Forget about the mall and all of those big-box holiday-shopping destinations. Those places are so … been-there, done-that. This holiday, we’ve got our eyes on those one-of-a-kind gifts that you find only at locally owned stores, which means making some fun visits to the quaint downtowns around our region. We’ve tracked down a variety of unique gift ideas for everyone in the family, and we assure you, these items won’t be under every tree on your block. Click on the slideshows below to learn more about the items, and find specific details below.
Home Decor/Gift Items
Woodwick & Ribbonwick Candles
True to their names, these unique candles burn clean using either a wick made of wood (hear it crackle while it burns) or ribbon. The green-colored containers smell like Christmas tree and cinnamon spice. $21.95-$29.95. From Out of the Box, 71 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
MacKenzie-Childs Christmas Ornaments
Dress up your tree with a festive glass ornament hand-painted in Poland. Look closely and you’ll see this company’s signature checkerboard pattern. $78-$98. From M.J. Miller & Co., 123 W. Main St., Barrington.
Create a colorful scene with houses, animals and hedges, all made from hand-felted sheep wool. These clever scenes, which store easily inside the felt house, are made by a women’s co-op in Nepal. Hedge $1.50, animals $3, house $15. From Ginger Blossom, 3016 IL Route 173, Richmond.
Trim your dining table with a lush and fragrant centerpiece that includes two types of evergreen boughs, pinecone and berry inserts, and nine red roses. $59.99. From Floral Impressions, 17 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.
Build a creative centerpiece by showcasing new, vintage and repurposed items under a glass dome. This cloche includes a painted and decorated antique book ($22), mercury glass ball ($10) and a plush candy cane. Accent the glass dome with an antique cow tag ($22), an accessory that can also dress up lamps or necklaces. From Dallas on Cedar, 115 Cedar Ave., St. Charles.
Handmade Christmas Ornaments
These fanciful ornaments are handmade in Elgin using a combination of new and vintage materials. Look for cream-colored stars made of felt, and twisty, glittery stars with lace accents. $6-$7.50. From Soulful Sparrow, 10 Douglas Ave., Elgin.
Miniature versions of the real thing, even down to the twistable tuning forks and liftable piano lids. Discover a Christmas tree full of them this season. $19.95. From Sounds Like Music, 224 W. State St., Geneva.
Their scents are warm and inviting, while their natural soy wax and lead-free wicks burn so clean that you can reuse the jar. A portion of each sale buys a rice bowl for orphans around the world. Votives, $2; jars, $15. From Green Box Boutique, 108 N. Benton St., Woodstock.
Sold in shapes such as Santa, snowmen and toy soldiers, these chocolates are handmade and hand-painted right in Geneva. The five-inch Santa is made of solid milk chocolate, while the four-inch snowmen are filled with toffee almonds. Starts at $1.69. From Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream, 302 S. Third St., Geneva.
Olive Oil Gift Pack
The Mini Dipper pack ($19.95), ideal for bread dipping, is equipped with a bottle of Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, a bread dip seasoning by Dean Jacobs and a small plate for serving the oil. The Originale Sampler ($34.95) comes with four selections: garlic olive oil, Accto balsamic di Modena, basil olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar. From The Olive Tap Crystal Lake, 68 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
Things That Make You Feel Good
Truefitt & Hill Aftershave Balms
Hydrate your skin with these masculine scented aftershaves. Sandalwood, the most popular, is sweet yet strong. Ask about Truefitt & Hill shaving cream and cologne, which also comes in Sandalwood. $48. From Arch Apothecary, 6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, and 1359 N. Wells St., Chicago (Old Town).
By Terry Baume de Rose
In original and tinted colors, this lip balm is super-hydrating, which makes it great for repairing and protecting chapped lips. Added benefits: It’s a salve for cuticles and makes lipstick application easier. $60. From Arch Apothecary, 6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, and 1359 N. Wells St., Chicago (Old Town).
It’ll be hard to keep your hands off this warm (and fuzzy) faux fur outerwear by Pandemonium Millinery. Cheetah scarf, $42; mittens, $38; fingerless gloves, $28; and boot toppers, $28. Boot by Madeline, $78. From Wear Did U Get That, 66 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
Yak n Yeti Jacket
Fashionably distressed, this cozy jacket is a stylish winter must-have. Soft brown fabric on the lapel, elbows, cuff and pockets add color to this fair trade item made in Nepal. $40. Match with a plaid, long-sleeved shirt by Jachs New York. From Threads, 118 S. Main St., Wauconda.
