Gift Guide: ‘A Message from Your Local Elf Union’

Santa’s elves are on strike, and they need you to bring holiday cheer to every Christmas tree. Our latest Holiday Gift Guide is full of ideas that are close to home.

Dear Valued Christmas Shopper,

It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the North Pole Toymakers & Reindeer Union, Local 1225, is officially on strike.

As toy manufacturers for close to 1 billion children throughout the world, our members are responsible for the production of close to 150,000 toys per hour. Christmas Day is our only day off. Any additional time away from the factory floor is spent brushing up on new technology for today’s modern toys and video game systems. We are paid in leftover cookies and milk and the occasional candy cane, and our workplace is located in the North Pole, which is very cold.

While we make a genuine effort to resolve these issues through constructive discussions with the Claus family, we urge you to continue spreading Christmas cheer by visiting the incredible locally owned businesses that can be found throughout your region. These shops and boutiques are more than capable of fulfilling the wishes of even the most discerning loved ones on your list. For your convenience, you can find just a few of these local gift providers in the pages to follow.

We thank you for your understanding and look forward to making your holiday dreams come true in the future.


Holly McJingles

Shop Steward, Toymakers Local 1225

Fashion & Jewelry

York Furrier
107 N. York St., Elmhurst, (630) 832-2200,
York Furrier has scoured the globe to create stylish outerwear and fabulous accessories as well as on-site services for the products they sell. The staff works almost as hard as we do!

Clothes Gallery
51 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 455-3307,
Mrs. Claus loves this women’s clothing boutique. She may not be the nicest boss, but she looks fantastic!

M.J. Miller & Co.
123 W. Main St., Barrington, (847) 381-7900,
For over half a century, M.J. Miller & Co. has offered one of the finest collections of jewelry and gems in the region. One of our demands is some M.J. Miller & Co. bling to wear while we work.

Heisler’s Bootery
50 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0171,
One of the oldest continuously family-owned businesses in the county, Heisler’s has been providing quality name-brand footwear since 1908. We bet their employees aren’t paid with stale cookies and day-old milk!

La Bellissima Lingerie
10 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-3404,
Specializing in bra fitting, La Bellissima carries a full range of sizes as well as luxurious lingerie that belongs on both the naughty and nice lists.

The Printed Word

Read Between the Lynes
111 E. Van Buren St., Woodstock, (815) 206-5967,
A bookworm’s dream. Located in the Woodstock Square, this shop is filled with new releases and great classic reads. I’ll bet they also have a great selections of books about fair wages and labor organization.

Robin’s Nest Bookshoppe
218 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, (779) 225-1191,
This independent bookstore offers a curated collection of new and classic books as well as board games, puzzles, book bags and candles. In other words, stuff that elves don’t have time to enjoy.

Specialty Shops

Pet Pals
210 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan,
This family-owned and -operated pet shop sells food and supplies as well as birds, reptiles and fish. We can send a reindeer to contribute to the store’s inventory. Blitzen is kind of a jerk.

Kiss the Sky
180 1st St., Batavia, (630) 406-0086,
This independent CD and vinyl music store has a vast inventory. We’re not allowed to play music in the workshop, but if we were, we’d buy our music here.

Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center
5301 E. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-8130, 42W075 Ill. Route 38, Elburn, (630) 365-5664,
A plant lover’s paradise that offers high-quality plants, products and services. We get our Christmas tree from here. We hope they sell other plants that can thrive in the North Pole.

Around the Corner Candy
101 S. 1st St., West Dundee, (847) 426-9440,
It’s the sweetest shop in all of West Dundee with hundreds of candies as well as small toys and collectibles. The store’s stocking stuffer game is so strong we’re intimidated.

Breber Music
801 E. Geneva St., Elkhorn, (262) 723-2233,
The new and used musical instruments, equipment and accessories would make great gifts for an all-elf band. The store also offers instrument rentals, repairs and music lessons.

