5 Super-Cool, Last-Minute Gift Ideas! (How About Some History This Season?)

5 Super-Cool, Last-Minute Gift Ideas! (How About Some History This Season?)

Looking for something unusual to put under the tree this holiday season?

How about giving the gift of local history?

Here are five gift ideas you can snag quickly at your local history museum or historical society that are sure to please the history lover in your family.

Aurora Historical Society

The cover of the 2018 calendar features the corner of LaSalle and Fox (now Downer) in 1910. (CREDIT: Aurora Historical Society)

As a former longtime editor of The Beacon-News, I just love Aurora history. And the Aurora Historical Society always has a plethora of great gifts.

This year’s favorite: The 2018 edition of Vintage Aurora, the annual calendar from the Aurora Historical Society.

The calendar features archival photographs of transportation in Aurora from 1890 to 1940. Thirteen photos detail planes, trains and automobiles, as well as boats, motorcycles and horse drawn vehicles. The calendar sells for $14.95 plus tax.

Historical society members receive a 10 percent discount.

It’s available only at The Aurora Shop at the Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer. 60505. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

St. Charles History Museum

There’s so much cool stuff at the Curious Fox Gift Shop located in the St. Charles History Museum, it’s hard to keep track of it all. The History Museum, located at 215 E. Main St., features a wide selection of everything St. Charles‚ including St. Charles branded pillows, blankets, T-shirts and other apparel, locally produced pottery, jewelry, honey and salsa products.

My personal favorite might be the “experience” gift: The Self-Guided Walking Tour, which is only $5.

Featured above is the St. Charles Historic Buildings throw ($45), St. Charles and Pickle Capital of the World hoodies ($25), St. Charles Flat Christmas Ornament ($14.95), and St. Charles coffee mugs ($8).

Even better: Unique St. Charles merchandise is available in the store through today (Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017) at special prices. When you spend $50, you get 30 percent off your purchase.

The Curious Fox Gift Shop is open during regular museum hours, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit the St. Charles museum’s website for more information or to shop online.

City of Geneva

I live in Geneva, so one of my favorite gifts and gift ideas each year is the city of Geneva’s annual pewter ornament.

2017 Pewter Ornament

The ornament is always city-themed and usually represents a historic building in Geneva. This year’s ornament is the eighth in the series and features the historic Peck Farm House.

In 1869, Eli and Jerusha Peck built this Italianate house befitting their stature attained by raising renowned Merino sheep. Nearly symmetrical with hipped roof, central cupola and carved stone lintels, the structure served as home to four generations of the Peck family.

The family sold the home and nearly 100 acres to the Geneva Park District in 1991 to preserve the land as open space for future generations to enjoy. Today, Geneva’s crown jewel of parks stands at 385 acres along Kaneville Road and Fabyan Parkway and offers a wide range of recreational amenities to the public.

Pewter material, diameter of 2.25 inches. Price: $12

You can purchase the ornament online or shop the Geneva Store at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Obviously, another great resource for historic gifts in Geneva is the Geneva History Museum. The historic building on Third Street offers a Gift Shop with unique Geneva items and a meeting room which is available for rent.

Elgin History Museum

I’ve always loved the legend and lore of the Elgin National Watch Company.

And you can find it in jewelry gifts at the Elgin History Museum Shop.

The jewelry, I think, is super cool. But there are plenty of other potential gifts and gift ideas, including books and DVDs, clothing and gear, items for the home (I really love the 1835 map of Elgin) and more.

To check out the stuff online, click this link.

The history museum is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, at 360 Park St. Call the museum at 847-742-4248 or click the link to email the museum.

Batavia Historical Society

The Batavia Historical Society also has a wonderful shop located at the Batavia Depot Museum, 155 Houston St. The Catch 22 is that the museum is open March through Thanksgiving.

That said, the website does invite folks to contact the museum “for availability and information about how to order.” The phone is 630-406-5274 and the email is chrisw@bataviaparks.org.

You can peruse the shop online, and it offers a variety of cool gifts, including key chains, men’s caps, a souvenir silver spoon with a windmill (perfect for spoon collectors), windmill scene note cards and even windmill kits.

What caught my eye was the photo albums — probably because that’s one of the items on my wife’s Christmas list. I’ve discovered that good-quality photo albums are hard to find, and these look excellent.

For more information, visit the museum shop page on the Batavia Historical Society website.