Lizzie Smith

Gift Guide

For the Kernel Collector

Popacorn Popcorn, Herby PoP, Let’s Get Poppin’

There are those of us who buy popcorn at the movies and dedicate the holidays to seasonal sweet consumption—peppermint bark, say. These shops are not for those people. Whatever the taste of the popcorn fan in your life, these South Side shops will cover it. At Bronzeville’s newly opened Popacorn Popcorn (which, we acknowledge, does have a twenty-seat movie theater), you can snag a six-gallon Popacorn Holiday Tin in a variety of classic flavors with South Side–flavored names, from The Harold Washington to Chatham Cheese. Herby PoP, the online company run out of South Shore, is a standby for flavors off-the-wall enough to serve as a gift: Masala Crunch, Moroccan Mint Crunch, even Pink Himalayan Salt. And with Let’s Get Poppin’, the Beverly and Morgan Park shop that’s been poppin’ since 1995, put the power in your popcorn fan’s hands with a twenty-five-, fifty-, or—why not go all out?—hundred-dollar gift card. (Julia Aizuss)

Popacorn Popcorn, 4645 S. King Dr. Monday–Sunday, 11am–7pm. (312) 451-2478.

Herby PoP, (312) 221-7867.

Let’s Get Poppin’, 11758 S. Western Ave. Monday–Friday, 10am–8pm; Saturday, 10am–7pm. (773) 779-6132.

For the Aspiring Craftsperson

MAKE! Chicago classes

Do you know someone who has always dreamt of learning to upholster their own ottoman? Or possibly refinish that cool little table they found in the alley? Then MAKE! Chicago classes are likely the perfect gift for them. MAKE! Chicago, a maker space located in Bridgeport, offers a variety of classes ranging from furniture restoration to welding 101. Their classes are designed for beginners, and run anywhere from an evening to six weeks long. As for those who aren’t DIY dreamers but already doers—the 24/7-access monthly membership may be just the thing. (Bridget Newsham)

MAKE! Chicago, 1048 W. 37th St. (312) 925-2627.

For the Thrifty Bookworm

Open Books Pilsen

Don’t be fooled by its nondescript black brick exterior—the Pilsen branch of Open Books, the beloved nonprofit whose proceeds fund literacy programs across Chicago, features a huge selection of books for sale, a large children’s collection with beautifully illustrated classics and foreign language picture books, and wallet-friendly prices that start at one dollar. Better yet, for forty dollars during its holiday “box” sale this weekend, you get to carry away as many books as you can stuff in a 17¼- by 11¼- by 10-inch box—about forty paperbacks, “depending on how good you are at Tetris.”  Gift cards are available online. (Tammy Xu)

Open Books Pilsen, 905 W. 19th St. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10am–4pm; December 9–10, 10am–5pm. (312) 243-9776.

For the Socially Conscious Coffee Addict

Back of the Yards Coffee Club

This May, the Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery opened its doors to bring affordable coffee and locally sourced snacks to their community. This holiday season, gift your loved ones a year, six months, or three months of delicious coffee grown in Chiapas, Mexico and roasted right here on the South Side. Choose between their signature 47th Street Blend, which has fruit notes, and hints of chocolate and caramel, and their Butcher’s Blend Espresso. You can also choose how finely ground you’d like your coffee and how often you’d like your loved ones to receive their twelve-ounce bag of coffee. Shipping is included, and Back of the Yards Coffeehouse invests one dollar from each bag into their social impact fund that benefits youth in the neighborhood. (Adia Robinson)

Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, 2059 W. 47th St. Monday–Friday, 6:30am–7pm; Saturday–Sunday, 9am–3pm. Subscriptions starting at $71 for three months. (312) 487-2233.

For the Musicmaker

Sounds About Write Music Lessons

Give the gift of music by getting the budding musician in your life music lessons from Sounds about Write, the school of music founded by South Chicago musician JoVia Armstrong, with the goal of improving mental health and cultivating the arts community in Chicago. Choose between their Sounds About Write Workshop, which lasts eight weeks, for those looking to combine instrumental music lessons with songwriting and production, or general private lessons in a variety of instruments and basic music recording. (Adia Robinson)

Sounds About Write, 9140 S. Baltimore Ave. Monday–Saturday, 10am–8:30pm. (312) 999-0580.

