Yes, summer is still in full swing, but it’s not too soon to think ahead to cooler months full of autumnal and wintry celebrations. Perfect timing, then, for the Windy City Gift Show to blow into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago last weekend.

Though the show was on the smaller side, square-footage-wise, the Windy City Gift Show made the most of the expo floor, jam-packed with gifts galore that touched on just about every season you could want, from the upcoming Halloween and Christmas, to looking ahead to the sunny days of spring with Easter décor dotting a booth here and there. And beyond holidays, suppliers displayed crafts and gifts that would be appropriate for any time of the year, spanning the gamut of what you’d expect to see at such a trade show—funny cards and lovely home or clothing accessories—to what you had no idea you’d want or need until it was right there in front of you—a life-size Cinderella pumpkin-shaped carriage with a gilded gold peacock sitting on the back (See photo), or spreadable bacon (which was surprisingly delicious).

Windy City Gift Show xhibitor

A good amount of floor space at the show was dedicated to the Makers Market, a growing trend at shows big and small alike. These smaller entrepreneurs are differentiating themselves from the bigger suppliers with handcrafted products that speak to current trends and get to the heart of what many consumers simply want: Something different. Some of the more innovative products we saw were craft beer and cocktail-inspired lip balms; adult nut butters; and greeting cards with a snarky religious edge. In the Makers Market section there were also suppliers who displayed gifts with a purpose, ie, each purchase benefitted the greater good, such as supporting HIV/AIDS relief in Africa, or fighting human trafficking.

From classic to oddball gifts that are just a little bit out there (Man Candles, anyone? And yes, the candle that claims to smell like, ahem, passing gas, really does smell like that—don’t ask me how I know), there was something for everyone at the Windy City Gift Show, and innovation and creation was up and running in every corner of the floor.

Hi there 👋
Want the inside scoop on all things CPG?

Get the latest CPG and retail insights, trends, and business best practices sent directly to your inbox, every week.