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Holiday gift guide 2020: Gift giving is not canceled

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This year has taken many things from us — birthday celebrations, live concerts and simply hugging the people we love. But COVID-19 cannot take our holiday season. The Tribune staff has gathered lists of the best gifts for everyone on your list, even if you will be hosting your holiday parties over Zoom. From finding a mask fit for your grandma to a tea set for your teacher, this year’s guide will help make 2020 a little easier.

Click on the name of each guide to see more.

Cozy gifts for 2020.
Cozy gifts for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

From stressed-out parents juggling working from home and managing the kids’ homeschool routine to those dealing with the overall strain of living in the COVID-19 era, we could all use a little comfort in our lives right about now. With our new WFH lifestyle, many of us have already been living in loungewear or slippers, so here are a few upgrades for your nearest and dearest to help them de-stress. If a house filled with the aroma of soothing baking spices, a soak in a warm CBD-infused bath or a pair of seriously plush shearling sandals sound just right, check out our picks for the best cozy, comfy gifts. Click here to see the full guide.

Men are notoriously hard to buy for, but if there was ever a year to hit a home run with a gift for the guy in your life, 2020 is it. It’s been a brutal year, so treat him to something that’s sure to put a smile on his face. Hint: It’s not a pair of socks.

If that sounds like a daunting task, fear not. To jump-start your search, we’ve found great gifts, from an affordable watch — that looks like a million bucks — to a tech-savvy self-cleaning water bottle that’s perfect for his next run. And if you thought that finding that shiny new bicycle would be impossible, look no further. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts for millennials for 2020.
Gifts for millennials for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

As far as years go, 2020 hasn’t been a particularly good one for anybody. COVID-19 has left many people with slimmer wallets than last year, including perpetually underpaid millennials. Still, just because we’re broker than before doesn’t mean we can be stopped from buying thoughtful (and inexpensive!) gifts for our loved ones. Check out this gift guide featuring gifts your friends will actually want to receive — without you completely breaking the bank. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts to survive 2020.
Gifts to survive 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Call it retail therapy, the fleeting joy of shiny things or just what you need to get through the day. Either way, presents and gift giving might be the last saving grace to get us through the rest of this terrible, awful, no-good, very bad year. It’s been a weird one, for sure, so let’s laugh through the tears with these gifts reflecting all the insanity of 2020. Click here to see the full guide.

Here are some gift ideas for 2020.
Here are some gift ideas for 2020. (Dreamstime/TNS/TNS)

The key question this holiday gift-giving season is simple: What do you get for the person who only wants this godforsaken year to end?

We have to find gifts for the “PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE!” crowd that will improve, or at least make tolerable, the dreary days between the holidays and the new year.

Fortunately, Rex Huppke has a few ideas. (You’re welcome.) Click here to read his full column.

Cooking gifts for 2020.
Cooking gifts for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Instead of calling 2020 the year of the pandemic, let’s rebrand it as the year of the home cook, many of whom are embarking on culinary adventures from the comfort of their own kitchens. Celebrate these food voyagers with gifts that are sure to come in handy as they pursue new projects. Click here to see the full guide.

Cheap and chic gifts for 2020.
Cheap and chic gifts for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

If you’re stuck on what to get the fashionista in your life and looking for a gift that looks like a splurge but didn’t break the bank, we’ve got you covered.

Serious style isn’t about how expensive something is; it’s more about the impact that it makes. Case in point: Zara’s over-the-top cool beaded glass rose earrings or designer Matteo Monni’s whimsical take on the classic stovetop espresso maker. Both make a big statement at a small price, and both are guaranteed to be a big hit.

Alleviate some of the stress — and cost — of finding the perfect, stylish holiday present this year with our list of small but special gifts that pack a punch, starting at just $12. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts for teachers for 2020.
Gifts for teachers for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

We’re going to keep it real here. When we asked teachers what they wanted, many said to keep it simple: A gift card, a thank you, perhaps alcohol. (We cannot confirm or deny whether that last suggestion was a joke. We imagine it varies.) But in an effort to bring you an array of simple, stylish options, here are ideas for what to gift your kids’ teachers. We all know teachers are having an unprecedented year and have earned some extra appreciation for the holidays and beyond. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts for teens for 2020.
Gifts for teens for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

If there’s one thing we know about teens, it’s that they have very specific tastes and preferences. So for this holiday gift guide, we asked parents what teens actually want. Some of the suggestions were tried and true: popular sneakers, gaming consoles, quality headphones, a trendy makeup subscription. But there was also a lot of love for craft kits, fuzzy blankets and flattering selfie lights that can be adapted for use during video classes. We added a few wild cards, including a clever little projector that will throw a sky full of stars onto your teen’s bedroom ceiling and a surprisingly popular string instrument. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts to support black-owned businesses in 2020.
Gifts to support black-owned businesses in 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

From a card game that will make you bust at the seams with laughter, to enamel pins that are an ode to Black culture, these gifts — exclusively from Black-owned Chicago businesses — will be a special way to close a year that has been especially hard on Black people. And while some of these gifts are certainly “for us, by us,” remember: Supporting Black businesses isn’t just for Black people to do. If you’re an ally hoping to continue the anti-racism work you started this summer, these local businesses, among many others throughout the city, are good places to support during the holiday season. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts for your significant other for 2020.
Gifts for your significant other for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Stakes are high for couples during the holidays, no matter what stage of the relationship you’re in. If you’ve been together for awhile, you might’ve run out of gifts to give. If your dating relationship is new, you probably don’t want to overdo it. But whether it’s a sweet treat that will take your courting to the next level, or a kit for a sexy, playful paint night, these items will be sure to hit the mark with your special someone. Click here to see thee full guide.

