4 brick-and-mortar gifting goldmines

I love online shopping. I mean, seriously, I do, for all the reasons that millions of other people love it, too. But when I was a kid, online shopping wasn’t a thing. In fact, it wasn’t even a hint of a thing, so every weekend in December leading up to Christmas, my dad and I went “real” shopping. We’d chart out our gifts and where to get them before systematically and triumphantly making our way through the list.

Juniper, Northbrook


Those memories are some of the best I have of the holidays. They remind me that even though shopping online is stress-free and sweatpants-friendly, there’s something heartwarming about getting out to pick up your gifts.

Going gift shopping also lets kids see that giving is a special thing. It’s not a hassle to be dealt with or yet another obligation to hurry through. It’s an act that’s worth the effort––the bundling up, the piling in the car, the browsing through a store. Giving is that much richer when the gift is genuinely handpicked.

Is gift buying online still in my future this holiday? Ho-ho-ho yeah. But I’m also making it a point to fit in a few real world excursions with my little one so he can help pick out some presents. Here are four of my favorite north suburban spots to find perfectly giftable treasures.


Spend an afternoon in this downtown gem and come away with a variety of gifts for mom, grandma, a teacher or a babysitter. A pair of super-comfy Happy Socks brightens the day with fun colors and cute patterns. LaVanila Body Butter packs pure shea and cocoa butters with essential oils for the ultimate in soft skin (this one may or may not definitely be on my list). Going for the splurge? Three little letters: PJs. But not just any PJs – the supremely cozy Bella Dahl Plaid PJ set.

1346 Shermer Road, Northbrook


From active play and arts and crafts to educational games and beautifully made dolls, Beanstalk is the place to get this year’s toys. Customer service shines here, so if you’re unsure what to get for a classroom gift exchange (or for your own child – it’s OK, we’ve all been there), ask one of the staff. They know their stuff, and you’ll leave with a timeless gift that will get way more mileage than the latest “it” toy.

654 Central Ave., Highland Park

Morning Glory Flower Shop

I know––flowers might not leap to mind when shopping for holiday gifts. But I, for one, absolutely adore having a bouquet of fresh blooms around the house at all times. I usually go the practical route and pick them up from a grocer, but a stunning gift bouquet from this beautiful flower shop would have me jingling all the way. Bouquets also make a foolproof gift for a holiday party host, and Morning Glory has several seasonal arrangements to choose from.

1822 Glenview Road, Glenview

Deerfield Cyclery

A brand new bike wrapped in a shiny red ribbon, strategically placed under the tree – come on, can you resist? Stop by this family-run shop and find the perfect two-wheeled transportation for your kids (or even your significant other). The store also does repairs and tuneups, and they’re equipped to answer questions for basic and advanced riders alike.

705 Waukegan Road, Deerfield

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