As we reluctantly throw away the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, the evil twin of the holiday season is on the mind: waste. You may be reading articles about the millions of pounds of food thrown away and the thousands of miles of ribbon we’ll use to wrap presents this month. On the heels of Black Friday, you may already be thinking about shopping for holiday gifts. You can see it now: a mountain of gift wrapping paper piling around your feet. It’s hard not to feel a little guilty as we reflect on just how much we consume this time of year.
Ultimately, the most meaningful gifts are thoughtful and personalized, anyway. And that doesn’t have to be stuff at all!
But not to worry. We don’t need to compromise on celebrating loved ones this holiday in order to cut back on waste. Ultimately, the most meaningful gifts are thoughtful and personalized, anyway. And that doesn’t have to be stuff at all! It could be a poem or an outing. Something extra and fun that your person wouldn’t buy for themselves. The gift of a new skill or hobby. An experience to enjoy with the whole family, or on date night, or peacefully alone.
Take advantage of Toohla’s Climate-Friendly Gift Guide for the Chicago-area. Rethink what “sustainable gift-giving” means to you and give the gift of experience! We’ve got ideas for tours, classes, shows, memberships, and more. You’ll be supporting some wonderful local businesses and organizations while you’re at it.
Give the gift of skill! For the handy among us (or those willing to learn), a membership to the Chicago Tool Library is a must. The organization has more than 3,000 items you can borrow–from table saws to sewing machines to camping equipment–for a “pay what you can” annual fee. Combine that with a workshop at the Rebuilding Exchange ($80+) and make the coffee table of your dreams. Spudnik is a great spot for learning papermaking, screenprinting, zine and comic making, illustration, and more ($45+). StoryStudio offers single session and multi-week workshops ($65+) to bolster creative writing chops. Get the wine a’flowing at a Bridgeport Art painting night ($35). And for everything else–from ceramics to metalsmithing to textiles–Lillstreet Arts is your friend ($115+).
Whether you’re a Chicago newbie or native, explore the latest and greatest bites in the hippest neighborhoods. Seasoned Chicagoan chefs will be your guide with employee-owned Chef-Driven Food Tours ($150 per person). Or hop on a beer barrel bus to traverse Chicago’s booming craft brewery scene ($100 per person). Do date night with a Cozymeal cooking class ($95+). Or sign your person up for a foodie community like Best Date Foodie ($5 per month) and give them access to monthly coupons to great Chicago restaurants and bars, contests with prizes, and member-only events all around the city.
Invite your person to solve a crime with you over a fabulous meal with Dinner Detective ($70+). Play out history against the clock in one of Escape Artistry’s six escape rooms built by local artists ($30 per person). Give the gift of relaxation with a certificate to the Cowshed Spa ($110+), followed by a great lunch at Publican. ‘Jubilee’ poinsettias are waiting for you at the Lincoln Conservancy Winter Flower Show ($5-$10). Broadway favorites like the Lion King, Cats, and Chicago the Musical are a fun night out ($50+). And catch monthly screenings of analog motion picture films (plus analog film projection workshops!) with the Chicago Film Society ($5+ per month).
Don’t miss seeing Blues legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy perform at his place in the South Loop ($75), which he only ever does in January! Learn some new steps with a salsa lesson at the Dance Academy of Salsa ($22+) or a multi-week dance class at Latin Street Music & Dancing ($70+). Or get in the Christmas holiday spirit with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra ($50), a show that benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
With an annual museum membership, your giftee can transform into a fluttering yellow butterfly at the Field Museum ($95+), meet a sea otter at the Shedd Aquarium ($75+), celebrate Black storytelling at the DuSable Black History Museum ($60+), visit the classics at the Art Institute ($115+), discover and play at the Bronzeville Children's Museum ($40 for the whole family), appreciate self-taught art at Intuit ($40+), enjoy Puerto Rico’s vibrant heritage at National Puerto Rican Museum ($50+), and visit one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections at the National Museum of Mexican Art ($40+). Besides supporting Chicago’s thriving cultural scene, buying a membership also gives your person access to member-only hours, discounts on events and experiences, e-newsletters, reciprocal membership at other museums around the world, and more.
Get out there this winter with family or friends! Bring the water, snacks, and layers and let these experiences do the rest. Spot a bald eagle or frozen waterfall on one of Starved Rock State Park’s guided winter hikes($22). Stretch it out with yoga in the woods (free). Soak up the magic of Zoo Lights ($5). Or delight in some ghost stories along Bloomingdale Trail (free).
You can feel good about your gift-giving this year! Create, dance, and discover in our beautiful, thriving city. Wishing you a happy and guilt-free holiday from us at Toohla.
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