The pandemic may not be over, but it’s time to show that grinchy old omicron variant who’s boss by doing some shopping, the good old-fashioned in-person kind. Sure, your UPS guy or gal might be a little hurt and confused at first, but it’s time to move on. Close your laptop, grab a mask and put on some pants with a zipper, because the holiday offerings at Evanston shops are too good to miss this year, plus breathing is overrated.

Accents Plus

601 Davis St.

If you’re searching for a pretty shawl, fichu, wrap, cape, scarf or boa, this is your shop. There are even some clothing items with actual sleeves sold here. In addition to outerwear, look for unique jewelry, bags, hats and gloves.

Hat and mask combo at Accents Plus. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the minimalist.

You’ll never be caught maskless this winter if you have one buttoned to your hat! (This model is an improvement on an earlier prototype where the mask was actually stitched to the wearer’s earlobes.) Available in black or gray with a faux fur topper, this soft chunky knit combo addresses two needs in one stylish package. $29.

Recycled piano-wire jewelry at Accents Plus. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the environmentally aware pianist.

Recycled piano wires twisted in various artistic ways are the basis for this eye-catching line of bracelets and necklaces. Featured in silver, slate and bronze, each piece sounds the perfect note. Bracelets, $39.

Necklace of wire flowers at Accents Plus. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For visitors from the future.

A cluster of sculpted wire flowers is the centerpiece of this modern statement necklace, much like the one Lieutenant Uhura favored for the annual Star Trek Ball. The adjustable cord can be worn straight or scrunched depending on your mood and the prevailing frequencies. $145.

Classy Closet

701 Washington St.

It’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps patrons coming back to the Classy Closet, a cozy corner consignment shop featuring upscale designer and vintage merchandise. Pop in and peruse the vast selection of stylish clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women. Veteran shoppers know nothing matches the adrenaline rush of stumbling on a classic Burberry bag, Hermes silk tie or gleaming Patricia Locke necklace. Who knows what you might find?

Judith Leiber belt at Classy Closet. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your fiercest friend.

This chic Judith Leiber belt has the power to transform an ordinary woman in a droopy dress into a mighty fashion warrior with an enviable waistline. Gold-toned with subtle stretch, this versatile piece also works with cardigans, caftans and lightweight coats. $150.

Vintage rings at Classy Closet. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For bling addicts.

An eye-popping assortment of delightful vintage rings will make you grateful for your multiple digits. No need to limit your purchase to one. $10 to $66.

Faux fur scarves at Classy Closet. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For animal lovers with cold necks.

A soft and warm faux fur scarf instantly elevates a humdrum coat or jacket. Featuring an authentic look and feel, these pelts are 100% PETA approved. $10 and up.


1939 Central St.

Gracie’s offers a line of sophisticated womenswear, jewelry, bags and gifts. Check out the shop’s collection of cashmere blend wraps available in a rainbow of colors. (These remain lovely and handy, even if igloo dining has become a bit passe.)

Blown-glass ornaments at Gracie’s. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For independent thinkers.

Behold, the women who inspire us! A sparkling collection of blown-glass ornaments meticulously recreates images of our favorite female icons including Betty White, RBG and Audrey Hepburn. (A few famous fellows are also featured.) $19.95 and up.

Handbags and straps at Gracie’s. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your indecisive friend.

More wonderful than weird, these stylish handbags boast a classic design and come in an array of sizes and colors. Best of all, you can change the patterned strap to suit your fancy and your outfit. Bags $64 and up. Straps $38.

Plush dog toys at Gracie’s. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your pandemic pup.

Yes, maybe he’d be just as happy with your daughter’s retainer, but isn’t it worth a try? Irresistibly soft plush dog toys feature witticisms to amuse Fido and a satisfying squeaker component the whole family will enjoy. $10 to $15.

The Mexican Shop

801 Dempster St.

An Evanston institution for more than 50 years, The Mexican Shop puts the Q in quirky and attracts shoppers of all ages who appreciate the vintage vibe and one-of-a-kind imports. It’s almost impossible to find a run-of-the-mill gift here unless all of your friends happen to inhabit a Salvador Dali dreamscape.

Beaded earrings at The Mexican Shop. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your most observant friend.

Fanciful beaded earrings in shades of aqua, silver and gold demand a second look. These are best when worn while spying on the neighbors, proctoring exams or minding small children. $42.

Handmade scissors at The Mexican Shop. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your editor.

Functional and decorative, these handmade scissors beautify any work space. Use them to snip fresh herbs, clip favorite articles from old-timey printed newspapers or trim ribbons for holiday packages. $7.

Vintage puppet at The Mexican Shop. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the diva in your life.

This vintage Kabuki-inspired ceramic and textile puppet offers a touch of the exotic to enliven even the drabbest decor. She’s the perfect addition for an entryway table, but don’t expect her to be content sitting on a corner shelf. $32.

niceLena & Friends

1235 Chicago Ave.

Inside this compact, bright yellow storefront there is a buzz of positive energy generated by a rainbow-colored palette and delightfully styled merchandise. Explore a treasure trove of handmade jewelry, original artwork, ceramics, cards and candles, most produced by local artists.

