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Chicago Books and a Chicago Inspired Gift Basket:

Chicago Books and a Chicago Inspired Gift Basket:

Old Nov 6th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Chicago Books and a Chicago Inspired Gift Basket:

My brother, his wife, and my 8-week old neice are moving from San Diego to Chicago in two weeks. We (myself and the rest of their family) all live in Ohio so they will be a lot closer to us, and we are driving out there to help them move.

I'd like to bring a housewarming gift basket, in which, I'd like to include books about Chicago. So, three questions.

1. What is the best travel or insiders guide to Chicago should I get them?

2. Are there any children's picture books that you know of which feature Chicago (I found one called Goodnight Chicago).

3. Any favorite architecture books (for my brother's Christmas Gift). I saw one called Chicago Pocket Guide to Architecture (I'd like to stay under $30).

Also, any creative ideas for me to add to the basket besides the usual wine, pasta sauce, etc?

Thank you!!!
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 08:20 AM
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A good book that is often on the sale table at places like Border's or Barnes & Noble is called Chicago Then and Now. it has historic and current photos of sites in the city.

For a children's book, you may be able to find a copy of Cows on Parade, which has photos of the 1999 street art festival. Since some are still on display in various sites, the kids could have fun finding them.

How about Fannie May chocolates, Frango mints, Gino's or Uno's Pizza instead of wine and pasta sauce?

I'll have to think about the insider's guide but maybe others can recommend one. For more ideas, check the City's site at www.chicagostore.com or the CTA site www.transitchicago.com. They have videos, books, clothing and collectibles.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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I am from the area and LOVED "Devil in the White City". It IS a story about a serial killer during the time of the wold fair. If your bro likes those types of stories, it's a EXCELLENT two-fer book that also chronicles the world fair in Chicago. I will never look at my city the same again. It's fantastic!
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I would include a subscription to Chicago Magazine.

Perhaps a gift card to a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant in Chicago--there are a lot of restaurants to choose from. Or a Chicago Entertainment Book.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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The PBS VHS or DVD copy of the fantastic program called "Chicago, City of the Century" is better than any book if they are really interested in history, architecture, the riotous era of robber barons that gave us the public lakefront and much, much more about what makes it completely unique.

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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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amelie, here are my recommendations:

1. IMHO, "Chicago: In and Around the Loop - Walking Tours of Architecture and History" by Gerard R. Wolfe. You can pick it up at a bookstore in Chicago, at the Chicago Architecture Foundation's locations or on Amazon.com.

2. I don't have a specific suggestion about a children's book; however, there is a nice children's bookstore on N. Rush (just off of Michigan, between Walton and Delaware) called "Children in Paradise Bookstore". Maybe get a gift certificate from them and your niece can pick out her own book?

3. Instead of an architecture book, think about getting your brother (and, perhaps, the whole family) an annual membership to the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Now, I know it's more than your $30 budget, but this would be a gift that "keeps on giving" throughout the course of the year. An individual membership is $55 - a family membership is $75. However, look at the benefits which come with both. For example, with an individual membership, you have the buy-one-get-one-free ticket for the highly!!! recommended CAF River Cruise - which, on weekends, is a $28 savings in itself ($26 on weekdays). If this suggestion doesn't appeal, then I'd highly recommend the DVD they have available of their River Cruise (hosted by Geoffrey Baer). Not only does it contain the new River Cruise - plus the old one of several years ago, which shows the difference in the cityscape since then - but also a documentary on the Eastland Disaster, a sad chapter in Chicago's history.

The other things I'd recommend to fill out the basket:

Some coffee from Intelligentsia.

Salsa/sauces collection from Frontera Grill.

Maybe a CD (or a couple) of specifically Chicago-themed music, such as Kurt Elling at the Green Mill (if they are jazz lovers); of Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, etc. (if they are blues lovers); or of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (if they love classical).

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise restaurant group gift certificates. They have a great selection of restaurants, from the upper tier (Tru and Everest) to more casual (Mitey Nice Grill and FoodLife at Water Tower Place). Sometimes, they have specials around the holidays as well when purchasing gift certificates.

A CTA system map. You can get this for free from the CTA.

Perhaps some Goose Island ale?

A gift certificate - for some Ann Sathers cinnamon rolls?

A very nice thing to think about is something special for the holidays. Something which is a Chicago tradition, to make them feel "at home" in their new home. For example, LaSalle Bank has the "Do It Yourself Messiah" which is held at the Civic Opera Building. Tickets are free (ticket orders start Nov. 15) but you have to reserve in advance. Or the Music Box Theatre has their annual Christmas Double Feature Sing-A-Long. They show "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and "It's a Wonderful Life" starring James Stewart - with a sing-a-long between lead by Santa. Reasonably priced family entertainment. Or, if you really wanted something special, tickets for the 30th Anniversary "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre. If price was no object, I highly recommend the Joffrey's "Nutcrack Ballet". Simply magical - but the best ticket prices are fairly steep. 8 years old might be a little young yet - maybe for next year, though?

A subscription to the Chicago Tribune - at least for Sunday editions. They have some very good introductory rates, and your relatives have the option of extending it, if they wish.

There are free downloadable walking tours available online. A Chicago Blues History tour (narrated by Buddy Guy) on the City of Chicago's website; one of Millennium Park on their website; and three of the Loop (Art, Theatres and Landmarks) on the Chicago Loop Alliance's website. Maybe get an inexpensive MP3 player and download them for your family. There are also printable maps on some of these where you could give them along with the MP3 player.

Tried to give you some meaningful suggestions - at all price levels. You don't want that basket to be too skimpy but not be too expensive, either! Hope some of these might have merit!
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Wow, lots of great tips so far!

