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Stock up on presents at Forest Preserve gift shops this holiday season

Items for sale at Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville. (Photo by Chad Merda)

If you’re making a list, and checking it twice, make sure there are some nature-themed presents under your tree or stuffed in Christmas stockings this holiday season.

The Forest Preserve District has four gift shops that are located inside visitor centers in Bolingbrook, Channahon, Crete Township and Romeoville. Each site has an assortment of handmade, eco-friendly and fair trade items that would be perfect for the nature lovers on your shopping list.

Gifts range from felt bird ornaments and locally produced honey to bird houses and wind chimes from global artisans. Some of the items are holiday oriented, others are carried year-round. (See below for gift details.)

“Merchandise is largely unique to each location, although there are a few items that are carried at two or more shops,” said Tina Riley facility supervisor at Isle a la Cache Museum. 

Gifts sold by the Forest Preserve focus on reconnecting people to nature, wellness and sustainability, Riley added. Many of the items are handmade and they come from local artisans or organizations around the world that are trying to improve lives. 

For instance, some of the products are from SERRV International, a fair-trade nonprofit working to "eradicate poverty by providing support to low income artisans and farmers worldwide." And the fair-trade Ornaments 4 Orphans’s mission is to “create jobs, fight poverty, strengthen families, empower communities, and ultimately prevent vulnerable children from becoming orphans.”

And if you are unsure what to buy, pick up a Forest Preserve gift card, which can be used in person or online for programs, permits and rental fees. (Gift cards also are sold at the Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet.)

Here are some of the items that can be found at Forest Preserve visitor center gift shops this holiday season: 

  • Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon: handmade felt bird ornaments from Ornaments for Orphans, bird-friendly coffee by Dean's Beans, handmade Four Rivers mugs by Fine Field Pottery in Streator, reusable coffee pods that work with most Keurigs, soda bottle bird feeders from Channel Craft; Audubon bird call by Channel Craft; and nature-inspired holiday ornaments by Peoria-based Oak Street Wholesale. Also, local raw honey from Meyer Bees in Minooka, beeswax food wraps, expandable reusable straws that collapse into small keychain containers (brush cleaner included) and wooden pelican earrings. 
  • Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Bolingbrook: local honey, whole leaf tea; Sisterhood Solidarity coffee from the Las Diosas women’s cooperative in Nicaragua; handmade bird houses and wind chimes from global artisans; bamboo utensil sets; handmade fashion scarves, necklaces, earrings and bracelets from SERRV; nature stickers; walking sticks from Alaska; snake bracelets; and turtle necklaces. 
  • Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville: nature-inspired button pins by Two Little Fruits, nature-inspired stickers by Keep Nature Wild, handcrafted wooden turtle necklaces and bracelets, hand-knit and marble turtles and frogs by SS Handcrafted Art, nature-inspired holiday ornaments by Oak Street Wholesale. 
  • Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township: ornaments from around the world from SERRV, wooden toys made by local artisan Lisbet Temple, play blocks, sustainable household items (shopping bags) and garden items such as birdhouses and wind chimes.

Visitor centers are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays and closed on Mondays except for Hidden Oaks, which is closed on both Mondays and Tuesdays. 

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