‘‘Tis the season of giving" as the saying goes...while it's easy to get caught up in the materialistic aspects of the holiday, how many unwanted or pointless gifts do we receive that end up cluttering our home (and then eventually landfills)? Let's avoid bad (and wasteful) gift giving this season by shopping smarter and choosing more meaningful and thoughtful presents. Where to start? Here are some ideas that are rewarding to both the giver and receiver.


Experiences are a good alternative and can be more special in many ways. The trill of a new bag or phone fades while the enjoyment of an adventure lasts. A study from San Francisco State University in 2016 found that experiences more than material things make people happier. Don't feel they have to be extravagant like a luxury trip it's more about creating memories.

See the spectacular Chicago skyline all dressed up for the holidays the same way Santa does with Chicago Helicopter Experience.  Take the Holiday Lights Tours to see stunning views of iconic sites like Lincoln Park Zoo Lights, the John Hancock Center, Michigan Avenue, Willis Tower and Millennium Park. Prices are $149 instead of $179 per person for the month of Dec only.

Other options include iFly, trampoline park, skydiving, sailing, hot air balloon, and zip lining.

Chicago Helicopter Experience
2420 S. Halsted St., Chicago IL 60608

Top to bottom: Collection for a Cause, $50, Provides 408 Meals; Smooth Skin Delights, $35 ,Provides 282 Meals; Kiss Me With Kiehl’s, $25, Provides 205 Meals.

Top to bottom: Collection for a Cause, $50, Provides 408 Meals; Smooth Skin Delights, $35 ,Provides 282 Meals; Kiss Me With Kiehl’s, $25, Provides 205 Meals.

Purchasing a present that gives back to the community or a charity can be a more thoughtful gift.

Continuing its holiday philanthropic tradition, Kiehl’s launched its 10th Annual Limited Edition Charitable Holiday Collection. With the purchase of their whimsical gift set, designed by the artist Andrew Bannecker, Kiehl’s pledges 100% of its net profits, up to $100,000, to a charity. For the fifth year in a row, they’ve partnered with an amazing organization Feeding America®. 40 million people in the US are food insecure and 12 million of those are kids, this donation will help provide 1,000,000 meals to families this holiday season.

I had the honor and privilege of helping Kiehl’s pack meals at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the lunch bags would go to feed students and teachers of Harold Washington College.

Also, shop with Fair Trade companies or buy ethical-made gifts from places like Society B, Ethica, Fair Trade Winds and Accompany.

520 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611,
312- 321-3601

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Feed America

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Learning a new skill can be invaluable so consider buying a loved one lessons for one of their interests. Have they always wanted to learn to play the guitar or dance?  Along with it being thoughtful and rewarding, the act of learning a new skill is fun and they will have broadened their horizons.

For an elegant and informative evening with a drink why not learn more about wine at The Chopping Block? Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned sipper they offer classes for every level with accredited sommeliers. Get a solid foundation in wine tasting and sensory evaluation, that can help you build your wine knowledge and enjoyment. Classes range from $65- $90.

Other options include painting, cooking, dancing, baking, cocktail making, golf and iceskating lessons.

The Chopping Block
Lincoln Park: 4747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, 773-472-6700
River North: 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-644-6360