Da Gift Guide

Here it is folks – a wholesome gift guide with some or all of the following: products made in Chicago, products made in the USA, products made with sustainable materials, products made responsibly abroad, products that donate to great causes, or a mix all those mentioned! Although I can go on and on about the many reasons to buy responsibly and “vote with your dollar” I really just want to provide a cool alternative gift guide. Enjoy!


Chicago L-shirts


Minimal “L” t-shirts made in Chicago and printed on American Apparel shirts (And check out the sweet website)


The Bionic Wrench


The handy person in the house will absolutely appreciate this adjustable wrench. It’s kinda like a hybrid of a wrench and pliers and comes in 3 different sizes. Made in the USA.


German Goggles


Good for everything you’d need googles for.  Made in Germany.


Modern Genealogy Poster


Everyone loves a cool family tree, and these genealogy graphics are beautifully crafted and personalized.  I’m not entirely sure of the place of production, but they are customized so that’s a good sign.


Poster Text


Entire text of a book in the form of a print. The book Moby Dick is shown above.


Square One Organic Vodka

$ (varies)

Crafted from 100% organic American rye.  It comes in 3 flavors: botanical, cucumber, and original. Looks like you can purchase it at your local liquor store.


Clementine Art


Not only are these art products made in the USA but the company recycles, uses earth friendly non-toxic materials and supports early childhood art education. It looks like all Whole Foods stores carry them, too.




The Hoptu Laptop Sleeve by Looptworks is made from 100% upcycled neoprene leftover from wetsuit material. This company is based in Portland, Oregon…

“Looptworks limits what it can produce based on the amount of materials leftover. Typically this means that there will be no more than 500 of any given style. Each one is hand-numbered making it indeed a one-of-a-kind collectible…Part of being sustainable is building products that don’t fall apart after six months of use.”


Organic (Dog) Bumper Bed


My husband found these while on the hunt for a long lasting dog bed. Everyone who has this bed says it’s the best investment they’ve made for their dog, especially if your pet has allergies or sensitive skin. This is what the company has to say…

“The Organic Bumper Bed® is made with a removable organic cotton cover, helping our Earth by reducing the amount of chemicals we put into the ground. The cushion used on the inside of the bed is made from 100% recycled IntelliLoft®, which was previously plastic soda bottles.”

Made in the USA (Montana to be specific)


Swedish FireSteel


FireSteel’s 5500ºF spark can start a fire in cold or wet weather and lasts for 12,000 strikes! Quite a handy tool and possibly a lifesaver if you find yourself outside a lot. Developed (and I assume produced) by the Swedish Defense Department.




Each nuzzle is handcrafted from a single block of wood, and made in Chicago!


Bamboo Bottle


bamboo + glass + thoughtful design = Bamboo Bottle

“…a clean, safe and stylish bottle that is made from the practically inexhaustible resources of bamboo and glass. Bamboo gives our bottles style and strength. The glass guarantees safe, clean drinking at all temperatures. Whether you’re chugging ice-cold water or sipping on steaming-hot tea, this uber-cool bottle is BPA-free, ensuring no chemicals leach into your drink.”


Flip and Tumble Reusable Bags

$11 for 5 bags

I’ve got my eye on those produce bags – so much better than that crappy film plastic at the grocery store. They fold up small to fit in your bag/purse so you don’t have to run back to the car last minute. Responsibly made in China.


Mutsumi Hashi Chopsticks


Simple and beautiful and they come in a lovely package. They are available in other colors too.  Made in Japan.


State Cutting Boards


AHeirloom is a husband and wife team that makes state shaped cutting boards with scrap corain and wood. Handmade in New York.


Engrave Your Book

$60 – $80 + free domestic shipping

Have a friend that takes their moleskin journal e v e r y w h e r e? This might be the perfect gift for them. The covers are handmade in Portland with all-natural vegetable tanned leather. You can pick one of there designs or submit a custom design.




