Metro-East Living

Shopping: Hurry up and get in the holiday spirit with Santa and open houses

Among the holiday kiosks at St. Clair Square is this one that sells smiley pillows.
Among the holiday kiosks at St. Clair Square is this one that sells smiley pillows. News-Democrat

It’s beginning to look a lot like mall Christmas. St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights is readying itself in rapid fashion. During a Tuesday stroll through the mall, I found workers building atttractive barriers around Santa’s workshop. The tall skinny Christmas tree in Center Court had yet to be decorated.

The Big Guy in Red arrives Saturday and will be in residence through Dec. 24.

Pet photos are 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 15. Check for more information.

Other signs: Short-term holiday kiosks are starting to set up, with one outside Macy’s upstairs that sells smiley-face pillow for $9.99. Who knew they were that popular? Still. The booth next door may be more popular: leggings and boot cuffs.

Downstairs near Center Court, I saw an empty Hickory Farms stand (waiting for a sausage and cheese supply to arrive, no doubt), while stocked and running is Holyland Carvings, which sells very attractive hand-carved olivewood Nativities and other Biblical figures.

Then, I had an “Oh, good grief!” moment in JC Penney when I turned a corner and saw a Christmas elf knit jumpsuit in the misses department. It was on sale, $29.99, but that doesn’t mean you should buy it.

Much more tasteful: At $2.99 each, the cute bracelets with metal and rhinestone initials at Rue 21 at the mall are a perfect fit for a Christmas stocking.

Beyond the mall

Not far behind the mall in celebrating are small retailers gearing up for the season with holiday open houses and other events:

Fezziwig’s Marketplace will celebrate its new location in downtown O’Fallon with a Grand Holiday Open House Weekend Friday through Sunday. Today from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. there will be Thanksgiving samplings. Saturday and Sunday, enjoy complimentary Cranberry Mimosas and sample gourmet items while you shop.

Also in O’Fallon, Steven Mueller Florist & Gifts will celebrate with its annual Holiday Open House on Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy free samples of gourmet food and refreshments, beautiful new products and more.

On Thursday, head to New Baden for Ahner Florist’s Christmas Open House from 5 to 8 p.m., which includes a bowmaking class at 7 p.m. and sampling the new line of gourmet foods.

Get ready for holiday decorating by making your own stained-glass star ornament during a four-day workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Nov. 18 and 19 at Brickstreet Arts in downtown Lebanon. Cost is $75 ($70 if paid in advance). More information and payment options can be found at Or, call 618-537-4492 or check out Facebook. Then make sure you stop for a hot cocoa, tea or cofffee at Brickstreet Brew.

If you are a veteran or active-duty military, you can get a free meal Wednesday at Hooter’s in Fairview Heights with proof of service or ID.

Pint-size gift

Gordman’s in Fairview Heights has attractive scaled-down recliners for kids in five patterns. They’re $69.99.