For the Artivist

Prints by Monica Trinidad

Treat the art and activism lover in your life to a print from Monica Trinidad, the cofounder of both the Brown & Proud Press and For the People Artists Collective. Her thought-provoking prints, most of which are watercolor and ink, depict scenes of protest, resistance, and community uplift. For some of her prints, a portion of the proceeds go towards supporting South Side activist organizations, like Assata’s Daughters and Kuumba Lynx. (Adia Robinson)

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For the K-pop obsessive

K POP of Chinatown

For anyone in your family obsessed with Korean pop, K POP of Chinatown—a small store nestled away in Chinatown—has everything you need—from CDs and DVDs to dolls and socks imported straight from South Korea. Fighting! (Rachel Kim)

K POP of Chinatown, 2223 S. Wentworth Ave., Monday–Sunday, 11am–7pm. (312) 526-3744.

For the Big Planner

Legacy Men’s Boutique

A small business just opened in October and dedicated to “styling the man who is building a legacy,” Legacy Men’s Boutique in Bronzeville promises high-end menswear at thrift store prices. Stop by and, with the help of owner Mandene T. Muhammad, let a loved one dress to impress. Clothing donations also welcome. (Rachel Kim)

Legacy Men’s Boutique, 4655 S. King Dr., ste. 103. Tuesday–Friday, 5:30pm–8pm; Saturday, 11am–6pm. (872) 228-1871.

For Furry Friends

Bark N’ Bites

Don’t furget the four-legged friend in your life this holiday season! Still hounding for the right gift to make their tail wag? If you check out Bark N’ Bites in Bridgeport, you’ll be barking up the right tree. Fetch some organic pet food and freshly baked treats to give your pooch a special holiday dinner of their own. You can also retrieve collars, leashes, and other supplies, “many of which are made right here in Chicago.” Whatever you need, they’ll have something that will be just pawfect. (Andrew Koski)

Bark N’ Bites, 702 W. 35th St. Monday–Friday, 10am–7pm; Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sunday, 11am–5pm. (312) 265-1205

For the Nostalgic Sweet Tooth


With its dizzying array of Mexican candies, Dulcelandia has been, as it boasts, “Proudly Importing Nostalgia Since 1995.” They have everything—from chocolates and dulce de leche, to dozens of types of tamarind candies, to Alvbro’s pollito asado (roast chicken) lollipops. Whether you want to give someone a sugar high or a taste that reminds you of home, Dulcelandia is worth a visit. Bring your kid along, or bring Dulcelandia to them—the store also has shelves of decorations perfect for an all-ages holiday party. (Hafsa Razi)

Dulcelandia. Brighton Park location: 4616 S. Kedzie Ave., (773) 247-4355. Little Village location: 3253 W. 26th St., (773) 522-3816. Monday–Friday, 10am–8pm; Saturday, 9am–8pm; Sunday, 10am-7pm. Christmas hours: December 13–December 24, 10am–8pm.

For the Home Cook Hopeful

Freehling Pot and Pan Co.

A Hyde Park stalwart for forty-three years, the owner of Freehling Pot and Pan Co., Susan “Sue” Freehling, recently announced that she’s closing up shop. Starting Wednesday, December 6, every item in the store—cookware and household appliances, cookbooks and baking supplies—is forty percent off until everything is sold. Whether you know someone moving into a new place or looking to take their “Great British Bake-Off” fandom to the next level, this is the time to gift cookware of boutique quality at a friendlier price. (Rachel Kim)

Freehling Pot and Pan Co., 1365 E. 53rd. St. Monday-Saturday, 10am–6pm; Sunday, noon–5pm. (773) 643-8080.

For the T-Shirt-wearing Visionary

TRAP House Chicago

Located in Auburn Gresham, Mashaun Hendrick’s streetwear brand, TRAP House, bridges his love for graphic T-shirts and restorative justice. All profits go to his nonprofit TRAP (Teens Reaching All Potential), with which he aims “to raise awareness of an invisible system—that awareness hopefully leads to an actual crime strike, which will lead to a crime drought in Chicago.” Grab a T-shirt emblazoned with stunning sayings to support a good cause. (Rachel Kim)

TRAP House Chicago, 7955 S. Ashland Ave. Monday–Saturday, noon–8pm; Sunday, 1pm–6pm. (773) 952-4765.

