For a quarter century, Oswego’s holiday season hasn’t been complete without a tree — in this case, the shop known as The Marmalade Tree.

And for the past few seasons, Barb Tews has been in charge of doling out The Marmalade Tree’s bit of festive magic each holiday season. “It’s just such a special, wonderful place, and I’ve always loved shopping here,” says Tews.

Three years ago, when Tews heard the shop might close, she decided the season had arrived for her to transition from a long career as a teacher to become the owner of one of Kendall County’s longtime local retail destinations. The store features clothing, purses, jewelry and other accessories, along with home decor items, both for the holidays and all other seasons.

“Small, local stores offer better customer service and are generally owned by local families, which means you can find many unique gifts, and the money isn’t going to a big corporate entity,” says Angie Hibben, president and CEO of the Oswego Area Chamber of Commerce.

All across Kendall County, a wide assortment of local shops will dish out heaping helpings of cheer and gift ideas for every Santa making a list and checking it twice. Located in the heart of downtown Oswego at 79 Main St., The Marmalade Tree welcomes guests year-round but takes on a more regal sheen each autumn, when the store transforms into a holiday wonderland for that most festive of seasons.

This year is no different, says Tews, nodding to the store’s Yuletide decor and garb. “The holiday season is when we pay the bills,” says Tews. “We’re praying for another good Christmas season, and inviting everyone to come down and check us out this year.”

Shops in Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and elsewhere will again beckon those seeking the perfect gifts for everyone on their list. And even for those truly difficult people on a holiday shopping list, Hibben says local business organizations, like the Oswego Downtown Association, offer gift certificates that are accepted by many local stores. In Oswego, those certificates can be purchased at the Oswego Chamber of Commerce office.

Here is a sampling of just a few of the magical holiday shopping options offered in the region:

OSWEGO

Hudson Design House, 76 Main St. — Just down the street from The Marmalade Tree in downtown Oswego, the Hudson Design House offers shoppers what it calls a “curated lifestyle boutique,” featuring “timeless furniture, home decor, women’s clothing and accessories, gifts, unique vintage finds, and specialty goods from local artisans.” The store participated in Oswego’s Holiday Open House Weekend on Nov. 5-8, filled with an assortment of new holiday merchandise.

Velvet Grace, 4025 U.S. Route 34 — This boutique shopping destination offers “eye-catching, frequently changing displays and products,” including pillows, throws, wall art, frames, vases, furniture, candles, women’s clothing, jewelry and more — like Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which can be used to put a unique, new finish on existing furniture, cabinets and more.

Fox Valley Winery, 5600 U.S. Route 34 — One of Illinois’ premier boutique wineries, the Fox Valley Winery offers gift-seekers the opportunity to knock the Christmas socks off party hosts, friends and goofy relations alike with the perfect bottle of wine, complete with a personalized label or as part of a custom gift basket. And while there, gift-seekers can partake in a bit of merrymaking as well, sampling the vintage for themselves in the Fox Valley Winery’s tasting room.

YORKVILLE

Flight Tasting Room & Bottle Shoppe, 508 Center Parkway — Got anyone on the shopping list who might enjoy craft beer? How about an assortment of liquors, wine and mead, culled from distributors and makers in the region and around the world? Then a stop at Flight should be on the to-do list this holiday season.

Duy’s Shoes, 135 E. Veterans Parkway — Since 1954, Duy’s Shoes has offered visitors a collection of boots, shoes and sandals for just about any profession or athletic activity, complete with “old-fashioned personal service.”

Vintage 71 Shops, 10711 Route 71 — If vintage is on the holiday list – not involving actual wine — then a stop at Vintage 71 should also be on the agenda before the jolly man in the red suit takes flight. Vintage 71 offers a collection of “vintage retro” items, including “salvaged and repurposed items” for the home and garden, on consignment from many local artisans. The shops’ assortment of eclectic treasures also includes clothing, jewelry and other accessories.

PLANO

Cooper Home Furnishings, 112 W. Main St. — Since 1886, this family-owned local gem has offered custom furniture, yes, but also a large assortment of other home furnishings and accessories that could make the perfect gift for just about anyone on your list, no matter where they call home.

Photo provided by The Marmalade Tree
Photo provided by The Marmalade Tree