Best Christmas Shopping in Chicago

Best places to shop for holiday gifts in Chicago

Ask almost anyone where to go shopping when you visit Chicago and you’ll likely be directed to the Magnificent Mile which does offer some great shopping if you’re in the market for national and international brands. However, if you want to get into the heart of Chicago’s retail scene, venture into Chicago’s neighborhoods where you’ll find loads of handmade and local finds that will make anyone on your Christmas shopping list thrilled to receive.

In the downtown area, head to the gift shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art where it will be easy to satisfy art and design buffs on your list. Logan Square's Wolfbait & BGirls stocks the goods of more than 250 local artisans and shop all over Andersonville recognized as the "shop local capital of Chicago," with the largest network of local and independent businesses in the city.

Chicago's markets, pop-up and permanent, hold one-of-a-kind treasures so consider Randolph Street MarketOne of a Kind Holiday Show; Sauced: The Night Market Before Christmas; BIDE Market; and Hopewell Brewing's Holiday Bazaar where you can get a great gift and a frosty brew. 

With so many name brands, designers and great independent stores offering local and handmade items, it’s easy to find something special for everyone on your Christmas list in Chicago.



On Chicago's north side, charming Andersonville is known for its Swedish roots, unique shopping, destination dining and busy urban corridor, Clark Street. During the holidays, you almost expect Tiny Tim to turn the corner. Visit Dec. 7-8 for Julmarknad weekend at the Swedish American Museum for traditional Swedish entertainment, food, crafts and annual indoor holiday market. The St. Lucia Festival of Lights, Dec. 13, is a candlelit, carol-filled procession down the sidewalks of Clark Street, followed by singing and treats - a nostalgic beginning or end to your shopping day. Dec. 6 and 20 Andersonville stores stay open late and offer refreshments and deals for shoppers plus the free Holiday Trolley runs along Clark Street from 6-9 pm.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Make an eating plan: sure bets are Passerotto for Korean food; Big Jones' southern fare; and Svea for Swedish viking breakfasts.

Jacky's expert tip: Andersonville restaurants are notable especially in the dessert department with standouts like Lost Larsen, Taste of Heaven, First Slice Pie Cafe and Defloured, a gluten-free bakery.

Read more about Andersonville →

BIDE Market is a fully sustainable, plastic-free, vegan and cruelty-free shopping experience that pops up for the holidays on Dec. 15, 2019. Curated by Parisa Morris of Town & Anchor (an all-natural, vegan, zero-waste skincare company based in Chicago), the upscale artisan market offers creative gifts for the family, accessories, beauty products, kids stuff, home items, clothing and jewelry from vendors such as Ember and Flow Handmade employing pebbles from Lake Erie and 100% recycled sterling silver. Get tickets on the website for $10 (early bird pricing available until Dec. 1) and 20% of all ticket proceeds go to NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council, so you can tell Mom you are gifting consciously. Ticket admission includes complimentary guided sound meditation, restorative yoga, as well as an open bar.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: You needn't be a persistent label-checker at BIDE Market since everything is fully sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly.

Jacky's expert tip: Make a day of it and have dinner at one of Wicker Park's notable eateries like Tortello, a charming Italian restaurant and pastificio (fresh pasta shop), just steps away.

Read more about BIDE Market →


Every imaginable national clothing store chain is inside this massive, indoor mall, one of the largest in the United States. You'll find everything from Claire's Boutique to Coach, plus kiosks inviting customers to sample new products. Nearly 35 full and quick-service eateries are scattered throughout from standard fast food to poké and pizza. The holiday shopping season offers the Simon® Santa Photo Experience through Dec. 24. Other seasonal happenings include Caring Santa (a sensory-friendly event for special needs children); Pet Photo Night with Santa; and a Breakfast with Santa. Portillo's Pop Up Experience, Nov. 6 to Dec. 31, welcomes you to take a ride on an onion ring tire swing; enter the French fry room; place holiday catering orders; purchase packaged Italian beef, French bread, peppers, and whole chocolate cakes; and take pics in Chicago-style photobooths. Check the web site for info on extended holiday hours and seasonal programming.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Shopping is indoors and all in one place so you can ostensibly get it done in one go and dine on some decent food.

