Magical Christmastime in Galena Country

Get each person on your list the perfect gift

By Terri Colby

Christmas is a season of tradition, joy and wonder, a time when families yearn to connect and celebrate the season. You can find all three in early December in Galena Country, Illinois.

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Finding the holiday spirit

The first big event of the season is Fire in the Sky, an elaborate fireworks display that sets the backdrop for carolers singing favorite holiday songs. Along Main Street shops are open so you can get an early start on holiday shopping. Enjoy a cup of cocoa, warm yourself by the festive bonfire and enjoy the live music while you get in the holiday spirit. But the biggest event in December is the Night of the Luminarias & Living Windows.

Imagine 5,000 candle-lit luminarias lining the streets and sidewalks. It seems like the whole town is glowing. In the storefronts along Main Street, the Living Windows productions are sure to capture your attention. Imagine a Victorian-era matron giving you a smile as she savors a cup of tea from her Christmas china. Or couples dancing to the beat of live music in the style of an earlier era. You’re sure to find an elf or two in a few of the windows and maybe even Old St. Nick himself.

Forget about crowded malls with multiple muted sweaters and racks of understated neckties. Main Street is now home to more than 100 shops, businesses that are part of the town’s fabric, with an eclectic assortment of goods. When the holiday season draws near, the town puts on a show that’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. You’ll feel the magic of Christmas and make quick work of that shopping list with unique items in these small shops to please even a Christmas Grinch.

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Man and woman browsing records at Peace of the Past Antiques and Books

Peace of the Past Antiques & Books

This unique store is filled with antiques and collectibles of all sorts, from furniture and crockery to jewelry and signage. But what really sets this place apart is its huge stock of used books. The shelves are well-organized for easy shopping.

For the book lover on your list: Pick up one of their Civil War histories or a volume of Dylan Thomas poetry.

Galena Canning Company sign

Galena Canning Company

Chef Ivo Puidak calls himself a third-generation canner with roots reaching to Estonia. In his store, you’ll find locally-made jams and jellies, salsas and sauces, oils and spicy rubs for meat.

For the adventurous uncle: The award-winning Galena’mite Blasting Sauce is a hot sauce that comes in a dynamite-shaped container with a warning: Extremely hot, use with fear.

Women looking through the window at Something Special

Something Special

You’ll find one-of-a-kind, hand-painted stoneware from Poland’s Ceramika Artystyczna Company in Something Special. The pottery originated in the early 1800s and can now be seen in museums and antique shops across Europe—and here in Galena Country.

For the grandma with creative flair: Consider one of these heirloom-worthy, colorful pieces that are safe in the dishwasher, microwave and oven.

Window of Ethyl’s boutique

Ethyl’s, The Place for Chicks

Ethyl’s is a women’s boutique offering artistic and romantic styles of clothing, jewelry and accessories. Think funky, vintage hippy and farmhouse chic.

For your fashion-forward aunt: Pick up one of Ethyl’s whimsical handbags that can be personalized with charms.

Pasta Perfetta sign

Pasta Perfetta

If pasta is your thing, Pasta Perfetta has to be on your holiday shopping list. This unique shop offers handmade pasta in every shape, color and flavor. With over 62 flavors and 138 shapes, including zoo animals, football, and holiday shapes, you’ll find a pasta for everyone you love. In addition to pasta, you’ll also find all the materials you’ll need to create and serve your pasta, including wine-infused sauces, dry sauce blends and kitchen accessories.

For beginner chefs: Think about a package of their Rainbow Bowie pasta. It’s perfect for all pasta recipes, whether it’s tossed in a salad or smothered in warm marinara.

Store front of Union Leather

Union Leather

Find everything from wallets and purses to jackets, vests and chaps at affordable prices in this leather-lover’s paradise.

For the motorcycle mama or man in your life: Splurge on chaps to keep their bottom half protected on those long-haul rides.

Window of Towne Rebel with a cabinet and house decorations on display

Towne Rebel

Featuring an eclectic mix of home décor and furnishing, you’ll find pillows, quilts, country home décor, clocks, paintings, and more. You’ll feel like you’re home as soon as you walk in the doors, just be careful you don’t take the entire store home with you (you’ll want to).

For new home buyers: Join in the holiday spirit with a pair of snowmen decorative pillows.

Galena Candle and Bath co logo

Galena Candle and Bath Company

At Galena Candle and Bath Company, you will find hand-made, all-natural products including soaps, bath salts and essential oils. And you can create your own candles, layering up to three scents into one 12-ounce candle jar.

For your book club friends: Pick up the beautifully packaged lemon verbena or rosewater jasmine shea butter soaps. They’re priced right so you can buy a bunch.

Window of Grateful Gourmet

Grateful Gourmet

In this shop you’ll find gifts to please the kitchen queen and make reluctant chefs eager to improve their skills. From high-end cookware and seasoned cast-iron fry pans to hard-to-find gadgets and items you didn’t even know you needed, this place has everyone wanting to get into the kitchen and create. Don’t forget to pick up a fresh batch of grounds from the newly established Galena Roasters, located on the second floor of this specialty shop.

For muscle men (and women) who once loved Matchbox cars: You won’t go wrong with either the Slash & Serve meat claws that give you a firm grip when shredding hefty cuts of beef or the Garlic Zoom that chops the cloves as you roll it along the counter.

Storefront of Gustafson and Grey

Gustafson & Grey

Find a well-curated collection of antique and vintage jewelry in a range of prices in Gustafson & Grey. Knowledgeable salespeople stand ready to help you find the piece that works for you.

For your mother: Browse the inventory and you just might find vintage Tiffany earrings, an Art Deco silver bracelet or a 14K gold cocktail ring.

Man holding a wooden rocking horse

Poopsie’s

It’s a place that bills itself as having something for everyone with an inventory of unique items to captivate even the most hard-to-please. For the younger set, there are baby dolls and astronaut helmets, utensils shaped like construction equipment, stuffed animals and books. The store specializes in games for all ages, including some that might fall into the category of naughty, not nice.

There are also one-of-a-kind art pieces and home décor, jewelry and more.

For your best gal pal: A limited-edition Spiritile, handmade of glass on copper by enamel artist Houston Llew—maybe the one with this quote: “Let’s pop a cork and taste the stars, for living is a special occasion”.