The holidays are coming, and so is shopping season. Nothing gets me more stressed than shopping during the holidays. Trying to figure out what people want while under a time constraint is a recipe for anxiety. “I like shopping under pressure,” said no one ever. Why? Because it’s the worst! I put it in the same category as swimsuit shopping. It’s a necessity but the process is time-consuming, frustrating, and often expensive.
Nowadays, most people opt to shop online. This can be accomplished in the comfort of one’s home while wearing pajamas. The products are delivered directly to the home, and there is no need to lug bags around a busy shopping center. Online shopping also allows for price-hunting, too. The downsides of web surfing are product availability, changes in shipping dates, and porch pirates.
Years ago, I would select one or two days to go to the mall to get all my Christmas shopping completed. Of course, at that point in time, there were only a few individuals for whom I was shopping. There was something exhilarating about going downtown during the holiday season. There was a certain smell of Christmas in the air, and I found it fun to tote around big bags with fellow shoppers. Christmas music blared in the stores and the window displays were bright and attractive. These shopping trips were generally productive. Often, I would find items on display that would catch my eye as the perfect gift for someone special.
As a busy working mom, getting to the stores is not practical. I simply don’t have the time. I am also ill-prepared and have no idea what anyone wants for Christmas. I spend every shopping trip grumbling to myself about consumerism and how superficial the Holiday Season truly is. The pandemic also put a big wrench in the works. For quite some time here, I had zero interest in going anywhere with other people. The idea of touching common items in a closed air space with a bunch of strangers was the exact opposite of how I wanted to spend my time.
And here we are, coming out of the pandemic. Masks are off, and things seem somewhat back to normal. Now I am entertaining the thought of visiting the stores yet again. And helpful time management tips for busy moms are all the more important now.
It recently occurred to me that one of the best ways to shop for the holidays would be to incorporate it into a trip. When the trip is carved out of your schedule, you keep time only for yourself. You don’t have any other obligations. Every item you shop for is a remembrance of that trip. Finding unique gifts for other individuals is much easier when you are in a new and exciting town. The item is probably pretty great, and the fact you exerted time and effort in choosing and packing that item home is worth its weight in gold. The recipient usually recognizes this.
So, on this mom to mom blog, this is my shared thinking: If I were to plan a trip to Chicago, where would I shop? And where would I shop during the Holidays to get some awesome gifts and also make for the best places to visit with my kids? I started with a search our free KidFriendlyVenues app that is with this website.
If I wanted to be productive and get some major shopping done while seeing the highlights of the downtown area of Chicago, I would gravitate to Michigan Avenue. There are tons of shops along this major thoroughfare, as well as some well-known malls. KFV app has a "Retail" category which makes your search super easy.
1. Water Tower Place. This mall in Chicago has a myriad of different stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. The stores are typical of venues you would expect to find in any mall in America. It’s a great location and centered in an area where your tourism is occurring already.
2. The Shops at North Bridge. This, too, is a mall located on Michigan Avenue. Like Water Tower Place, the stores are typical of what you would expect to find in a mall. However, they aren’t the same stores as Water Tower Place. These two shopping areas are located less than a mile from each other. Depending on how much loot you are carrying and what your stamina is like that day, you could easily walk from one location to the other. Hailing a ride would be easy too and could take you out of inclement weather.
3. 900 North Michigan Shops: I hesitate to mention yet another mall on Michigan Avenue due to the high-ticket stores located there. But it’s still worth mentioning in case any moms out there are wealthy. They have Bloomingdales and Gucci and a long list of other shops. If you are into window-shopping or have the cash, this is worth checking out.
If you prefer an experience of outdoor shopping, Lincoln Park is noted as being a great neighborhood for boutiques and art galleries. That sounds like a grand day out for many! If it’s snowing or cold, the malls may be a better option.
Personally, when I shop, I like to hunt down unique stores. The malls are decent for filling up the bags and checking items off a list. If you are truly looking for a special item, it’s worth taking the time to visit some specialty shops. These are some on my bucket-list for Chicago:
1. P.O.S.H. This store has an eclectic mix of vintage and unique household items. I am sure I’d be making some purchases after visiting this store, and they’d probably be gifts to myself!
2. The Spice House: Need a gift for the impossible-to-shop-for person? Spices are often overlooked as a great gift, especially when paired with a highly-rated cookbook.
3. Nuts on Clark: This store has a bit of everything: Nuts, chocolate, coffee, tea, and specialty powders. They even have gluten-free options!
4. Merz Apothecary: This store has tons of bath & body items, and they aren’t brands you will see in CVS or Walgreens.
5. Blackhawk’s Store: Even if you have your own home team to root for, this shop is a must-stop. If you have any sports afficionados in your home, they will appreciate some “straight-outta Chicago” swag!
Shopping doesn’t have to be a terrible grueling experience. Incorporate some travel plans into your next Holiday Shopping Quest! Visit Chicago and visit their stores!