Membership

eta Creative Arts Foundation isn’t just a theater; it’s an institution. The African-American owned and operated nonprofit has a nearly fifty-year history of producing shows by local and national playwrights, showcasing new plays, and providing training in the performing arts for youth and adults. You can give someone the chance to experience their current work with a four-show ticket package for the rest of the 2018-2019 season. Upcoming shows include In the Blood, a retelling of The Scarlet Letter by Suzan-Lori Parks that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize; two-woman show Single Black Female; and Stand Up!, a musical about the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963; and eta’s annual Magic Box series, now in its fourth year, which brings younger theater companies and Chicagoland performers to eta to present their work in a series of performances and readings. (Olivia Stovicek)

7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Box office open Monday–Friday, 10am–6pm. Four-show ticket subscription package $100. (773) 752-3955. etacreativearts.org

Other cultural institution memberships to consider as gifts:

South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. Wednesday–Friday, noon–5pm; Saturday, 9am–5pm; Sunday; 1pm–5pm. Memberships start at $25 per year. (773) 373-1026. sscartcenter.com

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm. Membership starts at $30 per year. (312) 738-1503. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Monday–Thursday, 9am-9pm; Friday, 9am–6pm; Saturday, 9am–3pm. Membership starts at $35 per year. (773) 445-3838. beverlyartcenter.org

Chinese-American Museum of Chinatown, 238 W. 23rd St. Tuesday–Friday, 9:30am–1:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10am–5pm. Membership starts at $20 per year. (312) 949-1000. ccamuseum.org

Vivian G. Harsh Society. Memberships start at $20 per year. harshsociety.org

National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, 10406 S. Maryland Ave. Open by appointment only through April. Memberships start at $25 per year. (773) 850-8580. aprpullmanportermuseum.org

Miracle Gift Store

If you’ve ever been to Chinatown, you’ll recognize the windows filled with bamboo and anime character plushies. While there are many similar gift shops in Chinatown, Miracle Gift Store Inc. stands out from the crowd. The aisles are stocked with the usual fare, such as figurines and jewelry, but the store is delightfully down-to-earth, coming off more as a corner store than a gift shop, with packed shelves and lottery tickets at the counter. Another great feature of this store are the price points. There are tons of items under $10, which makes it a must-visit for Secret Santa and White Elephant gifts. (Sarah Thomas)

Miracle Gift Store Inc., 219 W. Cermak Rd. Good for gifts under $10.

Tangible Things Gallery and Boutique

Anytime is the right time to visit Tangible Things but if you’ve never been there, there could not be a more apropos time to visit than during this gift-giving season. This culturally rich fine art gallery/boutique/classroom/performance space, featuring many works created by noted South Side artist and proprietor Gwen Pruitt, has something for every single person on your holiday shopping list. Tangible Things has a gift for every personality and every price range. Go as extravagant as a large scale painting, sculpture, or woodcarving; enroll your giftee in any number of classes and healing arts services offered; or pick up something as memorable and meaningful as a small crystal or gemstone to keep to carry in your pocket. (Nicole Bond)

Tangible Things, 4856 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–7pm; Sunday, noon–5pm; closed Monday. (773) 855-2331. tangiblethingsstore.ecwid.com

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Holiday Markets

Vends + Vibes: An Arts Marketplace

Browse selections from over thirty vendors, including artist and Weekly visuals contributor Turtel Onli, radical publisher Brown & Proud Press, Pilsen jewelry maker Mashallah, Afrofuturist print and jewelry maker Afro X Naut, and dessert maker Smart Cookie Vegan. You can also tour the Arts Incubator’s artist-in-residence studios while listening to four talented local DJs spin. (Sam Stecklow)

The Arts Incubator at the University of Chicago, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Saturday, December 8–Sunday, December 9, noon–5pm. vendsandvibes.com

Affordable Art Sale

The seventy-eight-year-old South Side Community Art Center hosts its second annual art sale, which is—I’m confident saying—the best-named of the markets listed here. Works being offered include signed books by Samella Lewis, artist and co-founder of L.A.’s Museum of African American Art, and Gordon Parks, whose varied career included photographing the civil rights movement for Life Magazine and directing the film Shaft. Attendees can also view the Art Center’s current exhibit “Change the Canvas, Change the World,” curated from its own extensive collection. (Sam Stecklow)

South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. Saturday, December 8–Sunday, December 9, 10am–5pm. sscartcenter.com

La Cultura Cura: Winter Arts & Healing Market in the Hood

Pilsen activist group ChiResists has been hosting La Cultura Cura collective markets at coffee shop La Catrina for about a year now. The markets serve both to support a community of local artists and craftspeople, many of whom are women, femmes, gender non-conforming folks, and people of color, and to provide safe spaces for healing and education. At their winter market, expect wares from Archer Heights jewelry maker Ollin Papalotl and mixed media artist and ChiResists co-founder Rebel Betty, as well as a healing room with incense, crystals, and more. The winter market will also serve as a fundraiser for La Cura Bookstore and Botánica, which will open next year. (Sam Stecklow)

