Jen’s Gift Picks

One of the best qualities of our fearless leader, Jennifer Pope, is that she can walk a tradeshow at breakneck speed, and somehow spot all of the most unique, interesting, crazy, cool gifts that the ordinary eye might miss.

It’s one thing to “follow the herd” and stock what everyone else has—she takes chances on new vendors, so any time you walk into one of our stores, you’re likely to see exciting products you’ve never seen before.  The Red Ballon is the go-to place for extraordinary gifts.  Here are a few of her current favorites:

The Chicago Globe

New York? L.A.? Paris or Rome?  Please.  All true Chicagoans know that our city is at the center of the universe.  This super cool globe, illustrating all of the great neighborhoods & landmarks—shows everything from Lincoln Park to Bronzeville to the Hancock Building, and everything in between.  A great gift for a diehard Chicagoan or for a recent transplant to (gasp!) elsewhere.  $52.95

Crepe Paper Flowers Kit

With winter drawing close, it’s time to start nesting and working on all those fun and creative projects you were too busy to get to during the summer months.  Learning to make these crepe paper flowers is fun and easy—and will make a lovely fall and winter bouquet.  Available in a variety of colors, $6.50

Make-Believe Felt Tea Set

You’ve got your dollies, your tiny table for four, and now you need our super cute tea set. The make believe table includes: 4 placemats, napkins, coasters, chalkboard invitations, chalkboard menu, hostess apron, carry case, chalk. Handmade in Nepal.  $42.50

Scull and Crossbones Necktie

Aunt Susie’s wedding is coming up, and mom found you a great button down & pants, but you still need a necktie.  Only the coolest tie will do, so give our Skull and Crossbones necktie a whirl.  Dapper with a hint of punk rock, it will convert even the most rough and tumble boy into a proper gentleman. $29.00

Magnetic Comic Strip Kit

Attention: Young Designers… here’s a fun way to embrace your inner comic book artist. The kit contains six magnetic write-on/wipe-off background panels to draw your own scenes, one magnetic dry erase marker, two magnetic write-on/wipe-off speech balloons and over twenty flexible action-packed magnetics with special effects, brave explorers and cool vehicles. It has everything you need to make your own epic tales of The Microcosmic Universe on your refrigerator.

Dude: Fun with Dude & Betty

This cheeky debut from Pliscou and Dunne pokes fun at traditional reading primers while reveling in California surf culture. Truly non-bogus retro artwork in the style of 1950s Dick and Jane illustrations evokes a nostalgic sensibility with contemporary updates—including a notably multicultural cast of characters in several beach scenes.


Another Chicago original—our super soft Alphabetables pillows are made of minky fabric, and embroidered with the letter of your choice, in the fabric of your choice.  Machine washable, these 12” x 16” pillows make a great bedroom accent, and can be easily toted on the plane, in the car, to Grandma’s house, etc.  Every time you purchase an Alphabetables pillow, you are providing jobs to 200 Chicagoans with developmental disabilities. Zipper back, insert included. $35.00

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