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A Fox River Valley Christmas Gift List By Jamie Saam

Photos from April Duda Photography

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love all things local.

Local is a lifestyle for me.

From the shirt I am wearing to the hot sauce I used on my eggs this morning, many of the items in and around my home have been purchased from my friends and neighbors who own small businesses right here in the Fox River Valley.

Choosing local first is a must all day, every day and every year in my book, but to many, shopping local is a new priority.

“The pandemic has reminded Americans of the outsized role small businesses play in our economy, employing 47% of the United States workforce, generating two-thirds of new jobs, and serving as a critical path to economic self-sufficiency.” Bruce Katz – Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Time to think local first.

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite Fox River Valley locally owned businesses as suggestions for you to venture out both in-person (covid-safe of course) or online. While we all know the convenience factor of shopping Amazon, with their direct to your door service, make it tricky to get off our booties at times, we also know more now than ever the importance of supporting our small businesses right in our own communities. With $68 of every $100 that is spent at a local business going directly back into the community, it should be an easy choice for most of us to make.

I invite you to jump on the bandwagon of local with me.


Nosh & Libations

Blue Goose Market (St. Charles)- https://www.bluegoosemarket.com/

One word- DIPS! This is my go-to homemade dip spot before hitting up any gathering, or even for a night at home with the hubby. Garlic Dip, French Onion Dip, Crab Dip…oh my! This neighborhood grocer has been providing delicious food and beverage options for those around The Fox since 1928! 

The Sugar Path (Geneva)- https://www.thesugarpath.com/info

The Sugar Sisters, Nina and Michelle, were first introduced to me as they popped up at local Farmers’ Markets. Their brick and mortar location in Downtown Geneva smells heavenly and offers and insane amount of not only cupcake options, but cake, cookies and PIES! This is one of my favorite spots for a fun drop off holiday gift…cookie cake anyone?!

Kindred Coffee Roasters (West Chicago)- https://www.kindredcoffeeroasters.com/

Coffee Shop, roastery and a gathering place that is so incredibly welcoming. I met two of the three lovely owners during a church service at Renewal Church in West Chicago. Sarah and Patrick Harms share their love of community and of coffee with not only West Chicago, but anyone who walks through the door. Plus, their logo is just fantastic, so check out their online shop and pick up a hoodie.

Brother Chimp Brewing (North Aurora)- https://brotherchimpbrewing.com/

Thank you, Steve, for bringing another option for some tasty brew to The Fox! With curbside pickup and an ever-changing bear and cider menu, this spot is perfect for a quick gift for the hoppiest on your list.

The Tea Tree (Batavia & Plainfield)- https://www.theteatreeshop.com/

While Missi has made it very easy to shop for teas, oils, spices and more online, this is one you want to head to in person. The rich wood throughout both locations make your shopping experience warm and inviting. Missi and her team have amazing knowledge to share with you every time you shop and will introduce you to products you’ve never tried. They even put together beautiful gift baskets for quick and easy holiday options.

A few more options for tasty gifts:

Limestone Coffee & Tea (Batavia)- https://limestone.coffee/

Geneva Wine Cellars & Tasting Room (Geneva)- https://genevawinecellars.com/

Energy City Brewing (Batavia)- https://www.energycitybrewing.com/

Two Brother’s Roundhouse (Aurora)- http://twobrothersbrewing.com/artisan-collection/artisan-beer/


Work it Girl!


Paula’s Couture Consignment (Batavia)- https://www.paulaplace.com/

If Paula’s prices don’t win you over, her sweet and quirky personality surely will. This tiny gem is hidden under the Wilson Street Bridge that crosses over The Fox in Downtown Batavia. It is jam packed with all different styles and sizes that will surely fit each and every budget. Paula has also partnered with some local artisans to make stunning jewelry perfect for gifting.

Wyckwood House (Aurora & Wheaton)- https://wyckwoodhouse.com/

From the cutest clothes to amazing jewelry to chic home décor to tasty treats, Shannon has gathered together the most talented local artisans and tiny businesses to create this amazing shop. I LOVE it! And I LOVE that she has expanded to bring her great style to even more in our local community with not only the Downtown Aurora location and not only a shoppable website, but also a brand new (YES local businesses did open during Covid) location in Downtown Wheaton.

Natalie Claire Collections (Online & at local retailers)- https://natalieclarecollections.com/

Have you ever wanted to buy every piece in a designer’s collection? Natalie “creates simplistic jewelry” with each piece being nothing short of gorgeous! I love walking into many local boutiques up and down The Fox and spotting a few pieces from her collections. While her online options make couch shopping a favorite hobby of mine, I do enjoy popping into stores like Hearth & Hammer General, Wyckwood House and Grow to touch and feel.