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Friday, December 14, 6pm–11pm. bit.ly/LaCulturaCuraWinterMarket

Pilsen Winter Market

There’s no better place to knock out your holiday shopping—whether for gifts or groceries—than the Pilsen Community Market at Honky Tonk BBQ on 18th and Racine. Listen to music from local DJs as you peruse the twenty-five-plus local vendor tables with artisan crafts, handmade beauty and bath products, and natural home goods for sale. The real focus, though, is the food. You’ll find organic produce and high quality eggs and meat, plus baked goods and prepared dishes. Each week, there’s a rotating cast of foodies giving live demos on how to make their signature plates. The best news is that the indoor market doesn’t end after the holidays. Stop by on the first or third Sunday of every month until early April, when the market moves back outdoors. (Carly Graf)

Honky Tonk BBQ, 1800 S. Racine Ave. The first and third Sunday of every month, 11:30am–3:30pm. (312) 226-7427. pilsencommunitymarket.weebly.com

Pre-Kwanzaa Marketplace

Organized by Africa International House at the Harris Park Fieldhouse, the annual Pre-Kwanzaa Marketplace will feature over forty vendors from around the country, offering Afrocentric books, calendars, art, jewelry, clothing, collectibles, food, and more. The market is used to support and promote the cultural economics of AIH and its larger annual festival, the African Festival of the Arts, which takes place in Washington Park. (Sam Stecklow)

Harris Park Field House, 6200 S. Drexel Ave. Friday, December 14, 3pm–8pm; Saturday, December 15, 10am–7pm. aihusa.org/pre-kwanzaa

Hyde Park Handmade Bazaar

The December edition of the always-stuffed-to-the-brim Hyde Park Handmade Bazaar features over forty stands to purchase food, skincare products, jewelry, clothing, and other handmade crafts. The market, which is organized to support small South Side entrepreneurs and provide alternative shopping options for residents, will feature Bronzeville-based SenTEAmental Moods’ small batch tea blends, prints from Pilsen-based artist David Anthony Geary, Washington Heights hot sauce line Quarter Mile Sauce Runnin’… “HOT,” South Shore snack line Triple “A” Gourmet Treats, and many more. (Sam Stecklow)

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. Sunday, December 16, noon–4pm. hydeparkhandmade.com

Boxville Holiday Edition

Promising “holiday magic,” this special edition of Boxville will take place indoors rather than in the repurposed shipping containers where the market is based during the warmer months. Visitors to the market will find creative and handmade gift options, free mimosas with food, DJs, and children’s entertainment. Vendors include vintage shop 8t4 Vintage, fine art dealer Dana Todd Pope, Morgan Park barber Raw Cutting Room, handmade beauty product company Natural Babe, and more. (Sam Stecklow)

The Bronzeville Incubator, 300 E. 51st St. Sunday, December 16, noon–4pm. facebook.com/boxville51

Additional holiday markets:

The Uprising Handmade Holiday Market. Olivia’s Garden, 10730 S. Western Ave. Sunday, December 9, noon–5pm. $5 suggested donation. beverlyarts.org

Soulful Chicago Holiday Book Fair. AMC Center, 4421 S. State St. Saturday, December 15, noon–4pm. soulfulchicagobookfair.com

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Ways to Give Back

Not Before My Parents

Resting on the belief that “no parent should have to bury their child,” Not Before My Parents (NBMP) was started in 2012 by Raydell Lacey, who lost her daughter to violence in 1994, and went through the grieving process with counseling and support groups. Lacey realized that she could help other parents navigate that process around the same time she saw that chess could help people dealing with violence and trauma. NBMP provides support to parents who have lost children to violence and others who have experienced trauma. The organization also runs a weekly chess club mentoring program with over seventy kids that focuses on strategies for overcoming and avoiding violence, as well as a monthly chess club meeting at the 7th District police station where officers play chess with kids. In the spring, NBMP will also begin a performing arts program with the same goals. (Adam Przybyl)

Not Before My Parents. Visit notbeforemyparents.com for information about the organization, and notbeforemyparents.com/donate to give. Email notbeforemyparents@gmail.com or call Ms. Raydell Lacey at (773) 231-8163 for information on how to volunteer.

