Get us in your inbox

Search
Snow in Chicago
Photograph: Zach Long

6 things you need to survive winter in Chicago this year

Winter sucks, but we’ve tracked down stuff to make the season (slightly) more bearable.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp
Advertising

Welcome to the worst stretch of winter in Chicago, when the days are short, wind-whipped and miserably cold. If it’s too icy for sleddingice skating or skiing, don’t despair at the thought of spending another day stuck in your apartment—instead, think of ways to turn your home into a cozy little oasis that's perfect for riding out winter’s most fearsome months. We’ve consulted with some of our favorite gift shops and small businesses throughout Chicago to find tchotchkes, beauty products and other small treasures that will help combat all sorts of winter woes. Order takeout, grab a warm blanket and settle in with some of the other essential things you need to survive winter in Chicago this year.

Essential items for surviving winter in Chicago

Extra-cozy slippers for plodding around the house
Photograph: Courtesy Alamo Shoes

Extra-cozy slippers for plodding around the house

Cold air always manages to find inventive ways to slip into apartments—between window panes, beneath door cracks, even through the wall. All those drafts can lead to some intolerably cold floors, which is why you should think about investing in a pair of insulated slippers to protect your feet from the chill. For maximum warmth, the folks at Alamo Shoes in Andersonville suggest heavy fur-lined clog slip-ons like the Ugg Coquette (pictured here) or the more Euro-looking boiled wool slippers from Haflinger.

Board games for frigid evenings in
Photograph: Courtesy Transit Tees

Board games for frigid evenings in

Even during the best of times, the thought of waiting for the bus or train (or worse, the dreaded bus-and-train transfer combo) is sometimes enough to deter us from going bar hopping amid winter temps. If you’re more keen on staying in over the next few months, turn your attention toward quieter pursuits, like board games. You’ll find ample selection at local game emporiums like the 2,500-square-foot expanses of Cat & Mouse in the West Loop or Dice Dojo in Edgewater. Bored of standard game options like Catan and Risk? Test your local know-how with Transit Tees’ Chicago Handshake Drinking Card Game, which challenges players to a series of Chicago-themed trivia and challenges; true to the game’s name, the loser has to down the Chicago Handshake combo of Old Style and a shot of Malört. 

Advertising
Some hardy greenery to brighten your space
Photograph: Courtesy Plant Salon

Some hardy greenery to brighten your space

Your sun-loving fiddle leaf figs and monstera plants might be looking somewhat worse for the wear this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expand your plant collection once winter rolls around; in fact, some studies suggest a little plant life might even help to reduce stress (and at the very least, they’ll help beautify any barren windowsills). Nika Vaughan, owner of Plant Salon in West Town, recommends looking for sturdy, cold-tolerant options like succulents and the classic sansevieria—also known as a snake plant—which can be found in acid-hued variations for a nice pop of color. “Adding [sansevieria] species like Yellowstone, Bantel’s Sensation, and Sayuri is a great way to add more color and variety to your collection,” Vaughan says.

Candles, candles and more candles
Photograph: Allison Williams

Candles, candles and more candles

Who doesn’t love a pleasantly-scented room? Luckily, you can stumble into just about any local gift shop and find candles fit for every preference, whether you’re into the locally-poured selection at Neighborly or unscented candles in pastel hues and funky geometric shapes at Humboldt House. For an especially luxe selection, browse the shelves at Merz Apothecary, which stocks coveted brands like Diptyque and Boy Smells.

Advertising
Balms and creams for chapped skin
Photograph: Courtesy Mojo Spa

Balms and creams for chapped skin

We’ll resist the urge to make a Windy City joke here, but suffice it to say that a Chicago winter (and its winds) make for a brutal ordeal for the skin. Couple that with dry radiator heat and you’ve got a recipe for seriously chapped skin and lips. Instead of reaching for your Carmex or Aquaphor this season, try a local approach: Mojo Spa in Wicker Park produces handmade natural beauty products with a bent toward Chicagoans’ needs. The super-silky “I Got This” lip balm, for instance—made with clover honey, three types of butters and essential oils—was specifically designed to combat dry winter lips brought on by Chicago winters.

Fresh reading material
Photograph: Danielle Mullen

Fresh reading material

If nothing else, winter is a good time to make some progress on your reading list! Consult staffers at the best book shops in Chicago for recommendations—lately we’ve been loving the selection at Semicolon Bookstore, which moved from River West to a larger storefront in Wicker Park last year—and plan on settling down to while away the afternoon with a blanket and a good book.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!