For the Chicago Diasporan

Vienna Brand Care Package

For the far-flung native Chicagoans in your life, a box full of bubble-wrapped meats and other treats should warms their hearts. The Vienna factory store in Bridgeport is a one-stop shop to pick up all hot dogs and accoutrements necessary for a Chicago-style care package: beef franks, pickles, peppers, giardiniera, and more. While you’re there, get a hot dog for yourself. (Sam Stecklow)

Vienna Sausage Factory Store, 3847 S. Morgan St. Monday–Friday, 9am–4pm; Saturday, 10am–4pm. (773) 435-2217.

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Holiday Markets

Bridgeport Art Center Holiday Night Market

Looking for something to break up the monotony and corporate consumerism of the holiday shopping season? Head to the Chicago Ceramic Center on the Bridgeport Art Center’s fifth floor during 3rd Fridays for a gift for the art lover in your life that’s a bit more unique—you can peruse art from the resident artists of the Bridgeport Art Center and artists from around the Chicagoland area, while enjoying complimentary drinks and music! (Andrew Koski)

Bridgeport Art Center, 5th floor, 1200 W. 35th St. Friday, December 15, 7pm–10pm.

Vends + Vibes: An Arts Marketplace

It would be fair if you end up distracted from the rich array of South Side vendors (from children’s books to stained glass to zines) at the annual Vends + Vibes market: the vibes include DJs (Duane Powell, AfroBang, Selah Say, and more), a photobooth, healthy holiday food demonstrations at KLEO, open studios with the Arts Incubator’s artists-in-residence, cocktail demonstrations, and holiday-themed home movies screened by the South Side Home Movie Project. With festivities like this, who needs the actual holidays? (Julia Aizuss)

Along Garfield Blvd: Arts Incubator, Currency Exchange Café, BING Reading Room (301–307 E. Garfield Blvd) and KLEO Community Family Life Center (119 E. Garfield Blvd). Saturday, December 9–Sunday, December 10, noon–5pm. (773) 834-5414.

Bronzeville Holiday Bazaar

After a strong debut last year (as well as a feature in last year’s Holiday Issue), Absolutely Anything Essential returns with a second holiday bazaar featuring twenty-some local vendors throughout its three-level space. Amid the hubbub of searching for the perfect vegan hair product or scented candle or glitzy T-shirt for a loved one—to name just a few options—there will be gift-wrapping and even craft classes, making this a bazaar you just might want to spend all six hours at. (Julia Aizuss)

Absolutely Anything Essential Gift Shop, 3521 S. King Dr. Saturday, December 16, noon–6pm. (312) 238-9447.

La Cultura Cura: Cooperative Market in Pilsen

Hosted by art-focused organizing group ChiResists along with La Catrina Cafe and local artist Amara Betty, La Cultura Cura is intended to uplift Black, brown, and indigenous peoples by selling and sharing their goods. Some of the offered items include: art, zines, jewelry, botanicals, prints, and even a graphic novel (Bria Royal’s Black Girl Mania). The event will also feature several live musical acts and a fundraiser to support ChiResists in the coming year. (Bridget Newsham)

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Saturday, December 9, 2pm–10pm. (312) 532-6817.

Soulful Chicago Kwanzaa Book Fair

Celebrate Kwanzaa with the Soulful Chicago Kwanzaa Book Fair, which will feature storytelling, fifty different Black authors, music, great food, a Kwanzaa celebration, and over one hundred different books for you to browse through and maybe take home to someone special. The Soulful Chicago Book Fair celebrates literature from the African diaspora and highlights creators who are often overlooked. (Adia Robinson)

AMC Center, 4421 S. State St. December 16, 10am–6pm. $5 suggested donation. (646) 359-6605.

Kwanzaa POP UP Marketplace

Celebrate Kwanzaa at the Kwanzaa POP UP Marketplace at Little Black Pearl on East 47th! The principles of Kwanzaa will be in full display: showcasing the creativity (kuumba) of the community and supporting a curated set of local artists and entrepreneurs (ujamaa). There’s a $5 entrance donation for adults, but kids ages twelve and under get in for free. Organizers encourage you to come early and stay the whole day. (Erisa Apantaku)

Little Black Pearl, 1060 E. 47th St. Saturday, December 30, 11am–4pm.