Premium organic underwear for men and women. For every order that includes a Winter Lights collection print (shown above), they’ll donate one solar powered, LED lantern to a displaced woman or family in Haiti. Plus, for those of you who know the big designers of the world the founder is Yves Behar, a very influential industrial designer.


The Recycled Wallet


Made from recycled plastic bags and newspapers collected from the streets of Delhi. The company Holstee is just pretty cool in general, great ethics and noble ideas.


Clocky & Tocky


If they aren’t coolest alarm clocks on the market right now, they are definitely the most effective. This is for that special someone who chronically overuses the snooze button. When they alarm sounds it also runs away. Therefore one must get up to get at the snooze, and lets face it – once you are on your feet it’s hard to drift back into your dream with Johnny Depp/Penelope Cruz.  Watch the video here




All-Salt is hand-harvested salt enriched with pharmaceuticals found in natural water systems. It can be used for an array of purposes – anything from salting steak on the grill to treating depression. Sounds kinda cool – I wonder if it actually works. Made in the USA (Silicon Valley area, CA)


eKO SuperLite Travel (Yoga) Mat


Super light biodegradable natural rubber travel yoga mat.


Budda Bowls

$24 (each)

I can just imagine curling up with this Buddha bowl and some hot tea or hot soup or hot water with lemon and honey, hmmm. Hand made in USA and Canada.




For those of you who need quick access to your thumb and fore finger in the winter time AKA trying to use your phone without taking your gloves off.




Apparently this is the best wireless speaker on the market. They are the 2010 version of the infamous stereos from the 80’s. As shown above they come in 4 different colors and designs. And a note to the audiophiles out there…

“JAMBOX is powered by a pair of proprietary, highly sophisticated acoustic drivers, unmatched in their ability to produce extreme high (tweeter) and low (woofer) frequencies from a single, ultra-small dome speaker.”


Tegu Blocks


Magnetic wooden blocks – awesome. Here is a Testimonial from a current owner…

“If I was forced to throw away all of my toddler’s toys except one, I’d vote to keep the wooden blocks. Three words: Hours of imagination.”

– CafeMom


686 Original Tool Belt


This belt includes a bottle opener, #2 Phillips and flathead screwdriver, and 8/10/11mm wrench loop. It comes in 3 different colors too – white, black, and brown.




Not a bad idea to have one of these if you use a bicycle. The Stemie pads the part of the bike where the handle bars meet the body of the bike – a part of the bike that could hurt a lot if it collides with your body.




Stylish, simple sandals that fold into a compact pouch that you can fit into your clutch when you head out for the night.  And so much better than walking around barefoot after hours of dancing. I believe these are made in Australia, but you can find them domestically.


Dexter Prints


Everyone loves Dexter – the public servant who is secretly a serial killer and only kills other serial killers.


Mythbusters Mugs

$25 (set of 2)


LOST Posters

$23 (abc.com)

Your love for LOST can now live on in these SWEET poster designs.


Dark Fin Gloves


Why not?


Tom’s Shoes

$34 & up

This is quite a successful shoe company. For every pair of shoes that is purchased another pair is donated to a child in need of shoes. “One for One.” You’ve probably heard or seen them before. Here is a little background…

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.




Water bottler with a built in filter, designed by Karim Rashid.


Hello Rewind Laptop Case


Have an old t-shirt you don’t want to ditch because it has sentimental value? Send it over to Hello Rewind and they’ll turn it into a lap top case. Profits go toward helping victims of sex trafficking.


Circa Ceramics – Chicago Mug


Spotted these at the Renegades Craft Fair in Chicago this past weekend (Dec. 4-5). They are some solid ceramics – both in design and weight.  Made in Chicago!


The Threadless Book


A book commemorating the 10 years of Theadless t-shirts. And it all started in Chicago!


Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag


Beautiful bag, if I only had enough camera equipment to fill it with!


