Stumped trying to find a signature gift for the holidays? We polled some Chicagoans with style for ideas that are anything but predictable.
by Brigid Sweeney

Linda Bubon, co-owner, Women & Children First
“Annie Leibovitz’s fabulous new PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK, A Photographer’s Life. There are photos of Susan Sontag throughout her illness and death, of Annie’s family members, and of reportage from the siege of Sarajevo. Presented chronologically, they tell stories from a life rich with meaning.” $75 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St.; 773-769-9299, and other area bookstores

Whitney Kerr, co-owner, Rotofugi
The POCKET NINJA is made right here in Chicago and it’s super-cute-but not girly-cute. If you cannot love the ninja then you did not deserve a gift to begin with.” $9.95 at Rotofugi, 1953 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-491-9501

Heiji Choy Black, owner of Hejfina
“I love to give the Comme des Garçons INCENSE CANDLES. These beautiful and intense candles last forever.” $69 at Hejfina, 1529 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-0002

Andreas Larsson, photographer
“I’m from Sweden, so I’m particularly a fan of Danish and Finnish design. I especially like the GLASS BIRDS by Finnish artist Oiva Toikka-they make a very nice little gift.” From $102 at

Dominic Molon, associate curator, Museum of Contemporary Art
“I’d be treating someone I really liked to all three of the recently REISSUED CDs by the seminal art-punk band Wire: Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154. Released in 1977, 1978, and 1079, respectively, each album pushed punk rock into increasingly cerebral and sonically textured terrain.” From $13.99 each at Reckless Records, 3161 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080, and other music stores

Stacy Wallace-Albert, style editor
“A large, sparkling rhinestone VINTAGE BROOCH. It will really dress up a black evening bag, or a plain dress. If your friend isn’t a rhinestone kind of girl, get a white silk camellia pin from the Chanel boutique and use it the same way.” Brooches from $90 at LuLu’s at the Belle Kay, 3862 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-404-5858. Pin, $185, at Chanel, 935 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-787-5500

Rohini Dey, owner, Vermilion
“My favorite gift is what I call an ‘Indian hamper.’ I’ll put in hard-to-find Bollywood CDs, along with contemporary Indian novels. Then I add a variety of SPICES and voilà … friends who have never been to India are instantly transported.” Spices, from $5 at Vermilion, 10 W. Hubbard St.; 312-527-4060

Dolan Geiman, artist and fashion designer
“A SEED ASSORTMENT from These are heirloom seeds, so they are all supercool flowers and vegetables. Where else can you get seeds for the five-color silver beet?” $13.50 at

Avi Lothan, principal architect, DeStefano and Partners
“A FRUIT BOWL produced by Alessi called ‘Cactus.’ It sparkles with a contemporary personality yet has enough reserves of tradition to be durable and attractive over time.” $125 at the Museum of Contemporary Art store, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660

Lee Allison, local tie designer
“A three-liter JEROBOAM. Since it’s four bottles in one, it forces you to have a nice dinner party.” Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 1999, $250, at House of Glunz, 1206 N. Wells St.; 312-642-3000

Craig Cooper, wine buyer, Pops for Champagne
“Demoiselle Rosé is a light, airy Champagne with wonderful notes of strawberry and currant, and goes wonderfully well with dark chocolate. The DECORATIVE PACK is a simple and elegant last-minute gift or party favor, sure to be noticed.” $45 at Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State St.; 312-266-7677

Katherine Bussard, assistant curator of photography, Art Institute of Chicago
“Every year I make a big batch of HOT FUDGE and give it out to all my coworkers and friends. This year I’m going to put the fudge in old-fashioned BEAKERS that are a throwback to high-school chemistry.” Containers from $1.95 at