Chicago holiday must-dos

I love big cities at Christmas time! Everything seems so magical with lights and decorations galore.

Well up here in Chicago, the chilly winds can be a little more painful than magical, but the holiday splendor helps us look past that for now…

My parents were in town this past weekend for a quick trip and it was wonderful! E and I made it a point to take them around to all our Chicago holiday must-dos so they could experience all this magic themselves.

Chicago holiday must-dos

Sharing this list of goodies below because you must check them out if you’re in town! If you’ve already been, they just don’t get old, right?? If you haven’t, then bring yourself and all your friends.

Chriskindlmarket // This charming little market, inspired by that in Nuremberg, Germany, is located downtown on Daley Plaza and entrance is F R E E. It provides a unique shopping experience out of pretty little wooden houses and delicious German food and drink, including spiced wine in the fair’s collectable mini mugs. The mugs are different each year, check out last year’s here.

*Tip: You can find the city’s best ornaments here. There’s basically one for every occasion or item you can think of! They’re gorgeous and make great gifts for family members.

Chicago holiday must-dos

holiday markets chicago

Zoolights // Zoolights is a fun, free outing where you can soak up endless pretty lights and music coordinated displays, even if you’re not the biggest fan of zoos (like me). There’s even an ice sculptor there who is very impressive. The best part is when they torch the sculpture at the end and it becomes a shiny beacon.

*Tip: Pick up your favorite hot drink beforehand at the Starbucks nearby off North Clark Street because it is freakin’ cold. Gloves, blanket scarfs, and layers on layers highly recommended.

Chicago holiday must-dos

(The Landmark Cafe via Lincoln Park Zoo)

Chicago holiday must-dos

Holiday Tea at the Drake // So this was a first for me this past weekend when I went with mom and it was amazing! Tea at the Drake is actually offered all year around, but they’ve got special holiday hours and the Christmas decor is stunning, so I think it’s especially worth going during this time.

The tree with the ginormous ornaments had us speechless. And the Palm Court room? Incredible.

Chicago holiday must-dos

Chicago holiday must-dos

(Palm Court via The Drake Hotel)

It can be a pricer outing ($49/person), but I totally think it’s a special outing worth doing with your best girlfriends or ladies in your family! In addition to unlimited British tea served in the prettiest drinkware ever, you get a variety of finger sandwiches, scones, and French pastries.

Chicago holiday must-dos

Chicago holiday must-dos

Chicago holiday must-dos

If you don’t feel fancy yet, there’s a harpist playing by the fountain in the middle of the room.

*Tip: Go ready to get your munchies on! You won’t go hungry. If you finish your treats, they’ll happily bring you more and even box leftovers to go. You’re getting your money’s worth.

Chicago holiday must-dos

Chicago holiday must-dos

Millennium Park Tree & Skating Rink // If you’ve got first-time visitors in town, this area is definitely one of those Chicago holiday must-dos! While showing off the famous silver bean (aka Cloudgate), you can check out the big ice skating rink set right in front of it. The line is always fairly long, so I haven’t actually made it out on the ice yet. One day.

The other hot ticket item here is the 69 foot tree glowing in colored lights! You can’t miss it. There’s a beautiful balcony on the east side of the tree that makes the perfect spot for pictures.

Chicago holiday must-dos

Chicago holiday must-dos

*Tip: If you’re set on ice skating, try to go during the week or get their early to avoid the crazy line as much as possible. If you’re down to just sight-see, this is an easy tack on before or after the Chriskindlmarket!

Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying this season with family and friends! It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Any other Chicago holiday must-dos that I missed? Please share in the comments!

Days By Day

renegade craft

I was hooked on Renegade Craft Fair the first time I went a year ago. This is such a cool event, and the good news is it happens a few times a year all around the country.

The Renegade Craft Fair features the a whole bunch of talented and amazing folks in the DIY and Maker communities, and was really a pioneer for this kind of event when it began in 2003. Not only do they have beautiful vendors selling their handmade goods, but the fair is also complete with artisan foods and interactive features. This year, Chicago delivered with a photo booth and a pop-up VW van airbrush tattoo shop.

renegade craft

renegade craft

The holiday market was  held at the Bridgeport Art Center. You guys, this place is so pretty. My dream home senses were tingling – exposed brick walls, wood floors, metals and pretty lighting galore.

renegade craft

Eric packed our fancy camera and snapped beautiful pictures of the whole thing. I had to share , along with some of the trends we saw all over the place! Hoping these provide some gift inspiration if you’re shopping around for unique treats.

