Holiday Shopping and Events Tour

Karen Thornton
Don't miss the Living Windows event in downtown Jefferson City this holiday season.

This year is a little different, begging the question “what will we do this holiday season?” It’s the year for new traditions and new adventures.

We refuse to believe that Christmas is canceled, so by making a few phone calls to communities throughout Missouri we’ve found a couple of spots that are hosting events and have shopping opportunities to get you into the Christmas spirit.

What if you had a spot for a 40 foot Christmas tree? Well, the Governor of Missouri looks for just such a tree each year. This special tree is chosen from 10-20 applicants, pictures and submissions each year. There are specifications which must be fulfilled for the desired tree. Primarily, it must look like a Christmas tree.

Last year’s tree was donated by a couple from Salem, Mo. Measuring at 45-feet tall, the tree had become to large for the space at their home so it was donated and sat on full display on the Governor’s lawn in Jefferson City. The tree is placed the Monday after Thanksgiving in time for the mansion’s holiday celebrations. The tree lighting ceremony is the first Friday in December (this year it is December 4). The Missouri Department of Conservation has sourced trees for the Governor’s Mansion and lawn for more than 30 years.

Coinciding with the tree lighting ceremony, Jefferson City will have the “Living Windows” event along High Street, from Jefferson to Adams. You will view the charm of downtown, enjoy refreshments, a visit from Santa with live reindeer, carolers, a live nativity, carriage rides and so much more. Even though social distancing is advised, there will be many strolling the streets to experience the holiday from 6-9 p.m.

About 30 miles from the Lake area, Warsaw has a delightful holiday agenda with Christmas at the Harbor December 11 & 12. A parade is held right down Main Street flanked by beautiful trees wrapped in lights. While you are in the area, Warsaw is known for great antique shopping. There are more than 30 locally-owned unique shops including thrift stores, flea markets, boutiques and quilt stores, to ensure you can find that special item on your shopping list. After your busy day, visit The Yellow Deli, located in the downtown area. You’ll enjoy a great view of the Osage Arm of Lake of the Ozarks and the best bowl of chili.

Franklin County is just over an hour from the Lake area. They will begin their holiday celebration with the Cole Camp’s Christbaumfest — a Christmas tree festival, along with quality crafts, music and a visit with Santa Claus. There is expected to be over 50 local craft booths to begin (or finish) your holiday shopping. Check out the chamber’s website for a full schedule of events during the month of December.

Saint Charles, about three hours from the Lake, has always been a favorite destination during the holiday season. The Saint Charles Christmas Traditions Festival transforms the town into a winter wonderland. From November 27-December 24 step back into a Charles Dickens old-world charm with horse-drawn carriage rides and victorian carolers. More than 125 unique shops, specialty food and lots of other activities and events makes it the perfect destination for the holiday season. (

Since Ste. Genevieve is about a four hour drive from the Lake, a weekend getaway is the best way to visit. It’s a small community with a unique French heritage and they are not bashful about sharing a full agenda of cultural programs and events. Historic waking tours are held Friday through Sunday where a guide shares the history of their community from the early settlers to the historic cemetery. Their Holiday Christmas Festival is always held the first full weekend in December. Live music, colonial decorations, caroling, an art show, downtown shops serving refreshments, and a tree lighting ceremony takes place.

With unique boutiques, art galleries, handcrafted gifts, wine, clothing, jewelry and antiques it’s definitely a place you can shop til’ you drop.

Closer to home, within a two hour drive, the City of Sedalia starts off the season on Thanksgiving Day with the “Light Up Liberty” drive through light display at the Liberty park.

Sedalia doesn’t want you to miss sharing in the holidays with the family. There are many holiday events planned this year. Breakfast with Santa is December 5. Santa and his elves hide candy canes all around the park for a Candy Cane Hunt on December 9. Pizza and PJs with Santa is December 11. Cookies with the Clauses is December 18, and the Jingle Bell Run is on December 19.

On December 7, participating businesses will host an Art Walk — the perfect opportunity to get a little shopping done. New this year is the Elf Workshop held December 6 from 1-5 p.m. Children in grades 4-6 can choose from 20 different homemade gifts to make for family members. Gifts will be made, wrapped and tagged before you leave.

Our final suggestion on the holiday shopping and events tour is Springfield.

New this year, The Galley’s Holiday Pop Up Shop (220 E. Walnut St.) opened in October and runs through December 31. Held Tuesday-Sunday, it features 16 local artists ranging from woodworking to painting and mixed media. It gives artists the opportunity to sell their work in a time where COVID has forced the cancellation of many events.

Officials are finalizing plans for a Small Business Saturday event to take place Downtown. It will feature 25 artists and crafters from Springfield. Plans are also ongoing for the annual Festival of Lights/Christmas Parade.

* Check online or contact venues and local chambers of commerce to confirm scheduling and safety requirements.

Lake Sun Leader