Jacky's expert tip: If you can take even more retail exposure, hop the trolley to additional shops outdoors at Woodfield Village Green and The Streets of Woodfield.

Read more about Woodfield Mall →


Located in Chicago's historic West Loop neighborhood, this shopping wonderland provides locals and visitors with over 125 vendors offering an eclectic mix of smartly priced antiques, vintage and modern goods, perfect for the gift-giving season. Grab a specialty cocktail and snack on free popcorn in the new Sports Bar while shopping a stylishly crafted mix of goods. Kids will go for the complimentary "Elves Workshop" featuring hands-on arts & crafts like decorating mini gingerbread houses while parents shop. Santa Claus will be on-site each day from 12-2 pm. The December market adds Holiday Wreath-Making and Poems While You Wait. The 2019 Indoor Holiday Markets take place on Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 24, followed by Saturday, Dec.14 and Sunday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry is $8 in advance; $10 at the door; kids under 12 get in free.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The European-style antiques and vintage market in Chicago's historic West Loop/Fulton Market district is called "the Barney's of Vintage."

Jacky's expert tip: There's free parking in a huge onsite lot as well as complimentary coat and package check at the check-in table.

Read more about Randolph Street Market →

Those who loathe holiday shopping amid the throngs will do well at Hopewell Brewing's Holiday Bazaar. Browse the wares of local artisans with a rich dark lager or a Close Enough Pilsner (made up entirely of regional and local ingredients) in hand at the progressive craft brewery and taproom in Logan Square. On Saturday, Dec. 14, noon to 5 pm, the fourth annual Holiday Bazaar features treats by critically acclaimed Bang Bang Pie; fine paper goods from Hello Paper Company; one-of-a-kind vintage clothing pieces; ceramics by Up in the Air Somewhere; house plants; enamel pins; and home goods and jewelry courtesy of Fleur. After shopping at the progressive craft brewery and taproom, stroll the neighborhood's ever-changing array of shops, eateries and venues. Hopewell Brewing suggests, "Don't drink and drive, take the Blue Line."

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: It's a chance to shop for local craft goods at a Chicago craft brewery in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city.

Jacky's expert tip: Be sure to try Hopewell Brewing's Great News Saison, perfect for a night out with friends, as you explore standout vendors like Lost Girl Vintage.

Read more about Hopewell Brewing Holiday Bazaar →

The female-owned and operated independent Wolfbait & BGirls carries the work of more than 250 local designers which is pretty remarkable considering it's a tiny retail space. Local goods at reasonable prices include clothing, tees and onesies; an incredible range of jewelry, accessories; bath and beauty items; books; wall art: stuff for pets and kids; edibles; and home goods. There are multiple workshops and meet the maker trunk shows this holiday season, too. Attend an earring workshop with local jewelry designer Vintage Royalty on Dec. 5 to learn how to make two pairs of vintage-inspired earrings. How about a candle making workshop with local candlemaker Rocket Relics, to make scented soy candles in upcycled containers? Local jewelry designer Into the Pines presents a trunk show on Dec. 18 showcasing handmade jewelry and plant holders.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: If you're looking "Chicago" gifts, this shop offers the wares of 250 local artisans as well as Chicago based fair trade companies.

Jacky's expert tip: The shop is located on Logan Boulevard, right around the corner from Lulu Café, Bang Bang Pie Shop and Longman & Eagle. Stop in and enjoy some of the city's best.

