The fragrance of organic, loose-leaf teas. The mouth-watering aroma of craft chocolates. The rustle of rustic chic.

Any gift giver can point and click. For true treasures that a shopper can smell, taste and touch, Visit McHenry County’s new Shop Small guide offers the handiest of lowdowns.  

Search alphabetically, by city or by item – and come away with dozens of opportunities to find that perfect gift while supporting the small businesses that lend towns their character.

“When you shop places like Anderson’s Candy Shop in Richmond, Ethereal Confections in Woodstock or Marvin’s Toy Store in Crystal Lake, you’re finding high-quality, one-of-a-kind gifts in places that are truly a joy to see,” said Jaki Berggren, executive director of Visit McHenry County. “We’re lucky to have so many boutiques and innovative shops whose owners make visiting an experience.”

Take the Jackass Charm Corner Store off the Square in Woodstock, for example, where proprietor Valerie Deegan-Johnson takes on the persona of sassy ’50s housewife Ruthie Sudsalot as she hawks everything from cheeky dish towels to hand-crafted beard oil.

Featuring dozens of entries – many with full-color photos and all linked to corresponding websites or social media pages – Visit McHenry County’s guide is chock-a-block with such unique, fun and fascinating shops. Whether you want to put a bicycle next to the tree or a hand-made soap in the stocking, this guide will help you plan your holiday shopping excursion.

A recently added blog post at visitmchenrycounty.com also highlights some must-see spots in Woodstock, McHenry, Huntley, Crystal Lake and Richmond.

To find the full guide, go to visitmchenrycounty.com/Shop. For the blog item, see visitmchenrycounty.com/ShopSmall.

“We had a great time putting the guide together,” said Kristine Austin, sales and marketing manager for Visit McHenry County. “We hope shoppers will find it useful and fun, and that they’ll use it to support our area’s quaint downtowns.”