Hyde Park Handmade Holiday Bazaar

Still looking for that perfect holiday present for your family or loved one? Want to get a gift that says “I thought about you” more than some money in a card? Check out the Hyde Park Handmade Holiday Bazaar—a seasonal twist on Hyde Park Handmade’s ever-reliable monthly one-stop-shop (or one-stop-bazaar) for artisan goods. Enjoy tracks spun by DJ Sean Alvarez while browsing a selection of handmade art by neighborhood artists from Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Bronzeville, and more. (Roderick Sawyer)

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. Sunday, December 17, noon–4pm.

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Ways to Give Back

BYNC Christmas Toy Drive

Over the next couple of weeks, the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council will collect toys and work with schools, community organizations, and local businesses to identify children in need through their “Letters to Santa” program. Unfortunately, the demand for toys always exceeds donations received, so the BYNC relies on monetary contributions to purchase additional toys—donate monetarily or coordinate a toy pick-up online today! (Andrew Koski)

Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council. Donations accepted through December 15. Monetary donations accepted online or submit contact information to coordinate a toy donation pick-up at

Saint Sabina Christmas Feast for the Homeless and Elderly

Friends are cooking now in preparation for The Faith Community of St. Sabina’s annual Christmas Day Feast to serve and welcome our homeless and elderly. The food is always hot and delicious and the fellowship is warm and sincere. Transportation to and from city shelters is provided. You can also contact St. Sabina to donate food, toiletries, decorations, or your help at the feast. (Nicole Bond)

St. Sabina Academy Bethune Hall, 7801 S. Throop St. Monday, December 25, noon–2pm. For more information contact the church office (773) 483-4300 or April Dumas (773) 603-1167 or Norma Bradley (773) 723-7935.

Toy Drive & Santa Pics at Currency Exchange

Santa and Mrs. Claus are stopping by Currency Exchange Café to spread holiday cheer. Bring your holiday spirit and a toy for a child from three to twelve years old. This second annual toy drive will distribute gifts to the nonprofit Chicago Youth Programs and Future Ties. Photographer Richard Pack will be there to take pictures with Santa, prints of which will be available for $10. The café will also be serving milk and cookies. (Adia Robinson)

Currency Exchange Café, 305 E. Garfield Blvd. Saturday, December 16, 9am–noon. (773) 855-9163.

Holiday Stocking Stuffers for Diane Ellis

From now through New Year’s Eve (and beyond), you can donate to the medical fund of Diane Ellis, a renowned jazz saxophonist and teacher. Ellis, also known as “Lil Sax,” suffered a stroke while performing the Jazz Institute last year and her friends are raising money to help pay for ongoing medical expenses and much-needed therapy. For the Weekly, I spoke to Diane Ellis in 2015 after she won an OPPY Award for Education in recognition for her work as the band director of Chatham’s Dixon Elementary. She talked about her love for her students, from six-year-olds just starting on the trombone, to rising stars in high school, to now-professional jazz artists—all her “musical sons and musical daughters.” Ellis’ band family is as big as her heart, and now it’s coming together for her. (Hafsa Razi)

Second Annual KID Holiday Gift Drive

Kindness In Doing (KID) is hosting their second annual KID Holiday Gift Drive. The KID Holiday Gift Drive supports families by helping to provide gifts for the holidays. You can donate new and unwrapped toys, clothes, giftcards, and other gifts for families, especially children. Drop-offs can be made on site or gifts can be purchased via charity donation through Target. (Roderick Sawyer)

Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, 1159 W. 79th St. Tuesday, December 5–Friday, December 8; Monday, December 11–Friday, December 15. 8am–5pm. (312) 752-5022.

Southside Community Holiday Jamboree

Learn what the spirit of the holidays really means by joining the South Shore United Methodist Church for a day of art and crafts, music, food, and service. The KidsWorks Touring Theatre Co. will be performing “Holidays Around the World.” There will also be community service projects, a toy give-away, and holiday-themed face painting. Families with children are especially encouraged to come. (Mira Chauhan)

South Shore United Methodist Church, 7350 S. Jeffrey Ave. Saturday, December 23, 3 pm–6:30pm. Free.

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