Area House Walks Let You Enjoy the Splendor of the Season

So much to do before the holidays, so few weekends to get it all done. Ah, and, so many homes waiting to wow you with their holiday finery, so little time to see them. What’s a garland-lover to do?

First, relax, because we’ve got this one figured out for you.

Pick one of the half-dozen or so area holiday housewalks that are being held the first week in December, call up your BFF (or your sister, your mother) and plan a little daytrip. Then send your Mister, your honey, your munchkins (pick any or all of the above) off on a shopping mission with your wish list!

No need for guilt as you fall under the spell of the holiday magic like a little girl on her first trip to the Walnut Room. Many of these tours also feature markets and fairs filled with unique gifts so you can take care of a little shopping of your own. You can pick up some decorating ideas for Christmas Future. And because each tour benefits a different non-profit organization, you’ll be giving back to a worthy cause, too.

Now that’s what we call multitasking fun.

Lake Forest

housewalk_8A_Gancer_exterior_entryWinter WonderWalk
and Holiday Gift Boutique

Dec. 1 (preview) and 2: The WonderWalk, put on by the Mothers Club of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, will feature four Lake Forest homes decorated for the holidays, including an “Idea House.” The gift boutique will be held at the Woodlands Academy.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec 2

Cost: $60 Wonderwalk, a $100 V.I.P. ticket includes round-trip shuttle transportation to the homes from Woodlands Academy and a gourmet lunch at the school. Event benefits the Woodlands’ scholarship funds.

Holiday Gift Boutique hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boutique cost: free; boutique shoppers can attend Preview Night, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

Info: 847-234-4300, ext. 226, or

Park Ridge

housewalk_House_Tour_Home-3Christmas in Park Ridge Housewalk
Dec. 4: In its 33rd year, the Park Ridge walk will feature four houses decorated for the holidays. The owners of one of the homes say it was called “Audrey’s House” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who used to come to play there when she was a child.

Hours: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 day of event; proceeds benefit Maine Center, a non-profit organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services. Info: 847-232-2908.

Oak Park/River Forest

Oak Park/River Forest Infant
Welfare Society’s Holiday
Housewalk and Holiday Market

Dec. 4 and 5: This year, five homes in the historic district will be featured in the tour that starts at the 19th Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park. The Market is new this year and, in addition to 40 artisans and craftspeople selling jewelry, art, home accessories and more, there also will be live entertainment and a raffle. The Market The 11th annual walk benefits The Children’s Clinic, which provides medical and dental care and social services to children whose families cannot afford private care.

Preview brunch (and early Market shopping): 9:30 a.m. Dec. 4. Cost: $50.

Housewalk hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec 4, 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 5

Market hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec 5.

Cost: $35 in advance, $40 day of event, includes market; $5 for one-day market pass.

Info: The Children’s Clinic, 708-848-0528, ext. 300, or


housewalk_Wreaths_at_windowChristmas Walk & House Tour
Dec. 4 and 5: Walk through five Geneva homes decorated for the holidays, then enjoy a traditional tea at the Congregational Church and take home a booklet on entertaining and decorating. The Walk kicks off when a horse-drawn carriage delivers Santa Lucia, the symbol of the season in Sweden, and her attendants—and Swedish cookies for visitors. Then there’s a tree lighting, Santa visit, chestnut roasting, caroling and, yes, Virginia, there’s shopping.

Tour hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4,  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5. Walk begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 4.

Cost of house tour: $28 in advance; $30 day of tour; proceeds benefit the town’s annual holiday decorations. Info: 630-232-6060 or

Marengo and Union in McHenry County

The Holiday Housewalk
Dec. 5 and 6: Features about 25 homes with a food-pantry drive at each house. The walk was started 18 years ago with the mission of helping people get back to the “real sense of an old-fashioned Christmas,” says Neel Kintz. The walk also features about 70 craftspeople, selling their wares.“We have two rules and they are: the host home must be decorated for Christmas and all items must be handcrafted.”

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6.

Cost: free; food contributions for the food pantry in Marengo/Union are requested. Info: A map showing homes and crafters (and telling what they make) will be available at

Norwood Park

Norwood Park Historical Society’s Holiday House Tour

Dec. 5 and 6: Start at the Norwood Park Field House, 5801 N. Natoma Ave., and make your way through six houses. Among the homes is the Noble-Seymour-Crippen House where you’ll find the Victoria’s Holiday Craft Boutique & Café in the third day of its four-day run. While the house tour is a walking tour, a free shuttle bus is also available.

Tour hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5.

Boutique hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4,  10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5, and  10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 6.

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 day of event (benefits the non-profit Historical Society); $1 admission to boutique. For info and to purchase tickets in advance, Info: 773-631-4633 or