Home Decor, Furniture and Artwork

Strode’s Furniture
11707 Main St., Huntley, (847) 669-3500
This family-owned furniture store has been a beloved fixture in downtown Huntley for almost 50 years. We’re very happy with the elf-sized tables and benches we bought here last year.

Bradley Nordlof Photography
4801 Boeing Dr., Rockford (815) 494-1134,
He travels far and wide in search of natural wonders to photograph, and his works can be found on walls all over the world. Except in a certain toy factory in the North Pole.

Mayfair Carpet and Furniture
661 S. Main St., Crystal Lake, (815) 455-4070,
Mayfair’s family-owned and -operated store in Crystal Lake offers a huge variety of rugs and furniture in a 35,000-square-foot showroom. That’s bigger than our workshop!

Steel Heart Ltd.
10308 U.S. Route 14, Harvard, (815) 943-3465,
Located in a beautiful historic barn, this store offers a stunning array of handcrafted metal home and garden pieces. How they make all this stuff without elves is mind-boggling!

Majestic Distributing Co.
1255 Bowes Road, Elgin, (847) 741-5903,
This family-owned businesses has been keeping customers warm since 1953 with their award-winning selection of fireplaces, stoves, grills and accessories. We need a spending spree here for our workshop!

Toys, Games & Hobbies

Ghoulish Mortals
228 W. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 441-2920,
This place has apparel, figures and collectibles that will make horror fans frightfully happy. Our boss has been the subject of a few horror movies for good reason.

M.D. Trains
130 Cass St., Woodstock, (815) 276-9982,
If there is a train enthusiast in your family, this is the little store that could make their Christmas dreams come true. An impressive selection of model trains, track, accessories and maintenance products.

GriffoNest Games
124 Cass St., Woodstock, (815) 880-5934,
If you have a role-playing game fan in your life, you should buy their gifts here. We play Dungeons and Dragons in our workshop. All of our characters are level 20 elf revolutionaries.

Marvin’s Toy Store
64 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake; 100 E. Station St., Barrington; (779) 220-4179,
This toy store has quality toys that engage children and spark their imaginations. They also purchase their merchandise from companies that don’t exploit elf labor.

Food & Drink

Alchemy at Aldeen
1902 Reid Farm Road, Rockford, (815) 987-1662,
Enjoy delicious food, refreshing drinks and stunning views at this restaurant open year-round at Aldeen Golf Club. You might catch a glimpse of our boss playing a round while we’re hard at work.

The Butterfly Club
5246 E. County Road X, Beloit, Wis., (608) 362-8577,
An institution in the Wisconsin supper club tradition, The Butterfly Club serves delicious fare to diners and lucky elves who don’t work at the North Pole.

Headon’s Fine Meats
103 S. Main St., Creston, (815) 384-3620,
The old-fashioned butcher shop serves quality meats, locally crafted beer and spirits, and other locally made delights. If the reindeer union doesn’t support us, we know who to call.

Goldmoor Inn
9001 W. Sand Hill Road, Galena, (815) 777-3925
A bed-and-breakfast overlooking the Mississippi River that offers stunning views, gourmet dining and deluxe accommodations that make other places look like an elf’s living quarters.

Riverside Chocolate Factory
2102 W. Ill. Rt. 120, McHenry, (815) 344-6040,
Home of delicious homemade chocolate delights. Santa talks about how delicious Riverside’s products are. We wouldn’t know. Most of us have never even tasted chocolate.

Steep n’ Clay
8 Douglas Ave., Elgin, (312) 613-7859,
This artisan tea shop sells various teas and accessories from all around the world. Maybe if Santa bought us some tea from this shop, we’d have more energy to make toys.

Rush Creek Distilling
1501 W. Diggins St., Harvard, (815) 943-7874,
This place puts the spirit in Christmas with impeccably slow-crafted vodkas, gins and whiskeys. The perfect gift for a hard-working elf on a cold winter’s night.