A few more options for gorgeous gifts:

Jeans & A Cute Top Shop (St. Charles & Wheaton)- https://jeansandacutetopshop.com/

Six + Cypress Boutique (Batavia)- https://sixpluscypress.com/

Past & Present Shoppes (North Aurora)- https://www.facebook.com/pastandpresentshoppes9635/

Flourish (Geneva)- http://www.flourishgeneva.com/


Welcome Home

Branch Gardens (Aurora)- https://www.branchgardens.com/

I have become a plant mama. I believe it was a positive that came from quarantine. I now have a plant wall, a few terrariums and other house plants growing and climbing all over my home thanks to the teachings of the most wonderful Kori, owner of Branch Gardens in Downtown Aurora. House inside an old firehouse, Kori and her hubby have created an urban jungle that I could shop daily (and I think you should too).

Acosta’s Consignment (South Elgin & Wheaton)- https://acostashome.com/

Consignment isn’t just for clothing, and Chris and Ces Acosta have proven that over and over again in their multiple local locations. While I may not be purchasing a couch for anyone other than myself for Christmas, either of their locations are great for unique gifting options. I believe they have close to 30,000 sq ft between the two locations, plus they have a whole online shop experience!

Tall Pine Pottery (Online & at local retailers)- http://www.tallpinepottery.com/

I didn’t know how much I adored handmade pottery until I met Tiah. Remember how I said I’m a plant mom? Well most of my plants live in pots made by Tall Pine Pottery right in West Chicago. I think my plants are a little bit spoiled, but they deserve the best. While there are options to shop TPP online, you can also pick up a few of her items at Hearth & Hammer in Downtown Batavia or at an open house in West Chicago. Oh, did I talk about my custom handmade ceramic wine glasses yet???!!! Such a great gift idea!

Villa & Farm (Batavia)- https://www.facebook.com/VillaAndFarmLLC

Off the beaten path on the way to Downtown Batavia, Villa and Farm is the sweetest home décor shop. One of the things that makes this shop so special is that not only does the owner, Carolynn make and sell gorgeous topiaries and other products, but she has partnered with multiple generations from her family to fill the shop with unique items. Her daughter, father and even her aunt all make and sell products that would make the perfect gift to many on my list.

A few more options for homebody gifts:

Townhouse Books & Café (St. Charles)- http://www.townhousebooks.com/

Cocoon (Geneva)- https://www.cocoononline.com/

Red Hive Market (Batavia)- https://redhivemarket.com/

Grow (Geneva & Naperville)- https://www.growgeneva.com/

Little Red Barn Door (Geneva)- https://littleredbarndoor.com/

Desmond Brown (Batavia)- https://desmond-brown.com/


Treat Yo Self

Meraki Market Hub (Elgin)- https://www.merakimarkethub.com/

Okay, so I have not actually been in this space yet, but it is on my list for the holidays. AND I do know a few of their great artisans, so I am looking forward to this new addition to Downtown Elgin. When I hear “a collaboration of small business”, I know this will be a new favorite on my list and any other localvores out shopping. I personally am super excited to shop Bluff City Garden’s (https://www.facebook.com/surpassingsuburbia/) selections of tinctures.

Hearth & Hammer General (Batavia)- https://hearthandhammer.co/

This is a shop where I want each and every perfectly curated item that Annie and Andy have picked out. Every single one! You cannot go wrong with any option in this shop as a gift for anyone on your list. This is another example of while the online shopping experience is pretty darn close to in person, the look and feel of this tucked away treat of a shop is worth the in-person adventure. Taking a moment to sniff the hand poured candles and small batch body product lines is a must IRL.

Odalisque Beauty Apothecary (Geneva)- https://odalisquebeauty.com/

One item every gal should have on her list is found right here in Downtown Geneva. Moon Pudding. It is a subtle lip moisturizer that looks stunning on everyone. Trust me, the recipient of this will love you forever.

A few more options for self-care gifts:

Lisa’s Heads or Nails- https://www.lisasheadsornails.com/

Sojourn Salon (North Aurora)- https://sojournwithus.com/

CryBaby Wellness (Batavia)- https://crybabycbd.com/

Earth’s Secret (online & Batavia Farmers’ Market)- https://www.earths-secret.com/



Downhome Customs (Batavia)- https://www.downhomecustoms.com/

When one business inspires the creation of another. That is what happened when Enrique’s tree business, Henry Tree Co (http://www.henrytreeco.com/) provided him with some local wood… Not only can you get a custom bar top made, but you can shop a pretty gentlemanly selection of wood watches, sunglasses and more at this quant Downtown Batavia Boutique.

