Metro-East Living

Gift search includes grand opening, open house, girls day out

These stone coasters are too attractive to put away.
These stone coasters are too attractive to put away.

Ah, let the lights and wrapping and the gift-searching begin. There is never a shortage of activities involving shopping this time of year. It’s a hodgepodge of metro-east open houses and sales, so here goes:

Here’s a fun way to spend a day with your girlfriends: Attend the Seventh Annual Girls Day Out at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Check out 50 vendors, artisans, crafters and businesses. Admission to the shopping event is free. Lunch and a chance auction at 1 p.m., with a fashion show by Cato, is $25. You might still be able to get required reservations for that at or call 618-397-6700.

Ahner Florist & Greenhouses in New Baden will hold its annual Christmas Open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Take 20 to 25 percent off Christmas items.

Another year, another calendar. The Belleville Historical Society wants you to get ready for the new year with its 2017 calendar. The photo theme is another dozen Belleville saloons from bygone days. (The 2016 calendar started the theme, and was very popular.) The cost is $10, and you can pick one up at Eckert’s Florist, Happy Hop Home Brew, Circa, Local Lucy's and Peace by Piece, all in downtown Belleville, as well as Dill's Floral Haven, Eckert's Country Store, Miscellaneous House and Artiste de Fleur in Belleville. Or, buy online at

Walking through Ben’s in downtown Belleville after lunch on Wednesday, I spied a real deal for any time of the year: a boxed set of three flameless pillar candles (in three sizes) on sale for $12.47, regularly $24.99.

The Basket Case in Belleville and downtown Lebanon is asking you to shop their locations through Saturday to help Allison’s HOPE, which was created to honor metro-east resident Allison Cassens’ final wish to raise money for cancer research. The Basket Case is giving 10 percent of its gross sales to the organization.

Vibrant Vida boutique in Lebanon wants you to stop by for White Out Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on, well, you guessed it, Wednesday. If you get there at 10, you’ll be welcomed with mimosas and muffins. There will be a free gift for the first 25 purchases, monogrammed door buster deals and gifts you can pick up for $10.

Who doesn’t want a cool coaster that keeps his or her drink from dripping? The new big Thirstystone coasters at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Fairview Heights are not only just $2.99 each, but have great photos and designs on them. I saw the St. Louis Arch, the St. Louis Cardinals logo, Mizzou Tigers and more. Forget putting them away; leave them out to show off.

Dillard's at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights will hold its annual “Scentsational” celebration Saturday, with a diamonds and pearls theme. Customers are encouraged to wear black, pearls and diamonds. Enjoy a DJ, complimentary brow-threading from noon to 4 p.m. and giveaways all day. A grand-prize basket is worth $500. Spend $75 in beauty/fragrance and get a coupon for 20 percent off your next beauty or fragrance purchase. Plus, get complimentary engraving on large fragrance bottles from YSL, Ralph Lauren, Opium, Polo and others.

Don’t miss the grand opening Friday of Academy Sports + Outdoors in O’Fallon. It’s a three-day event in the 62,000-square-foot store, including hourly $50 gift card giveaways and product demos all three days, free Under Armour T-shirts to the first 500 customers on Saturday, plus an autograph session with St. Louis Cardinal Matt Adams on Saturday (2-3 p.m.). The new store is at 1574 W. Highway 50 in the Lincoln Crossing shopping center.