Installation view, Christina Quarles, MCA Chicago; Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Yes, Virginia, there is a way to create a culturally rich, ethnically diverse holiday shopping experience across various Chicago neighborhoods with purchases that support local businesses, the community, the arts, women, and animals.

The Art of Shopping
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Streeterville invites area aesthetes to view “Christina Quarles” (extended through Jan. 16). The Los Angeles-based artist’s ambiguous figures explore the ways race and sexuality form identity. After perusing the exhibition, attendees may visit the MCA Store where the paintings of Quarles have been reproduced on 100 percent silk scarves available for purchase. The shop also offers exclusive and unique items, such as floral acrylic sculptures by Amsterdam-based artist Barbara Frankie Ryan and made-to-order necklaces by New York-based jewelry designer Lorraine West, whose clients include Beyoncé, Zendaya, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Erykah Badu.

In the West Loop, an immersive art and technology experience awaits patrons per the WNDR Museum’s “Winter WNDRland” (through Jan. 2) featuring the world’s first LED interactive Saint Nick (through Dec. 21). Guests can create their own holiday gifts at the venue’s wreath-making workshop (Dec. 8) or treat themselves to a WNDRland of the Sweets (Dec. 17).

Deck the Hoods
Greektown Chicago is decked out with blue and white lights to set a festive tone for its Holiday Shoppers’ Reward Program (through Dec 31) and tree-lighting ceremony (Dec. 12) which includes carols at Elysian Field. In addition, the Greektown Arts Committee has curated a traditional “Greek Holiday Karavákia Display” (Dec. 1-Jan. 15) wherein neighborhood businesses showcase miniature boats decorated by more than 30 local artists.

Thanks to the Rogers Park Business Alliance’s annual program Live Love Shop Rogers Park (through Dec. 31), visitors can enjoy rebates from independent businesses as well as the self-guided Walk Chalk Howard Street tour featuring interactive art.

Andersonville’s Swedish American Museum hosts its Julmarknad Holiday Market (Dec. 4-5). The annual Christmas bazaar offers traditional Scandinavian and contemporary handicrafts, plus entertainment including games, a visit from Santa, and more. The museum will also celebrate St. Lucia Festival of Lights (Dec. 13) with a candle-lit procession on Clark Street.

Spirits of the Season
To further enjoy the Chicago experience, holiday shoppers of age may purchase Windy City-themed gift box sets which include local Jeppson’s Malört liquor and beer, shot glasses and coasters, prohibition-era trivia, complimentary gift-wrapping, and free shipping. Items are available online or for pick up at Transit Tees storefronts in Andersonville and Wicker Park.

From across the pond comes Grace O’ Malley Blended Irish Whiskey, the first Irish whiskey named after a woman. Also known as Grainne Ní Mháille and Granuaile, the 14th century pirate queen represents rebellious women who break the conventions of their day.

Today, women are responsible for up to 70 percent of alcohol-buying decisions. Yet, according to The Spirits Business, Instagram posts by prominent whiskey brands featured men over women by 228 percent in 2020 — even though 37 percent of whiskey in the U.S. is consumed by female drinkers. Grace O’Malley Spirits offers a way to make a statement purchase that furthers female empowerment in marketing.

Humane Holiday
Since money talks, compassionate fashions promote peace, not pieces of animals. Each year, approximately 100 million defenseless creatures are killed for their fur; nearly 85 percent from fur factory farms and the rest trapped in the wild. Buying humane alternatives supports the fur-free policies adopted by companies such as Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Coach, Burberry, Versace, Michael Kors, and Armani.

Consumers can also denounce the torture of 500,000+ animals who annually suffer in cosmetics tests around the world by opting for the cruelty-free brands cited in the humane shopping guide.

Janet Arvia

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.