Air Plants // These were everywhere! Vendors weren’t necessarily selling the plants per se, but all the adorable little ways to display them. We saw beautiful hanging displays made out of metals, and others out of yarn or t-shirt jersey.

renegade craft

renegade craft

Wall sconces also caught my eye – we left with a few from Handmade Sam*Made! I love the idea of living wall art. This Pinterest search also brings up some good inspiration.

Dainty Jewelry // This will always be trendy in my opinion! I love little pieces that can stand alone as a simple statement in everyday wear, but that can also be layered on for a dramatic look.

renegade craft

holiday markets chicago

I got the above je’ taime ring from Katie Dean last year, who was there again with her mom. They are the sweetest. That’s one of my favorite parts about Renegade, getting to chat with the artists!

This year I added to my bracelet collection with a simple brass bangle from Avrocomy. I’ve been wanting something I can wear daily, whether it be alone on casual errands or stacked with more for a night out.

renegade craft

Woven Goods // If you love cozy, than you love woven stuff. Lots of pretty tones and soft feels! I fell in love with one of these chunky scarfs in Butterscotch from The Minted Evergreen, but ultimately couldn’t make up my mind – surprise, surprise. I’ll likely be purchasing one online asap! They feel AMAZING. Highly recommend.

renegade craft

Paper Goods // I’m an old soul when it comes to paper and love snail mail. I mailed in checks for the longest time. I know how many stamps are in a book from the post office and how much they cost (Eric still makes fun of me for this of course).

This being said, I loveee getting and giving cards! Stores and fairs with cards galore are a little bit of a personal oasis – the Renegade Fair being a prime example. Cute shops like Hello Paper, La Familia Green, and Oh Hello Friend were set up. I honestly just tried to pick a favorite to share from each shop’s site and it’s legit impossible for me, so you’re just gonna have to check it out yourself.

renegade craft

Prints are on this same level. Roaring Softly is one of my top picks. The artist, Tyler, is beyond sweet and talented. Her pieces are so cute, spunky, and even feature your favorite shows! Last year, I left with an SNL piece as a gift. This year, I’ll probably be ordering a few more online as presents, and the one below for me –  Park and Rec’s Leslie and Ann are true friendship goals.

renegade craft

renegade craft

Hope this brings some good shoppin’ inspiration as you head into the weekend, friends! My parents are in town, which means we’ll be running around chilly Chicago doing all the Christmas-y things with as many layers on as possible.

Days By Day

P.S. To never miss a post and stay updated on snaps throughout the week – would love for you to go like this little ol’ blog on Facebook!

holiday markets chicago

One of my favorite things about Chicago is all the festivals and markets that always seem to be going on, especially during the summer. The great thing about the Christmas season though, is the Holiday edition of all the markets that come through the city! It’s so much fun to spend an afternoon speaking with local vendors and small business owners, and shopping handmade goods that make the cutest gifts.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve checked out the Renegade Craft Fair, the Christkindlmarket, and the Randolph Street Market. I ended up purchasing something at each, either for me or someone else…or both!

First up, the Renegade Craft Fair. This fair features the best and brightest in the DIY and Maker communities, and was the first of its kind when it originated in 2003. The Renegade Craft Fair travels across the country to several cities, and even makes it way to London.

holiday markets chicago

My girlfriend, Ghada, and I had so much fun romping around for the afternoon. I walked away with a couple wall prints as gifts, some Lincoln Park post cards, and a dainty gold bar ring inscribed with “je t’aime,” or “I love you” in French. I originally had set out to purchase Christmas gifts only, but saw this and knew it was too perfect for me to leave behind – if you want to know why, you can find out here. 🙂

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

A week later, Eric and I visited the Christkindlmarket downtown after work. This annual Christmas fair turned twenty this December and is set up like a little German village, with vendors in timber housed shops. The fair is famous for its spiced wine that comes in a different souvenir mug each year.

We only ended up purchasing some of the delicious wine and a spinach, goat cheese stuffed pretzel, but have plans to return with guests in the coming week and make some purchases at the ornament house!

