It's that time of year when Christmas open houses abound. Here's a list for the weekend:
Grimm & Gorly Florist & Gifts in downtown Belleville will be filled with holiday decor ideas and good cheer from 8:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. today. The business's Troy location will host an open house from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Millstadt Pharmacy wants you to visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. You'll find great gift ideas, including Wally bags and wallets, jewelry and scarves and gloves.
It's time for the annual Christmas Open House at Fezziwig's Marketplace in downtown Lebanon. Today and Sunday, sign up for daily door prizes and sample gourment food and beverage products all day. From 10 to 11:30 a.m. today, Goshen Coffee from Edwardsville will be on hand to let you sip some of its organic coffee. On Sunday, try some of Fezziwig's Twelve Teas of Christmas Collection for 2012 and some amazing baked goods -- you can buy the mixes -- that pair perfectly with the teas.
Mark your calendar: Shop til you drop Nov. 17 at the Girls Day Out in the visitor's center at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., enjoy the Metro Market (free entry), which has a huge list of vendors. Advance registration is suggested for the luncheon and quarter auction at 11:30 a.m.; $180 for a table of eight or $25 per person. To see a list of vendors, go to wayoflights.org/girlsdayout. To make a reservation, call 394-6292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is sponsored by Scott Credit Union, Macy's and Eckert's.
Burlington Coat Factory in Fairview Heights is updating its layaway policy. Through Dec. 24, Burlington will give the $5 layaway fee back to customers in the form of a gift card that can be used through Jan. 31, 2013. Make sure to ask about the no-return and exchange policy on layaways in case you're worried something won't fit or won't be the right color after you take it out of layaway.
Also, donate gently-worn coats at drop boxes near the entrance of the store as part of the annual Warm Coats and Warm Hearts Coat Drive. Coats should be in good condition, with working closures and no rips or stains. As a thank-you, those who donate will receive 10 percent off their entire purchase at Burlington through Jan. 21.
Christmas retailers are setting up shop at St. Clair Square, including Di Olivas, an oil and vinegar emporium, which plans to stick around after the holidays. Di Oilvas has locations at a number of St. Louis area malls. You'll find more than 20 extra virgin olive oils from seven countries, as well as balsamic vinegars -- plus you'll get to sample. Go to diolivas.com for more information.
See how the pros work in gingerbread, frosting and candy today at Michael's Crafts in Shiloh. From 1 to 3 p.m., there will be a free demonstration on how to sweetly construct a Wilton gingergread house.
At Jo-Ann Fabrics in Fairview Heights, see a Wilton food crafting demonstration from noon to 2 p.m. today. Through Monday, present proof of your military service, past or present, or a military dependent ID, and get 20 percent off your total purchase -- good even on sales and clearance merchandise.
Don't put away your outdoor pottery just yet. Ace Hardware is selling cordless LED 12-inch hanging wire greenery baskets or a two-pack of 3-foot-tall lighted mini pine trees for $19.99 on sale through Monday. They all come with berries, pine cones and white lights. Battery operated (three AA batteries), you can place the little trees in your pots for the front porch. The hanging planter includes a hanger so you can place it anywhere around the yard.
Stocking stuffer alert: Five Below in Fairview Heights is stocked to the gills with fun $5-and-under stuff for the holidays. Look for a limited supply of holiday Pez dispensers, two for $3, as well as multi-colored toe socks ($3) and $4 Polly Pocket dolls.
If the young woman in your household likes to play with cosmetics, Ulta Beauty in Fairview Heights has a good-size collection of Ulta Beauty Gems eye shadow and brush sets that come in quilted bags ($14.99), aluminum cases ($19.99) and more. Starting at $7.99, buy one and get the second for half off through Nov. 30.
In need of a bike with no bells and whistles? A 26-inch Schwinn cruiser (just pedal brakes) is $90.90 in a couple of colors at Kmart in Fairview Heights. The location may be closing at the end of the year, but there is still quite a lot of merchandise in the store, all marked down.