Big-city livin'
July 5, 2008 10:03 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is moving to Chicago from NC. I want to put together a kickass care package for him.

We both go to school in Chapel Hill, and have lived in North Carolina our whole lives. He's moving to Chicago at the end of July to pursue improv, and I plan to move up there as well when I finish school in a year and a half.

I want to put together an awesome gift box for him, which would ideally include things that:

Would be useful in a big city (we've both only lived in semi-small cities)
Would be useful in a northern winter (it rarely gets below 40 degrees here)
Would be generally useful for starting 'real life' after college
Would remind him of NC
Would remind him of me (obviously this is more personal)

Some ideas so far:

Really nice gloves/scarf
T-shirts from our favorite places around Chapel Hill
Framed photo of us (obv)
Possibly two sets of the first season of a TV show we haven't seen, so that we can watch it 'together'- this is probably too expensive though
In the same vein, two copies of Guide to Getting It On
Nice pillows for his bed
Gift card for some neat Chicago/Midwest-only chain store

So, that's a start, but I could use more ideas, especially in the big-city and northern-winter areas.

I was thinking of spending $75-$125 on this. Gotta save up for plane tickets to visit him...

Additional stuff about him- he'll be living with two female friends (so he won't need dishes or throw pillows or things like that), and he's very into video games, comic books, and of course improv. And he'll be living in Wrigleyville.
posted by showbiz_liz to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fill up a Chicago Card with how much ever you want to spend, or maybe get him a Zip Car/Igo membership.
posted by nitsuj at 10:32 AM on July 5, 2008

A good map is always handy. The El system map would be another good one.
During the especially cold days in Chicago, long johns or a union suit have been greatly appreciated.
Something that is cheaper than TV shows would be some Chicago movies: The Blues Brothers, High Fidelity, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are some good places to start.
If you are looking for some good comic shops, PM me and I'll send you a list of places that he would probably like.
posted by crios at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2008

Sorry - I missed that you had an upper limit. That jersey will probably go for more than your budget. I guess my point was that these two cities are both associated with the greatest basketball player who ever walked the earth.

A pocket map of the city or a tourist guide would be good - try a large bookstore.

Jewel and Dominick's are local grocery store chains. From the Dominicks site, you could print free coupons for some of his favorite foods.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2008

A CTA card, and a gift certificate to Superdawg.
posted by timsteil at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2008

How about a Moleskine Chicago Notebook for him to fill up with handy info for his new city, including all the things he wants to do with you when you join him next year?
posted by j-dawg at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2008

Buy him the NFT Guide to Chicago. It is the most helpful book in the entire world, I bought one when I moved to San Francisco. It seperates everything by neighborhoods and tells you where all the closest everythings are. It also tells you how late restaurants stay open, how to navigate public transportation and a bunch of local tips.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 11:26 AM on July 5, 2008

Off the top of my head:

- Ticket (or money toward a ticket) to Second City.

- Gift Certificate to Quimby's Books: Large selection of independent literature and comics (not the superhero kind so much).

- CTA Card- Can be purchased from

- Personalized city map: circle places he may like, i.e. comic book stores in area, improv clubs, etc...

- Moleskine City Journal for Chicago.

- List of Chicago websites such as The Chicago Reader, Metromix, Chicago Metblogs,, etc...
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2008

-battery-heated socks
-If he's going to have a car (which I don't really recommend if he's in the city proper), a bombproof ice scraper
-thirding/fourthing the CTA card
-gift certs to the seminary coop book store/57th St. Books
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:22 PM on July 5, 2008

If he's living in Wrigleyville, a ChicagoCard will be a must. It'll be the only way he can take the Red Line down to the South Side to see baseball the way it's supposed to be played.

City guides are a good call. So is a Chicago Zagat guide. Chicago is a phenomenal city for cuisine, ethnic and haute. He should get familiar with the listings in the Chicago Reader too.

If he's coming before July 18th, you might also buy him tickets to the Pitchfork Music Festival. Chicago's music scene is also fantastic and fantastically diverse. If he's coming later, or if he's averse to huge crowds, then the Hideout Block Party is a good, unpretentious alternative.

And Emperor SnooKloze is right, the Seminary Co-Op gift certificate would be a great idea. It's the best bookstore in the world.
posted by felix betachat at 1:45 PM on July 5, 2008

Ok. Seriously, YOUR ideas are WAY better than anyone else's on here. Don't get him a moleskine. Let him get a CTA card himself if he needs to use it. He will NOT need a union suit, or any other kind of thermal underwear UNLESS he works outside. Otherwise, he will be BURNING at work. They hand out el system maps for free at every el stop that is manned. No need to find one in NC to send to him there. Battery heated socks? What the hell??? I grew up in chicago. I waited for the bus at 6am for HS...but I NEVER EVER EVER needed battery heated socks. It really isn't that cold.


Cubs tix (bleachers if possible).
Cubs tix from Rooftops OUTSIDE of wrigley-they are try to just get regular cubs tix
( )
Get him a nice UNC t-shirt. He would love that, if he's the homesick type.

Seriously, you don't want to load him up with cta maps, zagats, and battery-operated socks. Its chicago, not touristville...well at least it shouldn't be.

Good luck!
posted by hal_c_on at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2008

Wool socks and/or a nice wool sweater will come in useful in the winter in Chicago.
posted by orange swan at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2008

In response to Hal_C_On's post, I would suggest against paying for Cub's tickets online. If he's living in Wrigleyville he'll be able to quite literally walk down the street and get tickets for less than you'll be able to find them for online. Assuming he even likes the Cubs, or baseball for that matter.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 2:51 PM on July 5, 2008

Gift certificate to Lou Malnati's Pizza if you want him to really experience a true Chicago gem...

Perhaps tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry or Field Museum, if he's into that sort of thing.

You know what I would love the most though? Besides the fact that you're the type of girlfriend who would put together a care package like this?

You're about to be apart for a year and a half. If it were me, I'd probably lose my shit if you bought a ticket right now to come visit me, and included a photocopy of the confirmation info for your flight, etc, with a nice note on how you can't wait to visit me there, etc...

But that's just me...
posted by twiggy at 2:27 PM on July 6, 2008

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