For the Athlete

PrairieView Golf Club
6734 N. German Church Road, Byron, (815) 234-4653,
Santa loves this golf course, which was created out of an ancient prairie landscape. He talks about how it’s like an elite pro course at a fraction of the cost. How can he find time to golf?

Blue Moon Bikes
211 W. State St., Sycamore, (815) 899-3100,
This bike shop sells new and classic bicycles and has a selection of antique biking equipment and parts. It also offers bike restoration and repair. The bikes here are much better than the ones we make.

Chilton’s Sporting Goods
248 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, (815) 758-3152
This sporting goods store carries a range of equipment and uniforms, with plenty of licensed NIU gear and clothing to boot, which is great for us. At the North Pole, we’re big fans of huskies.

Sumptuous Self-Care

Stonedrift Spa
424 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena, (815) 776-5772,
Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa reimagined their signature spa, creating a new destination that offers a full menu of relaxation and rejuvenation treatments. We’re definitely adding a visit to our list of demands.

Oregon Soap Shoppe + Green Art, Etc.
91C Daysville Road, Oregon, (866) 411-6614,
Luxurious soaps are handcrafted from the finest ingredients. You can buy soap off the website, but the store smells incredible. Much better than an elf toymaking workshop, we can assure you.

Shopping Experiences

Historic Woodstock Square
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Historic Woodstock Square is a beautiful park surrounded by shops that sell everything from books to handcrafted pottery, clothing and model trains. It is also much, much warmer that the North Pole. Even on its coldest day.

Downtown Elgin
Mixing historic distinction with unique experiences and diverse options, Elgin’s downtown sets the vibe in a walk/bike-friendly environment, set in a beautiful destination along the Fox River. We’d love to explore it … If we could have a day off!

Material Things Artisan Market
103 E. Van Buren St., Woodstock, (815) 354-3483
Carrying items from over 100 artisans, this craft market treats its artisans much better than a certain fellow in a red suit who lives in the North Pole.

Zinn’s on the Square
2087 Division St., East Troy, Wis.,
(262) 441-0280,
More than 20 local vendors have come together to offer handmade home decor items, jewelry, baked goods, artwork, clothing and other intriguing sundries made with non-elf labor.

The Little Traveler
404 S. 3rd St., Geneva, (630) 232-4200,
Once an Italianate Victorian home, this shop has 36 rooms and has been a cornerstone of downtown Geneva’s shopping experience for over a century. Almost as long as elves have been oppressed.

For the Person Who Has Everything

Kishauwau Cabins
901 N. 2129th Road, Tonica, (815) 442-8453,
A charming getaway that is just minutes from Starved Rock State Park, Kishauwau Cabins are comfortable, spacious and private. Much better than our cramped quarters at the workshop.

Starved Rock Lodge
One Lodge Lane, Oglesby, (815) 667-4211,
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Starved Rock Lodge offers rustic and deluxe accommodations in one of Illinois’ most beautiful national parks. We’d love to escape here.

Olson Photography
5643 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 873-1777,
David Olson’s award-winning photography captures weddings; families; children; portraits of models, actors and business people; and documentation of unethical toymaking facilities.

Kitchen Outfitters
64 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (779) 220-4653,
This store has a great selection of gadgets and tools that are ideal for cooking, baking and hosting. One of our demands is equipment from here, since all of our utensils are made of wood and give us splinters.

Raue Center for the Arts
26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 356-9212,
A restored 1920s vaudeville theater that hosts concerts, plays, musicals, comedy shows and all kinds of other fun and entertaining events that elves never get time off to attend.

Brilliance Honda
680 W. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-6400,
This car dealership offers a vast selection of new and used vehicles with a commitment to customer service. Santa once thought about buying a flying Honda Civic from here but changed his mind. We wish he hadn’t. That flying sleigh is always breaking down!