Smile Politely

Weekender: December 13-15

Friday, December 13th

Get your gifts wrapped, Market Place Mall, all weekend, donation-based

I personally enjoy gift shopping, but I’m not as enthusiastic about the wrapping since my gifts end up looking like my dog handled them. Thankfully for me and others in this predicament, you can get your gifts wrapped in exchange for a donation to Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County. They will be setup at Marketplace Mall this Friday through December 24th (see hours on the event page) with wrapping stations in front of Macy’s and another near H&M. Help a local charity and forget the hassle of gift wrapping! (SP) Photo from Facebook event page

Host a spooky get together, your house, all evening, prices vary

I know that some people think that Friday the 13th’s spooky factor is only if it falls during the month of October, but I say nay. If you’re into those sorts of frights, go ahead and celebrate whenever you get the chance. This time of year, I’m sort of stick of holiday things by the middle of the month anyway, so why not host a get together that combines Christmas and creep? Watch Nightmare before Christmas and make or eat things related to that movie. That way, you can lean into your holiday cheer and celebrate the 13th. Or just go full-on Friday the 13th. Totally up to you. (JH) Photo of Rice Krispies Treats made to look like raw meat by Jessica Hammie

Hit up the Old Town Market, 708 S. Prairie, 5 to 8 p.m., prices vary

This is one of my favorite shopping experiences every year. You can find a dozen or so local artisans and vendors all within the confines of a cozy house, with snacks and festive music playing. I come away with several gifts every time I go. If you can’t make it Friday, check out the Facebook event for their Saturday and Sunday hours. (JM)

See mixed media encaustic art and drink wine, Analog, 5 to 9 p.m., prices vary

Friday is the perfect day for happy hour, and Analog is the perfect place to drink wine and enjoy local art. Work by local artist Casey Lowry will be up through the 27th. This is a great chance to explore the world of encaustic art (which typically involves adding colored pigments to using heated beeswax). Check out the gallery times here. (DD) Photo from Facebook event page

Help support young women who rock, Rose Bowl Tavern, 7-10 p.m., $10

Girls Rock! C-U, a local organization that aims to create a space for self-esteem building and positivity for young girls through the power of Rock n’ Roll, is teaming up with the historic Rose Bowl Tavern to help raise money for their 2020 camp. At their event, The Classic Women of Country, performers will be recreating some of country music’s iconic women such as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and others. This will be a fun night and your cover charge goes to a great cause that supports young women and keeps our local music scene going for another generation. (BH) Photo from the Facebook page

Saturday, December 14th

Have breakfast at Keg Grove Brewing Co., Bloomington, 8 to 11 a.m., $35/person

Okay, yes, it’s a little far to drive for breakfast, but you can totally make a day of it in Bloomington-Normal. We recently published a review of the brewery, and — spoiler — they’re good. Breakfast will include access to a small batch release of their maple, bacon, blueberry porter; two beer tickets; a full breakfast buffet with omelette bar (including a chicken pot pie omelette!), and doughnuts made with Keg Grove beer. Oh, plus a man in a Santa suit will be there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so bring the kids. It’s a ticketed event, so call the brewery for more info about the best way to get one. (JH) Photo by Jordan Goebig

Give a ‘Reindeer kiss’, Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., prices vary

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul is your one-stop shop for all things holiday season. As its name suggests, the main attraction at the ranch is a herd of sixteen reindeer that you can feed a treat and give a small kiss to (perfect for a photo). The ranch also boast a 100-year old renovated barn shop heated by an old-fashioned pot belly stove with ornaments and souvenirs for sale. Before you leave, don’t forget to pick up your Christmas tree or go and cut your own on their five acres of firs and pines. The ranch is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for reindeer tours will not be sold after 4:30 p.m. (SP) 

Snag some fab locally made jewelry, Hopscotch, 12 noon to 5 p.m., bring $ for shopping and yummy treats

Local designer in multiple media Madelyn Witruck of Mad Wit Co. is setting up a shop at Hopscotch and shop is what you’ll want to do. Witruck’s designs strike the perfect balance between whimsy and wearable design. Shop for your friends or yourself and don’t forget to stop at the bakery counter. Shopping requires fuel. (DD) Photo from Facebook event page

See some cool chemistry stuff, 100 Noyes Laboratory, 2 p.m., free

Have you ever seen the Holiday Magic show that the chemistry department does every year? This has become a hugely popular event that delights children and adults alike. There are two shows this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and they are free, though guests are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for Eastern Illinois Foodbank. It’s first come first seated, so getting there early is a good idea. Be aware that the show is loud, so if you have little ones or you are senstive to noise be prepared. They are live-streamed the Saturday show if that’s more accessible for you. (JM) Top photo by Scott Wells

Have a drink with members of our local design community, Cafe & Co, 8 to 11 p.m., prices vary

Curious about the world of design? From board games to graphic design to Pecha Kucha, the Champaign Urbana Design Orbanziation (CUDO) has got it going on. Stop by for a drink, meet local designers, play board games, and shop the CUDO $20 print show. A special mini PK will start at 8:20 p.m. $1 from each drink purchased willl benefit CUDO and its mission. (DD)

Sunday, December 15th

Buy some schmancy cheese, Common Ground Food Co-op, World Harvest/Strawberry Fields, Harvest Market, all weekend, prices vary

I’m guessing that you’re hosting or attending some sort of gathering in the next few weeks. Cheese, in my opinion, is essential for a gathering to be successful. Head out to one or all of these places to pick up some cheeses for that cheese plate you’re bringing, or just head to to try something new to you. And since it’s cheese, it will be totally fine until the end of the year (unless it’s fresh cheese). (JH) Photo by Jessica Hammie

Shop at Mottainai, Japan House, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., prices vary

We’ve talked about finding unique gifts at this wonderful event here
and here but here is your third reminder to stop by Japan House this weekend. Where else do you get to shop in your socks? They are open Saturday as well, and will continually be putting out items as the weekend rolls along. (JM) Photo from Japan House Facebook page

Have a few and sing a few to celebrate the holiday season, Riggs Taproom, 6-8 p.m., the price of your beers

Champaign’s Grace Lutheran Church is hosting another session of Hops and Hymns, but this time it’s Christmas edition. Grab your favorite beer and sing your favorite Christmas carols and hymns, just like Luther would have wanted (“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”). The singing will take place inside and the German Christmas Market will be happening at the same time. Of course, drinking is not a requirement to partake. (BH) 


All event information is accurate to the best of our abilities, but sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes event information, times, prices, etc., change after we look them up. Whenever possible, we’ve provided a link to the original event page; you should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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