Each week through Christmas we'll be featuring a roundup of gift ideas on a different theme. In the coming weeks look for our suggestions on green and food gifts. Every roundup will feature at least one item under $30. —Heather Kenny
This may sound expensive, but women who wear lipstick can spend at least $100 a year on shades that turn out to be not quite right. If your woman is one of these women, she'd probably appreciate having a LipLab lip color blended just for her by former Hollywood makeup artist Abbe Silverman. A gift certificate for a one-hour custom-blend session and two lipsticks or glosses is $100. aBess & Loie, 1015 W. Lake, 312-226-2247, liplab.com.
The exuberant, rhythmic dancing in Bollywood films is derived from bhangra, an Indian folk form that originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The Discovery Center offers classes in a contemporary variation that combines bhangra with hip-hop and belly dancing, while the Old Town School of Folk Music offers lessons in the traditional version. Either is sure to be a good workout that's more fun that the StairMaster. aTwo six-week Bollywood Dance courses, $96, start January 17 and January 19 at the Discovery Center, 2940 N. Lincoln, 773-348-8120, discoverycenter.cc. Bhangra 1, $135, starts January 8 and runs for eight weeks at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage, 773-728-6000, oldtownschool.org.
Love Frango mints? Why don't you take a bath in them? Philosophy's Frango Mint Diet three-in-one shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath is now available at what used to be Marshall Field's. There's also a matching lip shine. a$24 and $10, respectively, at Macy's, Nordstrom, Sephora (all with multiple locations), and philosophy.com.
The name makes it sound like an ointment, but the Thera Cane is actually a do-it-yourself massager for aching backs. a$45 at Relax the Back, 1925 N. Clybourn, 773-348-2225, relaxtheback.com.
Sometimes your cute, scruffy boy grows up to be a man who gets mistaken for a homeless guy. In the unlikely event that he's as unhappy about this as you are, treat him to spa services at the XY-only spa Halo (for Men). A haircut, shave, and massage package is $135; the "Rockstar," $310, buys a haircut, manicure/pedicure, brow wax, facial, massage, shave, and shoe shine. The "Backscratch" service, five minutes of back scratching and possibly some head tickling, is just $10, but that's a gift you could probably make at home. aHalo (for Men), 21 W. Elm, 312-642-4256; 3324 N. Clark, 773-348-6210; 1655 N. Damen, 773-342-4256; halochicago.com.
With the grandiosely named Verilux HappyLite Mini Ultra Full Spectrum Light Therapy System, your SAD-suffering pals can combat depression wherever they go—it weighs just three and a half pounds. a$89.95 at verilux.com.
Give someone a chance at keeping that New Year's resolution about getting organized by buying him a session with Brooks Palmer of Clutter Busting. Palmer claims to help with the emotional part of discarding your junk as well as the organizational part. Right now he's offering a special holiday rate of $45 an hour; the average session takes five or six hours. a847-512-7052, clutterbusting.com.
Chef Rebecca Wheeler, who's put in time at Tru and Trotter's to Go, offers private cooking classes in your home, including courses on regional and ethnic cuisines, techniques and skills, and pastry making. A set of four two-hour classes for one person is $288; many other packages are available. a773-368-1336, rebeccawheeler.com.
Maybe those who've been bad in bed this year should get sex toys in their stockings. Early to Bed has lots of options, including a First Timer's Kit for vibrator newbies, including two vibes, a textured sleeve, lube, and batteries. For guys, Aneros massagers are designed to provide prostate pleasure, although ironically they sort of look like an upside-down model of the female reproductive system. aKit, $26, and massagers, $67-$85, at Early to Bed, 5232 N. Sheridan, 773-271-1219, early2bed.com.
Locally based Sparkle Queen offers green home cleaning using only products like oxygen bleach, orange oil, and supplies from Dr. Bronner's, Shaklee, and other eco-conscious companies. The company's stated mission includes paying employees a living wage; a first-time cleaning is $78 an hour for a team of two. a773-832-4895, sparklequeen.com.v