A stocking-full guide to December shopping and merrymaking in Bugleland

A COLORFUL COUNTDOWN: Shop owners in the Carter and Como avenues business district in St. Anthony Park have been working like a pack of elves to come up with a fun-filled day during the neighborhood’s annual Shop Home for the Holidays Saturday, Dec. 7. New this year: an all-ages Family Coloring Contest sponsored by local business group Discover St. Anthony Park.

Yes, Mom, Dad and Grandpa, you, too, can enter the contest. All you need to do is visit a participating store, pick up a coloring sheet, take it home and have at it—but be sure to bring it back to any participating business before Dec. 7 so your work can be displayed during the Shop Home festivities.

“Celebrity judge” Jon Schumacher, longtime St. Anthony Park Community Foundation executive director, will announce the winning artwork during Shop Home. Winners will receive gift certificates from participating businesses, which include Milton Square, Scarborough Fair, the Little Wine Shoppe, Colossal Café, Healing Elements, Sunrise Banks, Nico’s Tacos, boreal, Complexions on Carter and Winding Trail Books.

FIRST UP: SANTA’S SPAGHETTI DINNER MOVES SOUTH DEC. 6: St. Paul Park and Recreation’s annual dinner with Santa and Mrs. Claus became so popular it outgrew Langford Park Recreation Center. This year, Santa fans will find the jolly couple at Urban Growler Brewing Co., 2325 Endicott St., in South St. Anthony, on Friday, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Cost is $5 per person and includes dinner, cookie decorating and face painting.

On a sad note, Rich Hahnen, the man behind the beard for many years, died in September. Many neighbors and longtime participants will be thinking of him that evening, said Courtney John, community recreation specialist at Langford Park.

SHOPPING KICK-OFF: Shop Home will kick off at Sunrise Banks Dec. 7 with a visit from Santa with reindeer-pulled sleigh rides from 9 a.m. to noon. This annual event has been a 20-plus-year tradition on Como Avenue.

Other kid-friendly activities include crafts at St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Ave., (the library opens at 11:30 a.m.), holiday-themed face painting and a free cup of Mexican hot chocolate at Nico’s (the Milton Square restaurant opens at 10 a.m.), and cookie decorating at Tim and Tom’s Speedy Market, 2310 Como Ave., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (and don’t forget the Christmas sausage, a Speedy delicacy that is sold just at this time of year).

Carolers will wander the streets and shops throughout the day, an annual gift sponsored by the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation. And handcraft items will be for sale at four makers markets at Milton Square, boreal, Scarborough Fair and Healing Elements.

The Best Holiday Sale Ever!—a collaboration of work from a dozen neighborhood artists—will be held in the yoga studio at Healing Elements from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The sale will feature pottery, paintings, cards, textiles, jewelry, ornaments, handmade toys and stuffed animals, hats and mittens, a whole lot of whimsy, and complimentary sweets, wine and cider.

Other shopping specials include:

❖ The Little Wine Shoppe, 2236 Carter Ave., will host a wine tasting from 1 to 4 p.m.

❖ Scarborough Fair, 2238 Carter Ave., will have complimentary hot cider and European cookies. Shoppers who purchase over $100 will receive a free gift.

❖ Winding Trail Books in Milton Square will have multiple authors on hand throughout the day to meet and sign books.

❖ Both Complexions on Carter Skincare Boutique in Milton Square and Colossal Café, 2315 Como Ave., will have gift certificate specials.

THERE’S STILL MORE TO DO: Stroll up to Carter and Commonwealth avenues on Dec. 7 and check out two church boutiques.

St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ (SAPUCC), 2129 Commonwealth Ave., is reviving its once annual holiday bazaar from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The church will offer a variety of handmade goods: knits, embroidery, quilts, artwork, baby items, holiday decor, birdhouse kits, soaps and body care products, plants, wreathes, seasonings, gourmet baked items and canned goods, SAPUCC peanut brittle, attic treasures and a special area for children to buy holiday gifts for family members. Scandinavian egg coffee and sweets will be served all day, and a light lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Proceeds from the bazaar will go to church needs and to Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul.

Just across the alley, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Ave., will host the Blue House Boutique, where organizers say there will be something for everyone: high-quality, hand-crafted personal and holiday items, gourmet goodies and unique gifts from Africa. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. A homemade lunch will be served Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

The Blue House supports Ugandan orphans and vulnerable girls who live in a safe family-like home with nutritious food, clothing, health care, mentoring and support for education. It was founded by the late Beatrice Garubanda, a Ugandan American who lived in the Como Park neighborhood. She wanted girls in her home village to have a path out of poverty through education and hope for a future. The Blue House also supports boys and girls who are living with relatives in Uganda who can’t afford to send them to school. All income from the boutique will go toward these two programs. You can learn more at www.Blue-House.org/Boutique.

DON’T FORGET THE TREE LIGHTING: And at the end the day, Dec. 7, Heather O’Malley will host the annual tree lighting in the courtyard at Milton Square at 5:30 p.m.

HOLIDAY FLOWER SHOW: The annual Holiday Flower Show at Como Regional Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory will open Saturday, Dec. 7, and run through Jan. 12. Featured plants will include ice punch poinsettia, Kalanchoe Cher, eucalyptus and Persian shield. The show will be open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can get a behind-the-scenes tour of the conservatory at the Breakfast Under Glass event Friday, Dec. 13. There will be two seatings for breakfast in the North Garden—7 and 8:30 a.m.—and then participants will tour the facility. At press time, the 8:30 a.m. seating had already sold out. Tickets are $40 per person. Call 651-487-8250 to make reservations.

If you’re looking for a chance to use the Holiday Flower Show as a backdrop for family photos, take advantage of the Artist, Photographer and Family Photo Mornings at the conservatory on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, and Sunday, Dec. 15, from 8 to 10 a.m. Cost is $5 per person. This is an opportunity for artists and photographers to bring in their easels and tripods before the conservatory opens to the public.

A SEASONAL SING: Twin Cities songster Dan Chouinard will lead neighbors in a few rounds of festive tunes Monday, Dec. 16, at the monthly community sing held at Olson Campus Center at Luther Seminary, 1490 Fulham St. Singers will gather at 6:30 p.m. for social time. Music will begin at 7 p.m. and last about 90 minutes. Children are welcome.

RING IN THE NEW YEAR TWICE: You don’t have to stay up late to celebrate 2020. Como Zoo and Conservatory’s annual Noon Year’s Eve Confetti Dance Party—with DJs!—will be held both New Year’s Eve day and New Year’s Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will include dancing, games, animal enrichment activities and, of course, the countdown to noon complete with a giant confetti drop.

NOT ENOUGH? The Bell Museum, 2088 W. Larpenteur Ave., is offering several events through the month: Explore the skies with outdoor telescopes at the free December Star Party, Friday, Dec. 6, 7:30 to 9 p.m. Individuals with sensory sensitivities can take advantage of a welcoming and accessible environment during Sensory Friendly, Saturday, Dec. 14, from 8 to 10 a.m. Visit the museum’s solar telescopes to safely view the sun during Solar Sunday, Dec. 15, noon to 2 p.m. Explore the universe at December Story Time, Thursday, Dec. 19, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And just have fun at Family Discovery Day, Thursday, Dec. 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a variety of activities, including a sun-centered planetarium show.

—Compiled by Kristal Leebrick

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