Beer and alcohol gifts for 2020.
Beer and alcohol gifts for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Beer and spirits have always made an easy holiday gift appreciated by many. But in 2020, they may be more appreciated than ever. Laws have fortunately eased on sending such things through the mail, which allows for a wide array of gift options. But there are other ways to salute an affection for beer and spirits as well, from art to pillows. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts you can DIY for 2020.
Gifts you can DIY for 2020. (Chicago Tribune/Getty Images)

This year has, without a doubt, thrown us a few curveballs, and the holidays will be no different. Why not give your friends and family members homemade presents? Whether you are looking to save a few bucks, in need of something to do while at home or procrastinating on purchasing presents, check out this guide to products and kits for making your own one-of-a-kind gifts. Click here to see the full guide.

2020 emergency gifts.
2020 emergency gifts. (Chicago Tribune)

You can make your list and check it twice, but you can’t predict last-minute invites, new Secret Santa events or sudden bursts of holiday spirit. We’re here to help, with thoughtful emergency gifts that will please anyone from Aunt Sally to your work friends to your bighearted neighbor. Among our top choices: handcrafted salad servers from Guatemala, a deluxe oil and vinegar gift box, a festive oven mitt, an ad-free podcast subscription, a locally made Mason jar candle, and a family board game that’s not as well known as Monopoly or Clue — but probably should be. Click here to see the full guide.

Masks for 2020.
Masks for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

Depending on who the recipient is, a face mask can say all kinds of things: I care. Or: You really need to upgrade from that paper surgical thing. Or, perhaps more simply: I’m passive aggressive. Whatever the case, masks are taking up a lot of facial real estate these days, so wouldn’t it be nice to see some variety? Here are our picks to indulge your loved ones — or yourself. After all, they’re essential. Click here to see the full guide.

2020 gifts for working from home.
2020 gifts for working from home. (Chicago Tribune)

The pandemic is no longer new. Nope. It’s more like the elephant in the room that’s wearing a mask. If you’re working from home, you’ve more than likely built your home office from scratch or tweaked it to new levels since COVID-19 became a part of the global consciousness. You may think you have everything you need already. You may believe your space can’t possibly hold another item that will make your work life less tedious. But you would be wrong. It’s the holiday season, and you’ve been toiling dutifully, so treat yourself. From baubles that pretty up the space to items that distract while you’re on an overlong Zoom call to devices that keep you on your already productive toes, these gifts can make your WFH area less work, more play. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts to keep for yourself in 2020.
Gifts to keep for yourself in 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

When we look back on 2020, it may be the year we learned to seek out and appreciate small items and experiences. And this newfound ability to treat ourselves can translate into ideas for gifts. Maybe they’re for a beloved family member or friend, or maybe they’re the equivalent of splurging on that cozy cardigan when you’re out holiday shopping — for yourself. Click here to see the full guide.

2020 gifts for exercising at home.
2020 gifts for exercising at home. (Chicago Tribune)

Just when you found your fitness regimen rhythm without the aid of your local gym, pandemic pounds loom as the holiday eating season nears. No worries. You just have to get creative with your workouts. Brighten up your home gym with new decor, or buy a new apparatus that flexes you in a new area in your home or on your person. Either way, these items may help kickstart the endorphins when you put them in your cart for you or your loved ones. Click here to see the full guide.

Stocking stuffers for 2020.
Stocking stuffers for 2020. (Chicago Tribune)

The great thing about stocking stuffers is they can double as last-minute gifts. For $10 or less, here are some useful ideas that are sure to surprise a loved one or friend. Click here to see the full guide.

If you’re a Chicago arts lover, you can give twice this holiday season by choosing a gift that’s fun to give and receive and also that helps support Chicago’s artists, performers, musicians and venues, most of whom are in need of some extra holiday funds this year. The writers and critics of the Tribune’s A+E section suggest these 12 items for your list. Click here to see the full guide.

"One By One," by Ruth Ware.
"One By One," by Ruth Ware. (Scout / Courtesy)

Need ideas for the book lovers on your list? We asked Chicago’s independent booksellers for their recommendations. Like many small businesses, local bookstores have struggled to stay solvent during the pandemic. So while you’re stocking up for the holidays, think twice before clicking that Amazon button. Shopping locally is a gift too. Click here to see the full guide.

Gifts for the Chicagoan
Gifts for the Chicagoan

Celebrate the Chicagoan in your life with one of these city-themed gifts, from the collected works of iconic newspaperman Mike Royko to a jigsaw-puzzle reproduction of an important date’s front page to Chicago flag merchandise. Click here to see the full guide.

Pandemic ornaments (TNS)
Pandemic ornaments (TNS)

With Christmas almost guaranteed to be in quarantine, manufacturers are trying to help folks commemorate and make the best of this time. Click here to see the full guide.

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