Be A Part Of The Light

Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City (M3), is on a mission to bring a little cheer to Martin Luther King Dr. this year—and he wants your help. The event, called “Be A Part Of The Light,” will take place over the next two weekends (December 8, 9, and 15). Volunteers will decorate participating houses and city street lights along Martin Luther King Dr. between 55th and 95th Streets. Homeowners who volunteer to have their houses decorated will also receive $25 to help cover the cost of electricity. Each event will include snacks, hot chocolate, and coffee as well as holiday-themed music. If you can’t attend, you can still support the effort by making a donation to M3 or by purchasing decorations from their Amazon wishlist. (Ian Hodgson)

Martin Luther King Dr. Between 80th–87th St. on December 8, 1pm–4pm; 51st–60th St. on December 9, 1pm–4pm; and 87th–95th St. on December 15, 1pm–4pm. RSVP at bit.ly/bapotlRSVP. formyblock.org

One Million Degrees

One Million Degrees exists to solve one problem: low graduation rates among community college students in Illinois. The organization helps students by offering tutoring, coaching, financial and professional assistance. In the 2018-19 academic year, OMD is supporting over 700 students and partners with the seven City Colleges of Chicago plus several in the suburbs and throughout the state. Those interested in giving back can apply to coach a scholar, which requires a time commitment of several hours a month, or volunteer in other ways by helping with networking or corporate engagement. Financial contributions are also welcomed, with the idea of maintaining and expanding the program. (Adam Przybyl)

One Million Degrees. onemilliondegrees.org/get-involved for information on how to volunteer, donate, or join the mailing list. (312) 920-9605. info@onemilliondegrees.org

Sunshine Gospel Ministries

Sunshine Gospel Ministries has been serving its Chicago communities for more than a century. Founded in 1905 by the Moody Bible Institute as a rescue mission, Sunshine Gospel served the near North Side and the Cabrini-Green housing complex as a youth-focused mission before rooting itself on 61st Street in Woodlawn. Since then, Sunshine Gospel has become known for its academic assistance for kids of all ages and for its mentorship and career development programs. More quietly, they have helped to provide support for community gardens from Woodlawn all the way down to South Chicago. Sunshine Gospel prefers donations of talent and time—and if that’s what you have, you can contact them at info@sunshinegospel.org—but they will also accept monetary donations. You can donate to their general budget, or else pick a specific program (Christmas store, Familyhood program, sponsor a camper, etc.). If you are interested in helping with their Christmas store, run in partnership with the Christian Church of Clarendon Hills, the toy collection period is over, but the two groups are still looking for volunteers to help transport the toys and set up the store this Friday, December 7. For more information, contact marywoolsey87@yahoo.com. (Emeline Posner)

Sunshine Gospel Ministries, 500 & 501 E. 61st St. Donate at bit.ly/sunshinegospel

Chicago Women Empowerment Group’s 3rd Annual Holiday Toy Drive

In the last two years, Chatham-based Chicago Women Empowerment Group (CWEG) has given out nearly five hundred toys away to families in need. The drive grew out of a longstanding practice of doing “small, unorganized things for the children in my area of influence,” says CWEG founder and CEO Linda Perez, who owns a home daycare in Chatham and has organized large community events such as the Taste of Black Chicago and, earlier this year, the Chatham Family Fall Fest. But the drive quickly became an integral part of the  organization’s efforts to empower women and children in Chicago. This year, CWEG is seeking toys that are suitable for kids up to the age of thirteen, and asks that the toys not represent weapons or violence in any way. They will also accept nonperishable food items and donations of $15 or more to sponsor individual children. Letters confirming your donation will be available upon request through email at cweg.community@gmail.com. (Emeline Posner)

Donation drop-off at Chicago Women Empowerment Group, 853 E. 79th St. Donations accepted noon–5pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, December 1 through December 21. Monetary donations accepted through paypal.me/cweg

Chicago Community Bond Fund

The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to helping post bail to those imprisoned in Cook County Jail and an initiative committed to fighting money bail reform in the pretrial justice system. The activists of CCBF (consisting of about a hundred volunteers and a handful of paid employees) rely on donated money and fundraising strategies to directly free people targeted by the prison system, so your itch to be generous could become someone’s opportunity to have a holiday themselves. Consider creating dialogue around these systems of power with your friends, family and coworkers—organizing your network to donate has the potential to become formidable and bring CCBF that much closer to permanently reforming the current money bail policy. (Leo Williams)

Chicago Community Bond Fund, 601 S. California Ave. (844) 363-2663. chicagobond.org

Brave Space Alliance

Brave Space Alliance, the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center on the South Side, was founded by LaSaia Wade in the tradition of activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, and in recognition of a gap. Few resources for LGBTQ Chicagoans exist on the South and West Sides, and, as the Brave Space Alliance website puts it, “the few trans-specific resources in the city are located in majority-white neighborhoods on the North Side, which are inaccessible geographically, and also regularly result in the hyper-policing of trans people of color who attempt to access them.” Brave Space Alliance’s community center provides a multitude of services specifically designed to include Chicago’s entire LGBTQ community, especially trans and gender-nonconforming people of color, with a focus on health and wellness, leadership development, and visibility. You can support their work by getting involved with their community organizing and activism for the queer and trans community, and you can contribute financially, perhaps with one of their monthly memberships named to honor trans elders including Johnson and Rivera. Donations support programs that provide “what is needed to survive in a society that is often unfriendly to our existence,” ranging from drop-in mental health services to self-defense classes, job services, and art and music spaces. (Olivia Stovicek)

Brave Space Alliance, 237 E. 58th St. Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm. (708) 683-4397. bravespacealliance.org

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