Merz Apothecary owners Abdul Qaiyum (left) and his son Anthony Qaiyum. Credit: Courtesy Lisa Palmer

LINCOLN SQUARE — It’s the season to shop at local businesses to find that perfect gift for friends and family.

This year’s holiday gift guide includes delicious hot chocolate from Irving Park and apparel and craft beers from a North Center brewery and taproom.

Lincoln Square

Merz Apothecary, 4716 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Chicago pharmacist Peter Merz opened a small drugstore on the North Side in 1875. The business moved to its current storefront in Lincoln Square in 1982 and expanded into the store next door, where Anthony Qaiyum and his father Abdul Qaiyum have been running the shop for years.

Holiday gifts include a peppermint vanilla bar soap ($6.50) and a stocking-stuffer gift set of D.S. Durga deluxe fragrances ($250).

Merz Apothecary is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 773-989-0900. 

Speks, a magnetic fidget putty that comes in a tin. Credit: Provided.

Timeless Toys, 4749 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Harry and Martha Burrows opened the store in 1994 in the heart of Lincoln Square as an oasis for children and families. The shop is focused on toys that develop a child’s imagination.

Fun gifts this year include Speks, ($24.99), a magnetic fidget putty that comes in a tin, and Exit: The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes ($19.99), a board game that turns your home into an escape room.

Timeless Toys is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 773-334-4445. 

The graphic novel “Chicago” by Glenn Head. Credit: Provided.

The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Website.

Lincoln Square’s independent, woman-owned book store and cafe opened in 2004. The shop hosts a number of author events and book clubs and is known for its wide selection of books and wine, either of which would make fine gifts for friends and family. 

Books in stock include the graphic novel “Chicago” ($24.99) by notable cartoonist and editor Glenn Head. You can also buy a gift card ($25-$50) for the book lover in you life.

The Book Cellar is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-4. p.m. Sundays. Check the website for holiday hours. 773-293-2665.

North Center

A screen print poster available at Hop Butcher For The World. Credit: Provided.

Hop Butcher For The World, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. Website

Founded in Chicago in 2014, Hop Butcher’s beers include hop-forward double IPAs, flavorful lagers and bold stouts. 

In addition to selling cans of the brewery’s beer, the shop features gifts like a branded Hop Butcher Frisbee ($7) and an “I Want To Believe” screen print poster ($20).

Taproom hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. 773-697-7883. 773-697-7883.


The avocado toast chartreuse nail polish available at Bon Femmes. Credit: Provided.

Bon Femmes, 4917 N. Damen Ave. Website.

Bon Femmes owner Omotola Akinbiyi curates a selection of art, clothing, beauty products and more at her Ravenswood shop. 

All of her products are created by women and include items like Glam & Grace’s avocado toast chartreuse nail polish ($10) and a pink button-down shirt by An’ge ($60).

Bon Femmes is open noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. 224-425-2553.

Albany Park

The farmers market scented candle from Scent Queens. Credit: Provided.

The Scent Queens Candle Co. & Apothecary Shoppe, 3728 W. Montrose Ave. Website.

Married couple Curtis Bumgarner and Andrew Cookson offer customers a selection of hand-poured candle creations as well as a chance to make their own custom-scented candles. All of Scent Queen’s candles are made from natural soy or coconut waxes and don’t contain paraffins. Bumgarner designs the fragrances while Cookson mixes the oils and wax.

Items include a cinnamon and coffee candle ($20) and a farmers market candle with notes of lemon, tomato, sage, peppercorn and pine.

The Scent Queens Candle Co. & Apothecary Shoppe is open noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 773-754-7562.

Holiday “air mail” stationary available at a. favorite design Credit: Amber Favorite

a. favorite design, 4432 N. Kedzie Ave. Website

Is there any greater feeling than receiving a handwritten letter in the mail — the real mail? It means someone not only thought of you, but put in the time to pick a personalized card or letterhead and even wrote out all the words. No AI or email here! That’s why we love a. favorite design, which specializes in handcrafted letterpress goods from its friendly neighborhood shop.

Get Chicago-themed stationery, stickers, and pencils for you and everyone you known and watch as you become as beloved as an empty Brown Line train. This heartwarming shop believes in the magic of snail mail and that a long distance exchange can instantly brighten someone’s day — or maybe even their life.

Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 773-412-0891. 

Bliss Shop Credit: Christine Yu

Bliss Shop, 4809 N. Pulaski Rd. Website

Headshop girlies rejoice! Bliss Shop is a female-friendly headshop with beautiful glass and CBD products. Pieces here have delicate feminine touches — from heart-shaped glassware to wildflower pipes to delicious pre-rolls and fruity gummies, these stunning items are perfect for the chill queen in your life.

Grab a pack of the WYLD Peach CBD/CBC gummies for mood and focus ($5.25-$59.99) or an adorable Strawberry Bubbler ($40) for the perfect stocking stuffer.

Open 12-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12-6 p.m. on Sunday. Closed on Wednesdays in the fall/winter. 773-997-9283.

North Park

Imported Swedish Tomte. Credit: Provided.

The Sweden Shop, 3304 W. Foster Ave. Website.

This unique shop specializes in Scandinavian items such as “Smorgasbord: The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats,” a cookbook by author Johanna Kindvall ($17.99), and gnome-like figurines called Tomte with heart ribbons and knitted red scarves ($15.95).

The Sweden Shop is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. 773-478-0327.

Irving Park

Katherine Duncan (left) and some of her confections. Credit: Provided

Katherine Anne Confections, 3653 W. Irving Park Road. Website.

Chocolatier Katherine Duncan opened a second location in Irving Park earlier this year to sell her popular and decadent chocolate creations. 

Duncan’s drinking chocolate ($26) comes in several delicious blends. One is Salted Caramel and includes chunks of toffee and an extra dash of sea salt while the Mexican blend includes cinnamon, cayenne, habanero and guajillo chiles. Both are made with ground chocolate (no cocoa powder) and can be melted with a mixture of milk and cream or just milk, almond milk or water.

Katherine Anne Confections Irving Park location is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. 773-245-3948.

Old Irving Park nonprofit Share Our Spare is dedicated to providing essentials to area children aged 5 and under. Credit: Maija Martin

Share Our Spare, 3800 N. Milwaukee Ave. Website, Instagram, Facebook

The giving season is about much more than giving amazing local gifts to friends and family, it’s also about giving back to the community as a whole — be it with donations, time, or acts of service. Share Our Spare, a nonprofit dedicated to providing essentials to children between the ages of 0 and 5 in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, is a great place to start.

The group is the only organization in Chicago focused on recirculating gently used baby items like Pack ‘n Plays, high chairs, strollers and more. Share Our Spare is the largest essentials bank in the Chicago area — and diapers, wipes, and cold weather essentials are the organization’s greatest current needs. If you’re able, support Share Our Spare’s mission of ensuring every area child age five and below has the essential items they need to support their health and development to equip them for a strong start.


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