I get asked all the time for, and love sharing, recommendations — travel, accountant, photographer, venue, tech tools, groups to join, activities to do, office equipment, people to connect with. You name it.
I haven’t really done gift recommendations so I thought I’d try something new and in the spirit of the holidays, share a most random collection of things I love, in case you want to gift yourself or someone else. Oprah’s Favorite Things, without the Oprah or the car under your seat or the screaming or the me giving you anything.
If you’re a Chicagoan and like supporting local, * = Chicago’ness.
In case you need more after perusing the list, and enjoy tactile shoppping —
Upcoming Shopping Events
- One of a Kind Show, 12/3/15 to 12/6/15
- Vends and Vibes, 12/12/15 and 12/13/15
- Made in Chicago Market, 12/20/15
Any gift loves you’d add to below? Leave in the comment section so we can all salivate and maybe, buy.
- ReWork, Jason Fried
- Quiet, Susan Cain
- The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guilleabeau
- Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
- Rising Strong, Brene Brown
- The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
- Eat the Frog, Brian Tracy
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek
- Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
- Bossypants, Tina Fey
- 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo
- Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg
- Yes Please, Amy Poehler
- Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling
- Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, Todd Henry
- cook your food via your phone – Anova Precision Cooker
- “Makes it easy to get professional-level cooking results at home. To use the Anova Precision Cooker, you simply attach it to a pot, put your food in a seal-able bag and set the time and temperature. The Precision Cooker circulates water around the pot while ensuring a consistent temperature throughout. The Precision Cooker also connects to your phone, allowing you to cook amazing meals by simply touching a button. The food is amazing, tender, and moist every time.”
- tea infuser brews single cup of tea – Blomus Teastick
- foodie compact folding digital scale – Joseph Joseph TriScale
- all in one kitchen tool set – Bin 8 Multi Kitchen Tool
- measuring cups, a cheese grater, a funnel, even a lid grip for opening stubborn jars
Bags & Travel
- one bag, six configurations – Wrascal Carrier
- tools to help you travel light – Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Specter Set, Packing Cube
- these were sooo helpful on our Norway/Sweden trip and allowed us to travel with just one bag each, for two weeks!
- I bought this for Best Friend for his birthday and was instantly upset I didn’t have one for myself – Minaal
- he loved it so much, he started packing for our Norway/Sweden trip the day I gave it to him, five months before we left
Bath & Body & Clothing
- fresh, with premium ingredients, and without anything synthetic, from soaps to oils and everything inbetween* – ScratchGoods
- monthly deliveries of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile – Birchbox
- Bath, body and skincare products – Cowshed
- I am a sucker for anything British, natural, lavendar-scented, beautifully packaged, or cheekily-named; combine all of that? Oy.
- You can also buy these goodies in person at Soho House locations
- La Croix love in shirt form* – SolidStateGoods
- down slippers of which I have two pairs and buy for everyone I know – REI
- socks and shoes that tells artist stories, one product at a time* – Bucketfeet
- stylish bike rack – ElevateWoodworks
- campfire with a twist – OneLogFire
- “Using kiln dried logs that burn from the inside, OneLog Fire is easy to light. Each log gives up to two hours of compact fire making it a perfect heat and light source without the mess of a traditional campfire. Enjoy OneLogFire at parties and small gatherings. OneLogFire makes fires convenient and hassle free.”
Paper Products & Art
- Unplug Every Day: 365 Ways to Log Off and Live Better (a journal)
- pet portraits of your furry friend, painted from a photo* – Melissa Smith Art
- from the Walking Dead crew to feminist trailblazers, all in cross-stitch form* – Badass Cross Stitch
- notebooks modeled after old-school pocket ledgers* – Coudal Partners
- limited edition art for “the tasteless art collection”* – Tan & Loose
- Life of Yes℠ notecards, decals, and posters* – Mac & Cheese Productions℠
Food & Drink
- bigger than your head circles of goodness!* – Carol’s Cookies
- specializes in cookies, bars and tarts and more than happy to customize* – imPerfect Pastries
- discover indie coffee culture. 22 cafes. 25 dollars. 9 months. 1 passport – IndiePassport
- bagels, blintzes, latkes galore – Zabar’s
- wine in a box, but in a good way – Winestyr
- “It’s our mission to discover the country’s best small production wines. We seek out real wines made by genuine people. We’ve personally met all of the producers we work with and tasted hundreds of wines; Winestyr is a collection of our favorites.”
- mmm, candy – Quin
- “Reimagined, updated, modernized. We make candy for today that has the uncanny ability to tug at the heartstrings of yesterday.”
Tech Tools & Services
These all have free plans which I used to start. But then I grew or wanted more or both. Best Friend gifted me a year of Pandora, and I was hooked on the idea of gifting a service upgrade! Practical, useful, and much appreciated.
- digital filing cabinet – Evernote
- password manager so you never have to remember, create, or find another password again – LastPass
- newsletter creation and distribution – Mailchimp
- ad free personalized radio – Pandora
- my favorite way to discover music that I like and that’s completely off my radar
- added layer of online security, especially good for those who travel and who work in coffeeshops – Tunnelbear
- listen to the same music upstairs as you are downstairs and control it all via your phone with this to die for wireless wifi system – Sonos
- love the Sleep Timer, the sound quality and volume, and the sleek look of the system
- you can build your system over time, starting with one room, then another, then another
- tiny car charger – Aukey 4.8A Dual USB car charger
- wireless scanner and printer – Brother HL2380DW
- I can print from anywhere in the house!
- From any device, including my phone!
- high-quality printing
- toner that doesn’t cost an arm and leg and that lasts
- personal trainer who also happens to be the sweetest gal around* – IzzyFit
- tell someone to take the night off from cooking and let Danielle work her kitchen magic (and/or have her cater your holiday party)* – AmbienteChicago
- too busy to cook? hate cooking? want to eat yummy healthy?* – Kitchfix ($15 off with that link)
- dating assistance from a gal and her team who know what they’re doing and make what can be hard and icky less so* – Smart Dating Academy
- for the work from home person who needs a change of scenery and/or interaction with a human being every once in awhile – Creative Coworking
- and another coworking membership thumbs up – The Shift
- a workspace for molten-media fun – Chicago Glass Collective
- if you know a movie buff who likes a theater with character – Music Box membership
- one of the best avenues to friendships and dates with nice boys, not to mention, looking cool being able to move around the fret board – Old Town School of Folk Music gift card
- bike-share goodness – Divvy membership
- epitome of luxury and self-love spa – Cowshed gift card
- a different kind of spa – King Spa gift card
- I’ll admit, this place scares me; from the nakedness to the website to the overall idea, but I know many who have gone and love it
- classes ranging from photography to improv to blogging to salsa dancing – Dabble gift card
- Chicago coding classes and computer camps for elementary and middle school kids* – PowerUp Tech Academy
- only the hottest ticket around! (if you score one, can you get one for me too? Plus a plane ticket to NYC? And hotel room?) – Hamilton
- I adore that people are going gaga over history!
- the Cheese-It Army sponsoring the schooling of Patience and Benigne – Mac & Cheese Productions℠
- Cheese-Its have been the education benefactors of a Rwandan boy (and later, his sister as well) since 2008 and we’re always looking for more folks to join the Do Good Army!
- you pledge any amount and if we reach our goals — $750 for Patience and $600 for Benigne for the 2016 school year — Saya will collect
2008 when Saya met them and 2015
- flowers * – Flowers for Dreams
- I have been the recipient of numerous bouquets from them; THUMBS UP!
- “Locally crafted flowers, honest prices, free flower delivery. Every bouquet benefits a local charity”
- delicious treats from cookies to granola to jam from a business that provides homeless and at-risk youth with twelve weeks of paid, supportive employment* – Blue Sky Bakery
- sustainable bags handmade by women in India – Made With a Purpose
- scarves that are hand-made, one-of-a-kind, and produced with traditional African dyeing techniques by young refugee women – Maisha
- women-owned businesses around the world – LiftUPlift
Some of these links are referral links, meaning I may get some goodness if you make a purchase through them. So, THANK YOU!
Speaking of which, I could really use some more Airbnb and Uber credit, so if you have a trip coming up and are looking for lodging or if you think you may need a taxi’ish vehicle at some point, would you sign up via my Airbnb link and/or use my Uber code “ubercheeseit? You get credit too for both services if you’re a first time user.