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How to give the perfect gift utilizing Chicago's resources

"Oh my gosh! I LOVE it! How did you think of this?! It is perfect?! Where did you get this?! Did you see what [insert your name] got me?! It is so awesome!"

It is such a great feeling when someone you care about absolutely adores the gift you gave them. After all, you put your blood, sweat and tears into coming up with the perfect presen. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but you did put some time and effort into coming up with the gift, right?

Coming up with a great gift is no easy task. Each present must be unique, just like the recipient. Are you guilty of giving impersonal gifts? Ones that seem like zero thought was put into the process? Gift cards? A variation on the same thing you gave them last year and the year before and even before that? I know that you aren't doing this because you don't care, and you'd actually love to give the perfect gift.

Great gifts can be large or small, high-end or handmade, and we have access to amazing gifts with incredible potential right here in this little town of ours. Let's focus locally and come up with wonderful ideas utilizing Chicago's amazing boutiques and resources.

Only after you have spent some time thinking about this person and what they enjoy, do a bit of research on the web to encourage an "Ah-Ha!" moment and see what others have done for people with similar attributes. Also, to cut down on the overwhelming nature of shopping for a perfect gift, visit your neighborhood shops and boutiques. Leverage their buyers who have an amazing eye for awesome merchandise. It makes it so much easier to find an awesome gift if you have really cool stuff to select from.

If you ever venture up into my neck of the woods, here is one of my favorite shops Lakeview that never seems to disappoint.

Spare Parts
2947 N Broadway Street
Chicago, IL 60657

This husband- and wife-owned shop offers a great balance of gifts for both the men and women in your life. Specializing in accessories, this shop stocks cool cufflinks, bags, jewelery and interesting art for any spot in your home.

I've had tremendous luck finding great gifts for my fiance in this boutique. For his birthday, I found two awesome sets of cufflinks by Tokens & Icons, which he absolutely loves. Every time he wears them compliments seem to fly out of people's mouths.

In addition to carrying brands like Village Tannery, HOBO, Tokyo Bay, Burton, Jack Spade, Derek Alexander, Inge Christopher, SHE Complete and local jewelery designers, Spare Parts is a great place to pick up some vintage pieces sure to make a statement. And if you aren't sure what you are looking for, the shop owners go above and beyond to give you great ideas and show you what they have, can get and have done in the past. This is a great spot to find your truly one-of-a-kind gift for that one-of-a-kind person in your life.

Some other great gift ideas include:
-Flying lessons for the adventurer in your life at The Flight Center. No experience required and guaranteed to give your thrill seeker a rush!

-Hand-make stationery for your friends or family with the help of Paper Source in the Lincoln Park or downtown. They offer fun evening craft classes as well as great customer care. Pop in there sometime and pick up  your favorite patterned papers with coordinating envelopes for a personal and great gift.

-Baking their favorite cookies or cake and putting some time and effort into the decorations. For new twists on old baked favorites, visit one of my favorite baking blogs, Bakeralla.

In the end, great gifts come from the heart. With the holidays approaching, don't be afraid to start the brainstorming process now. And keep a pad near by for all of those "Ah-Ha!" moments. Check back soon for more interesting ideas and recommendations on great Chicago boutiques, resources and ideas. Happy giving!