Tube Wringer


Great gift for your starving artist painter friend. They will much appreciate being able to squeeze every last drop of paint out of those little tubes. Made in the USA


The Dudda

$25 each

Kinda self-explanatory. Made in the USA


EvoWood Swiss Army Knife


“The handles for each of these pocketknives are constructed from sustainable top quality walnut using what would otherwise be waste material from other production processes. The natural walnut, which is durable for light outdoor use, is colored in a rich dark stain to create individual shades and grain patterns in each knife, making every product a one-off.”


O’CLOCK Watches


The O’CLOCK watch range comes in 3 sizes (Small, Medium & Large) and should fit most people.  It’s made of a soft silicon fabrication that easily stretches over your hand and holds it’s shape very well. Made in Italy.


Yoga Glo


I found out about this program from my friend Carly who uses it religiously. Basically you pay a monthly fee and get unlimited access to online professional yoga classes. Sounds like a great gift for anyone who wants to practice yoga but can’t get to a regular class (Carly lives in Monterrey, Mexico – an area she calls “the yoga desert”)


Kor Water Bottle


Cool water bottle. Cool mission…

“KOR’s mission is to “Protect and Celebrate Water.” From day one, we have donated at least 1% of our sales to non-profits that focus on water-related issues. Transparency is also a big part of who we are, so we would like to explain in detail how our donation programs work.”


Bottle Opener Fridge Magnet


Made of stainless steel (and a very strong magnet.)

Put an end to that all too common phrase ‘Why isn’t there a bottle opener stuck to this fridge?’ with SUCK UK’s classic Bottle Opener Fridge Magnet


Brevity Necklace


Made in the USA

Brevity, designed by Anna Corpron of Sub-Studio, brings together influences of graphic design, architecture, and modern fabrication techniques to explore the possibilities of jewelry design.


Joseph Joseph Garlic Crusher


If you use garlic like I do then you’ll appreciate this kitchen tool. Made from stainless steel – a huge US export.


Singgih Kartono Compass


Made of naturally harvested mahogany and sonokeling wood…

“Hand-crafted in an Indonesian farming village, the Singgih Kartono compass follows the best sustainable practices in terms of materials and production. Kartono’s use of T-shape joints insures strength and adds a beautiful design detail. It is his quest to achieve functionality and absolute simplicity.”


Poketo Upcycled Bags


Upcycled Street Banner Bags are made from rescued street banners that would otherwise have been discarded. These colorful creations are made by Eco Party Mearry, a South Korean non-profit based in Seoul that specializes in repurposing cast-off materials to create new and modern goods.

No two bags are alike, and all of them boast awesome typography and gorgeous splashes of color. Each bag will be chosen at random, but the fun of it lies in the surprise! Since each Street Banner Bag is one-of-a-kind and specially made, you can certainly rest assured that no one else has one like yours!


Tie Tea Cup


Good for those who like to reuse their tea bags. Made of porcelain by a George Lee, a New York based designer.


Tik Tok Watch by MNML

$25 (minimum)

So hear’s the deal with these products… They are accessories for the Apple iPod Nano, made by the folks over at MNML – a Chicago studio with former Nike designers. They put together a Kickstarter campaign to find investors/consumers to manufacture the product. If you “invest” at least $25 you will receive the wristband when they are ready BUT if you wait rumor is they’ll retail for around $35.


Vosges Chocolate

$ (varies)

Gourmet Chocolate hand crafted in Chicago. They carry all different types of chocolate from your standard milk and dark chocolates to more exotic chocolates like curry flavored chocolate – and they are soo yummy.


Vinyl Is Forever


Limitd edition t-shirts from the Post Family – an inspirational Chicago design family-co-op -group-of-friends thing.

“Vinyl is Forever is a quarterly series of limited edition apparel featuring exclusive designs from prominent artists and studios, curated by Soundscreen Design.”




Ok this one deserves a long description…

“Kiva’s mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

  • Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.”

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