(Niece is 8 WEEKS, not 8 years) I guess she will be the only one of us that actually grows up in Chicago. Interesting.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Sorry, amelie, I simply mis-read that.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 10:29 PM
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Chicago is home to over 100 candy companies. Some candy to include in that basket:

Ferra-Pan - Lemon Heads, Red Hots or Boston Baked Beans.

F&F Foods - SMITH BROTHERS black licorice and wild cherry throat and cough drops with vitamin C, FOXES Intense Mints, FOXES candy and mint rolls

Curtis Candy - (Now Nestle) Baby Ruth & Butterfinger candy bars (take your kids trick or treating at the plant 3401 Mt. Prospect Rd. in Franklin Park, Illinois, just south of O'Hare Airport)

Brach's candy

Tootsie Rolls

Wrigley gum

Also Jay's potato chips

Any La Preferida Mexican food

I also loved "Devil in the White City". It brings to life a recent chapter of Chicago's history - The World's Fair.

I also second the subscription to Chicago Magazine.

http://www.chicagomag.com/

I think the CTA map is a great idea. Not sure where you will find one in Ohio......
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 10:42 PM
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I need to expound on "Devil in the White City". One of the main characters in the book is Daniel Burnham. He was a major force in Chicago Architecture.

He built the Chicago World's Fair. He built one of the first skyscrapers in America here in Chicago.

He wrote "The Plan of Chicago" which "was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city. The plan... declared that every citizen should be within walking distance of a park."

He envisioned Chicago being a "Paris on the Prairie". French inspired public works, constructions, fountains, and boulevards radiating from a central, domed municipal palace.

Burnham said, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized."

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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 11:37 PM
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A box of Argo corn starch plus a list of what you can use it for:

http://tinyurl.com/2mto57
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 11:46 PM
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A few Alberto-Culver hair products like Alberto VO5, Nexxus, St Ives, TRESemme, FDS (well maybe not this one), Consort, Motions, Just for Me, Soft & Beautiful.

Food products like Mrs. Dash or Molly Mc Butter, Sugar Twin, Baker's Joy.

Finally Static Guard.

Man, I am LOVING this thread. Can you tell I was born & raised in Chi-town & love it?
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 02:29 AM
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Rubschlager Rye Bread - although I am not sure how easy it will be to find this.

Rosen's Rye Bread ditto.

Heinemannís baked goods. Don't know if they are available in Ohio.


Eli's Cheesecake & Vienna Beef Hot Dogs but I am sure you would prefer non perishible stuff.

A lot of the great stuff isn't made in Chicago any more; Campbell's Soup, Cracker Jack, Twinkies, Oreos, Frango Mints, Vintner's Potato Chips.........
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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Go get a CTA System map: If you look at the CTA's website, you'll see the area for "Brochures". Click on it and you will find the many ways to obtain the maps.

I've just thought of another item which you might like to include:

The Art Institute will have free general admission the entire month of February 2008. It just so happens that there will be new exhibits of the work of Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer - opening February 16 (through mid-May). Although the exhibits have timed entry and you wouldn't know what would be best for your relatives, you could always put an I.O.U. in the basket for tickets to these two exhibits. Not too costly, and a wonderful thing to do during a cold winter month.

I'm going to mention several things which might help your friends become acclimated. You could make a little list of the mentioned website URLs, if you like as well:

When you are in town, you can pick up a Chicago Reader (our free weekly) a great many places. Stick the most recent copy in the basket with a little note: Free every week (comes out on Thursday).

Make a little list of websites that will be extra helpful to new residents:

The City of Chicago's website has a great deal of information for residents and those visiting. Your relatives fit both categories, just learning a new city. It also gives information on the free days for each of the museums. (Something to keep in mind during the winter months - just verify them with the museum's own website.)

Metromix is the Chicago Tribune's online entertainment website. It also gives information on dining deals and free events/exhibits/etc.

Of course, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Suntimes each have their own websites.

The afore-mentioned Chicago Reader also has an excellent website with articles, entertainment information and the like.

The Chicago Cultural Center's website for the free entertainment schedule. Moving is expensive and money might be a little tight for a short while.

Don't know what into what Chicago neighborhood your relatives are moving. However, you might check to see if theirs has its own website. Many do. This is a good way to learn about the neighborhood (as some have histories on them as well); the businesses, including restaurants and stores; and any special events happening.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 04:42 AM
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Snickers and Milky Way bars made at Masterfoods USA West Side Chicago plant.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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They don't call it "Sweet Home Chicago" for nothing!
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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I know you'd like to bring a gift basket, but it might be fun to have something delivered to the house in the first few days so they don't have to worry about what to do for dinner. This is a great site for a lot of Chicago goodies.
http://www.tastesofchicago.com/
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 08:30 AM
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More ideas:

a Motorola cell phone charm

http://tinyurl.com/2darnt

Some cake decorating frosting or candies from Wilton, or a Copco kitchen utensil.

Something from Sear's - perhaps a Craftsman Screwdriver.

A McDonald's and/or Walgreen's gift certificate.

Sherwin-Williams: Not paint but perhaps some of those paint color cards. You know, the ones you bring home to pick out the paint color to buy.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 02:23 PM
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You could always pick up one of those musical snowglobes containing several famous Chicago buildings, which plays "My Kind of Town". Bloomingdales (900 N. Michigan) usually has them at this time of year, as do many other places around town.

There is also a Chicago edition of the Monopoly game, if your friends enjoy board games.

Lastly, no gift basket would be complete without a cap or jersey of one of Chicago's sport teams for the lucky recipients.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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I thought of one more (did I mention how fun this has been for me?). Some Morton's Salt.
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