Read more about Wolfbait & B-Girls →

If mall and Michigan Ave. shopping are the last places you want to tackle this holiday season, get to this interactive shopping event that has a new home in 2019 at City Hall Chicago (the beer garden/restaurant, not the government building). Sauced: The Night Market Before Christmas takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 5 to 10 p.m. In its fifth year, the holiday version of the popular roving night market brings together emerging chefs, local artisans and producers for shoppers to peruse one-of-kind of gifts. Count on 40 of Chicago's finest food, art and retail vendors, as well as a full bar and a DJ, for an evening of eating, drinking, holiday shopping, and rogue Santa sightings. Vendors include The BoxBerry greeting cards; Tempered Label clothing; Soothsayer hot sauce; Sugoi Sweets chocolates; Amar&Riley pins; Therese Kuempel accessories; and Higher Healing CBD. Admission is free and open to all ages.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Big box retailers, department stores and malls aren't everyone's cup of Christmas tea. This a local, interactive night of shopping.

Jacky's expert tip: Stop at Sabicha Israeli street food and the Cheese, Sex, Death Raclette Bar for shopping sustenance.

Read more about Sauced: The Night Market Before Christmas →

Gold Coast

Shopping at MCA is not the least bit intimidating but rather a giddy retail experience browsing bold and beautiful items for holiday gift-giving. For 2019, the two-story MCA Store at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents streetwear-inspired holiday gifts, in fashion, accessories, jewelry, and design objects. Highlights range from artist-inspired skate decks and hoodies to accessories for the urban explorer. Artist Virgil Abloh offers exclusive items in collaboration with the museum including the hoodies and t-shirts. There are fantastic items for kids (such as an astronaut duvet cover and an Andy Warhol coloring book); artist inspired ornaments; mesmerizing mobiles; art objects to "zhuzh" up your home and office; beautiful books; plus fashion, dining needs and jewelry from brooches to watches.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: You won't find as many unusual and beautiful items at any other retail location in the city.

Jacky's expert tip: Stop by Marisol, the exceptional restaurant and bar at the MCA starring innovative flavors and an artistic continuation of your shopping experience.

Read more about MCA Store →

If you can't find it here, it may not exist. The Magnificent Mile offers more than 460 retailers, major department stores; international luxury labels and designers; and vertical shopping centers 900 North Michigan Shops, The Shops at North Bridge and Water Tower Place. Duck into 900 North Michigan Shops' gourmet food hall, Aster Hall, for Chicago food and beverage from street tacos to sushi and coffee to cocktails. 2019 witnesses the new huge flagship for Roots, out of Canada; the opening of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery which is the largest Starbucks in the world; and for luxury shoppers, look for a grand re-opening of the Cartier boutique. Consider an overnight at one of the 70 hotels and spa service to sooth a shopped-out body and mind. Dozens of museums and attractions add to the decisions, so make a plan.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: It's Chicago's most popular shopping area, with more than 400 stores, holiday lights, street performers and decorated window displays.

Jacky's expert tip: Check the web site for discount codes for parking and details on shopping packages available at area hotels.

Read more about Shopping on Michigan Avenue →

The 19th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show is a refreshing alternative to traditional retail and is a fun place to find unique gifts for everyone on your holiday list. More than indie 600 artists from across North America bring their imaginative, handmade items to The Mart from Dec. 5-8. Get ready to browse a wide range of media and categories including accessories; ceramic kitchenware; recycled paper; home decorations; tons of fashion from warm wool hats to travel-inspired scarves in bold prints; furniture; gourmet treats; jewelry; kids' stuff; pet products; painting and sculpture; and a heck of a lot more. Speak with the artists and see artist demonstrations, watch fashion shows and listen to live music.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Shoppers can attend fashion runway shows, purchase fine art, indulge at the gourmet market, and get holiday shopping finished - all in one place.

Jacky's expert tip: Tickets are $12 per adult and provide entry for all four days. A portion of all ticket sales benefit Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital.

Read more about One of a Kind Holiday Show® →


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky