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Here's a bright idea: Valley Junction's Fifth Street is all lit up for the shopping and festivities of Jingle in the Junction.


With 150,000 lights, Historic Valley Junction is like a twinkling bit of Bedford Falls, from the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Capture the holiday spirit Thursday, Dec. 19; it's this year's final Jingle in the Junction, from 5 to 9 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, along with festive carolers and free horse-drawn trolley rides. For more info, click here.

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Some gifts are a treat to the giver, too: Gift cards at several restaurants come with a bonus for the buyer.


By Wini Moranville

A few weeks ago, I offered a list of food-focused gift ideas that do Iowa proud and suggested that these would be lovely choices for shipping to friends and relatives who live elsewhere. Now, for the Des Moines-dwelling folks on your gift list, might I suggest a gift card to one of your favorite restaurants? The following come with a great bonus: a kickback for you when you order a specified amount of gift-card value.
     • Orchestrate restaurants: Let your recipient decide where to eatyou can buy a gift card that’s
       redeemable at Django, Centro, Malo, Zombie Burger, Gateway Market and South Union Bread Bakery.
       Spend $100 and get a $20 bonus gift card for yourself. (The bonus card is redeemable at the venue where
       you purchased the gift card.) Details here.
     • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse: For every $100 worth of gift cards, you’ll get $20 for yourself. Details here.
     • 801 Chophouse: For every $100 worth of gift cards, you get $25 for yourself. Details here.
     • Bubba: For every $100 worth of gift cards, you get $20 for yourself.
     • Teddy Maroon's: For every $50 worth of gift cards, you get $10 for yourself.
     • Motley School Tavern: For every $50-plus gift card you buy at MST, you’ll get a $20 gift card to
       sister restaurant Alba. Details here.
     • Gusto Pizza Co.: Buy $30 worth of gift cards, get $5 for yourself; buy $50 and get $10 for yourself.
       Details here.

Did I miss other great deals? Tell me about them by messaging me on my All Things Food DSM Facebook page.

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

Author Katy Swalwell introduces both famous and little-known Iowans in these books, published by Raygun,


Looking for localized gift ideas? Consider the East Village's Raygun for clever, local apparel and a pair of local books: "Amazing Iowa Women" came out last year, followed this year by "Amazing Iowa Athletes." Both are A-to-Z guides, each featuring more than 100 remarkable Iowans, written by ISU professor Katy Swalwell and illustrated by dozens of Iowa artists. Raygun is ensconced at 505 E. Grand Ave.

The band Euforquestra performs at Wooly's Saturday, as a fundraiser and donations collection for the Food Bank of Iowa.


The spirit of the season is well expressed in song, with some fine performances slated within the next week:

• Euforquestra at Wooly's—8 p.m. Saturday, Dec 21. This is the 10th annual Home for the Holidays concert by Euforquestra, a Colorado band that started in Iowa City. With roots in funk and Afro-Caribbean styles, the band is presenting this concert as a fundraiser for the Food Bank of Iowa. To learn more about the band and hear their music, click here. Tickets are $16 in advance here, $21 on the day of the show.

• Tonic Sol-fa at Hoyt Sherman Place—7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 and 21. This popular
a capella group from Minnesota is returning with its "Nights Before Christmas" show. Seating is available through Ticketmaster; prices vary. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

• Vocalist Lauren Vilmain at Noce—3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. A classically trained Drake University alum, Vilmain performs locally in Des Moines and as far away as Italy. This program, "Christmas in Tinsel Town," brings holiday classics with the spirit of jazz. For tickets ($20-$50) and more info, click here.

Learn more about Bravo Greater Des Moines in this colorful new publication.


Curious about Bravo Greater Des Moines, the funding organization for local arts, culture and historical programs and organizations? You can get the scoop with a few clicks, with this online version of Bravo's magazine. Its 36 pages are packed with colorful photos and stories about Bravo and its place in our community. We recommend it.

Go down with speed and up with style, thanks to the tubing and sledding equipment, plus the chair lift, at Sleepy Hollow.


Expecting family or friends to visit during the holiday season? If you're looking for things to do with them, we suggest these: The Art Center, Science Center of Iowa and Botanical Garden are always great for visitors of all ages. Active kids? Remember the downtown skating rink—and Sleepy Hollow will be open for sledding and tubing, with all equipment provided. Click here for dates, rates and hours.

If you're looking for more adult fun, you can't go wrong on Walnut Street, on downtown's southwest corner. It offers coffee shops and eateries, plus the jazz club Noce and the new comedy club, Teehee's.

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