Each week through our December 11 issue we'll be featuring a roundup of gift ideas on a different theme. Next week look for our suggestions on locally made goods. —Heather Kenny
Eating all that takeout isn't just bad for the eater—it's bad for the earth. This two-tier stainless steel tiffin works as both a lunch box and a doggie bag, and the lid doubles as a plate so there's less to wash. And like everything else in the store, it's fair trade. a$20 at Greenheart, 5247 N. Clark, 312-264-1625, greenheartshop.org.
Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips (Adams Media Corporation) provides an overview of the increasingly global wine industry. Author Alyssa Rapp traveled the world sniffing out varietals not just in Napa and Tuscany but in Israel, China, and other lesser known wine-producing areas. a$14.95 list price
Reac Japan's Designers Chair Vol. 2 collection includes nine 1/12-scale re-creations of pieces by the likes of Ray and Charles Eames, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier. The three-inch high miniatures come in "blind" boxes, meaning you can't tell which one you're buying. a$11.95 per box at Kidrobot, 1573 N. Milwaukee, 773-486-4820, kidrobot.com.
Even without a back 40, it's possible to grow your own food, manage waste in an ecologically conscious manner, and even detoxify the natural environment. Toolbox for Sustainable City Living (South End Press) explains how to do it all practically and affordably. a$16 at Sprout Home, 745 N. Damen, 312-226-5950, sprouthome.com.
Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes is granted a wish. Perhaps folding paper pumps and dresses with this Fashion Origami Set will prompt a sale at Barneys. a$12 at fredflare.com.
When a cigarette is placed between the Skullrilla's teeth, smoke billows from its eyes and nose. The resin ashtray also comes in pink. a$28 at Willow Home, 908 N. Damen, 773-772-0140, shopwillow.net.
Tough-looking Fisticuffs are made with leather scavenged from disused purses, belts, clothing, and even furniture—the more broken-in, the better, says designer John Davis. Many of the embellishments are repurposed too. a$25-$45 at Zola Jones Designs, 1944 W. Montrose, 773-275-1845, zolajonesdesigns.com, and Renegade Handmade, 1924 W. Division, 773-227-2707, or renegadehandmade.com.
This sumptuous Toscana Red Leather Journal could make even the most self-indulgent scribblings look Hemingwayesque. a$33.50 at the Paper Source, 232 W. Chicago, 312-337-0798, 919 W. Armitage, 773-525-7300, paper-source.com.
Japanese retailer Mujirushi Ryohin (it translates to "no-brand goods"), aka Muji, takes a straightforward, ecofriendly approach to design. This unisex rain poncho can be cut along the hem and sleeves to fit, but you can also get creative and cut a scalloped edge. a$14 at the MOMA store, 800-851-4509, momastore.org.
Leafcutter Designs offers a twist on the traditional holiday card: the World's Smallest Post Office will transcribe your personal greetings onto a one-by-one-and-a-half-inch card (or for non-holiday purposes, a piece of stationery), tuck it into a tiny envelope, and mail it out—along with a magnifying glass—in a sleeve like the ones coin collectors use. a$8 per card at leafcutterdesigns.com.