Handwork Silk Scarves
Brightly colored and available in many patterns and sizes, some of these scarves are tie-dyed genuine silk; others are made from recycled saris or quilted. All are made by fair trade workers in Jaipur, India. $6-36. From Ginger Blossom, 3016 IL Route 173, Richmond.
Giro snowboard helmets are made of lightweight, durable materials – and there’s room to insert an optional stereo speaker. $99-$189. New interchangeable goggles by Smith, Anon and Oakley allow you to switch lenses between sunny and overcast days. Smith I/O, Anon M series, Oakley Airbrake $175-$240. INI Cooperative jackets are lightweight and terrific insulators – and they’re made from recycled materials. Peak parka, $280; Arch pants, $230. From Viking Ski Shop, 131 W. Northwest Hwy., Barrington.
Velvet Thinsulate Gloves (Ladies Only)
More than just a warm and fuzzy accessory, these gloves have fingerpads on the thumb and index finger that make it easier to use your smartphone screen. $24.95-$29.95. From Out of the Box, 71 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
These colorful timekeepers are available in men’s and women’s styles and are made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, corn resin and organic cotton. They’re also hypoallergenic. $35-$75. From Green Box Boutique, 108 N. Benton St., Woodstock.
Slightly oversized, plush and comfy, this multicolored women’s sweater has a hood attached in back. Pair it with one-size-fits-most leggings and snuggle up. From Threads, 118 S. Main St., Wauconda.
Golf & Family Fun
Give the avid golfer in your home a head start on the season, with a punch card for Pottawatomie Golf Course, a nationally top-ranked nine-hole golf course along the Fox River. Or, buy the family a season pass from the St. Charles Park District and enjoy 1,400 acres of property that include the golf course, aquatics center and a working farm. Numerous classes are offered here, too. Punch Cards, 6 rounds/$75; Season Golf Pass for Resident Adults, $700. St. Charles Park District, 8 North Ave., St. Charles.
Madame Alexander Dolls
This elite dollmaker produces a variety of miniatures for babies, girls and collectors. Some of its prized collections include the Holidays, Women of History, Storyland and Broadway series. Russia Doll from International Collection. Starts at $69.95. From The Little Traveler, 404 S. Third St., Geneva.
In Spot It, be the first to identify the picture on a card that matches with one of the images on your own card. Comes in multiple versions. In Tenzi, be the first to match the rolls of all 10 of your dice. Spot It, $14.95; Tenzi, $12.99. From The Little Traveler, 404 S. Third St., Geneva.
Guitars by Luna and Dean
The Mustang model by Luna (at left) is built with several fine woods and the front is inlaid with rosewood, zebrawood and padauk. A preamp tuner is built-in. The quilt ash finish and trans black finish models, both by Dean, are ideal for beginners. Ask about music books, too. Luna: $699. Dean: $199.95. From Sounds Like Music, 224 W. State St., Geneva.
Heather Moore Jewelry
These small medallions are hand-stamped using recycled metal and look great when layered. Choose from this Cleveland designer’s pre-stamped pieces, or custom-order something with a favorite saying or personal signature. Also available in wedding bands and personalized rings. Starts at $200. From Studio 2015 Jewelry, 11701 Catalpa Lane, Woodstock.
Diamond Stud Earrings
Settings are custom-designed in-house, with either white and yellow gold or platinum, and stones can range from a quarter-carat to 5 carat. Trade in your old pair and apply it toward a newer, larger set. Starts around $1,500. From M.J. Miller & Co., 123 W. Main St., Barrington.
Elgin Watch Jewelry
Bring home a piece of Elgin history with these unique, handcrafted jewelry pieces, made from a combination of new and timeworn components. Each necklace, bracelet and earring incorporates the face of an old Elgin Watch, made years ago in the Fox Valley. $24-29. From Soulful Sparrow, 10 Douglas Ave., Elgin.
Nina Nguyen Druzy Quartz Jewelry
Each piece is one-of-a-kind, constructed around colorful stones using sterling silver or gold. Styles are designed in Nina’s Colorado studio and crafted by a women’s co-op in Vietnam. Available in necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. Starts at $150. From Studio 2015 Jewelry, 11701 Catalpa Lane, Woodstock.