From the traditional holiday open house this Sunday to a shopping night for men only on Dec. 11, shops in downtown Worthington will cater to the Christmas crowd again this year.

From the traditional holiday open house this Sunday to a shopping night for men only on Dec. 11, shops in downtown Worthington will cater to the Christmas crowd again this year.

Downtown merchants already have decorated for the season with charming lights that attract visitors from afar, and have set up special sales and events they hope will draw local shoppers to local shops this year.

"If people think downtown Worthington is so charming, please shop here so we will be here next year," said Jennifer Richards, owner of On Second Thought.

She said her store and others along High Street are full of the type of gifts that people give at Christmas, yet sometimes Worthington shoppers go someplace else and even pay more for what is available locally.

She and others hope shoppers will attend the many special events and take advantage of the sales planned by downtown merchants this year.

The season will kick off this Sunday, with the traditional holiday open house and tree lighting ceremony.

Shops will open at noon, with the tree lighting set for 5:30 p.m., when all are invited to gather around the city's holiday tree on the southeast quadrant of the Village Green.

Carols will be sung and candles lighted before the switch is thrown.

Besides shops filled with holiday gifts ideas and decorations, there will be wandering musicians, refreshments, photos with Santa on the porch of the Worthington Inn, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

The gaiety does not end on Sunday, as special events are planned throughout the holiday season.

On Dec. 4, the streets will be lighted with luminaria for a girls' night out. Shoppers will enjoy wine and cheese and live music while they shop from 6 to 9 p.m.

Some shops also will take part in a guys' night on Dec. 11 or Dec. 18.

More than 2,000 people are expected to come through the door on Sunday.

As in past years, children will decorate cookies and make ornaments, while adults can shop for poinsettias or other floral arrangements.

There also will be samples of the gourmet foods used in the store's gift baskets, said manager Kim Hamrick.

Visitors can sample punch made from a special concoction passed down from the owners' grandmother, she said. Many shoppers have requested, and received, the recipe over the years.

"Open house is always special here," she said. "It's very festive."

Cookies and candy canes will be served on Sunday, and wine will be the refreshment of the evening on Dec. 4.

There will also be a 15 percent reduction in the price of all jewelry costing more than $50, from Sunday through Dec. 4.

Twenty-five percent off everything will be a feature of the Sunday open house, said Alise Ghanen.

The store will stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. A men's night on Dec. 18 will feature hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and free gift wrapping, along with some help with sizes and styles.

The combination resale shop and arts hub has lots of Christmas stock, as well as hand-crafted items made by local artists and craftspeople.

Arts enrichment events will continue through the holidays, with visits from illustrator Ben Mahan and author Carmella Van Vleet on Dec. 6 and former Liberty Presbyterian Church minister and author David Redding on Dec. 13.

The shop will celebrate its first anniversary with a raffle of a pair of earrings made by jeweler Cindy Sergent. Proceeds will go to charity.

The antiques, home and garden shop will be open during the open house and during the "illuminating shopping" night on Dec. 4, when wine will be served.

"They put candles out and everything looks so pretty, so it's a good night to come check everything out," said co-owner Barbara Guzzo.

The shop will be open every Thursday night in December, except Christmas.

On girls' night Dec. 4, there will be wine, a chocolate fountain, gift bags, and a "wish list."

Guys' night Dec. 11 will feature scotch, cigars, pizza and beer

"Guys can come out and get away from the holiday stress," said owner Joe Davis.

Dec. 18 will be customer appreciation night.

Teapots On Tour, a collection of hand-crafted, decorative teapots made by artisans from across the country, will be on sale from Friday through Dec. 13.

Fifteen percent of profits will benefit Flying Horse Farms, a camp and retreat for children with serious illnesses. It is being developed near Mount Gilead. The camp is modeled after Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall camps.

The teapots were featured at special tea parties throughout central Ohio since Nov. 13.

Jan Allmon opened her Worthington gallery in August and plans to do an annual community outreach.

The shops and restaurants on the northeast corner of High Street and New England Avenue will have live music and outdoor decorations on Sunday and lights in the parking lot on illumination night Dec. 4.

The Quarter includes House Wine, The Candle Lab, ELLI Nail Spa, Jan Allmon Studio Gallery and Caffe Daniela.

House Wine will have traditional tastings each Thursday evening from 6 to 8:30.

The businesses also will be busy with package deals. Groups of from three to 20 people set up times to take advantage of all the businesses have to offer, from candle pouring to manicures and pedicures to food and wine and shopping.

News of the packages has spread by word of mouth, and three or four a week are being held, said Steve Weaver of The Candle Lab.

Holiday open house schedule

Noon-5:30 p.m. - refreshments and holiday shopping

1-5 p.m. - winter farmers market at the Griswold Center

1-1:30 p.m. - Worthington high school bands

1-5:30 p.m. - Worthington Chorus

1-5 p.m. - photos with Santa by Finocchi at Worthington Inn

1:30-4:30 p.m. - horse-drawn carriage rides

1:30-2 p.m. - Worthington Junior Drill Team, U.S. Bank

2:30-3 p.m. - Westerville Junior Drill Team, U.S. Bank

3:30-4 p.m. - Liberty Live Show Choir, U.S. Bank

3:30-4:30 p.m. - Orange Johnson Singers

4:30-5:30 p.m. - Worthington Methodist Youth and Children's Choir

5:30 p.m. - Christmas tree illumination