PreMil (Aurora)- https://www.premilonline.com/?fbclid=IwAR3rAFPYf6HMW1cm1I2EQXBYiUMDv1f2Jpo-M4lVt58G-0olpXWO-WvVgwM

Streetwear. Nike. Jordan. Yeezy. While I do not yet know enough about the hype behind those brands, I do know that this inspiring little set up in Downtown Aurora is making an impact in the local community not only in the help it provides to underprivileged in our area, but also by the mentoring it provides to local youth employed at their shop. “The leaders of PreMil are part of a growing desire in Aurora to positively change the environment one heart at a time.” If you are wondering based on the website, this is like a hip and sporty consignment shop…but don’t tell them I said that.

River Peak Apothecary (Batavia)- https://riverpeakapothecary.com/

Another example of one business inspiring the growth into another venture. Natalie and Tyler may have started as master barbers with their hair-raising barber shop nextdoor, Beardsgaard Barbers (https://www.beardsgaardbarbers.com/), but they have grown into a brand of handmade beard products as well as uniquely curated gifts for all in the Apothecary. If you want to journey through a shopping experience full of fantasy and nature, this is your place.

The Other Half (Batavia)- https://www.theotherhalfsimplyhim.com/

Housed in one of eight tiny shops at the Batavia Boardwalk Shops and growing into a new storefront in 2021 still in Downtown Batavia, Kasey (the brains behind Six + Cypress Boutique) and her hubby, Pat, created the perfect spot to shop for him. I may have purchased a few of their silly graphic tees for the men in my life already, but it doesn’t stop with clothing. Pat brings his unique craft of blacksmithing and knife making to the shop as well.

A few more options for daper gifts:

Stitch Switch (Geneva)

Rediscover Records (Elgin)

Kiss the Sky (Batavia)



Two Bostons (Geneva, Wheaton, Naperville, Burr Ridge & coming soon to Glenn Elynn)- https://twobostons.com/geneva/

If you want to spoil your pets or the pet lovers in your life this holiday, I don’t know of a more customized experience than this. AdreAnne and her family have created a space where you find just the thing your four-legged friend needs in life. After shopping here for the first time, we received a call from a team member to see how our shopping experience was. A few weeks later, we received a handwritten postcard thanking us and welcoming us back. I don’t even know if I get this treatment when I shop for myself. And I know for sure, no big-name stores are treating me or my pups like treasured and valued friends. Bonus, my son goes to school with one of their kids. Always my favorite to support a business owned by a neighbor!

Ruby Jane (Batavia)- https://www.rubyjanebatavia.com/

Photographer turned boutique mama. Tricia’s style for children is flawless. Flawless as in I would like to wear (in an adult size of course) nearly all of the sweet and soft sweaters and jammies she’s picked out for the tiniest people to don. From the gorgeous neutral rainbow mural on the wall to her selection of inspiring children’s books, this is a must stop shop online or in person for your Christmas list.

The Bike Rack (St. Charles)- https://www.thebikerack.com/

Since we are situated along the Fox River Trail, a good bike shop is not hard to come by. From All Spoked Up in Aurora to Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva, your options are great to find just what you need. What sets The Bike Rack apart is not only their expertise that they share with any cyclist beginner to expert, but their partner projects Creative Mobility and Project Mobility (https://www.projectmobility.org/). When Hal’s son Jacob was born with Cerebral Palsey, he set out to find a way for Jacob to join the family on bike rides. Thus the birth of Project Mobility and specialized bikes for those who are disabled – Cycles for Life. Hal and his mission to change lives one bike at a time is so inspiring and beautiful, my husband and I have supported their mission in the past and hope you do too.

American Science & Surplus (Geneva)- https://www.sciplus.com/

If you live in our area and have not been to this shop full of chaos and wonders, do it today. If you haven’t been in a while, do it today. I promise they have a wide variety of news items that you don’t even know you need. This is hands down my favorite local shop for stocking stuffers that you cannot find anywhere else like a dragon ring or a NO button. Trust me, your kids will thank me for this one.

A few more options for tiny people and furry friend gifts:

Graham Cracker Comics (St. Charles)- https://www.grahamcrackers.com/scstore.htm

Harvey’s Tales (Geneva)- https://harveystales.com/

Larson Pet Shack (Batavia)- https://www.facebook.com/Larson-Pet-Shack-105360374546118/

Dash Ten Works (Batavia)- https://www.etsy.com/shop/dashtenworks

Rocket Fizz (St. Charles)- https://rocketfizz.com/locations/rocket-fizz-st-charles-il/

Sweetie’s Sweet Shop (Batavia)- https://www.facebook.com/Sweeties-Sweet-Shop-100736871681229/


Cheers to finding new local treasures as you venture out to support local business and your community. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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