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

Lastly, I ventured off to Randolph Street Market this past weekend. I love this festival, check out the finds from my last visit if you haven’t yet! You do have to purchase a ticket to get in, but they are really cheap online – super cheap if you have a student ID, only $3! It’s a jackpot for antique lovers, but among those vendors are a variety of other unique shops.

holiday markets chicago

Eric and I found several Christmas gifts, total score. My favorite vendor we came across though was a sweet girl selling beautiful, handmade wall decor made of stencils, wood, and windows. I wanted to walk away with all of them, but we ultimately decided on a piece that will look just perfect over Eric’s bar area – I’m happily posed with it below haha.

holiday markets chicago

holiday markets chicago

Hope everyone has been successful in their Holiday shopping – and you get a chance to check out these festivals in the future if you’re in town!

Days By Day

christmas decor dream

Another blog hiatus y’all. I hate it, but it just gets away from me with long days and busy evenings! I miss blogging so much when I’m away from it though, so one of my 2016 goals is to get into a real groove with this baby and grow it.

That being said, I’m back at it in the midst of the holiday craziness because I just had to share the festivity that’s been happening at our Lincoln Park apartments – and show how easy it was for some simple, key pieces to transform a whole place into a winter wonderland! Christmas is by far my favorite holiday, and I just loveeee being in a big city for it. It’s totally magical, and I wanted that to be reflected in our personal spaces.

Decorating for each holiday has always been a big deal for my family. Since my mom should basically be a HGTV show host, I’ve gotten to learn from the best! One of the best parts about decorating this year, was getting to decorate two apartments –  mine with Becca, and then Eric’s just a couple floors above us. Two chances to decorate = a Christmas lover’s dream.

Becca and I’s moms were so kind as to send us back from Thanksgiving with lots of cute decorations, and my mom even sent some over for Eric’s! The rest of the decor you’ll see was picked up at Michaels, Target, or the Dollar Store. Basically I’m saying, even if you’re young, on a budget, and really trying trying to get in the Christmas spirit with your own set up for the first time – it’s totally possible! Hopefully this can serve as some inspiration.

Us three amigos cracked open a bottle of red wine one night, put on the “All I Want for Christmas is You” Spotify playlist, and got to working on Becca and I’s place first. Bruce the Spruce is the main star of the apartment.

christmas decor dream

Tinsel and Christmas lights line the room frames, and we tried to implement a little Friends inspired door decor by placing a wreath over the peep hole. Stockings sit perfectly under those light up letters we recently snagged at Michaels for 60% off, after eyeing them for months! Let me tell you friends, half of Michaels’ entire store is always on sale, and we’ve found lots of good party and decor goodies each time we go.

christmas decor dream

We got to decorating Eric’s place a few days later. My mom was so kind as to buy us our very first ornaments and stockings, which we will treasure forever and always. Eric and I set out for a day of shopping to stock up on the rest – including a beautiful 7.5 foot tree!

We’ve got the adorable animal ornaments up there from mom, and some Star Wars ones I had to snag at Target since Eric finally got me to watch the movies – apparently I’m C3P0 and Eric is R2D2. We filled up the rest of the tree with some classics we found at Michaels and extras from Becca, but still have a few to pick up we’ve seen out and about that we want for our collection.

christmas decor dream

christmas decor dream

There’s a wreath, garland, and “Be Merry” banner I wasn’t leaving behind at Target up in Eric’s too. I think my favorite part of the whole place though, is the man-made mantle Eric set up that we garnished with scented pinecones, tinsel, gold glittery reindeer stocking holders, and the personalized burlap stockings from my mom. It turned out to be a pretty great set-up, right??

christmas decor dream

christmas decor dream

christmas decor dream

christmas decor dream

It was so much fun setting up my first place in Chicago with Becca. We have been such a perfect match as roomies starting out adult lives in the big city together. Shopping and decorating with Eric was a whole different kind of wonderful. Picking out things together that we both loved, since we knew next Christmas we’d be sharing our first space as Mr. & Mrs, added a new kind of magic to the whole process!

In the next couple weeks, we’ve got family and friends in town, and I can’t wait to show off these little home sweet apartments. Happy Holidays from The Windy City to you and yours!

Days By Day