Trustee cherishes all town has to offer

New village board member discovers great holiday gift ideas in downtown, Grant Square


Last updated 12/6/2023 at 3:27pm | View PDF

Jim Slonoff

Jade plants bring back special memories for Alexis Braden of Penny Bohnen, her late friend and fellow preservationist. This beautiful specimen is from Phillip's Flowers and Gifts. (Jim Slonoff photos)

One might think that Alexis Braden enjoyed her first white Christmas in Hinsdale after moving her 10 years ago from California. But that's not the case.

Although she spent most of her life in California, she was born in Rochester, Minn., and lived there until she was 4.

She has enjoyed the Christmases she's spent in town, which include dinner out on Christmas Eve (at Hinsdale Golf Club or Il Poggiolo), the live nativity service at Hinsdale Covenant Church, Mass at St. Isaac Jogues and opening presents Christmas morning. Her in-laws from San Diego spend the holidays here, hoping to experience a winter wonderland during their visit.

With two daughters who play travel lacrosse, Braden said her goal for Christmas gifts this year is to make fun vacations out of those tournament trips.

"I just want the girls to be happy in their sports and their traveling," she said.

Braden previously served on the Hinsdale Historic Preservation Commission and was elected in April to the Hinsdale Village Board, where she hopes to be even more involved in the town's history and heritage.

In the midst of all her responsibilities, she's finding time to appreciate the holiday season.

"I think it's such a beautiful time of year here," she said. "I love how the community really comes together."

Braden, the third guest shopper in our four-part gift guide series, uncovered some wonderful finds in her trip around town.

• Back-up footwear will come in handy for daughters Willa, a sophomore at Central, and Josie, an eighth-grader at HMS. "I love these because they always leave their Uggs at friends' houses, and they wear these to school," Braden said. Youngest daughter, Genevieve, a second-grader at Oak, will want a pair of Beach Zen slippers in black or cognac, too. $48 each, Alixandra Blue

• When mother-in-law Sue visits for the holidays, she loves to pick up new straps for her bags at her favorite store in town. Braden knows she'll love the navy vegan leather Proya bag with a navy and white strap. $59 bag, $22 strap, Meredith Jaye

• Braden decided to treat herself to a 6-inch jade plant in a birch container in memory of Penny Bohnen, a fellow preservation enthusiast who passed away in February. "I love jade and she would give me tips all the time because I had a hard time taking care of mine," Braden said. $54.95, Phillip's Flowers and Gifts

• A Billie black vegan leather backpack with fur trim will be a fun surprise under the tree for niece Grace, a high school freshman. $84, Vintage Charm

• A heather gray and cream Linda Richards angora blend winter hat with a genuine fur pom will keep friend Anna Fiascone warm - and looking great - on her annual ski trip to Deer Valley. $139, Lepa Boutique

• Braden's dog Daisy can't wait to give her doggie friends Sky, Libby and Lily a "howlidays" mocha stuffed toy that looks like a favorite coffee shop drink. $15, Velvet Touch

• A flush circle gold and diamond pendant will add some sparkle to mom Cheryl's holiday outfits. $599 (sale), Jocelyn D. Jewelers

• Braden enjoys helping out her 94-year-old next-door neighbor Jay McGreevy and thinks he'll appreciate a special Christmas Eve dinner of a pound of king crab legs, coleslaw, corn bread and key lime pie to enjoy with his son - especially from a place where he's a regular. $60.95 for crab legs, $25.85 for sides and dessert, Burhop's

• Her daughter's Secret Santa recipient - likely to be a member of Central's girls lacrosse team - is sure to love an Everywhere puffer vest. $198, Game Set

When her daughters can't find their Uggs, they can slip into these Beach Zen slippers from Alixandra Blue.

• A Wolf and Willa handmade tote bag and matching slide in a gray, black and blue evil eye pattern will be a great gift for sister-in-law Kristin, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif. She can stash her music in the tote and wear the slides to the beach. $398 bag, $188 shoes, Red E Mas

• For dad Peter and stepmom Loretta, Braden chose a 14.5-inch tall Global Views crystal striped vase that was free blown in Italy. "He's a big crystal enthusiast," Braden said. $2,150, Marcus

• The Ramon Vilanova framed original oil on canvas titled "Un Rayo Rompe con Veloz Claridad, un cielo Convulso y Oscuro" that hangs in the gallery window will be a great gift for husband Rick. "We've gotten to know Vilanova's work through Hope Lloyd Brown," Braden said, noting that her friend's stepdad owns Triad Art Group, which supplies galleries in Hinsdale and around the world. $19,500, Acquisitions of Fine Art

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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