Hand-painted trophy at niceLena & Friends. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the winners in your life.

Created by local artist Ellen Greene, these hand-painted, lavishly embellished trophies can be awarded to your most esteemed loved ones, regardless of their athletic ability. $32.

Gender pins at niceLena & Friends. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For people who like pronouns.

Evanston-made resin gender pins are a cute and colorful way to make a statement. Fasten one to a lapel, T-shirt, backpack or evening gown for maximum impact. $6.

Necklaces at niceLena & Friends. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For pattern people.

Owner Lena Kim produces these lovely necklaces, along with a selection of earrings, from intricately patterned origami paper pressed on wood or metal. Ancient beauty meets modern design in each custom-crafted creation. Necklaces $24 and up.

Noir d’Ebene

1309 Chicago Ave.

Small and elegant, this newish chocolate boutique offers an array of decadently delicious edible gifts. Owner Journey Shannon, a professional pastry chef and chocolatier, combines fair trade imported cacao beans, European-style butter, Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste and French or Portuguese sea salt to produce dark and delicious treats that are sure to delight even the most sophisticated chocolate connoisseur.

Chocolate subscriptions at Noir d’Ebene. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your sweetie.

Nothing against fruit-of-the-month club, but you might get a bigger kiss if you give your lover a quarterly subscription of assorted fine chocolates. You pick the quantities and varieties and let Noir d’Ebene perform the magic. Black Box packages start at $30.

Hades Honey at Noir d’Ebene. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For a rather dull hostess.

Clover honey produced by rigorously trained bees is infused with Trinidad scorpion peppers, some of the hottest in the world. The flavor is sweet in the front with a spicy kick at the back. Pair it with goat cheese, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a basket of fried chicken. $12.

White chocolate discs at Noir d’Ebene. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the persnickety few.

True, it’s a questionable color choice, but these white chocolate rounds will leave even diehard dark chocolate fans begging for more. Velvety smooth discs are topped with cashews, almonds, pecan praline and cacao nibs for a heavenly confection that’s as pretty as it is delectable. $7.50.

Stella Boutique

2116 Central St.

You could lose a whole afternoon browsing in Stella’s, where every square inch is packed with products to delight the eye and engage the senses. Shop for clothing, accessories, home goods and jewelry, much of it Evanston made.

Sculpted mugs at Stella Boutique. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your friend with superpowers.

Stella owner Rachel Hershinow has partnered with Evanston artisans to produce the new Goddess Collection, a gift-able selection of fragrant bath and body products, tempting handmade chocolates and seductively sculpted mugs inspired by the female form. Mugs $38.

Wool slippers at Stella Boutique. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your chum with cold feet.

Keep your toes toasty and your conscience clear when you bring home these fair trade wool slippers hand-crafted by women in the Kyrgyz Republic. Dyes and materials are 100% natural and compostable. $70.

ZIP code candles at Stella Boutique. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your local buddy.

Place one of these handsome ZIP code pillar candles near your desk, and filling out those tricky return addresses will be easy as pie. Hmmm, which candle is nicer? $24.

Stumble & Relish

1312 Chicago Ave.

If you’re feeling a bit Scrooge-y, the cure is waiting inside this charming shop where you’ll find not a prize turkey, but a vast array of unusual gifts to lift your spirits and lighten your mood. Choose from sparkling jewelry, colorful home decor products, cheerful seasonal accessories and numerous items bearing our beloved town’s name, including Evanston throw pillows, beer and wine glasses, ornaments, water bottles and thermal mugs.

Felt flowers at Stumble & Relish. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For the reluctant gardener.

Felt flowers are remarkably low maintenance and look perky year round, even during drought conditions. Make a statement with a single flower in a ceramic bud vase or bunch them together in the vessel of your choice. $4 each.

Cloth towels at Stumble & Relish. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For your messy friend.

Here’s a good idea! Bright and eco-friendly, these washable, reusable towels replace that shameful tree-murdering roll you’ve been hiding under your kitchen sink. $30.

Cat canvas at Stumble & Relish. (Photo by Nancy McLaughlin)

For cat fanciers.

Rendered in acrylic on canvas by legendary local artist Amanda Evanston Freund, this whimsical feline depiction is a must-have splurge for cat lovers and art lovers alike. $125.

Nancy McLaughlin

Nancy McLaughlin is an Evanston-based freelance writer who has a fascination for the everyday events that shape our community in extraordinary ways. She covers human interest stories for the RoundTable.

4 replies on “Weird, wonderful gifts for all from local stores”

  1. Love all these great, unique picks! We also appreciate you sharing our business and so many great local shops!

  2. Hi! I’m the artist who makes the pronoun pins at Lena’s and I just wanted to say thank you so much for highlighting my work! It really means a lot to be featured with so many other talented artists and crafters.

  3. This was a wonderful article. I am going right out to get a few gifts I saw and wonder what other wonderful delights are in store.

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